AfREC Fellow Co-Curates the Unseen Archive of Idi Amin in Uganda

In 2015, a filing cabinet was unearthed at the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) headquarters in Kampala, Uganda, which contained – what turned out to be – 70,000 photographic negatives, taken by official photographers of the Idi Amin regime. The majority of these negatives had been never printed. This was, literally, an unseen archive.

In January 2018 the UBC launched a project to digitize this historically important collection. With funding and technical support from UWA, Makerere University and the University of Michigan, the dedicated team of archivists has digitized 25,000 images to date.

In May 2019, a major exhibition of the photographs was launched at the national Uganda Museum. The exhibition – which was curated by AfREC Associate Director (Research) A/Prof. Richard Vokes along with Nelson Abiti, Edgar Taylor and Derek Peterson – consists of 200 photographs drawn from the much larger collection held by the UBC. They images were chosen to document all aspects of the Amin regime, and what everyday life was like for ordinary Ugandans during the dictatorship.

It also included a memorial element for the 300,000 victims of the Amin regime.

The launch was accompanied by a series of panel discussions with former Ministers of Idi Amin; the Amin family; former senior journalists in Uganda, and; Victims of the Amin Regime. These were all broadcast live by the national broadcaster, UBC, and have been since widely syndicated, including on YouTube.

The exhibition has generated global media coverage. To date, articles on the exhibition have appeared in 24 countries, including in major national newspapers in: Canada, Denmark, Kenya, Latvia, the Netherlands, Uganda, UK and USA.

Additional showings of the exhibition, including at venues in Australia, the UK and the US, are due to be held in coming years.

Photo credit:

H.E. opens Jjajja Marina

24 July 1975

UBC 4858-017


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