Felix Onama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Felix Kenyi Onama (born c. 1921[1]) was a Ugandan politician, who served as a minister for internal affairs and defence under President Milton Obote. He was appointed Minister of the Interior in 1962 (alternatively titled "Minister of Works and Labour"),[2] and to defence in 1966,[3] he had responsibility for both the police and the military.[4] Born in the West Nile District, he was the uncle of future President Idi Amin,[5] although the literalness of this claim is disputed.[who?] He served as leader of the Ugandan People's Congress in the neglected West Nile District, holding political views described as "near reactionary", compared with radical parts of the party.[6] He also served as general manager for the West Nile Co-operative Union, handling cotton ginning, from 1960 until 1962.[7] He also owned a bus line, which was nationalised alongside foreign businesses under the 1960 Nakivubo Pronouncement.[8]

Onama believed he had close ties with the military, so when in January 1964, there was a mutiny at the military barracks at Jinja, Uganda's second city and home to a burgeoning military, Onoma was sent by Obote to negotiate with the mutineers. As a colleague of Onama puts it, he intended to "talk with the boys".[4] There were similar mutinies in two other eastern African states; all three countries requested the support of troops from the British military. Onama was held hostage, beaten and had his shirt torn. He agreed to many demands, including significant pay increases for the army, and the rapid promotion of many officers, including Idi Amin.[9]

In 1966, Onama was embrolied in the crisis that hit Uganda. Daudi Ochieng, from the Kabaka Yekka party, alleged that some members of the government including Felix Onama, the Prime Minister Obote and Idi Amin, had benefited financially from the sale of gold and elephant tusks from the Congo due to Uganda Army's operations in that country, all of which was contested by Onama. This crisis would lead to Obote's usurping of the powers of the Ugandan government.[10]

Serving as sometime secretary-general of the Ugandan People's Congress, he was one of the leaders of the Uganda National Rescue Front.[11]


  1. ^ Taylor (1967) notes he was 45 in 1966.
  2. ^ Robin Leonard Bidwell (1972). Guide to Government Ministers: The British Empire and Successor States. 
  3. ^ Sidney Taylor (1967). "Kenyi+Onama" The New Africans: a guide to the contemporary history of emergent Africa and its leaders. Reuters ltd. 
  4. ^ a b Michael J. Macoun (1996). Wrong place, right time: policing the end of empire. p. 74. 
  5. ^ "Obituary: Idi Amin". London: The Independent. 18 August 2003. Retrieved 17 August 2010. 
  6. ^ "Independence: The Early Years". Retrieved 17 August 2010.  Taken from "Rita M. Byrnes, ed. Uganda: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1990."
  7. ^ M. Crawford Young; Neal P. Sherman; Tim H. Rose (1981). Cooperatives & development: agricultural politics in Ghana and Uganda. United States: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 61. 
  8. ^ "Jet". Johnson. 3 December 1970. p. 48. 
  9. ^ M. Louise Pirouet (2009). "Obote, (Apolo) Milton (1925–2005)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 17 August 2010. 
  10. ^ J. Kasangwawo. "The 1966 Crisis". Federo. Retrieved 17 August 2010. 
  11. ^ Alex Peter Schmid; Albert J. Jongman (2005). Political terrorism: a new guide to actors... p. 680.