Uganda: The Last King of Scotland, Cessation of Hostilities Agreement Expires, and Hummers in Kampala

My latest Global Voices post is here, inspired by seeing Forrest Whitaker in the Academy Awards.

On Sunday Evening at the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, an emotionally shaken Forrest Whitaker accepted an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in The Last King of Scotland, a film set in the frightful times of the Ugandan despot Idi Amin.

In February, the grand opening of the film took place in Kampala. The New York Times sent an outside correspondent to cover the event, and wrote in a front page article calling Uganda “one of the safest and most stable countries in Africa.” This week, the Times published this response from Patty in Nairobi:

"In 'A Film Star in Kampala, Conjuring Amin’s Ghost' (front page, Feb. 18), you note that Uganda is now “one of the safest and most stable countries in Africa.” That may be true in southern Uganda, but it is a very different reality for the Acholi people in the marginalized north. In Uganda, only half the population lives in a part of the country where it’s secure enough to film a Hollywood picture. We should not forget the other half."

In Kampala, Moses Odokonyero, a journalist at the independent Uganda Daily Monitor and blogger at sub-Saharan African Roundtable, describes a first hand encounter with Amin’s machinery of torture, as told by an Anglican Archbishop who was condemned for speaking out against the regime. Odokonyero then goes on to draw parallels between the Amin regime and the Museveni’s behavior in suppressing Kizza Besigye, his main opponent in the last presidential election:

Museveni, like Amin, shot his way to power after a five-year guerilla struggle that he and his supporters call a revolution. One of his favorite topics, besides the media, is past leaders whom he baptized “swines” several years ago. But how different is he from the “swines?” Uganda has greatly changed since the Amin days: people don’t disappear as often and crudely from the streets, and there has been an improvement in press freedom and freedom of speech which is commendable. But stories of illegal detentions, people being tortured in the most gruesome of ways, including allegedly tying stones on their testicles, are still heard of, only this time they take place in “safe houses.”


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