Uganda's Idi Amin Conquers England (in His Imagination)
Idi Amin Dada was a former heavyweight champion who took over Uganda in 1971. We've talked before about how the movie based on him, The Last King of Scotland, is full of shit ... because the reality is even more insane. For starters, Amin's full self-bestowed title was "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular." We should point out that Uganda never conquered England, as far as we know.
Also, he wasn't pals with Professor Xavier, but he was drinking buddies with Wolverine.
The movie got some things right: Idi Amin did lay claim to the Scottish throne and offered to marry Queen Elizabeth and lead the Commonwealth. His obsession with Scotland led him to wear a Scottish kilt and uniform his soldiers in Scottish regalia. To mock the people who pointed out Uganda's crippling famine, he created the "Save Britain Fund" by taking a truckload of food from starving peasants and offering it to the U.K.
When the British never returned his love, Amin reacted with the fury of a scorned lover: At a diplomatic conference in Uganda, he forced four local British businessmen to carry him around in a sedan chair for a literal interpretation of the white's man burden. He also ordered a Swedish diplomat to follow him with an umbrella because hey, why not.
Yes, at night.
Amin's insanity was so over the top that many commentators thought it was a clever ruse to defuse concern over his more serious corruption and genocide acts in Uganda. However, he didn't fare better in private. This conversation happened during a dinner between Amin and Israeli defense and foreign ministers Moshe Dayan and Abba Eban in Tel Aviv:
They finally got Amin to leave by convincing him Phantom planes are invisible.
With or without Phantoms, in 1978 Amin finally decided to invade Tanzania, a country five times bigger than Uganda. After the predictable Tanzanian victory, Amin fled Uganda for Saudi Arabia, which was compelled to grant him asylum because of Amin being a Muslim. Before his death in 2003, the Saudis were forced to invite him to a handful of events such as a Saudi royal funeral, where he finally learned to behave appropriately.
Well, who fell for that? Of course he went wearing the damned Scottish kilt again.
Javier Yepes is a Central African prince interested in business partners to export toilet paper to Venezuela. You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related Reading: The most ruthless leaders can also be the most ridiculous. Just ask these brutal leaders with hilarious hobbies. But at least those violent dictators all had a taste of power. One Saddam Hussein impersonator only got strong-armed into porn. And if your fascist ambitions haven't been doused enough yet, read about these famous rulers who were crazier than you can imagine. We're talking ban-all-the-beards crazy here, not just gulag crazy.