Idi Amin's dadas By Patrick Kariuki A man will do many things to win the affections of a woman. When he is president of a country, however, the power of the office imbues him with such an allure that it is women who are willing to do anything to win his affections, even for a day, because they know it will transform their lives. Idi Amin Dada, unfortunately, wasnt so lucky with a girl called Princess Bagaaya, otherwise known as Elizabeth of Toro. The minute the dictator saw the devastatingly beautiful model, he decided he had to have her. Normally, he would just have killed whatever boyfriend she was seeing and grabbed her as he had done before to other women. But alas, she was royalty and had an international profile. Even though he had a dim view of women in government, Amin appointed Princess Bagaaya to be his Foreign Affairs Minister to get her attention. Never mind he had once remarked: "The duty of a woman is to be a house woman. Make them managers of hotels." Amin and his second wife Kay (Right), at a function in Kenya with first President Jomo Kenyatta and Mama Ngina. Indeed, Bagaaya was the only woman in his cabinet. He started pestering her. Wanting to see her in a bikini, he organised cabinet meetings in the swimming pool and repeatedly asked her to join his all-male government in the water, only to meet with little success in his seduction designs. One day, he worked up some gumption and approached her: "Many people have come to me to tell me about rumours concerning you and me. I said to them am I not a man, and is Bagaaya not a woman? What is wrong with it?" The ploy, unfortunately, failed to work. Eventually, he could bear it no more and sent a friend to ask on his behalf whether the Princess would consider marrying him. Her reply, sadly, was curt and crystal clear: "Out of the question!" The humiliated, heart broken dictator fired her from her prestigious job shortly afterward and then threw her in jail on the incredulous charge of embarrassing Uganda by allegedly making love to an "unknown European in a toilet" at Paris Orly airport. But in failing to reckon with the international connections of Elizabeth of Toro, he had gone a little too far. The international uproar was so vehement he was forced to release her within the week. She fled Uganda with the help of then Kenyas President Jomo Kenyatta never to return until after Amins downfall. First love It wasnt always like this though. In the early 1950s, while still a relative nobody, Amin met a striking girl called Malyamu Kibedi, the daughter of a headmaster. She was a six-foot tall, statuesque girl in her early 20s who carried herself in a somewhat regal manner. She was the perfect match for the young Amin, then only 28 years old. Her family, however, did not approve of the young Amin. For one, he came from a different tribe (Kakwa). Like many young lovers, though, Malyamu did not care about that. She moved in with Amin. In the years to come, she would bear him six children. Early 1966, Amin was implicated in a gold smuggling operation. The scandal exploded on the floor of the Ugandan Parliament, which demanded his resignation as deputy head of the Ugandan Army. His response was to take off, abandoning Malyamu and the children and briefly going into hiding with a young Makerere student, Kay Adroa. Luckily for Amin, the gold scandal quickly blew over allowing him to return. During his hibernation with the young lass, he had set in motion plans to take her as his second wife. But there was an obstacle: Malyamu. Despite living together, she was not formally his wife. This he quickly corrected by finally paying bride price to her family; there was no wedding though. The coast clear, he immediately married Kay in a formal western style wedding. Effectively, he had just married two wives nearly simultaneously. Kay was from his tribe, though, which was a driving factor in his decision to marry her. Just one year later, the gold scandal quite forgotten, Amin was in a position of national prominence and was quite popular. This made the then President Milton Obote paranoid. The clever Amin decided he needed a wife from Obotes tribe, Langi, to help defuse things with his Commander in Chief. Quickly, he identified a girl called Nora and made her his wife in 1967. She was number three. The Nora ploy bought Amin some crucial breathing room to patiently lay his plans against Obote. In 1971, while Obote was abroad, Amin led a coup that ousted Obote. He declared himself the President of Uganda. One year later, in September 1972, Obote organised Ugandan exiles living in Tanzania into a force, which invaded Uganda in a vain attempt to regain power. Yoweri Musevenis rebel force joined in as well. It was a moment of fear, hope and anticipation for the country. Every Ugandan with a radio was keenly tuned in, waiting to hear any news of the outcome of the invasion. Bagandan gift What they got instead was Idi Amins announcement that he had decided to marry a singer and dancer called Medina, who was allegedly given to him by the Baganda tribe in appreciation of his favours to them. It must have been Amins idea of dark humour because he had actually massacred many Bagandans. According to Henry Kyemba, a former minister in Idi Amins government, Medina came to Amins notice during State functions. In State of Blood, his inside account of the Amin years, Kyemba says Medina was, quite simply, stunning. "She had a figure then that was dramatically sexy by any standards. Many Ugandan women have rather large backsides (a feature traditionally regarded as beautiful), but not Medina. She was slim-hipped, with well-formed breasts and was a ferociously agile dancer. She was in a class by herself," he writes. "One night, when we were on tour in Moyo, I stayed with Amin until about 12:45am discussing the arrangements for the following day. Amin got undressed he was completely uninhibited about stripping in front of me and climbed into bed. I left. As I went out, one of Amins bodyguards ushered Medina in... I wasnt surprised," he adds. Kyemba added that Amin enjoyed telling his ministers that if anyone wanted Medina, they could take her she was readily available. And incredibly, one foolish minister took Amin at his word and made a play for Medina. He was dismissed from the government. He was, however, quite fortunate. Others who crossed Amin found themselves riding in the boot of a car to the Nile for immediate decapitation. In August 1975, Amin invited some Heads of State attending the Organisation of African Union summit in Kampala to State House. The Chief Kadhi was also summoned. Soon enough, they learnt they were all there for Amins wedding to Sarah Kyolaba, wife number five. Everyone knew Kyolaba as Suicide Sarah because she had been a go-go dancer for a Ugandan military band called Suicide Mechanised Unit. Dead boyfriend Her marriage to Amin was hardly by choice. Earlier, he had murdered her boyfriend and forcefully adopted her child with the dead boyfriend. She was barely out of her teens. Although the ceremony was a Muslim one, Sarah wore a western wedding dress. The wedding was televised on Ugandan TV for many days due to what Amin said was "great public demand". He divorced his first three wives, Malyamu, Kay and Nora, over the radio after they threw out their bodyguards, got drunk and threw a small party for themselves. His second wife, Kay, died while trying to procure an abortion after getting pregnant with her lover. Amin died in Saudi Arabia in 2003 aged 78. Its believed he married at least two more women. Ugandas press claims he got married for the last time just a few months before his death. He had maintained many mistresses, throughout his life. The number of children borne to both his wives and mistresses is uncertain. Estimates range between 30 and 45.