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Idi AminThe Story of Africa's Icon of Evil$
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Mark Leopold

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780300154399

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300154399.001.0001

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‘Wrung from the Withers of the Western Nile’

‘Wrung from the Withers of the Western Nile’

Background, Birth and Youth, 1928(?)–46

Chapter:
(p.24) 1 ‘Wrung from the Withers of the Western Nile’
Source:
Idi Amin
Author(s):

Mark Leopold

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300154399.003.0002

This chapter discusses Idi Amin's childhood and background. Amin's connection with the Yakan movement demonstrates how close in time his birth was to the very beginning of British rule over Uganda. His parents would have spent most of their lives in a pre-colonial West Nile, which was only annexed to the Uganda Protectorate in 1914. This was the world into which Idi Amin was born, and the background he came from. He was not only considered inferior as an African in a land dominated by European colonial power, but doubly inferior, as a member of the 'primitive' Kakwa tribe in a country dominated by the Baganda and other southern groups. It is important to look at the history of his ancestral home area and his family's ethnic background, not least because of the role it plays in explanations for his later political motivations and his approach to government. During Amin's rule, both British and southern Ugandan writers tended to explain him in terms of his tribal origins, as Kakwa, Lugbara or Nubi. These West Nile tribes are almost universally portrayed as not only particularly 'primitive' but also intrinsically 'violent'. Frequently, this characterisation includes the allegation that human sacrifice or cannibalism is characteristic of West Nile society.

Keywords:   Idi Amin, childhood, Yakan movement, British colonial rule, Uganda, Uganda Protectorate, European colonial power, Kakwa tribe, West Nile tribes

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