"I consider myself the most powerful individual in the world" Idi Amin

This programme was first sent on the Norwegian National TV Channel (NRK1) 2-2-2007 in the presence of Norway's Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg (bottom right). The presenter was Fredrik Skavlan. It was repeated on NRK2 on 3 Febuary 2007. The occasion was the release of the feature film about the most gruesome of African dictators, Idi Amin, entitled 'The Last King of Scotland' with Forest Whitaker as Amin. Sathya Sai Baba visited/met Amin on two occasions and has recently spoken of Amin and the meetings in the most glowing words as a devotee (click here), supported warmly by his main propagandist, Dr. G. Venkataraman. In short, Sai Baba lent himself to Idi Amin's extreme black supremacist stance, by travelling to Kampala and visiting him in 1968 at the time when he was becoming a most powerful voice in Africa. Sai Baba - who pretends to be chaste and demands this of all devotees - himself tells how he was introduced to and shook hands with two rows of Idi Amin's wives, thus accepting the extremely profligate Idi Amin's polygamy too! Both in word and actions he favoured this monster of inhumanity, so what does that say? Sai Baba could have avoided Amin completely if he had been so minded... but no, he even accepted a dinner invitation from Amin and enthused about it in his recent discourse.

Norwegian TV interviews the naturalised Norwegian daughter of Idi Amin's former foreign minister

Nyonga Rugumato Amundsen with Norway's Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg.

English translation of Norwegian TV discussion:

Interviewer: Idi Amin took power by a coup in 1971. He is estimated to have killed up to about a half a million of his countryman before he was removed by a coup in 1979. He took with him the national fortune and left behind an almost ruined Uganda, himself dying in exile in 2003.

Welcome, Nyonga Rugomayo Amundsen (applause). Well, you story is rather special because your father was Idi Amin's Foreign and Culture Minister.

N.R. Amundsen: Yes, that's right.

Interviewer: And you live several of your childhood years in Idi Amin's Uganda, until you fled the country. You saw this film today [Editor .note: 'The Last King of Scotland'] . Was that Idi Amin in your opinion?

N.R.Amundsen: Yeeees.. in part. It was his personality - also the way he changes his mind and invents things - gets impulses - that is quite like him. But unfortunately we did not see how really charismatic he was - that is, in the film - because we see only where he was most brutal - one does not understand why people liked him... what it was that made people in Uganda like him.

Interviewer: What kind of charisma was that?

N.R.A: He could talk, was amusing and polite and quite unbelievable - and he always referred to God. He said "I dreamed and God came to me in a dream and said that I had to extradite asians" for example, if he wanted to say anything. He was very dramatic.

Editor's note: Sathya Sai Baba has often stated in his published discourses that no one can dream about him without his willing it. Hundreds have reported countless dreams of Sai Baba in which they believe he visited and even instructed them, which he has often confirmed in interviews. (I also formerly dreamt of him hundreds of times). In a typical self-contradiction, however, after five decades of affirming this, he recently suddenly denied completely in a public discourse in 2004 that any dreams originate from him, that they all only come from oneself!

Norwegian transcript:
Intervjuer: Idi Amin kuppet seg alltså til makten i 1971. Han antas å ha tatt live av bortimot - nesten - en halv million landsmen inntil han selv ble kuppet in 1979. Han tok med seg statskannes og etterlot en nesten ruinert Uganda og døde selv i eksil i 2003.

Velkommen hit, Nyonga Rugomayo Amundsen (applaus). Alltså, din historie er litt spesiell for din far var Idi Amins utenriks- og kulturminister.

NR Amundsen: Ja, det stemmer.

Intevjuer: Og du levde flere av dine barneår i Idi Amins Uganda inntil dere flyktet. Idag var du og så denne filmen. Hva dette Idi Amin for deg?

N.R.A: Jaaaa... tildels. Det var også hans personlighet - også måten han ombestemmer seg eller finner på ting - får innfall - det ER ganske likt han. Men dessverre så få vi ikke sett hvor egentlig karismatisk han var, da, i filmen, fordi vi kan bare ser den delen hvor han var mest brutal man skjønner ikke hvorfor folk likte han... hva (det) det som gjorde at folk i Uganda likte Amin.

Intervjuer: Hva slags type karisma var det?'

N.R.A: Han kunne snakke, han var morsom og høflig og helt utrolig - og alltid refererte til Gud. Han sa "jeg drømte og Gud kom til meg i en drøm (og) sa at jeg måtte utvise asiater... for eksempel, hvis han hadde lyst å si noe. Han var veldig dramatisk.

Interviewer: But firstly, how did your father become his minister?

N.R.A: Well, he actually first got to know via the radio that he was made a minister. So he was not invited to a meeting to talk about it, just got to know that Edward Rugmayo is named as minister.

Interviewer: Oh yes. And he didn't know Amin before that, or what?

N.R.A: No. (audience laughter)

Interviewer: But did one believe at that time - including your father - that Amin could be a good man?

N.R.A: Yeees... because at that time he was so convincing and charming, seemed to be serious. So, like all the others at the time, he believed maybe he was better than Obote.

Interviewer: When he - your father - got that job and you lived in Uganda as a minister's family, how did you live.. was it a life of luxury?

N.R.A: It was a pleasant, comfortable and protected life then. We had bodyguards and chauffeurs, cooks and gardeners - it was a very protected life. You did not see much of others - how they lived - apart from one's own circle.

Interviewer: You remember some meeting yourself with Idi Amin, how would you describe the experience?

N.R.A: He had a deep voice and such big hands, they reminded me of bananas - I was 9 years old then. I was then a flower girl in the wedding of the Foreign Minister and so had to shake hands with him. He was so huge.

Interviewer: How did you begin to notice that something was wrong with this man?

N.R.A: There were so many things then. Sometimes sudden whims like 'now we shall extradite Asians, now we shall do this or that. And suddenly civil servants began to disappear - very well known people - eg. the Vice Chancellor of the University disappeared.

Interviewer: We have a picture here you brought which shows Idi Amin in the middle, your father on the left and the Vice-chancellor nearest. And what happened to him.

N.R.A: He was murdered, he was purely and simply fetched by Idi Amin's murder squadron. No one saw him again. He disappeared.

Interviewer: Did anything happen among those closest to you?

N.R.A: Yes. My uncle was actually killed by Idi Amin. And all that was found of him was a hand, so his wife recognised the ring. The rest of him was gone.

Interviewer: You decided to flee.

N.R.A: It was quite dramatic. One evening my father came home and said to us "Yes, children, just pack a case each, we are travelling away for a short while to Nairobi." We thought, Oh, such fun. It sounded like fun. But we didn't know that we would never come back to the house, we never got to say 'Good bye' to our friends. We just disappeared one night. We took a plane.

Interviewer: But didn't they follow after you?

N.R.A: No, not just then. But when we were in Nairobi, we had to seek the protection of the Kenyan government. And from Nairobi, my father went to Mombasa and from there he sent a telex to Idi Amin via the post office so that all who read it could see where he said that he did not want to be in the government. Idi Amin was shocked, and he reacted by sending all the ministers on an indefinite holiday.

Interviewer: That is so to speak typical of the way he reacted.

N.R.A: And all the State Secretaries became State Ministers thereafter!

Interviewer: That would not have worked here, Stoltenberg? (laughter)

Prime Minister Stoltenberg: No, it would not have worked. Seeing we have double the number of State Secretaries as Ministers, there'd have been far too many in the government (laughter).

Interviewer: I think perhaps both you and I grew up with Amin as a picture from our youth of a real dictator, a proper baddie?

Prime Minister Stoltenberg: Yes, there have been many dictators and many despots, but Amin was such a strong personality and I think he was so visible and did so many provocative things that he became that era's picture of a despot. I am still of the opinion that all he did was very illegal, but that makes the whole matter extra bad is that he was never convicted. I think we must have a world society which convicts that kind of criminal... and now we have got an international court which hopefully will judge that kind of person. He left Uganda and lived - whether he lived happily I don't know - but he at least was never brought to book for his misdeeds.

Interviewer: Are people in Uganda - or from Uganda - upset that he never got his comeuppance?

N.R.A: Yes. Many people are. Yes. Particularly those who lost their dear ones. We felt that Amin got away too lightly, he fled to Saudi Arabia and lived in Jeddah in style in a villa with 27 rooms and was happy... perhaps.

Interviewer: Many thanks for coming and telling us this! (Much applause).

Norwegian transcript
Intervjuer: Men, først, hvordan ble din far hans minister?

N.R.A: Vel, han fikk faktisk vite on dette via radio at han var blitt statsråd. Så han ikke ble invitert til møte for å snakke om dette, han bare fikk vite at Edward Rugmayo er utnevnt som statsråd.

Intervjuer: Og ja. Så han kjente ikke Amin før, eller?

N.R.A: Nei. (latter i salen)

Intervjuer: Men, trodde man på den tiden - også din far - at Amin kunne være en bra mann?

N.R.A: Jaaa... fordi på den tiden var han så overbevisende og sjamerende, virket som han mente alvor. Så han trodde som alle andre på den tiden at han var kanskje bedre en Obote alltså.

Interviewer: Da han -din far - fikk den jobben og dere levde da i Uganda som en statsråd familie, hvordan levde dere... var det et liv i luksus?

N.R.A: Det var et behagelig, komfortabel og beskyttet liv da. Vi hadde livvakter og sjåfører, kokker og gartnere - det var (et) veldig beskyttet liv. Du fikk ikke sett så mye av andre - hvordan de levde - bortsett fra egne krets.

Intervjuer: Du husker jo selv noen møter med Idi Amin, hvordan kan du beskrive den opplevelse?

N.R.A: Han hadde dyp stemme og noen store hender som minnet meg om bananer - jeg var 9 år gammel da. Jeg var blomsterpike i en bryllup da utenriksminister giftet seg og så måtte hilse på han da. Han var så svær.

Intervjuer: Hvordan begynnte dere å merke seg at noe var gærnt med den mannen?

N.R.A: Det var så mange ting da. Noen ganger plutselige utfall 'nå skal vi utvise asiater', nå skal vi finne på ditten og datten. Og plutselig begynnte embetsmenn å forsvinne da - ganske kjente folk - f.eks. Vise-Rektor på Universitetet forsvant.

Intervjuer: Vi har et bilde her du tok med som viser Idi Amin i midten, din far til venstre for og den Vise-Rektoren naermest. Og hva skjedde med ham?

N.R.A: Han ble myrdret, han ble rett og slett hentet av Idi Amins morderskvadron. Ingen så ham igjen. Han forsvant.

Intervjuer: Dere oppdaget noen dødslister, gjorde dere ikke det?

N.R.A: Ulike mennersker begynnte å forsvinne. Bl. a. landbruksministeren forsvant. Han ble hentet en kveld. Han bodde to hus far oss, da. Kom aldrig tilbake. Kom aldrig tilbake, ble hentet av Amins folk.

Intervjuer: Skjedde det noe blant dine nærmeste?

N.R.A: Ja. Min onkel faktisk ble drept av Idi Amin. Og det eneste som ble funnet av han var en hånd, så kona hans gjenkjente ringen. Resten av ham var borte.

Intervjuer: Dere bestemmer dere for å flykte.

N.R.A: Det var ganske dramatisk. En kveld kom faren min hjem og sa til oss "Ja, unger, bare pakk en koffert hver, vi skal reise bort en liten stund til Nairobi." Vi tenkte, ah så morsomt o.k. Det hørtes gøy ut. Men vi visste ikke at vi kom aldri tilbake til huset, vi fikk aldri sagt 'ha det' til vennene våre. Vi bare forsvant en kveld. Vi tok fly.

Intervjuer: Men de kom ikke etter dere?

N.R.A: Nei, ikke akkurat da. Men når vi var i Nairobi, måtte vi søke beskyttelse av den Kenyanske regjering. Og fra Nairobi dro faren min til Mombasa og det var da han sendt teleks til Idi Amin, via postkontoret slik at alle som leste det kunne se dette her hvor han sa at han ikke vil være i regjeringen. Idi Amin ble sjokkert, og han reagerte ved å sende all statsrådene på ubestemt

Intervjuer: Det er liksom typisk, den måte han reagerte på.

N.R.A: Og alle statssekretærer blir statsråder heretter!

Intervjuer: Den hadde ikke gått her, Stoltenberg? (latter)

Statsminister Stoltenberg: Nei. Det hadde ikke gått. Foruten har vi dobbelt så mange statssekretærer som statsråder, så det hadde blitt altfor mange i regjeringen. (latter).

Intervjuer: Jeg tror kanskje både du og jeg vokste opp med Amin som et bilde fra ungdommen til en skikkelig diktator, en ordentlig versting?

Statsministeren: Ja, det er vært mange diktatorer og mange despoter, men Amin var en så sterk personlighet og jeg tror han var så synlig og gjorde så mange provoserende ting så han ble den tidens bilde på en despot. Det jeg fortsatt mener at alt han gjorde var veldig illegalt men det som måtte gjøre det hele ekstra ille var at han aldri ble dømt. Jeg mener man må ha en verdenssamfunn som dømmer det type forbrytere... og nå har vi fått en internasjonal domstol som forhåpentligvis vil dømme den type mennesker. Han forlot til sist Uganda og levde - om han levde lykkelig vet jeg ikke - men han i alle fal sto aldri til rette for sine ugjerninger.

Intervjuer: Er dette noe mennesker i Uganda eller fra Uganda plages av - at han aldri fikk sin?

N.R.A: Ja. Mange mennesker gjør det. Ja. Særlig de som har mistet sine kjære. Vi følte at Amin slapp litt for lett fra det, han rømte til Saudi Arabia og bodde i Jeddah i sus og dus i villa med 27 rom og var lykkelig... kanskje.

Intervjuer: Tusen takk for at du kom og fortalte oss! (Stor applaus)


See The Hindu's report on Idi Amin's death

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