IDI AMIN DADA: Hitler in Africa by Thomas & Margaret Melady

IDI AMIN DADA: Hitler in Africa

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When Dr. Melady's brief, harrowing tenure as US ambassador to Uganda ended in 1973 and the embassy was closed, the pretext was an Amin blast at American intervention in Vietnam: ""Our efforts to have Amin's genocide serve as the main reason. . . were unsuccessful."" Now, in the post-Helsinki, early-Carter period, the Meladys find editors as well as officials more receptive to an indictment of the tyrant miscalled a buffoon. But their attack is not only spotty compared to David Gwyn's bill of particulars (reviewed above), it also suffers from an insistence on likening Amin point by point to Hitler (re persecution of Jews and Christians, atrocities, aversion to routine, sexual insinuations, etc.), thereby largely overlooking Amin's attitudes and impact as an African. They also commit the double faux pas, surprising in Africanists and conscious Christians, of dully saluting Amin's ""unschooled shrewdness"" and ""primitive art for words"" and looking askance at his base origins: ""He came from nothing. . . . He thus cannot be considered an African hero stemming from traditions of the past."" Where their sympathies are engaged, however, the Meladys do better. They give a moving account (as they did at book length last year) of the expulsion of the Ugandan Asians--like refugee Jews and Armenians, ""truly unwanted"" anywhere--and depict the churches' plight at first-hand: Mrs. Melady attended the 1964 canonization of the martyrs of an earlier (1885-87) Ugandan despot's persecution--with jubilant Ugandan Catholics who were to meet their death at Amin's hands. The thin, strident condemnation of the arch-tyrant takes second place, finally, to the quietly sounded plea for his victims.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Sheed Andrews & McMeel