Title: The Unseen Archive of Idi Amin
Photographer(s): Various photographers by Uganda Broadcasting Corporation
Writer(s): Derek R. Peterson, Richard Vokes
Designer(s): Hannah Feldmeier
Publisher(s): Prestel Publishing, London, England
Size: 22,5 x 28 cm
Print: Longo, Bolzano, Italy
Nation(s) and year(s) of Protest: Uganda,1950-1979
I have been thinking about the importance of this book and why to include it in this collection. I believe that this book tells about a tragedy, the dictatorship of Idi Amin, and how the dictator used images to communicate but also to magnify his figure forgetting that images are a stone and will be subjected to eternal judgment. To talk about this dictatorship is an act of protest.
Culled from a collection of 70,000 negatives from the archives of the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, the images in this remarkable collection were taken by Amin’s personal photographers between the 1950s and mid-1980s. Like many dictators, Amin used photography as a means of spreading propaganda that would flatter his regime while obscuring its failures and abuses. Organized into thematic sections, these photographs show how Amin sought to gain support for acts such as his expulsion of tens of thousands of South Asians in 1972 and for the »Economic War«, in which citizens charged with petty theft were tried and executed. There are portraits of Amin with other leaders—such as Louis Farrakhan or King Sihanouk of Cambodia—and with members of his family. There are also fascinating insights into the ways Amin hoped to promote Ugandan arts and culture, including a food-eating competition in Kampala and ceremonial visits to remote villages. The book includes revelatory archival documents recently unearthed concerning the Amin government. Essays by the authors, both experts in the field, help provide a context for the archive, as well as insights into how the lessons learned from this dark period of African history can shine a light towards a brighter future for Uganda and its people.