Rise and Fall of Idi Amin (1981)




Director:     Sharad Patel

Starring:      Joseph Olita (Idi Amin),  Thomas Baptiste (Dr. Michael Oloya),  Leonard Trolley (Bob Astles), Geoffrey Keen (British Ambassador), Louis Mahoney (Freedom fighter Ofumbi), André Maranne (French Ambassador), Denis Hills (Himself, Diane Mercier,  French Ambassador's Wife), Tony Sibbald (Canadian Ambassador Davis), Norbert Okare (Kiwanuka), Ka Vundla (Malyamungu), Martin Okello (Amin Officer), Nicky Giles (White Girl), Ann Wanjuga (Mrs. Olaya) , Gordon Gardner (Israeli Ambassador).

beginning in 1975, the Uganda ruler kills a half-million of his nation's people


Spoiler Warning:     below is a summary of the entire film. 

"It was a land of rugged and untamed beauty.  A land whose people held fast to the old ways.  Proud people of ancient tribes: the Acholi, the Kakwa and the Alongi. As the times changed, the people slowly embraced the mandate of a new world.  Through the guidance of Social Democrat Milton Obote, a unified government emerged.   The country was recognized in the Council of Nations and grew prosperous from its dealings in world trade.  The old way and the new way became one.  And the quest for a better civilization was under way.  It was here in this land that a son was born to a Kakwa father and a mother who many considered a sorceress.  The child grew up near the river learning the ways of manhood and the spells of witchcraft.  At age 17 he became a soldier.  He excelled in sports and in battle.  He became a leader of men and a key military figure behind Obote's regime. As his power grew, so did his lust for political supremacy, for absolute rule.  The country watched, the country waited and the people blindly followed a man who would become a tyrant."

A doctor is operating on a young boy.  All of a sudden gunfire starts outside the hospital.  People are shot while in the hospital.  A nurse comes in and says there's been a coup.  Gen. Amin  has taken over. 

The people along the streets yell and scream for Idi Amin.  The French and the British ambassador talk about the new government.  They say that it's always better to deal with a quiet soldier than a civilian dictator any day.  The British have known about Amin since he was in the King's African Rifles in Kenya and became a sergeant.  He always followed orders, but he could be very brutal, especially in the fight against the Mau-Mau.  He was a woman chaser too.  One officer chased Idi Amin through the streets after he had an affair with his wife. 

A white man asks Idi's aide how many girls does he want this time?  Idi stands up and tells a sitting crowd that Uganda is now a free country.  He also picks a judge. 

S.R.B. agents have the mission destroy opposition to Amin.  One of the victims is Dr. G. Ebine, M.B.B.S.  A doctor in a hospital, named Dr. Michael Oloya, gets into a elevator with two men who stab him to death.  They dump the body into the trunk of their car. 

Archbishop Janani Luwunum, Kampala Catholic Diocese.  After his sermon he asks about the missing doctor, Michael.  His car is still parked in the same spot. 

The State House, Kampala, Uganda.  Idi frolics with a bunch of women in the swimming pool.  He talks to an aide, Louie, bragging that he is the world's greatest lover.  All the women want Amin, he says.  He makes a doctor his personal physician.  But the doctor says Dr. Binet is a better choice.  Amin says he has been transferred.  The doctor says he is not a general practitioner, but Idi says it doesn't matter.  Amin takes him over to see one of his wives and the doctor has to get some ice for her fever immediately.  He goes into the kitchen and opens the freezer part and is shocked to see the frozen heads of two men. 

Amin notices how shocked the doctor is by what he saw.  Amin scolds him saying that as a doctor he has surely seen much worse. 

The doctor gets his ice and puts it on the wife's forehead.  Idi is called away on important business.  There is a group of officers that have been arrested for talking about overthrowing Amin.  The man responsible is Ofumbi.  Ofumbi says the witness is lying.  He is loyal to Amin.  He says his accuser attacked him by hitting him with a bottle of whiskey.  Amin tells the accuser to give them all the "V.I.P. treatment".   The men are put before a firing squad, except that Ofumbi will be sent to Singapore where he will suffer longer.  

White man Bob Astles, a British citizen, tells Amin that they have to get their hands on more weapons because there are threats coming from Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan.  He suggest that Idi pay a visit to Israel, who might be willing to give them arms. 

July 12, 1971.  Entebbe Airport.  Amin leaves for the United Kingdom.  The British ambassador sees him off at the airport and comments about him:  "Amazing chap." 

A group of soldiers is lined up and then shot down by Idi's loyal men.  A white reporter comes to the base one day and asks Idi's right hand man about the rumors that there are soldiers from particular native tribes that have suddenly just disappeared.  The man says that there is nothing like that going on.  Everything is normal.  The reporter is grabbed and thrown in jail.  Idi talks to his judge and tells him that he wants this journalist convicted and hanged.  But the judge finds the defendant not guilty and the man is to be immediately released.  In broad daylight, the judge is grabbed by three thugs from Amin and thrown into the back of a jeep. One of the thugs tells other watching that this is what happens when judges don't cooperate with Amin. 

State Research Bureau. Nakasero Hilo, Kampala.  The screams of a woman are heard. 

Amin comes in to see the judge's body.  He takes off part of his skin with a scalpel and then eats it.  Bodies from the research bureau are thrown into the Nile River to be eaten by the crocodiles. 

Amin throws out the ambassador from Israel.  He says how dare they not give them military aide?  The ambassador says he will have to suggest that his country stop all diplomatic ties with Uganda.  Amin doesn't care.  He says he will give these Zionists just three days to get out of Uganda.  Then Amin calls up the British ambassador and warns him of the severe repercussions if Britain does not give him the planes he wants.  After talking to Amin, the ambassador says that the man is insane. 

August 5, 1972.  State House.  Amin Expels Asians.  In a dream God told Idi that the Asians must all go back home.   Uganda will only be for the Ugandans.  So the Asians, many of them Indians, have to leave.  American journalists question some Asians who are too scared to talk to the reporters. A man who does talk is punished by Amin's thugs.  Two American journalists are grabbed and taken out into the countryside and shot to death.  Then their car is pushed off the side of the cliff.. 

Racist murders revealed.  Relations with western governments grow strained.  An American representative says to Amin that his government demands a judicial inquiry into the disappearance of the American journalists.  Amin says he has already decided to do that and the judge will be a white man. 

A Mr. Davis comes to a Catholic church where Amin tells him that he is converting the church to a Muslim temple for the worship of the only true God, Allah.   The Canadian representative asks Amin to give the 1,000 Asians Canada is taking in to its country enough foreign currency to at least buy plane tickets to Canada.  Amin says no, he needs are his foreign currency.  He suggests letting the Asians swim to Canada since they are such "slippery" fellows.  And the next time the Canadian speaks to Amin he is to address him with some ridiculously long title that ends in "the conqueror of the British Empire".   The Canadian tells Amin that he fails to find any humor in his remarks and that this will hurt Ugandan relations with Canada. 

As Amin stands in the church door well a huge explosion goes off and he and his Arab friends rush inside the church.  It was the president's car that exploded.  If Amin had been in the car, he would have been killed for sure.  Amin immediately accuses the Zionists of doing this.  Meanwhile, the Canadians decide to bring their own planes over to pick up their 1,000 Asians. 

People are being tortured and the screams can be heard in the French Embassy.  The French ambassador is going to send his family back to Paris. 

Amin throws himself a big party.  He sees a beautiful woman and he has his thugs remove her fiancée. The woman will not cooperate with Amin, so her fiancée is badly beaten.  Amin then takes the woman to his place to rape.  She kills herself with a knife rather than be raped by Amin.  Amin calls his man in and says to get this lady out of here because she is ruining his sheets with her blood. 

Idi stops along the road and picks up a pretty seventeen-year old woman.  He is actually in a race with other drivers and he takes the girl along with him.  Idi goes off the main highway to have sex with the seventeen year old.  He takes the girl as his fifth wife.  After the wedding, he has his air force put on a show of bombing a flag that represents the future destruction of Capetown, South Africa.  He says he already has a secret army in South Africa just waiting for the go signal. 

Now Amin goes to the bank and demands that the man in charge give him a million dollars.  The man tries to explain to him that the Uganda shilling is worth less than toilet paper.  Amin has the banker taken out and beaten for saying that Ugandan money was just crap.  He then puts the second in charge in command of the bank and orders him to start printing up foreign currency. 

Amin's storm troopers increase the death toll.  A man drops his daughter off at school and Amin's thugs grab him and start beating him mercilessly.  They force the man into the trunk of his own car and then pour gasoline all over the automobile.  Then the car is set on fire and the man burns to death.  A mayor's ear is taken off.  People are grabbed right off the streets.  The headline in the papers is:  "Amin's atrocities still continue."

Amin asks his white friend Bob what are the papers calling him these days?  Bob says they call him Africa's new Hitler.  Idi says that's good.  He goes on to say that he is going to put up a statue to Hitler in the square in Kampala.  Bob also tells him that there are reports of underground camps being established to overthrow Amin in order to stop the bloodshed.

Rebel camp.  Ugandan jungle.  At the camp they talk about bombing key military strategic sites. 

Amin's thugs grab suspects accused of knowing about the rebel camps.  When they don't give any information, they are beaten to death. 

Amin's personal doctor tries to get his brother Philip out of jail, but he has no luck. 

Men have to dig mass graves for the victims of Amim.  Then they shoot down the men who dug the graves and bury them all.  One of the wounded men makes it to the hospital.

The Russians are leaving.  Amin says good.  Bob tells him that this is not good.  The Russians are their last hope of any military aide. 

Entebbe airport, Russians depart.  Amin says that he was only joking about throwing the Russians out of Uganda. 

The wounded man has news of Philip for Amin's personal physician.  He was with Philip in jail.  He says no one gets out of the State Research Bureau alive.  He only got out because he escaped from the men trying to execute him at the big mass grave in the Ugandan forest.  He himself had to remove his friend's body.  The man tells the doctor to get of Uganda because his life is in danger, but the doctor says it's more important than ever for him to stay. 

Amin gives his son a medal for valor for being at his side under all the pressure with Amin.  He says he has captured military spies with ties to the underground camps in Uganda..  Three of his wives are involved in this.

Amin has a wife killed and then has her hands cut off.  Then he shows the body to his other wives and children. 

Amin consults with a witch doctor and the fellow blames a certain people.  So Amin sends his army out to kill these people and burn their villages. 

Amin's thugs grab a writer critical of Amin named Dennis Hills and put him in prison.  The British ambassador visits the man in prison and he suggests that he publicly renounce what he has written.  The writer, however, says the book he wrote must be published.  There is already a manuscript in London waiting to be published.  He says Amin must be shown for what he is:  a monster, a tyrant.  Hills is being held in the State Research Bureau.  Some newcomers are thrown into the jail and a man says they are all going to be killed.  Hills gets up and tells the man to be quiet.  He says that it's their job now to survive and so they must not show the guards that they are frightened. 

The ambassador appeals to Amin for the release of Dennis Hills.  Amin says he will only release Dennis Hills if the Queen comes personally to Uganda and begs for his released.  Seeing that there is no talking to the crazy man, the ambassador leaves. 

June 28, 1976.  Entebbe Airport.  P. L. O. guerillas take Israeli hostages. In Mulago Hospital, Israel hostage Dora Bloch is hospitalized.  She asks to be allowed to go back with her own people. 

July 3, 1976.  Israeli commandos arrive at the airport.  The commandos pour out onto the airport field.  Also with the commandoes are various vehicles.  The hostages are sleeping when the Israeli commandos.  A man says that his mother is still in the hospital.  But they cannot get to her.  Idi hears a lot of explosions and tries to call to see what is going on.  The line is dead.  He goes and hides in the closet.

Amin is really angry at Israel.  When he learns they still have one Israeli hostage, Amin orders her killed.  She is grabbed and taken into the back of a jeep.  Amin's physician calls to complain about Dora Bloch being taken.  Amin tells him not to worry about that old woman. 

February 17, 1977.  Archbishop Janani Luwunum is abducted.  Amin has his cameraman photographed the Archbishop and him together.  Amin asks the Archbishop to give him the names of the lead rebels, but the Archbishop refuses.    Idi gets angry and shoots the Archbishop through the mouth.  Then they stage a car accident. 

London, Heathrow Airport.  Dennis Hills arrives home in London. 

White Bob tells Amin that Tanzania is helping the Ugandan rebels and this could cause them a lot of damage.  Amin says Uganda will attack Tanzania first, after they stage a false Tanzanian attack on Uganda. 

President Nyerere of Tanzania condemns Id Amin's attack.

Nov. 5, 1978 President Nyerere of Tanzania declares war on Idi Amin.  An army of 3,000 disciplined men invade Uganda.  Amin's right hand man is killed in battle.  The Ugandan soldiers start running for their lives. Amin flies out of the country to Libya.  There is celebrating in the streets when the army marches into Ugandan cities. 

"Amin and most of his henchmen escaped from Uganda before the Tanzanian troops fighting hand in hand with Ugandan Liberation Forces captured Kampala.  In eight years of terror rule more than 500,000  innocent people lost their lives.  This film is dedicated to them."

Bob Astles escaped but was captured in Kenya.  Gets a life sentence.

Most of Amin's personal death squad active at the State Research Bureau got away.

Amin is still free to kill again. 


Well, the film gives a good idea of a cold-blooded, psychopath and how much damage he can inflict on a people.  Idi was in some ways even worse than Hitler.  Idi Amin could and did kill lots of people, but he also ruined the Ugandan economy also by chasing the skilled Indian workmen out of his country.  At least Hitler built up the German economy.  It was only a matter of time before Idi would be removed from being president of Uganda.  He alienated both western nations and African/Asian nations.  Idi will always be one of world history's greatest villains.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:


1928  --  Amin was born Idi Awo-Ongo Angoo Dada in Kampala.  His parents were of the Kakwa ethnic group. His father had been a Catholic, but he converted to Islam. His father deserted the family when Idi was very young.  His mother (who some claimed was a sorceress) brought up Idie in Buganda. He received almost no formal education. 

1946  --  Amin joined the King's African Rifles of the British colonial army as a private.

He rose in the ranks to become the a lieutenant.  He saw action in the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya.  While he was successful in rising in the ranks, he had a reputation for cruelty.

1951-1960  --  Amin was the light heavyweight boxing champion of Uganda.  He was also a champion swimmer in his country. 

1962 (October)  --  independence for Uganda.

1963  --  Uganda's first prime minister, Milton Obote, promoted Amin to captain.

1964  --  Amin promoted to deputy commander of the army.

1965 --  Obote and Amin were implicated in smuggling gold, coffee, and ivory out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  President Mutesa demanded a parliamentary investigation of the two men. 

Obote promoted Amin to general and made him chief-of-staff.  He arrested five ministers, suspended the 1962 constitution, and declared himself the new president.

1966 --  President Mutesa was forced into exile.  He lived in Britain where he died in 1969. 

The relations between Obote and Amin began to sour and Obote moved Amin to a non-executive position in the army. 

1971 (January 25)  --  after learning that Obote was going to to arrest him for misappropriating army funds, Amin seized power in a coup while Obote was attending a Common wealth summit meeting in Singapore. 

At first, many observers thought that Idi Amin was a jovial character who could not be any worse than his predecessor.  But they were completely wrong. 

Once in power, Amin started killing his opponents.  His lust for violence would eventually lead to his killing many of the people of Uganda. 

Amin decided to throw out of Uganda the Indians living there.  Suddenly Britain had 50,000 refugees on its hands.  Amin humiliated the British ambassador. Amin told the press that all the Asians had better be out of Uganda in three months or the world would see what he would do the those who refused to flee.

On the 90th day, the rest of the Indians were expelled.  The government took over all the Asian property.  The Ugandans were at first very happy because many now had possession of land and capital that once belonged to the country's Indians.  The euphoria, however, proved short-lived. Without the Indians, the country's economy grounded to a virtual halt. 

The devastation of the economy , caused the people of Uganda to turn against Amin.  The leader said he did not care and withdrew to his own version of Fantasy Island.  Amin was a megalomaniac. 

1975 --  Amin recruited a white man, Bob Astels, as his right hand man even though Bob had worked for his enemies.  The two men became virtually inseparable with Bob holding virtual supreme command in Uganda. 

For all the economic woes of his country, Amin needed scapegoats and once again resorted to violence as an answer.  He started killing on a vast scale.  People were simply and suddenly disappearing.  It was a time of great destruction of the social fabric of the country.

One reporter said that Uganda was so repressive that it was hard to get the evidence against Amin.  Amin was killing tens of thousands; but the outside world saw him as just a jolly dictator from a distant land.

Outwardly at least, Amin seemed unconcerned.  He enjoyed his life, awarding himself with medals  for wars in which he never fought.

But then Amin made a mistake that would lead to his downfall. 

1976 (June)  --  Amin made a fatal mistake when  he allowed PLO hijackers to land at Entebbe airport.  The hijackers used the Israeli passengers as hostages. 

Now the Israelis had had enough of Amin.  He had first switched completely to the Arab cause and now he was playing games with Israeli lives.  The Israelis launched a commando raid on the Entebbe airport.  The Ugandans were caught totally by surprise and the Israelis were able to free the hostages.

Amin was no longer amusing to the world.  He was a terrorist and he had sewn the seeds of his own destruction.

The raid humiliated Amin in front of the entire world.  He was furious. He vented his anger with another killing spree. 

But, finally, someone spoke up.  The Archbishop began criticizing Amin saying that people were being killed and disappearing.  That made the Archbishop a marked man

1977 (Feb 15)  --  two days after Amin was photographed with the Archbishop, the archbishop was arrested and brought before a kangaroo court.  They killed him and tried to convince the world that the Archbishop had been in a car accident.  Bob Astels helped with the cover-up.

Amin was now completely unmasked as a mass murderer and a world-wide embarrassment.  But, in the aftermath of the disastrous Vietnam War, no one wanted to interfere. That is, all except President Julius Nyere of Tanzania, who hated Amin.  Nyere attacked when Amin was at his weakest. Very quickly, the Ugandan army collapsed.

1979 (April)  --    Amin was all but beaten. He retired to the barracks where he had first started his military career; it was a pathetic "last stand".  His 8 year reign had come to an end.  He flew to Libya without ever taking part in that "war" at all.

The whole country celebrated his overthrow.  But soon the full horror of Amin would be known and then it was time for grieving.  The torture chambers were thrown open and photos taken.  There was terrible evidence of great suffering. Under Amin, half a million Ugandans were killed.

since 1980    --  Saudi Arabia gave him sanctuary for his support of the Arab cause. 

2003  --  death of Idi Amin. 



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