INTRODUCTION or position. According to Lt Col (ret) J?rg


“You cannot run faster
then a bullet. In any country there must be people who have to die. They are
sacrifices any nation has to make to achieve law and order. Sometimes people
make mistake the way I talk for what I am thinking”

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Idi Amin Dada –


to the Oxford Dictionary, leader is a person who leads or commands a group of
people, an organization, or a country. Throughout history, there were many
leaders who lead their nation or empire. Under military perspective, definition
of military leadership is the process of influencing others to accomplish the
mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation. Command is the authority
in the military service, low fully exercises over subordinate by write of his
rank and assignment or position. According to Lt Col (ret) J?rg Keller
Associate Professor of Military Sociology at the Staff and Command Colleague of
the German Armed Forces. “Military Leadership is an art, a creative activity
based on character, ability and mental power. The main purpose of this research is to highlight the leadership
traits and quality of the most controversial leader in history of Uganda,
General Idi Amin Dada.


The sole purpose of the
implementation of this paper is to extract, identify and analyse the leadership
traits and style of General Idi Amin. The
main objective is to identify and explain the chosen principle of the leader.  This paper
is also to expose the SOC participant in studying the nature or characteristic
of a leader as a guide in Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) environment.  On the other hand, the reader can understand
and adopt all the points raised in this study for future reference to be a
wiser and a more charismatic leader in managing and leading their organisation.


On a serious note, this
paper will provide an analysis to understand more detailed of the principle and
traits of controversial leader. The objective from this research paper is to
give the benefit, lesson learned and recommendation as a guide to RMAF
personnel. Therefore, it is essential for future leaders of the RMAF to study
and analyse the leadership traits of General Idi Amin Dada.






aim of this paper is to identify and study the positive and negative traits of General Idi Amin. This paper also to
analyse his leadership principles and the lessons learnt from his principles.
This paper will also include the recommendation of the leadership style that
can be imposed and implemented in the RMAF.





scope of this paper is as follows:





Lessons Learnt
in relation to the Principles chosen.






Early Years. Idi Amin Dada is a member of a small Kakwa ethnic
group. His birth date is unconfirmed, but from a few research it is estimated
at the year 1925. He was born in Koboko County in West Nile district, Uganda He
is Islam by religion. His mother is an herbalist and diviner. She raised him
after his father left them. From our study, we can understand that a fatherless
child can develop very little empathy or none at all. We can see this when he
came into power in 1971. He received rudimentary education. Amin joined the
King’s African Rifles (KAR), a regiment of the british Colonial Army in 1946 as
an assistant cook at about the age of 21.


Military Service. General Idi
Amin had a successful carrier in the army. He quickly rose through the ranks.
In 1949, he was deployed to Somalia to fight the Shifta rebels and later fought
with the British during the suppression of the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya from
1952 until 1956. Idi Amin was very good at swimming, rugby and boxing. He holds
the title of light heavyweight boxing champion for 9 years. He became famous
among his fellow soldiers for his overzealous and cruel military
interrogations.  General Idi Amin was
ranked Effendi, highest rank possible of a Black African that was serving in
the British Army that. From our study, we can conclude that Idi Amin was a
charismatic army personal.


Relationship with Milton Obote. After 70 years of under
British rule, Uganda gains its independence on October 9, 1962. Milton Obote
became the first Prime Minister. During that time, Idi Amin was a Captain in
the Ugandan Army. Amin was very popular within the Army. Milton Obote and Idi
Amin forged an alliance. Obote used Amin to gain popularity within the army and
Amin used Obote to rise up in rank. Obote and Amin made deals of smuggle ivory
and gold from Democratic Republic of the Congo and used to trade them with arms
for the army.  In Febuary 1966, following
accusation that the pair responsible for smuggling, Obote suspended the constitution
and proclaimed himself executive president. Amin meerged as a hero when Obote
used him to introduce a dictatorship. Obote sent Amin to dethrone King Mutese
II, who rules the powerful kingdom of Buganda in south-central Uganda. After a
few years and multiple failed attempt, Obote was threatened with assassinations
attempts. Obote began to question Amin,s loyalty and ordered his arrest. In
1971, Obote left to Singapore for a Commonwelth Heads of Government Conference.
During this period, Amin used this opportunity to stage a coup to rule Uganda.


Eight Years of Terror.       Amin promised the
people of Uganda that he will only take over the ruling until a proper election
was made. Unfortunately in his eight years of ruling, no election was made. His
first step when he came into power is mass execution upon the Acholi and Lango,
Christian tribes that had been loyal to Obote and therefore perceived them as
threat. He then created State Research Bureau (SRB) and Public Safety Unity
(PSU) to identify and eliminate those who oppose his regime. In 1972, Amin
expelled Uganda’s Asian population which is around 50000 to 70000 people. The
reason he did this because he wanted a Uganda that will be run by the Uganda
citizen. In result of the Asian Expel, the economy of Uganda collapse. When
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hijacked Air France flight
on June 27, 1976, Idi Amin welcomed the terrorist group. Throughout his ruling,
Idi Amin was responsible for roughly 300,000 civilian’s death.    


Loses Control and Enters Exile.            After 8 years and poor economical
planning, Amin’s intimate allies downsize and formerly loyal troops began to
mutiny. When some fled across the border into Tanzania
and Idi Amin accused Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere of instigating the
unrest and retaliated by annexing the Kagere Salient, a strip of territory
north of Kagera River, in November 1978. Two weeks later, the Tanzanian
mobilized a counter offensive to recapture the land, and drove the Ugandan Army
out with help of Ugandan Exile. The battled raged into Uganda and Idi Amin was
forced to flee on 11th  April
1979, when Kampala was captured. Due to his good relationship with Libya’s
maverick leader, Colonel Gadafy, Idi Amin sought refuge in Libya. He later
moved to Saudi Arabia where he lived comfortably until his death of multiple
organ failure in 2003.



 Leadership Principle is an
action of leading the military organization in order to accomplish mission
objectives by applying a set of fundamentals that serves as the foundation of
the leader. In this study and analysis, we are defining that Idi Amin is suited
with Kurt’s Lewin Leadership style. Kurt Lewin and his colleagues had did
decision experiment on 1939 and divided into three different styles. That is
Autocratic, Laissez-Faire and Democratic.

Autocratic Style. This
style is involving the leader make a decision without consulting others.

Laissez-Faire Style. This style is to reduce the leader’s involvement during decision
making. It is allowing the follower to make decision, however the
responsibility still under the leader.

Democratic Style.  This style is involving the leader and the
follower in making a decision but the final decision may vary from the leader
having the final say to them facilitating consensus in the group.

In this study,
Autocratic Style is best suited with Idi Amin. The tools will be used to
analyse it is by using SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis is an acronym for
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threats. 

Strength. It is an
internal attributes and resources that support a successful outcome. The
strength of an autocratic leadership that it is effective when decision must
come quickly. In the case of Idi Amin, during his regime, all major decision
and final say comes from him. Whoever is reluctant or oppose him where killed,
so the people were afraid and controlling government were easy. During
stressful period, autocratic leader were more effective, and their subordinate
appreciate their leadership. When Idi Amin took over Uganda, the people of
Uganda were under stress of the former corrupted government of Milton Obete.
When Idi Amin stage a coup, more than 2/3 of army and the people of Uganda
supported him.

Weaknesses. Internal
attributes and resources that work against a successful outcome. The weakness
of autocratic leadership, it invites potential abuse of overly powerful
personalities. During Idi Amin regime, he abuses his power of president and he
took the short way eliminating those who seem like threat to him. Another
weaknesses of autocratic leadership is the decision making process lies on the
leader shoulder. Very little or no input were given by their allies. This can
lead the leader to make poor decision. During eight years in power, Idi Amin
made multiple wrong decisions but two was most significant. First is when he
expelled the Asian Population of Uganda that cause the collapse of Uganda
economy. Second, when Idi Amin welcome and supported Popular Front of
Liberation Palestine (PFLP) when thei hijacked Air France from Israel to Paris.
Nation of over the world condemned and criticizes Idi Amin of doing this. After
eight years of his regime, formally trusted allies and troops downsized. This
caused mutiny and eventually Idi Amin lost control.

Opportunity. It is an
external factor that entity can capitalize on or use to its advantage. In
autocratic leadership, there are many room of opportunity that can be used by
the leader. A great leader is will take this opportunity into his greatest
advantage. For an instant, Idi Amin used his relationship with Milton Obete to
rise in power and introduce dictatorship. When thing when south with Milton
Obete, Idi Amin used Milton Obette absence into his advantage by staging a coup
and taking over power in Uganda.


External factor that could jeopardize the entity’s success. Autocratic
leadership style gives absolute power to one person. This invites threats from
everywhere. Idi amin had many threats, one of it is he was paranoid that the
support for Milton Obote will outgrown him. He was also paranoid that the
Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere is providing pathway or shelter for troops
that begin mutiny and ran to Tanzania. This caused Julius Nyerere to attack and
resulting Idi Amin fleeing Uganda.



Positive leadership traits
are a good personal characteristic that reflect the individual effectiveness in
leading the organization. Although Idi Amin was portrayed as a brutal leader by
the western media, there are a few notable positive traits of him. Some even
believe that he was a hero of the Third World :

True Patriot and Nationalist.       Idi Amin was a ruthless leader but he was also a visionary. He
wanted to create a Uganda that was fully governed by its own people. Due to the
fact that Uganda was still in its early stage of independence, the foreign
influence is still strong. Idi Amin wanted to eliminate this foreign

Ambitious.    Idi Amin is a very ambitious man. He came into power to eliminate
the corrupted government that was lead by Milton Obote. During this time the people
who were affected by the corrupted government fully supported Idi Amin.
Eventhough Idi Amin didn’t receive proper education, he was a very knowable in
Islamic studies due to his Islamic background. He wanted to create a Uganda
that will be fully driven by Sharia Law.


Opportunities.         Idi Amin was very wise. When he sees an opportunity,
he will use it to his advantage. He forged alliance with Milton Obote to rise
in power and he overthrows him when the times come. He used the absences of
Obote from Uganda to stage a coup and ruled thereafter. He also used his
popularity and influence in the army to rule Uganda.



leadership traits may occupied by status and might see the team members as
subordinates and lesser people. These type personalities might demonstrate
control, inflexibility, power and lack of personal skill among other negative
personality traits, making it difficult for a team to grow. The negative traits
that Idi Amin shown are as follows:

Brutality.       Idi Amin was enforcing brutality during
his regime within 8 years. Idi Amin is also known as a “The Butcher” by many
people of Uganda. He killed about 300,000 to 500,000 people of Uganda by
establishing the secret police force called State Research Bureau (SRB) and
Public Safety Unity (PSU) to identify and eliminate those who oppose on him.
Those people that Idi Amin killed were mostly anonymous people for an example
farmers, student, clerks and shopkeepers who were shot or forced to bludgeon
each other to death.

Poor Decision Making.     Idi Amin was a poor decision maker. During his regime he made the
poorest decision in expelling the Asian out of Uganda. This caused the economy
of Uganda to collapse. Amin launched “economic war” and wanted to create
economic independence that was solely ruled by Uganda people. In 1972, Amin
expel 40,000 Ugandan resident of Asian origin. These people are mostly are
workers brought by the British from the Indian subcontinent to build a
railroad, were dominant in the country’s commercial life. Amin warned “If they
do not leave, they will find themselves sitting on fire”.

Corrupted.    Idi Amin welcomed and supported terrorist during his regime. It is
because Amin was abetted with Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine –
External Operation (PFLP-EO) to hijack Air France flight on June 27, 1976. The objective
of that mission is to release 40 Palestinian. Even though initially Idi Amin
was against the corrupted government of Milton Obote, his own government became
more corrupted then ever.




Being a leader is a
huge responsibility. It requires wise decision making to uphold his support
from his people. There is no wrong in choosing to be an autocratic leader. An autocratic
leader can lead a successful organization but he should be an example for his

Communication.     A good communication is vital in running an organization
or nation. Even having absolute power, the leader should have good
communication skill. He should be open to inputs and advices from others. A
good communication should be extended to his people where the leader should
take into consideration into the need of his people. He should pay more
attention into his peoples moral.  

Lead by example.   In our analysis, we can see
that Idi Amin made false promises to the people of Uganda. He should have hold
onto his promises where he would held an election. Even if he did an election and
he stand in it, the support was there for him during that time and he might
made it Prime Minister of Uganda. This will surely inspire his nation and they
will see him as a hero.


Empathy.      As a leader, we
should have empathy. When we have empathy, our followers will have a huge
amount of respect and they will look up to us. In the case of Idi Amin, if he
had empathy we wouldn’t have killed almost 300 000 to 500 000 souls. He could
have different approach that he could control them by avoiding blood bath. 


Confident. Confidently expelling the Asian to
give a chance for Ugandan to run their economy. Even though this was a bad
decision, Idi Amin was confident and he believed that was the best thing to do
for the future of Uganda. Idi Amin also had great amount of self confident when
he threw out the regime of President Milton Obote. He did this because he
believed that he was a way better leader then Obote.


As a leader we should have initiative and enthusiasm. As a leader Idi Amin’s
approach on gaining the military support can be observed when he used to
smuggle ivory and gold to trade with weapon for the military. 


To be a successful leader, being a visionary is very crucial. Idi Amin was a
very good visionary, he build up good relation with Obete and climb up the
ladder in his military career. He also had a vision on building a better Uganda
that was fully driven by its own people.

From our study, we can derive that as a leader, integrity plays a huge role. In
portraying integrity, followers will look up and be inspired by the leader. Idi
Amin failed to do so when he didn’t deliver his promise on organizing a general

your people. In achieving success in leadership, it
is important to understand the needs of the people. We should push our
followers to great success but in the same time, we should consider their needs
and we need to identify their moral state. Idi Amin knows that the people of
Uganda were oppressed during the British regime, so his plan to uphold their
right and needs became an important part in taking control of Uganda.

. Tact is the skill and sensitivity in
dealing with others or with difficult issues. Being a leader we should have
tact and in having it we can approach and deal with situation in a way better
way then what Idi Amin did. Idi Amin should have a different or better approach
in solving the problem within the Ugandan people. 


It is not a sin or a mistake
being an autocratic leader, at desperate and difficult times we need an
autocratic leader to control and contain the situation. There are lots of ways
to abuse power but if the leader has lots of moral value and good character,
followers will be inspired and the leader will emerge as a hero.



autocratic leadership that was portrayed by General Idi Amin Dada was brutal
and heartless, but there are also a few good characteristic portrayed by him
during his military carrier and starting of his time in as the President of
Uganda. Based on our study analysis, we can conclude that autocratic leadership
is one of the best leadership traits but it should be lead by a leader that is
near perfect. The leader should have high moral value and huge amount of
consideration over his followers.