The little-known story of how Idi Amin allegedly caused the killing of his fifth wife’s ex-lover just to marry her

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Idi Amin with his fifth wife Sarah Kyolaba

Besides being known to be a ruthless dictator, former president of Uganda, Idi Amin, who reportedly fathered 43 children and had 5 wives, was also known for his promiscuous lifestyle.

With the power he once yielded, it was without a doubt he could get any woman he desired whether she was interested or not and also silence whoever was against it.

The story of Amin’s relationship and eventual marriage to his fifth and then 19-year-old wife Sarah Kyolaba, who was nicknamed “Suicide Sarah”, makes for a very interesting case.

The two tied the knot in 1975 in a very lavish wedding which reportedly cost over $2 million with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat being the best man for the occasion.

However, the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and death of Sarah’s ex-lover, Jessy Gitta Kasirivu, who openly registered his displeasure with Amin’s advances on his then girlfriend exhibited how far the dictator could go to get what he wanted.

Jessy’s relationship with Sarah, and Amin eventually coming into the picture and its aftermath has been featured in a recently released documentary titled Bwana Jogoo: The Ballad of Jessy Gitta.

Directed by Michiel van Oosterhout, the documentary focuses on the “love triangle” involving Amin, former Cranes band bass player Jessy Gitta Kasirivu and 17-year-old Sarah, who was a go-go dancer for the band.

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Idi Amin playing an accordion on Buvuma Island in October 1971

According to The East African, the documentary features interviews and narrations by Jessy’s former bandmates, old musicians and family members, as well as, people who were close to Amin who knew about Jessy and Sarah’s relationship.

In the documentary, Jessy was abducted by agents from Amin’s State Research Bureau on August 4, 1974, forced into a car boot and taken away without a trace as Amin had shown interest in Sarah. That was the last time he was seen.

Jessy and Sarah’s love affair began when they were both members of The Cranes band where the former joined as a guitarist. Previously a dancer for the Suicide Mechanised Regiment army band, Sarah later joined The Cranes after she was hired by Clyde Mayanja, one of the founders of the band, The East African writes about the documentary.

“When Jessy and Sarah met they liked each other and eventually fell in love. They spent their all free time together after rehearsals going to the cinema,’’ Mayanja said.

“Of course we knew that Sarah was Jessy’s girlfriend. They were together even before Amin met and started dating Sarah. We told Jesse, ‘man you have to be careful. We have heard this and that.’

But he would be calm about it saying, ‘That is nothing, nothing is going to happen.’ I thought she was just fooling Amin who was a tough man, I would say. She was still coming to Jessy…,” another band member said.

Though Jessy told friends he was being monitored by state security agents because of Sarah’s involvement with Amin, he refused to back down. Meanwhile, Sarah was also in a dilemma.

“We had a meeting at Speke Hotel to discuss Jessy’s dilemma. We asked him if he was ready to stay away from Sarah. He said he was not because they were in love.

Then Jessy stood up and walked out on us. He later quit The Cranes because of the pressure from us to leave Sarah. But he later re-joined the band and we could tell they were wildly in love and their emotions blanketed their reasoning,” Mayanja was quoted by The East African.

Despite the danger he faced for refusing to end his relationship with Sarah, Jessy, who also did not heed to the advice of his friends, went as far as composing a song for Sarah. Titled Ggwe Nonze (my chosen one), Jesse begs Sarah to accept his marriage proposal and affirms he doesn’t mind losing his life for her.

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Idi Amin with Sarah Kyolaba on their wedding day

“Jessy was stubborn and we all saw where the relationship was going. It was dangerous,” Tony Senkebejje, one of the founding members of the band said.

After Jessy’s disappearance, The East African reports that his relatives were warned to be quiet about it. His remains were never found and local media never reported it.

According to the Independent, Sarah had a child with Jesse, but Amin “adopted” him after she conceived.

“Just imagine, a teenager forced to abandon the love of your life and get married to someone as old as your father. That bruised her emotionally and she has had to live with that pain all her life,” a friend of Sarah said.

After Amin was deposed by rebels in exile backed by Tanzanian forces on April 11, 1979, he sought refuge in Saudi Arabia where he lived until his death on August 16, 2003, at the age of 78.

Sarah left him in 1982 and moved to Germany before settling in London. She passed away in 2015 after suffering from cancer.

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Sarah in the U.K. in 1999

After Amin’s death, Sarah described her ex-husband as a “true African hero” and a “wonderful father,” according to the Independent.

“He was just a normal person, not a monster. He was a jolly person, very entertaining and kind,” she said.

“I learned a lot of things from him, not because I was married to him but as a growing woman… things like leadership, self-confidence and initiative.”

 

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