Last King of Scotland: Everything You Need to Know about Idi Amin and Uganda

The Facts Behind the Fiction:

“The Last King of Scotland” is a fictional thriller, but behind the suspense lies the very real story of Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin. Although time is compressed and fictionalized characters such as Nicholas Garrigan have been added, many of the harrowing events seen in the film actually occurred. Following below is a brief summation of Amins life and Ugandan times under his rule.

1925: Idi Awo-Ongo Ongoo is born into the Kakwa tribe near Koboko in Northwestern Uganda to a farmer father and an herbalist mother who is said to be a sorceress.

1930s: Idi is raised in Buganda by his mother after his parents separate. Receiving only a rudimentary school education, he develops great skill in sports. He converts to Islam and changes his name to Amin Dada.

1946: As a young man, Amin joins the Kings African Rifles, a regiment of the British colonial army which is then in charge in Uganda. Two years later he is promoted to Corporal and by 1958 he is a Platoon Commander.

1951: Amin attains his first real fame, becoming the Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion of Uganda a title he will hold for the next 9 years.

1952: Amin serves with the British Army during the violent Mau Mau revolt in Kenya. Officers describe him as a born leader.

1961: Rising to the rank of Lieutenant, Amin becomes one of only two commissioned native Ugandan officers under British rule.

1962: Troops under Amins command are accused of carrying out a massacre involving torture and other heinous acts (including live burials) in the neighboring Turkana region of Kenya. However, the authorities decide not to pursue a court-martial action against Amin.

1962: Uganda receives its independence from Britain on October 9 and the country is now led by Prime Minister Milton Obote. During this time, Amin makes his first trip to Israel for paratrooper training.

1964: Amin is promoted to Deputy Commander of the Army and Air Force of Uganda

1966: Hounded by reports of financial scandal, Milton Obote suspends the Ugandan constitution, arrests half of his cabinet and installs himself as President for Life. Meanwhile, Amin establishes himself as a national hero in the Battle of Mengo Hill, a victorious attack on the King of Buganda, the dominant tribe in the country. Later, Amin will claim he was protected because bullets cannot harm him.

1969: After several close-call assassination attempts on his life, a nervous Obote removes Idi Amin from his command post in the armed forces

1971: Amin stages a successful coup against Obote one that is backed by the British — and the nation celebrates what many hope is the beginning of a new era. Amin declares himself President and rides a wave of passionate support, making bold promises that include abolishing the secret police, freeing all political prisoners, reforming the economy and holding free elections. Initial international response to his leadership is overwhelmingly positive.

1971: Six weeks after Amin seizes power, a bomb explodes at Makindye Prison in Kampala killing 32 army officers crammed in a cell. By the end of his first year in power, it is estimated that Amin has killed 2/3 of the former Ugandan Army. Amin begins establishing death squads as part of the so-called State Research Bureau and authorizes assassinations and executions (usually by beheading) of those he believes are still loyal to Obote.

1972: Amin expels the countrys entire Asian population, saying that he wants Uganda to be a black mans country. Over 50,000 Indians and Pakistani families are given just 90 days to evacuate and are allowed to take only as much as they can carry in their arms.

1972: Amins campaign against his supposed rivals heats up, as hundreds of thousands are kidnapped and killed. Among them are not only his own parliamentary ministers and government officials but also judges, clergy, professors, journalists, business executives and a wide range of ordinary citizens who fall under suspicion for any reason at all.

1972: Britain and Israel begin to withdraw support for Amin. He now turns to Libyas Muammar Qaddafi and the Soviet Union for aid.

1973: The United States closes its embassy in Uganda.

1974: The body of Kay Amin, Idis second wife, is found dismembered in the trunk of a car belonging to her lover, a Ugandan doctor, who apparently poisoned him. No complete explanation for the gruesome events is ever put forth.

1975: Amin, still very popular across Africa, is elected President of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

1976: An Air France jet filled with Israelis and Jews en route to Paris is hijacked by pro-Palestinian terrorists and lands at Entebbe Airport after Amin offers safe haven. Amin becomes personally involved in the hostage negotiations but is surprised on the 4th of July when Israeli commandos invade the airport and stage a successful raid, freeing most of the passengers. Two hostages are shot during the hour-long operation and one is left behind: British-Israeli grandmother Dora Bloch, who will later be brutally executed. In response, Britain breaks off all diplomatic relations with Uganda.

1978: The situation in Uganda deteriorates further as inflation soars, armed rebellions break out and coup attempts become increasingly commonplace. Meanwhile, as a distraction from domestic problems, Amin launches an attack on the neighboring country of Tanzania.

1979: Victorious Tanzanian forces take Kampala and Amin flees to Libya, taking four wives, 30 mistresses and at least 20 of his children. He then goes briefly to Iraq before settling in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the rest of his life.

1980: Milton Obote returns to power in Uganda, but his regime is as violent as Amins. Armed conflict fulminates in the Northern part of the country, taking thousands upon thousands of lives, and leading to a civil war that continues to this day.

1986: Yoweri Museveni, once an exiled opponent of Amins in the 1970s, becomes President of Uganda and begins the hard work of restructuring the devastated country.

1989: Idi Amin makes a last attempt to return to Uganda but is stopped in Kinshasa, Zaire and forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia.

2003: Idi Amin dies of kidney failure in Saudi Arabia.

2006: Continued progress in Uganda has led to considerable economic growth and improvements especially in the fight against rampant AIDS/HIV and in childhood education. However, the violent rebellion that began in the early 1980s continues to wage in Northern Uganda resulting in abductions, attacks and severe humanitarian crises.