Idi Amin's Little-Known Home in Kenya [PHOTOS]

  • Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin Dada in an undated photo. File
  • Inside Kiamachimbi Police Station in Mathira Nyeri County, lies an old wooden structure that has stood the test of time for the last seventy years.

    Though holding itself to the ground, the structure has a clear depiction of age, a clear indication that it has been standing for a considerably long time.

    What is not known by many is that this was once home to one of the world’s most dreaded leaders who ruled Uganda with a fist and fury, leaving behind a bloody historical trail of murders. 

    Mzee Ndirangu Macharia who has been a neighbour to the station since birth is one of the few remaining locals who can give an account of the exact details of the old structure and how Idi Amin got to the interior part of the now Mathira Constituency in Nyeri County.

    A section of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin's former residence in Kiamacimbi are of Karatina in Nyeri County.
    A section of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin's former residence in Kiamachimbi area of Karatina in Nyeri County.

    “I was a young man but I remember Idi Amin very well. He came here in 1948 as a member of the second battalion of the Kenya African Rifles operating under the British colonial masters," Mzee Ndirangu told Kenyans.co.ke.

    Although built of wood, Ndirangu explains the great care that was taken to ensure that the house lasted for as long as it could.

    “This structure was intended to house the top brass in the battalion and Idi Amin was part of them. It had to be built following tight instructions to ensure it lasts as long as possible and true to that, it still has a longer life left,” narrates the witty octogenarian.

    During the stay at Kiamachimbi where Amin had been deployed after the World War II, Amin was apparently no different from what later manifested in him, constantly leading attacks on the locals who vehemently resisted the colonial British masters.

    A section of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin's former residence in Kiamachimbi area of Karatina in Nyeri County.
    A section of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin's former residence in Kiamachimbi area of Karatina in Nyeri County.

    “I remember a number of attacks that happened under Amin’s leadership here. He led the infamous onslaught of locals along the railway line leading to Nanyuki passing near the Kariba caves. The battle was so fierce, leading to the death of hundreds of resisting locals. Their bodies were later stacked on trucks and this was what led to many retaliatory attacks,” Ndirangu remembers.

    How the Kenya African Rifles under Idi Amin gained ownership of the structure is also a puzzle; Ndirangu saying that the structure was originally intended to White settler farmers who were expunged from the station on the basis of being moderates.

    “The people meant to be the original owners of the structure were the large-scale farmers. They were known for subsistence farming along Itoga and Ruui Ruiru rivers. However, they did not support the oppression of Africans, a reason they couldn’t be allowed to continue living around,” says Ndirangu.

    Kiamachimbi Police Station in Karatina, Nyeri
    Kiamachimbi Police Station in Karatina, Nyeri. The station forms part of a colonial residence once inhabited by Idi Amin under the Kenya African Rifle (KAR) in the 1940s.

    Although the house has lived at the former colonial centre for over seventy years, administrators have always insisted on the house being left intact marking the only remaining old structure in the large compound.

    “I have seen various local police commanders transferred to the station and refurbish the house to preserve its rich memories of what the locals passed through in the aim of attaining independence. Some have even preferred staying in it while others have completely shunned it probably due to it’s bloody past.”adds Ndirangu.

    A section of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin's former residence in Kiamachimbi area of Karatina in Nyeri County.
    A section of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin's former residence in Kiamachimbi area of Karatina in Nyeri County.

    Despite the dark past memories under Idi Amin and others, the locals are now calling on the national and county governments to mark the structure as a historical monument reminding them of a struggle that was eventually successful.