Uganda proposes new history museum to showcase grim history

Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, (left) was the topic of the #K​ony2012 social media campaign, which was highly criticised for its campaign tactics.

Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, (left) was the topic of the #K​ony2012 social media campaign, which was highly criticised for its campaign tactics.

Uganda will open a war museum that will showcase the country’s grim history, in hopes of attracting tourists to the East African nation, the BBC reported.

The museum will display the history of Uganda, including its pre-colonial and colonial history. It will also exhibit the violent and catastrophic reign of Idi Amin and more recently — the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

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Chief executive Stephen Asiimwe of Uganda’s tourism board told the BBC it will use the museum as a remembrance of Uganda’s recent history. “History gets richer, it’s like red wine — it gets more interesting as the years go by,” he said.

Amin’s bloody rule from 1971 to 1979 was characterised by brutal and repressive laws.

According to Britannica.com, Amin was known for his “abrupt changes of mood” and his nationalism. In 1972, Amin expelled all Asians from Uganda for “milking the economy” and during his presidency, ordered the persecution of a variety of ethnic groups. 

It is estimated that 300 000 to 400 000 Ugandans died during his tenure as president. In 1979, he was targeted by the Tanzanian army and fled to Saudi Arabia where he remained until his death in 2003.

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The Lord’s Resistance Army began in Northern Uganda in 1988, according to Al Jazeera. The army caused hundreds of thousands deaths and displaced millions of people, according to The Guardian. Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, was the topic of the #Kony2012 social media campaign, which was highly criticised for its campaign tactics.

In an interview with BBC, deputy executive director of the Uganda tourism board John Sempebwa believes the memories of Amin and the LRA are too raw and recent to be presented in a museum.

“Society is divided. There are people who are still around who don’t have good memories of Amin. Now, not only won’t they come, they might burn this place down,” he said.

Arielle Schwartz

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