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Henry Kyemba

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Kyemba in 1977

Henry Kisaja Magumba Kyemba (8 February 1939 – 19 October 2023) was a Ugandan political figure who held several high positions and finally became Minister of Health during Uganda's rule by Idi Amin.[1] He served in that post from February 1974 until May 1977, when he fled into exile.[2] He was also the author of State of Blood, a 1977 book he wrote after his flight from Uganda that describes Amin's tyrannical rule.[3]

Early life and education


Henry Kisaja Magumba Kyemba was likely born in Bunya County in Busoga on 8 February 1939,[4][5] to Suzana Babirizangawo Mutekanga and Suleiman Kisajja, a colonial administrator.

Kyemba attended local primary schools, before joining Busoga College Mwiri for his Cambridge School Certificate (1951–1956). He was at Makerere University between 1957 and 1962 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in History.[citation needed] Kyemba held a master's degree in history from Northwestern University, Evanston, US and a Certificate in African studies from the same university. He also held an Honours degree in history from the London University.[citation needed]



Kyemba joined the Uganda civil service on the eve of Uganda's independence from Britain in 1962. He was the Principal Private Secretary to then Prime Minister of Uganda, Milton Obote. Following the 1971 Ugandan coup d'état, he joined Amin's cabinet, rising through the ranks to become the Minister of Health (1974–1977) during Amin's regime.[6] Kyemba defected to London in 1977, where he wrote a book on Amin's regime titled: "A State of Blood." He returned to Uganda in 1986, and he served as Secretary of Judicial Service Commission.[4] [7]

Life and service in Rotary International


Henry Kyemba was fiercely dedicated member of the Rotary International movement, becoming Rotarian in 1987 as a Charter Member of The Source of the Nile Rotary Club now in Jinja City. Under Henry Kyemba's influence and contribution, the Rotary Movement grew even bigger in Uganda to now include some 400 clubs as of 2023. Uganda is now in District 9213, along with the vast nation of Tanzania. At the time of his demise, Henry Kyemba was a Past District Governor (PDG) of Rotary International District 9200 (Uganda, Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Tanzania). District governor is the highest office possible in the Rotary International Movement at district level, with only the President of Rotary International being as leader of the global movement being bigger. The Rotary Club claims that his contributions positively impacted millions. [8]



Henry Kyemba died from complications from diabetes on 18 October 2023, at the age of 84.[9]


  • Kyemba, Henry (1977). A State of Blood: The Inside Story of Idi Amin. New York: Ace Books. ISBN 0-441-78524-4.


  1. ^ "Idi Amin: 'Butcher of Uganda'". CNN. 19 August 2003. Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  2. ^ Harvey, Roy (1979). "Henry K. M. Kyemba's Inside Story". Sepia. Vol. 28, no. 7. pp. 28–30.
  3. ^ "Reborn Amin puts Uganda centre stage". Sydney Morning Herald. 19 February 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Henry Kyemba: The man who joined politics by accident". 5 January 2021.
  5. ^ "State of Blood author Henry Kyemba dead". NilePost. 19 October 2023. Retrieved 19 October 2023.
  6. ^ Uganda: Building of a Nation. Kampala: Vision Group. 2012. p. 41. ISBN 9789970447008.
  7. ^ Kyemba, Henry (1977). A State of Blood: The Inside Story of Idi Amin. Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 9780448785349.
  8. ^ https://clubrunner.blob.core.windows.net/00000050146/en-ca/files/homepage/the-wave-newsletter---january-2019/The-Wave-Magazine_January_2018.pdf
  9. ^ Ex-minister Henry Kyemba dies at 84 – family