Idd Amin and the song of all songs!
by Valentine Marc Nkwame
Idd Amin Dada, the Sovereign Chief of Baganda, Mighty King of Uganda, Saviour of the African continent, the World’s Commander-In-Chief, Holder of the Advanced PhD and the Conqueror of the British Empire, died last week.
His death, as everybody would agree, is yet another great loss, of an even greater African statesman, since the untimely demise of his worship, Kuku wa Zabanga - Mobutu Sese Seko, the once reigning Emperor, of the disappeared, Zaire Dynasty.
Amin, who used to be the Yoweri Museveni of the seventies, became a household name here, when he allegedly invaded Tanzania, via Kagera region, in 1978.
Suffice to say that Ole Amin, wasn’t exactly in very good terms with Julius ole Nyerere, who by the, was the Benjamin Mkapa of this country.
Nyerere, who hated the guts of Idd Amin, thus saw this to be a good opportunity of reducing the self proclaimed Conqueror of the British Empire (CBE), into a smitten Charles Taylor.
So, suddenly! Before we could say, "Dada!" the historical, Tanzania versus Uganda war of 1978-79 was flagged off.
The war has been immortalized in Arusha, with the Soldier statue at the Bondeni park .... For some logical reasons, the gun was recently knocked from the soldier’s hand!
Anyway! The effects of the war, were clearly felt here in Arusha. The national call, wanting every health male to volunteer in the army, sent a great percentage of the masculine population in this town to hibernate.
As more soldiers got dispatched to a place called "Mutukula", a second announcement was issued. Since the army guys needed transport, all vans and buses in town must be donated to the course.
Suddenly! All buses, trucks and large vans in town, broke down. Their owners removed the tyres, overhauled the engines and those who could, locked the vehicles away.
But the third announcement was yet to come. Our "good" old government later ordered the citizens "Kufunga mikanda!" (fasten belts) because due to the war, basic commodities and foodstuffs, were going to be scarce .... These commodities were scarce even before the war.
The government, as usual had of course found a scapegoat. The real culprit, behind the scarcity of almost everything in the country, at that time, was actually the Government’s own Socialism dream boat.
In fact, there was even a directive which ordered all the lights be switched off from the tall buildings, like the AICC and those, ESAMI, premises, because apparently, it was believed that, Idd Amin was planning to "September eleven" them!
Never mind, but the Idd Amin sparked war also became a great relief to Tanzanians who were attending school in those days.
You know, Tanzania got its independence in 1961, but for some reason, pupils and students were being forced to sing "Freedom" songs way into the late seventies.
The alleged Idd Amin’s invasion, plus the resulted war however, changed the lyrics of most of the school choirs, chants and patriotic songs.
The usual terms; "Wakoloni", "Wanyonyaji", "Walowezi", "Mabepari" and "Makabaila" which were all negative terms used to mud-sling the "capitalists!" who allegedly "Colonized" our country, suddenly disappeared.
The old lyrics, were now replaced with new vocabularies like, "Fashisti", "Nduli" "Joka", "Mvamizi", "Dudu" and "Muuaji wa Kinyama!" all meant to describe Idd Amin.
I remember one such song:
"Idd Amin Akifa, Mimi Siwezi Kulia
Nitamtupa Kagera, Awe chakula cha mamba!"
(If Amin dies, I will never cry!
I will simply drown his body into River Kagera,
So that he maybe feasted on, by crocodiles).
But my favourite one, was this one from the Southern Highlands;
"Tuipute, tuti ndaga Nyerere!
Kya-nsondokile, Idd Amin."
The fist stanza means, "Let’s pray and say, Thank you Nyerere!"
Now, second line may either be translated into: "... To hell with Idd Amin!"
August 22, 2003.