Sarah Kyolaba passed away silently in London in 2015, but her life was nothing near peaceful and discreet when she was still living with her high-profile husband in Uganda during the 1970s.
But how did the fifth and most favorite wife of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin lived her best life despite the turmoil surrounding her husband’s presidency?
The late Ugandan first lady, also known as “Suicide Sarah” during her years as a go-go dancer, was born in a hospital in Kampala in 1955. According to a documentary, she dropped out of St. Francis Secondary School to join the army band as a dancer.
Life As A First Lady
She met Idi Amin when she was 19 years old while working at the Revolutionary Suicide Mechanised Regiment Band under the Uganda Army. According to reports, Amin was smitten with the charming dancer. Despite their age gap, he pursued her and asked for her hand in marriage and be his fifth wife.
The couple was married in a lavish £2 million-worth wedding at the Nile Mansion (currently named Kampala Serena Hotel) in the middle of the Organisation of Africa Unity summit meeting in Kampala in 1975. Some of the top government leaders and other dignitaries were present during the event, while Yasser Arafat was their best man before becoming the Palestinian president.
Theorist Nanyojo Wamala, the maid of honor during the legendary wedding, told The Observer that Amin reached out to her father, Dr. Paulino Kyeyune Wamala, to arrange the wedding in three days. The doctor ordered her to organize the wedding as soon as possible. She even called a London design house to buy a wedding gown and have it delivered to Uganda in two days. Despite the rush, the wedding went by smoothly and became the talk of the town during that time.
Unspoken Love Triangle
Before she met Amin, Kyolaba was living with another man in Masaka. He was a popular musician named Jessy Gitta Kasirivu. She was reportedly pregnant with the man’s child, but when she gave birth to the child on December 25, 1974, Amin announced the birth on national television and claimed that he was the father.
Kasirivt disappeared, but it was not unsure if he was detained or beheaded. In a documentary about his life, the musician’s friends said that he was arrested by the State Research Bureau agents and never seen again.
Life After Exile
Amin’s brutal dictatorship rule ended in 1979, and he was forced to go into exile. Kyolaba went with her husband to Libya and Saudi Arabia, but they separated in 1982. She and her son Faisal Wangita left for Germany, where she worked as a lingerie model before transferring to London. She made a living by running a restaurant but was forced to close down due to sanitary violations. She spent her last years running a hair salon near her neighborhood. The former Ugandan first lady passed away due to cancer at the Royal Free Hospital in 2015.