By Samuel Opio
Him and other passed leaders have been nick-named ‘swine’ by Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni, but his Government is now looking on how to make more money through tourism by documenting and archiving their historical ‘misdeeds’.
By doing this, Government of Uganda plans to unveil a war museum showcasing colonial-era wars and more recent conflicts,an archive that will attract more revenue through tourists.
Atrocities committed under ex-President Idi Amin’s brutal eight-year rule and rebel leader Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) atrocities are among those to be documented.
Uganda Tourism Board Chief Executive Stephen Asiimwe told TheSpy Uganda that they want to put the record straight.
The Uganda war museum, which is yet to be built, will also showcase pre-colonial and colonial history. “History gets richer, it’s like red wine – it gets more interesting as the years go by,” Mr Asiimwe said.
He said that the project was not intended to be insensitive or voyeuristic. “I lived through the Idi Amin era as a young boy, my fellow students lost their parents to the regime. However you cannot run away from history. These are facts,” he said.
Most recently, Ugandans have had to deal with the LRA, which has claimed to be fighting to install a government based on the Biblical Ten Commandments.
Formed more than two decades ago, the group became notorious for chopping off people’s limbs and abducting children to use as soldiers and sex slaves.
Its leader, Joseph Kony, is wanted for war crimes and the group continues to operate in northern Democratic Republic of Congo and eastern Central African Republic.
He was the subject of the Kony2012 social media campaign six years ago which detailed his alleged crimes.
Colonial records were systematically destroyed by Britain in a purge known as “operation legacy”. But the war museum is expected to document some events from the period.
Construction has not yet begun, but the museum already has its detractors.
John Sempebwa, the deputy executive director of the tourism board, told this reporter that he disagrees with his colleagues who suggest Ugandans are ready to revisit the more painful details of their past.
“Society is divided. There are people who are still around who don’t have good memories of Amin. Now, not only won’t they come, they might burn this place down,” he said.
Who Is Idi Amin?
Idi Amin Dada joined the army – the King’s African Rifles in his early 20s. In 1971, Amin seized power less than 10 years after the country’s independence.
In 1972, he expelled Uganda’s entire Asian population, accusing them of milking the country’s economy.
He declared himself King of Scotland, banned hippies and mini-skirts, and awarded himself the Victoria Cross.
In 1973, Amin went to exile after being ousted by Uganda and Tanzanian troops.
He finally died in Saudi Arabia in 2003. Approximately 400,000 people are believed to have been killed under his rule.