This Day in Black History: Feb. 20, 1971

Idi Amin became president and ruler of Uganda.

Posted: 02/20/2013 08:00 AM EST
Idi Amin

After serving as deputy commander of Uganda's armed forces, Idi Amin ousted President Apolo Milton Obote and declared himself ruler on Feb. 20, 1971.

History notes that his full title was "His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular." 

As president, he was a force to be feared and was known as the "Butcher of Uganda" for his brutal attacks on opponents. Those who were tortured, killed or imprisoned are numbered in the 100,000 to 500,000 not including those who simply vanished without a trace. His paranoia about opponents hiding in his mist grew to such extremes that he conducted ethnic purgings and executed members of his own parliament and several who held high positions in Uganda.

Amin was ousted in 1979 by Ugandan nationalists leading him to live in exile in Libya and Saudi Arabia until his death in 2003.

Actor Forest Whitaker won the Academy Award for best actor, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for best actor for his portrayal of Amin in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland.

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(Photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

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