Monday, March 31, 2008
White "Africans" and Bob Astles; Idi Amin's notorious Adviser
Some one asked how possible it was that there are white people still living in Zimbabwe. To know the answer, one has to understand the effect the African continent has on non Africans especially white people. This is an area that needs serious study.
A white person that lives in Africa for a very long time is not your typical white person you see in America or in Europe. To understand them one has to meet these whites and talk to them but even then, only they know what they are about.
The Zimbabwean whites that refuse to leave despite the life threatening situation are a key example. It will be surprising for some to learn that some of these same "persecuted" whites are actually working along with Mugabe and others are working with his opposition.
Those that will manage to survive this crisis without being killed will emerge as a new breed of White Africans and if the experience of Uganda's expulsion of Indians is to go buy, they will come out with even more power and influence in the aftermath.
Bob Asles inset
I am posting an article from the UK's Daily Mail about Bob Astles, one of Idi Amin's hench men who inspired the book and Movie, 'The last King of Scotland". Astles has persistently claimed that he was the good guy. But Ugandans see no big difference between him and Amin. He displays the characteristics of your Typical 'African' White man.
'The White Rat' who owns a Beamer and lives in Wimbledon
By CHARLOTTE GILL
With a yacht on the South Coast and a BMW in the drive, Bob Astles enjoys a very comfortable retirement.
When he is not relaxing at his £1 million home, the 82-year-old likes to go for a gentle sail on the Solent.
But while he may look like any other pensioner, behind the windcheater and chinos lies a figure once feared and reviled by an entire nation.
Thirty years ago, Astles was the right hand man to the Ugandan despot Idi Amin and nicknamed "the White Rat" for his allegiance to the lunatic dictator who murdered around 300,000 of his fellow citizens.
Astles' role in the dictator's reign has been brought to the fore once more with the release of The Last King of Scotland, the Oscar-nominated film about Amin's rule.
In the movie, the character Nicholas Garrigan is in part based on Astles who was widely perceived to be Amin's closest adviser.
The directors chose to make Garrigan, a Scottish doctor played by James McAvoy, an amalgam of three men who were allies of Amin at the time, but the part of his character which is infatuated by Amin is based on Astles.
When the African leader was toppled in 1979 after an eight-year reign of terror, Astles was imprisoned for six years.
On his release, he returned to his native Britain but kept in touch with Amin until his death in 2003.
He now lives with old friend and historian Betty Julius, 81, with whom he shares an impressive five-bedroom house on a smart, tree-lined street in Wimbledon, South West London.
It is an enviable lifestyle which, some would argue, an individual once known as "the second most hated man in Uganda" does not deserve.
A former soldier from Kent, his hunger for adventure took him to Africa and he settled in Uganda when he was 30 with his new wife Monica, who had travelled with him from Britain.
A year later she left him. Not long after he married Mary Ssen-katukka, an aristocratic member of a Ugandan tribe, and had two children. The couple later separated.
He and Amin met in 1962 when Astles was close to drowning in Lake Victoria and Amin, then an Army captain, fished him out.
Astles worked for the government and ten years, when Amin came to power in a military coup, he swiftly changed allegiance.
Being a loyal servant, however, did not provide immunity from the ruler's evil rages. He was threatened with execution several times and served a brutal prison sentence on a spurious charge.
"Scared of him?" he once said in a rare interview. "My hair would go on end but I was a fighter. The last time he arranged for me to be killed, he sent for my wife and said, 'Go and look at him for the last time.'
"He was a mad man obviously."
Despite his mood swings, such was Amin's fondness for his sidekick that he made him "Major" Bob. Astles, in return, referred to his master as H.E, short for Amin's favourite chosen title of His Excellency.
Astles has always been unrepentant about his job.
"I loved it," he later recalled, "and when my minister asked me to do something, I'd do it ... And I'd do it all again. Definitely."
Astles has always denied any crimes.
When Amin was overthrown, Astles escaped to Kenya but was arrested and jailed despite being acquitted of murder and other charges against him.
"They starved me down to less than eight stone, but I wouldn't die," he said.
On his returning to the UK in 1985, he moved in with Miss Julius and has led a life of quiet anonymity ever since.
The only visible link to his past is the large, drooping moustache he has had since the Amin years.
On Monday Miss Julius claimed that Astles was abroad and no longer wanted to talk about his days as "the White Rat".
Asked if he had seen the film, she replied: "No, I don't think he has. It is fiction anyway. He doesn't like talking about the old days - as far as he's concerned, it's all in the past."
Residents in the street find it hard to come to terms with their neighbour's controversial background.
One said: "I knew the name Bob Astles in the 70s and was aware that there was the British man who was Idi Amin's right hand man.
"I learned recently that this same man is now living on the same street as me just a few doors away though he has been here for years.
"It is very odd to think of his past and what he has done. It is difficult to try and equate that with the person you see today. He just looks like a normal retired man."