Idi Amin didn’t feel that he had done anything wrong. While he was driving his Mercedes on the street of Riyadh, or while he was ordering soldiers to torture dissents, he never had a doubt of his action. He believed that he acted in the best interest of people and god. Nor did Hitler felt any guilty when he ordered massacre towards Jews. A handful of people who were able to wage their wills over tens of millions of others had one thing in common: sheer determination and insurmountable self confidence. They seldom doubted what they are doing and always find reasons to justify their actions. However contradicting those reasons may appear to others, those extraordinary men believed. As per my understanding now, that belief is guiding their destiny: be it good, neutral or evil, that is a topic of another day.
To be the personal physician of Idi Amin won’t be less thrilling than to live with a throng of cobras. The book narrated some rare insights of the dictator’s eerie, conflicting and murderous behavior. Although the book simply unfolds the events as they took place, it is shockingly touchable, thought provoking and unstoppable. It is a story of a very ordinary individual that happened to be entangled in a specially tragic part of Uganda history.
No need of any cinematic touch, nor did the author ever attempted, the historical circumstances naturally made it a best selling thriller. He was no James Bond, at maximum, he was a rebellious young man living next block on the street. That is why he couldn’t stand up when the soldier intimidated the Kenya diplomat; that is why he refused to poison Idi Amin; that is why he indulged himself for an affair with a married woman; that is why he was shivering on the floor of prison; that is why he chose to stay away from his family; that is also the reason why he didn’t report the whereabouts of defeated Amin. He is just an ordinary man.
The story has been restored with astonishing honesty. After all, under whose carpet there is no dust? In whose closet there aren’t any skeleton? The book hardly expressed explicit opinions about Idi Amin; or even if it did, it expressed rather conflicting opinions. Nicolas can be easily labeled as a complicity of Idi Amin; but that may not be fair. If he hadn’t gone to Uganda, he would just be like the young boy next door who occasionally enjoy a late night party or caught drunk by police while driving. He wasn’t a person to change the course of others, definitely not of someone like Amin. He was just a follower How many people would take the right decision in front of death?
The story sketches a overall picture of Uganda under the reign of Amin: its culture, its people, its breathtaking landscape. It tells a horrible story in a falling country: A lovely kid was turned into a cold blooded killing machine; Amin’s wife was cut into pieces before being stitched back; ambassador’s wife had an affair with a pilot; under supplied hospitals struggled to just keep the place clean…
A beautifully worded book written by an ordinary doctor caught in between a tragedy. It is thought provoking, artistically satisfying and mentally thrilling.