Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin Remembered Fondly During Memorial Service
Above: ‘Big Daddy’ Idi Amin had an insatiable appetite for power
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (SP) — He may be gone, but he’s not forgotten.
Yesterday, a private memorial service was held for Idi Amin, the former President of Uganda. He passed away last month in Saudi Arabia, where he had lived comfortably after being exiled from Uganda in 1979. Attendees at the service included a who’s who of warlords, despots, dictators, and A-list celebrities.
One after another, heads of state paid tribute to Amin, suggesting that he had served as both a role model and a source of great inspiration for them. “He showed me that it was okay to not simply think outside of the box, but to totally ignore the box or even to deny its very existence,” said Saparmurat Niyazov, the self-proclaimed President for Life of the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan. Some of Niyazov’s recent presidential decrees have included renaming the month of January after himself, and declaring his own birthday to be a national holiday.
Robert Mugabe, the much-maligned President of Zimbabwe, also reserved high words of praise for Amin, a man whom he credited with making his own job much easier. “Whenever I’ve had to make potentially controversial decisions, such as to expropriate the land held by all white farmers in Zimbabwe, or to totally disregard the rule of law by choosing not to observe certain clauses of my country’s constitution, I merely had to compare myself to Idi Amin in order to diffuse the controversy,” said Mugabe. “Next to him, I really don’t seem like such an unreasonable fellow.”
Above: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe credits Idi Amin with inspiring his keen fashion sense
Amin was celebrated in the memorial not only for his political prowess, but also for his athletic accomplishments. Many are perhaps not aware that Amin was a heavyweight boxing champion during the time that he served as an officer in the British colonial army. Even after he chose to pursue a political career, Amin never lost his passion for boxing. In fact, before the legendary Rumble in the Jungle took place between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire, Amin had struck a tentative bargain with promoter Don King to stage the fight in Uganda, but was subsequently outbid by Zaire’s General Mobutu.
However, before the venue had been changed, ABC television’s Howard Cosell interviewed Muhammad Ali, who dubbed the fight ‘The Brawla in Kampala’, and predicted the outcome in his signature style, with a poem:
“When I hit George with my hand-a, he’ll have eyes just like a panda; He won’t even have strength to stand-a, once I fight him in Uganda.”
Mike Tyson, the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, was among the attendees at the memorial service who eulogized Amin. “Although I have not yet chosen to run for political office, I believe that Idi and I share a lot in common,” said Tyson. “First of all, the political arena is vicious, corrupt, and unethical, just like professional boxing. Also, Idi and I both had a single-minded determination to reach the pinnacle of our respective professions. Finally, we both had reputations for cannibalism that were greatly exaggerated.”
Above: Mike Tyson asked fellow mourners to lend him their ears, and he gave them something to chew on
Rumours regarding Amin’s penchant for feasting on human flesh circulated during his reign as President. It was widely reported at the time that he kept a freezer full of well-preserved body parts, and that he enjoyed drinking the blood of his enemies. Tyson contends that these rumours were deliberately propagated by Amin in order to intimidate his political opponents.
Similarly, Tyson admits that some of his own prior professional misconduct, such as biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear, and declaring in a press conference that he wanted to eat Lennox Lewis’s children, was intended merely to unnerve his adversaries.
Now that Idi Amin has been laid to rest, the Saudi royal family is determined to find someone else of his stature to take his place; someone who can engage in a free exchange of ideas with other like-minded individuals. Assuming that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are not available, potential replacements include Augusto Pinochet, Slobodan Milosevic, and Charles Taylor. If none of these candidates are interested, it’s believed that the Saudis would consider extending invitations to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
Above: Ronald Reagan might be the Saudi royal family’s next honoured guest