15. The Dictator Who Declared Himself “Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas”
When London severed diplomatic relations, Amin declared that he had defeated Britain and awarded himself a CBE (“Conqueror of the British Empire”) medal. He also conferred upon himself a VC, or Victorious Cross, which copied the Victoria Cross. Among the titles he bestowed upon himself were “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular“. Amin also declared himself King of Scotland. His personal life was no less bizarre – and he was no less terrible to many in his inner circle.
A polygamist, Amin married at least six women, and murdered and dismembered one of them. In 1975, a nineteen-year-old go-go dancer caught his eye, so he had her boyfriend beheaded. He then married her in a lavish wedding that cost about ten million dollars, at a time when hunger and malnutrition were rife in Uganda. Estimates of his victims range go as high as half a million. A boneheaded attempt to seize a province of neighboring Tanzania led to a war, which Amin swiftly lost. He fled in 1979, first to Libya, and then to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi royal family gave him asylum, refused to extradite him, and paid him generous subsidies until his death in 2003.