Forest Whitaker, the Oscar-winning American actor who played the role of ex-Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, was temporarily detained by immigration officers at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda after a routine control and scan of his passport showed that he could be the real Idi Amin Dada.
The actor who is also the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation has since been released and the authorities in Uganda have apologised for the blunder blaming it on the old equipment in use at the airport and the inexperience of the young arresting officer.
However, in his defence, the arresting officer said Mr. Whitaker, when asked, admitted he was Idi Amin Dada.
“The system said he was Amin…He admitted he was Amin… The President said Amin has committed a lot of abuses and must face trial if he comes to Uganda alive. Now what have I done wrong?” wondered the young officer who believes he was just following procedure when he detained Mr. Whitaker and raised the terrorism alert.
On his part, the American actor said he thought he was just being appreciated for his role in the movie that earned him an Academy Award for best actor. Several times before, he said, he had been called or referred to as ‘Idi Amin’, but never thought that would land him in trouble.
Idi Amin Dada, who ruled Uganda from 1971-1979, died in exile in 2003. Up to the time of his death he was deemed a wanted fugitive in Uganda and ‘would have to answer for his sins’ the moment he returns to the country alive.
Mr. Whitaker is in the region in his capacity as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation and is on a mission to raise peace-building support and to strengthen the protection of children affected by the conflict there.
He is currently in South Sudan touring UNESCO centers. He can be followed at @ForestWhitaker (twitter)