There’s a list of books I mean to write, and this one is somehow on it, even though I couldn’t bear to write it, let alone research it. It would be about how in one year three of the world’s worst tyrants – literal madmen – lost their jobs.
- In Equatorial Guinea, Macías Nguema was executed. He had done the same to perhaps a quarter of his population.
- In the Central African Republic, Jean-Bédel Bokassa – who, after crowning himself emperor, beat to death schoolchildren – was removed by the French. He got to die of old age.
- Idi Amin was chased out by a Tanzanian invasion. He got to die of old age too.
I read War in Uganda: the Legacy of Idi Amin, about how Tanzania finally got fed up with the neighbor from hell. It’s by two journalists, Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey, who embedded with the Tanzanian military.
It’s a grim book, and part of what makes it so awful is that after the invasion – which was ruinous for Tanzania – things only got worse in Uganda. “The consensus is that [Milton Obote’s] reign from the end of 1980 until the middle of 1985 was more brutal, and resulting in higher number of deaths, than the whole of Amin’s” (History of Modern Uganda, Richard J. Reid). Anyone who endorses invading other countries for their benefit should at least acquaint themself with what happened in Uganda.
There was, believe it or not, a funny bit in the book. (It’s not, you know, hilarious, but I’m trying to end on an up note.)