It’s quite amusing to watch someone doing everything possible to hide his own past from the people of Uganda.
Former UPC party Chairman Olara Otunnu was the most brilliant student at Makerere University in the early 70’s, becoming the guild president in 1973. The Amin government had noticed his oratory skills and brilliance and had a policy of picking the best university students and giving them careers in public service. That is how Olara Otunnu was noticed by Amin as a great speaker, and invited to work in the Amin government.
My father was so impressed with Otunnu’s oratory skills after watching the young man on TV one evening.
In preparation for the UN General Assembly of October 1975, the Ugandan leader invited him to Presidents office and personally dictated to the young Otunnu the outline of his upcoming UN speech.
Otunnu then went back to his desk to polish and enhance Amin’s speech, turning it into the Ugandan leaders greatest performance on the world stage. My father was not very fluent in English having had little formal education because my grandparents were poor and couldn’t afford sending him to school far away. But Otunnu was well educated and had now re-written Amin’s ideas in a way that gave the speech more clarity, weight and formal substance.
The two then travelled together to New York aboard the presidential jet in October 1975 for the General Assembly. Mid-flight, they went over the speech, changing a word here, and correcting a meaning there. Plus Otunnu was going to start working at the Ugandan mission to the United Nations.
To avoid any reading mishaps, it had simply been agreed that Amin would walk to the podium and give a few greetings to the world leaders, and then Olara Otunnu would read Amin’s speech to them.
But that presented Otunnu with a problem.
Having secretly been lying to his kin and UPC party members in exile that he has been speaking out against the Amin regime, in reality he had actually been doing the exact opposite, working with the Amin government, and now they were about see him reading Amin’s speech to world leaders at the UN, with the pan Africanist leader seated in full uniform right next to Otunnu at the UN podium.
At the last moment, Otunnu hid, and the Ugandan Ambassador to the US, His Excellency Yunus Kinene would be the person to read the speech as Amin sat nearby on the podium.
Ugandans remember that day as the first time an African president talked to world leaders in the country’s local African dialect on the world stage. The Baganda were ecstatic because it was their dialect, Luganda, the most dominant language in Uganda, that their president had used on the global stage. A first at the UN for any African leader by the way.
Indeed the president spoke briefly before and after his speech was read for him.
Being the chairman of the African Union, he was also speaking on behalf of the entire African continent, and his speech didn’t spare anyone in raising all the issues that Africa was grappling with at the time. Including apartheid, and the fact that several African countries were still under colonialism at the time. The Ugandan leader told the assembly that African countries had just passed a resolution three months earlier during the African Union summit in Kampala to join forces and liberate the remaining countries by military force if there was no progress towards these countries independence.
He also thanked Russia and China as the only countries that had helped Africa in it’s fight for liberation from colonialism, while the so-called western democracies were still enslaving and exploiting Africans on their own continent, defending the fascist apartheid regime in South Africa, and still scrambling for Africa and it’s resources as their colonial property. He raised the issue of racism against black people and people of colour in America. A topic that he had been discussing with the leaders of America’s civil rights movement which his government was supporting. In reference to the late Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba who had been murdered in Congo, Amin called the CIA “a murder squad that was assassinating any African leader who dared to rise against imperialism”.
After the speech, Amin went to the opening ceremony of the brand new Uganda House right opposite the UN Headquarters in New York, and the Ugandan leader left Otunnu at his new posting at the Ugandan mission in New York, happily returning to Uganda after the raucous applause that Otunnu’s speech-writing skills had produced for him at the UN General Assembly. That speech was for decades included in the top ten most memorable moments of the UN General Assembly.
While all this happened in 1975, here is what Olara Otunnu says about himself on his wikipedia biography:
“Throughout his time as a Makerere University student, Otunnu played an integral role leading the resistance movement against the Idi Amin regime, co-founding and serving as Secretary General of the Uganda Freedom Union, an organization that brought a number of patriotic Ugandans together in the struggle against Amin. Facing increasing threats from the government, Otunnu was forced into exile in 1973, evading arrest and escaping the country into Nairobi, Kenya.”
Now this wikipedia biography also has a problem. How did Otunnu fly together with Amin to New York in 1975 if he had fled the country two years earlier in 1973 because of Amin persecution?
In fact Olara Otunnu’s entire UN career, from day one until he left as Under Secretary General on Children Affairs in the new millennium, that career was started by Idi Amin on that day in October 1975 as they flew together aboard the presidential Gulfstream jet to the UN General Assembly and Otunnu remained behind serving at the Ugandan mission at the UN while Amin returned to Uganda.
After contesting in the 2011 elections where he was resoundingly defeated as he only managed to get 1.5% of the total votes cast, Otunnu has since retired from active politics to concentrate on pretending to mourn Janan Luwum, when in reality he was in the Amin government.
In the 1980’s, after the Amin government, he became Uganda’s Permanent representative at the UN, simply by lying to the new Obote II government that he had been speaking out against the Amin regime since university. And in order to confuse everyone, it is said that Otunnu would himself write a letter to the international media stating that “a brilliant student named Olara Otunnu has been brutally murdered by dictator Amin for speaking out against the regime.”
I bet that he went around in the 1980’s showing that news article to the new Obote government as some sort of proof of standing boldly against Idi Amin and escaping with his life by probably now claiming that “I had been left for dead”.
However, in regards to the 1975 speech, while complaining about the UN some years back, renown Televangelist Pat Robertson of the famous 700 Club TV program would write that “Amin had been greatly applauded when he arrived, had received a raucous applause throughout his speech, and a standing ovation as he left.”
Thanks to Olara Otunnu. A man who doesn’t want anyone to know that he is the one who Amin himself dictated the speech to in 1975. He has done a fantastic job hiding this past that not even President Milton Obote, Mama Miria, their son Jimmy Akena, any of his fellow UPC party members or UNLA henchmen know what I have stated here today, which includes a private testimony from a former Amin bodyguard who was on the presidential jet with President Idi Amin and Olara Otunnu flying to New York in 1975.
Signed: Mr. Hussein Lumumba Amin
Friday 12th Feb, 2021.
– From the UN records, find in this link the full 90-minute speech that Olara Otunnu beautifully wrote for His Excellency Field Marshal President Idi Amin: https://www.facebook.com/212665596843/posts/10157452523291844/?app=fbl