Happy Birthday Dada Amin

August 6, 2013

I know most people believe he’s a psychopath (sure he is) and he’s probably someone who most would rather not talk, remember etc etc.

But when I first started commercial farming way back in the dark continent. I used to watch reruns of his speeches on a old beat up Sony betamax again and again, watched it so many times that the tapes just got really blurry. Till I had to throw it all away, watched it, as there was really nothing else to do in those lonely cold African nights - watched it, so many times that at some point, tragedy even acquired a sardonic humor. Still is, never fails to crack me up even today! It’s hilarious!

I am not suggesting for one moment, Amin was in any shape or form a great leader that deserves to be venerated or even emulated (certainly not!) - but he was certainly someone who we can all learn from by just watching how his runaway ego and kooly political theory took a massive swan dive into the heart of darkness that caused so much misery on an industrial scale for thousands of peace loving Ugandians.

ALL I can say is watching Amin is not unlike learning how to improve airplanes by shifting through charred remains and mangled wreakage….if you get what I mean. All this with lashings of dark humor. 

Most Western businessmen and I imagine politicians who have never worked with Africans in the bush for extended periods - and those who may just have a very shallow appreciation of African tribal culture tend to dismiss Idi Amin as just a highly dangerous ignorant buffoon - but I don’t believe that Western depiction of the man, politician cum monster necessary does justice to how he is so often regard  by the vast majority of Africans then and now, especially those who live in the outskirts where plantations are usually located – contrary to populist myth – Amin was spectacularly popular with the tribal chieftains throughout the lenght and breadth of the African continent -  Amin in my considered opinion was the first prototypal African Nationalist very much in the shadow of Nasser – he may have been off upstairs – nonetheless he managed to rapture an entire continent with his diabolically evil child like worldview.

In my fifth love story novella – entitled, ‘dark love,’ a pulp fiction romance involving a China man cocoa planter who fell in love with German nun, Eva Meyer set in Northern Uganda - the main protagonist was partially modelled on the characterization of Idi Amin – the Chinaman planter who always wore ridding breeches, knee high polished boots and sported a shoulder holstered revolver were all borrowed props from the populist depiction of the narcistic Amin – along with his indifference to violence and death. But somewhere in the mind of the monster, there was a simpleton who could love perfectly. A man who the Eva loved passionately.

I guess what I trying to say, is not everything is necessarily fiction even when it comes across as such - as I don’t believe any writer, not even one who regularly mangles up his sentences and who regularly gives copy writers high blood pressure writes in a hermetical sealed vaccum where he regularly grabs scenes right out of thin air – I really don’t believe that sort of something from nothing exist at all in any writing genre, especially in the creative writing genre.

Truth is, when a man writes, he’s giving part of himself to the world very much in the way a ball of camphor gives it’self to the atmosphere – with every word, sentence, paragraph and page something about the man leaks out and that all culminates in a book - the chapter where the Chinaman Cocoa farmer stood on the hill as he watched defiantly when the Akohli militia rolled in and sacked, raped and razed his plantation village and how he had to flee to Sudan on foot could well have been a mix of reality and fiction – it’s hard to say – as probably the majestic currelean sunset that both the Chinaman and Eva shared just before they had to say good bye….like I say, its hard to tell. 

As a times, even reality gives way to fiction and myth. Just as perhaps how, today is not officially Idi Amin’s birthday – but the tribe that he belongs to, the Kakwa in Koboko in Western Uganda consider this day to be his real birthday - a splinter of the same tribe – the Adomako, who once served loyally the Chinaman cocoa planter of Gabundi Estate. Maybe this entry is not about Amin at all – perhaps it’s just a way of remembering a man who once lived another life in a faraway place before he set his eyes on Singapore. 

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