Idi Amin

President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979

Idi Amin Dada Oumee (May 17, 1925August 16, 2003) was a Ugandan military officer and politician who served as the third President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. He ruled as a military dictator and is considered one of the most brutal despots in modern world history.

Sometimes people mistake the way I talk for what I am thinking.
Politics is like boxing — you try to knock out your opponents.


  • Sometimes people mistake the way I talk for what I am thinking. I never had any formal education—not even a nursery school certificate. But sometimes I know more than Ph.D.s because as a military man I know how to act. I am a man of action.
    • Appears in Barbet Schroeder (1974), General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait.
  • Politics is like boxing — you try to knock out your opponents.
    • Interview, African summit talks, Angola, January 1976. Reported p.A8, Palm Beach Post, January 12, 1976.


  • My mission is to lead the country out of a bad situation of corruption, depression and slavery. After I rid the country of these vices, I will then organize and supervise a general election of a genuinely democratic civilian government.
    • Quoted in Uganda, the Human Rights Situation (1978), by United States Congress. Senate, p. 13 - Civil rights - 1978.
  • His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular.
    • His full, formal title, which he conferred upon himself. Quoted in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (1999) by Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates
  • You cannot run faster than a bullet.
    • Quoted in The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners (2004) by Geoff Tibballs, p. 51.
  • Although some people felt Adolf Hitler was bad, he was a great man and a real conqueror whose name would never be forgotten.
    • Quoted in The Evil 100 (2004) by Martin Gilman Wolcott, p. 78.
  • In any country there must be people who have to die. They are the sacrifices any nation has to make to achieve law and order.
    • Quoted in Morrow's International Dictionary of Contemporary Quotations, 1982, Jonathon Green.
  • I am the hero of Africa.
    • Quoted in Simpson's Contemporary Quotations, by James Beasley Simpson, p. 1.

About Idi Amin

Racist, erratic and unpredictable, brutal, inept, bellicose, irrational, ridiculous, and militaristic. —Thomas Patrick Melady
  • Amin is a splendid man by any standards and is held in great respect and affection by his British colleagues. … He is tough and fearless and in the judgment of everybody … completely reliable. Against this he is not very bright and will probably find difficulty in dealing with the administrative side of command.
    • OG Griffith, 1969 despatch on Amin's promotion to major, released by Public Record Office. Amin hailed as splendid, but not very bright, June 23, 2000, Richard Norton Taylor, The Guardian.
  • Idi Amin is a splendid type and a good [rugby] player … but virtually bone from the neck up, and needs things explained in words of one letter.
    • Document from Public Record Office quoting "a British official"; cited variously in obituaries including Prayers but no forgiveness for Idi Amin, August 18, 2003, Anton La Guardia, Daily Telegraph.
  • Racist, erratic and unpredictable, brutal, inept, bellicose, irrational, ridiculous, and militaristic.
    • About Amin's regime. Telegram 1 From the Embassy in Uganda to the Department of State, January 2, 1973, 0700Z, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Patrick Melady. US Department of State.
  • He is killer and clown, big-hearted buffoon and strutting martinet.
    • Uganda. Amin: The Wild Man of Africa, March 07, 1977, Time magazine.
  • Field Marshall Idi Amin became president of Uganda in 1971. To the rest of the world he was a showman his extravagance was exceeded by his talent for comic buffonery. But behind the grinning face was a calculating monster who brought about a tragedy of monumental proportions. He slaughtered thousands of innocent Ugandans in a campaign of ethnic cleansing and executed his enemies live on television. He mutilated his wife and murdered his ministers keeping their heads in his fridge as a warning to others. He ordered his secret police to torture and kill while Amin kept the pictures for his own sick amusement. By the end of his reign over 300,000 people, one in 60 in the population, had been murdered by Amin. He had turned the prosperous country of Uganda into a disease ridden backwater, its rivers choked with the corpses of his victims.
    • Introduction to a Discovery Channel documentary about Idi Amin.
  • Idi Amin's sense of showmanship often deluded foreigners into thinking that he was merely a colorful buffoon. His innumerable victims and their families knew better as they lived through a decade when torture and death might strike anyone, anywhere. Amin's flamboyant brutality attracted the world's attention, but left Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, a devastated and bankrupt wreck. Stories that he was a cannibal, who kept the heads of his victims in his refrigerator and brought them out for discussions, or that he fed his enemies to crocodiles, may not be true.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 195
  • Illiterate, garrulous and burly, as terrifying as he was ridiculous, Field-Marshal Idi Amin Dada was a buffoonish bully and sadistic mass-murderer who earned the soubriquet the 'Butcher of Uganda', The soi-disant 'Last King of Scotland' impoverished Uganda, once the Jewel of Africa, a megalomaniacal cannibalistic loon who killed so many of his countrymen that the crocodiles of Lake Victoria could not consume them fast enough.
  • Idi Amin virtually destroyed Uganda, murdering 300,000 people; many more were forced to seek refuge abroad. And even with his removal from power, the agony did not end for the Ugandan people. Obote returned to power in flawed elections in 1980 and plunged the country into civil war; by the time he was overthrown in 1985, several hundred thousand more Ugandans had perished. Such was the legacy of Amin.
  • Dictators have also been overthrown by foreign invaders working in concert with local rebel armies. Idi Amin of Uganda was as disturbingly clever as dictators go. He once wore a kilt to a royal funeral in Saudi Arabia and he is alleged to have sent President Richard Nixon a "Get Well Soon" card after the Watergate scandal broke. He was also a horrifyingly brutal tyrant. In October 1978 Amin invaded the neighboring country of Tanzania. The Tanzanian army joined forces with Ugandan rebels and, in April 1979, drove Amin out of Uganda and replaced him with the equally dictatorial Milton Obote. Yoweri Moseveni has ruled the country since 1986. To describe Uganda in the twenty-first century as a "shaky democracy" would be polite.
    • David Wallechinsky, Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators (2006), p. 326

External links

  •   Encyclopedic article on Idi Amin on Wikipedia
  •   Media related to Idi Amin on Wikimedia Commons