Behind The Presidential Curtains: Does history really repeat itself?
When I was growing up as a young man in Uganda, I was told many stories about the greatest dictator President General Idi Amin Dada until his fall in 1979 by Tanzanian forces. I was too young to experience his atrocities but my family like other citizens surely had live under his terror for numerous years.
A few years after his collapse in the early 1980’s, I remember the kind of fear my Uncle who had served in Amin’s forces lived with all the time due to the atrocities of the guy he served.
Idi Amin was named “Kijambia”, Luganda language meaning “Mr.Machete” due to his brutality and extermination of Ugandan elite, the Press and any potential critic.
Un-like me and my age at that time, it is evident that President Paul Kagame who was a teenager, in high school during Amin’s regime might have envied Idi Amin’s rule of tyranny in order to oppress whoever he deems a critic. ‘That leaves me wonder if history really repeats itself’.
Here I wish to point out a few issues that make President Paul Kagame a replica of Idi Amin of this millennium:
•Idi Amin encouraged his cabinet and the Ugandan population to “Love their Country”, love their leaders, whereas this a noble deed, the actual meaning from a dictator’s point of view is to be loyal to the main man himself. We continuously hear Kagame talking about “Kwihesha Agaciro, Gukunda igihugu”.
•Conflicting with the Western world mostly when they point a finger on their deeds, here it is worth mentioning that once he had a misunderstanding with his colonial master; Amin evicted the entire Asian community from Uganda. We have seen in the past Kagame expelling different ambassadors of western countries for simple un-diplomatic issues.
•Amin talked about empowering women in his cabinet and other managerial posts, although he only managed to appoint Princess Bagaya of Tooro. We see Kagame appointing women to every known position that he creates. I am not against gender equality but this actual act is done by a dictator just to show off to the world and most of all to have a much lesser opposing voice against him.
•For the dual, it is on record that Idi Amin invaded Congo and stole plentiful amounts of minerals, which he kept to himself. Kagame has continued to do the same with the guise of different factions in the Kivu province of Eastern Congo.
•Idi Amin invaded neighbouring Tanzania, Kagame invaded Congo although one lost the battle and the other dictator won.
•Self-pity; When one watches Amin’s documentary of his real interviews, while given the chance to talk about his early life, Amin spends vast amount of time talking the hardship he passed through as a child. He talks about the journeys he used to walk to go for his 2 years primary education, the way he was taken “by force” to join the Kings Rifle Army and so on. In numerous speeches given by Kagame since the time he became the President, he seems to lag on the fact and time he spent as a refugee in Uganda, he however forgets 90 percent of Rwandans have experienced refuge life either outside their country or as internally displaced people since the de-militarised zone of 1992 between the RPA and FAR.
•Depression; It is reported that at some point Amin suffered enormous mental depression, paranoia and anxiety. It is the same phases that Kagame is experiencing, he loses touch of reality, starts paying un-solicited visits to the districts measuring how much support and respects he still commands and lack of trust to even his inner circle.
•Idi Amin killed doctors, ministers, religious leaders, professors, rich businesspersons, opposition candidates and intellectuals. Kagame has done the same but worse more he also exterminates their family members unlike Amin.
•Gen Idi Amin ordered the Manager of the National Bank to print out money and make the capital city of Uganda Kampala look like Mecca. He ordered Gen Maliyamungu his then army commander to invade Congo and bring as much minerals as possible in order to get money and build roads and nice houses, hotels, hospitals, army barracks and bought jet fighters in preparation for the alleged enemy. He ended up falling out with Gen Maliamungu and actually planned for his life, but was tipped-off by his junior subordinates and survived the plot. Kagame like Gen Amin did invade the Congo looted the minerals; build only the capital Kigali a few roads although no hospital, he bought fighter jets and heavy weaponry in preparation for the alleged enemies like Amin. Kagame not only used his loot but also used donor money he acquired as sympathy for the Tutsi genocide to buy the fighter jets and his personal jets. He also has attempted the life of his Army commander like Amin.
•General Amin started killing his comrades by shooting them using his State Research, but ended up hacking the rest with machetes in damping them in places like Mabira Forest, river Nile and other hidden place. Kagame has done more or worse the same. He started assassinating the likes of Lt Col. Wilson Rutayisire, Alex Ruzindana, Col Rizinde and the like with guns and ended up hacking individuals like Kagwa Rwisereka with machetes.
•When Idi Amin forcefully took power from President Obote, he was a Colonel, in less than eight years; Amin had promoted himself to the highest rank in the military doctrine. He was obsessed with titles including being the king of Scotland, and acquired an honorary doctorate from South Korea. It is just a matter of the era between the two dictators but we see a trend of similar incidents. Kagame would spare no stone unturned to search for medals and awards like Idi Amin. He has travelled across the globe to be awarded the smallest award possible. He has recently been awarded an honorary doctorate thanks to Turkey.
•Suppresses freedom of speech and raising one’s media house; Idi Amin is well known for this, he opened up his own media house including a TV and radio stations that he hoped would feed Ugandans with his own propaganda. Kagame is another guy who is on loggerheads with the media be it local or international. Like his prophet Idi Amin, he has opened up his own media house but also a chain of his own online newsletters or blogs thanks to the new millennium.
•In recent months, Kagame has advised his henchman Jack Nziza to start up an online newspaper to suppress his much-feared “gang of four” as he termed them (Kayumba, Karegeya, Gahima and Rudasingwa). It is important to mention that as a person who spent most of my youth with Kagame as his body guard and driver, have noticed a wide change of behaviour since he lost these four individuals. I all along knew Kagame’s slyness and callousness just after a few incidents with him, which involved loss of our comrades while on duty to protect his life. On reading one General Jack Nziza and Kagame’s new online website (http://www.theexposer.net ), I had to recall the same sort of words Kagame used on any individual he did not feel comfortable with. This so called exposer or voice of Kagame is so callous that leaves you wonder if we Rwandans really deserve to be ruled by such a wild man. This all reminds me of General Idi Amin Dada, the dictator of our lives and for sure “History could be repeating itself”.
Edited by Rwema Francis