Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Say, was Idi Amin our Napoleon Bonaparte? Our Gamal Abder Nasser? Lech Walesa for the unionists amongst you? Our Otto Von Bismarck even? Mmph?

Oh get off your high “past leaders were all diabolical evil child-eating swine” horse and use the space between your ears for like a minute. See every nation, and there are precious few of those around, had a defining creation moment. Invariably this “moment”, which lasted anywhere from a few weeks to an entire generation, was the crucible that created the modern day states of France, Egypt, Poland and Prussia-before Germany and Hitler and all that.

As is wont to happen when you set out to browbeat the proletariat into sharing your vision for their own good, blood was shed, lives were lost, property was destroyed and Ugandans learnt to hold their heads up high. Ask Bob Geldof and one Uncle Paul. And by the way, my mother lost her only brother during The Raid on Entebbe so don’t give me holier-than-thou BS. Please don’t roll out the 300,000 “deaths”, we both know that was about the entire population of Kampala then, and there is no way that many people were killed!

But I digress. Last night I watched General Idi Amin Dada, a film by Barbet Schroeder who is apparently a filmmaker of not inconsequential standing. That was the first time in all of my two plus decades that I was watching a film on Amin. The ninety minute film was shot in that favourite of styles from the period, where the interviewer speaks off camera and the only dialogue you hear is that of Big Daddy himself.

My overriding emotion was the impression that things were a lot simpler back then. And Kampala Road looked a damn sight better than it does today; all brisk orderliness and paved sidewalks. If we hadn’t had Amin, yes we would have been a lot better off and I probably would be writing this on my own PC, not the one from work, because the economy blah..blah..blah… And for all my education I would probably be working for Ranjit’s dad who sent the profits I made for him back to Calcutta so little Myna could buy some more gold jewellery for her dowry.

So for a trade off between owning my broke country and being a serf to the Wazungu and Wayindi, give me my country any day. And by the way, the military uniforms looked a damn sight better than they do today; I mean what’s this nonsense of wearing a beret with a full dress uniform?

P.S. The author has a white friend or two and grew up with Manjit and Raju. He loves people of colour especially Sachin Tendulkar, Mira Nair and Krishnan Gurumurthy


P.P.S lets all pour out some liquor for Lt. Gen. John Garang de Maboir (RIP). let us not ask who done it but rather what can we do for the New Sudan in this and all times to come. methinks twas really the weather, what about you?

2 Comments:

Blogger Iwaya said...

u know, i never before thought about idi amin that historical context like you have. u have set my mind thinking seriously. thank you.

Fri Sep 16, 07:29:00 pm  
Blogger Degstar said...

is it ethical for me to leave comments on my own blog? yeah well, whatever. thank you iwaya, for acknowledging that there is a lot of stuff going unsaid about Amin and Obote and the rest of them. perchance, the entire story will be told...and retold...in our lifetime.

Tue Sep 27, 12:01:00 pm  

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