I Love Idi Amin by Bishop Festo Kivengere
When I was in grade school, my mom (who had homeschooled me up through the second semester of ninth grade) purchased a set of Christian fiction books called Trailblazers. Written by Dave and Neta Jackson, these books focused on Christian historical heroes and were written from the perspective of a fictional kid or teenager who was in some way in the path of this hero. One of the stories I most remember is Assassins in the Cathedral, which focused on the life of Ugandan Anglican bishop Festo Kivengere. The protagonist of the story had lost his brother in a church assassination and hated Bishop Kivengere for his message of peaceful nonviolence towards dictator Idi Amin. His hatred grew to a fever pitch after the publication of Kivengere’s book I Love Idi Amin, which piqued my curiosity. The book ends on a note of resolution, but I always wondered about Kivengere’s book. I picked it up from Interlibrary Loan through one of my colleges, and read it in an afternoon.
Kivengere focuses on the narrative of Christianity in Uganda during Idi Amin’s regime, the sacrifices that were made, and the miracles that occurred. His own life was threatened as he had to flee the country in order to keep his work for the church alive. He chronicled the many triumphs that God implemented in Uganda even during dark times of persecution.
I picked up this book wanting a philosophical discussion of how to love your enemy (something I’m currently struggling with, I wonder why) and how to be a Christian in the face of oppression and terror. This book is much more narrative driven and doesn’t really tackle those questions until the last page or two. I’m not disappointed to read Christian heroes discuss their struggles, but I wish Kivengere had been a bit more philosophical and abstract in reflecting on his experiences.