About people who look nice but are actually desperate and the first plane hijacking on the African continent.

A photo doesn’t really tell a lot. We are aware of that, and at the same time get confronted with it every now and then by people watching what we do on Facebook. Even though we do explain in the information with the page that one of the aims in sharing the photo’s is to crowd source the information that the material as we found it lacks, we regularly are asked to provide captions.

When we were digitizing the photographs in the collection of the National Archives in Entebbe we came across a set of seven photographs of a nice looking young couple. On one of them they walk in the middle of a crowd, including a man in an army uniform, in others they are posing one by one and together at a stairs outside of a building. They seem to be important, but not necessarily famous. Even thought the collection at the National Archives seemed to be extremely varied, ranging from Amin administration, Royal Air force, Canadian Navy, African leaders to private family photographs, this was an odd set.

One of our Facebook followers recommended the book ‘Uganda, the Bloodstained Pearl of Africa And its Struggle for Peace’ with stories and photographs from the legendary Drum Magazine to us. When browsing through we stumbled across our lovely couple. Find below the text from the article that the photographs we recognized them on were with.

‘Big Daddy makes it a happy landing

Drum: June 1974

It took Africa by surprise – the first case of air piracy of its kind over African soil. An Ethiopian couple seeking refuge because of the political situation in their country attempted to reach Libya by hijacking an East African Airways plane to take them first to Libya and then to Moskow.n Uganda’s President Amin personally intervened to put a prompt end to the drama when he persuaded the Ethiopians to surrender at Entebbe Airport, Kampala.n The two Ethiopians, armed with a pistol, had seized an East African Airways Fokker Friendship F27 on its way from Nairobi to Malindi. Holding the crew at gunpoint, they ordered the pilot to change course and fly to Libya, “or be shot”. The aircraft was carrying 31 passengers, most of them tourists, and four crew. Captain Penfold changed course and put down at Entebbe it was believed to refill. The airline appealed to the Ugandan authorities not ti intervene hastily. But when he heard of the hijack, President Amin clashed to the airport and was waiting there when the plane landed. Ugandan troops ringed the aircraft. General Amin mad a successful appeal to the two Ethiopians, and the passengers, all fit and well, were released. The hijackers were taken into the airport building, along with the crew, and President Amin conducted and on-the-spot-inquiry.n “At the airport the president strode up to the cockpit of the plane and began talking with the Ethiopian at pistol point,” said a passenger, Dutch businessman, Mr H.J. Kuiper. “The gunman then threw his pistol from the plane onto the tarmac, and he and his wife surrendered to the president.” He said the Ugandan leader allowed the hijackers to hold a press conference where they denounced Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia for “perpetuation 3.000 years of slavery” in his country. Mr. Kuiper said the captain had a pistol at his head during the flight. The Ethiopian hijacker told passengers, “almost apologetically”, not to leave their seats and that they were headed for Moscow. “The captain was very diplomatic in persuading the to go to Entebbe first,” Mr Kuiper said.’n The drama began when the hijacker left his seat as the stewards started to serve breakfast. He went into the cockpit, pulled off the earphones that Capt. Penfold and the co-pilot had on and shouted: “It is a hijack. It is a hijack.” He then ordered the pilot to head for Moscow “without any fuss.” His wife was standing next to him. They held a brief conversation in Amharic, after which the man said that they would fly to Moscow. The pilot told him that the aircraft did not have enough fuel to fly direct to Moscow. He then demanded to be flown to Libya. He was told the plane could not fly to Libya either without refuelling. He then said it should fly to Uganda for refuelling. Mr John Cherrey, another passenger, said the hijacker had talked to the passengers and given them the reasons behind the first African Hijack.’ p. 144-145 of the book.
The man is named in one of the captions as Mr. Katsete. His wife remains ‘his wife’. There is a photograph of hijackers posing with passengers and General Amin. It seems that this was one of the most friendly hijackings ever. Surprising that there hasn’t been made a movie about it. Or has it been done and are we just not aware of that?)

See this link for all the photo’s in the set at the National Archives. For Ugandan readers, the book referred to is available at Aristoc in Kampala. For others this is the Amazon.com link.

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