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Unfortunately, the exploitative books outnumber the serious ones and, to a degree, they work to undermine them, by sensationalizing the grisly or comic myths that have long obscured a regime whose evil is very real, very banal and in no need of exaggeration. Two serious books, however, are worth comment. The Inside Story of Idi Amin. New York: Ace Books. Reports to the U. Commission on Human Rights. Submitted by the International Commission of Jurists. Geneva, Switzerland: International Commission of Jurists.
It must be read by anyone including members of the world press who persists in regarding Amin as more of a buffoon than a butcher. He served President Milton Obote as personal private secretary he was with Obote in Singapore in January , at the time of the coup and broke the news to him that Amin's troops had taken over. He held the same position under Amin and then, after a period of suspicion and demotion, rose in to become Minister of Culture and later Minister of Health.
By the time he defected—in Britain last May, out of fear for his life—he had established a record of longevity in Amin's cabinet. Kyemba was close to Amin. He engaged in late night chats at the Marshal's bedside, counseled his wives and nodded to his mistresses, received a lavish wedding gift from him, supervised his medical treatment and helped cover up his crimes.
Kyemba has no doubt that Amin is personally implicated in many of Uganda's killings, which he places—extrapolating, from, among other things, the bloated bodies he has seen floating near Owen's Dam—at , P, treatment. As Minister of Health, Kyemba had access to Mulago Hospital including its busy morgue, and thus a window on Kampala's underlife. He saw the bullet riddled bodies of Angelican Archbishop Jawan Luwuum and two Cabinet ministers who Amin insisted, to an unbelieving world, had died in a traffic accident.
He comforted Mrs. Dora Bloch, the highjack victim left behind during the Israeli raid at Entebbe. Kyemba sets the record straight on a number of macabre tales that have dogged Amin's rule. He does not believe, for example, that Amin killed his second wife, Kay, who was unfaithful, by having her body dismembered and her limbs sewn back on in reverse positions.
More likely she died during an abortion at the hands of her lover, a doctor, who subsequently committed suicide. It is true, however, that Amin had her body reconstituted and displayed to her assembled children as a lesson on the wages of infidelity. Nor was it true, Kyemba asserts, that there was a student massacre at Makerere University in August, , of the magnitude reported by the British press, which claimed victims.
Indeed, it is. Kyemba retraces some of the now famous episodes of Amin's early career that reflected the kind of leader he would become. One wonders in the light of this why his coup was greeted with such jubilation. Equally mystifying is how Amin manages to stay alive and in power. As Kyemba describes it, his rule rests first upon simple unbridled terror, enforced by 15, thugs, mostly Nubians and southern Sudanese, spread through three separate security organizations.
Initially, he won the loyalty of the Baganda tribe by bringing back their exiled chief for burial. He quelled unrest in the army by expelling Asians and handing over their property. He is constantly on the move, constantly telephoning orders from undisclosed locations and constantly mixing truth and falsehood to keep his top officers off balance. Of course, he is constanly killing. Why did Kyemba serve this man for so long, especially after his own brother was killed by Amin's goons in ?
He is at pains to explain it, and his rationalizations thread the narrative from start to finish. Often, he says, he was unaware of what was going on; the assertion is difficult to uphold given the nature of his disclosures.
The answer probably lies in the assessment of Kyemba frequently heard from other Ugandan refugees, that he is a man very much concerned with looking out for himself. Why did Amin trust him? That statement speaks volumes about Kyemba's capacity to close his eyes to the horrors inflicted upon others around him. It undercuts a moral tone he strives vainly to impress upon the reader and makes his plea for international sanctions against Uganda something of a hollow call.
It is for others to judge whether Kyemba has justified, in any way, his long collaboration with Amin by adding to the stockpile of information that may someday help to bring him down. The reports by the commission, an international organization of lawyers based in Geneva with a reputation for impartiality, do not aim to provide startling new disclosures.
Instead, they set down, coldly and dispassionately, the names, the dates and the circumstances—insofar as this is possible — of hundreds of persons who have been liquidated since Amin seized power in The material is presented in a straight. In Idi Amin's Uganda, anonymous goons drag judges out of their chambers, surgeons out of operating rooms and politicians out of hotel receptions.
The tortures are unspeakable in their savagery. Prisoners are immersed in holes filled with cold water. In Amin's Uganda, murder is capricious. As in Nazi Germany, people are killed for belonging to the wrong tribe, the Acholis and Langis.
Death is not impersonal and methodical as it was under the Third Reich: heads are smashed with sledgehammers and car axles, and other prisoners are called in to roll around in the gore and clean it up. The reports contain descriptions from eye witnesses named whenever possible , and depositions from two former Cabinet Ministers. They cover every aspect of human rights violations—the expulsion of Asian noncitizens, the purges in the Army, the massacres of entire villages, the deaths of Amin's collaborators and relatives.
Almost as shocking as the bestiality of Amin's rule is the fact that the U. Commission on Human Rights, confronted with such a wealth of irrefutable evidence, failed twice to take any action whatsoever. During its most recent deliberations this spring, it turned its back on the issue at the very time when the murder of Angelican Archbishop Luwuum and the tribal massacres in Uganda were being denounced by the civilized world. Ironically, among its members was a newly installed representative from Uganda.
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View Larger Image. Bookseller Inventory If you want shivers sent up your spine, then this book should do the trick. The inside information and stories that Kyemba relays is quite appalling. And the insight we are provided into a clearly deranged individual's mind is startling to say the least.
Seller Rating:. Soft cover. Condition: Good. Faded, worn and soiled wraps. Extremities are rubbed. Chipping to head and tail of spine.
State of Blood the Inside Story of Idi Amin by Kyemba Henry, Used
Published by Book Digest Company, Inc. Seller Rating:. Condition: Very Good. First Edition; First Printing. Contains "Beggerman, Thief," by Irwin Shaw.
State Blood by Henry Kyemba