Issue 146, Spring 1998
I did almost nothing on my first day as Idi Amin's doctor. I had just come in from one of the western provinces, where I’d worked in a bush surgery. Kampala, the city seemed like paradise after all that. Back in my old neighbourhood, I'd seen to Idi once. On his bullying visits to the gum-booted old chiefs out there, he would drive a red Maserati manically down the din tracks.
Walking in the evenings, under the telegraph poles where the kestrels perched, you could tell where he d been-the green fringe of grass down the middle of the track would be singed brown by the burning sump of the low-slung car.
On this occasion, he’d hit a cow—some poor smallholder had probably been fattening it up for slaughter-spun the vehicle and been thrown clear, spraining his wrist in the process. The soldiers, following him in their slow, camouflaged jeeps, had come to call for me. I had to go and attend to him by the roadside. Groaning in the grass, Idi was convinced the wrist was broken, and he cursed…