From Sarah Kyolaba to Rachele Guidi Mussolini: What jobs can the families of deposed dictators do?

For the relations of deposed despots, going into the family business isn't an option. So what career options are there for the notorious by association? Gillian Orr finds out

Gillian Orr@gillian_orr
Wednesday 17 June 2015 09:44
Hot temper: The firestarting Aisha Gaddafi arrives in Baghdad in 2000
Hot temper: The firestarting Aisha Gaddafi arrives in Baghdad in 2000

Regulars at Sarah Kyolaba's hair salon in Tottenham, north London, were saddened to hear of her death from cancer towards the end of last week. What most of them didn't know, however, was that before Kyolaba arrived in Britain in 1982, she had been married to Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator whose regime was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, and who once famously warned: "You cannot run faster than a bullet."

But what of other family members of rich and powerful despots after opponents rise and empires crumble?

Rachele Guidi Mussolini

While Benito Mussolini's mistress was executed alongside him by Italian partisans following his ousting in 1943, his wife survived and, after being interned by the Americans for a brief time, was freed. Penniless, she returned to her home town of Predappio, in the North-east of Italy, where she kept chickens and a garden, and opened a small pasta restaurant. It is said that the restaurant did well, in part thanks to the side trade she ran, selling postcards adorned with pictures of her late husband.

Svetlana Alliluyeva

Stalin's only daughter graduated from Moscow University in 1949, initially working as a teacher and translator. She later defected from the Soviet Union, moved to the US and in 1967 published her first memoir, Twenty Letters to a Friend, earning her more than $2.5m (£1.6m). Stalin had called his daughter his "little sparrow", while Svetlana took to referring to him as a "monster". She died of cancer in a Wisconsin care home in 2012.

Monique Macías

Shortly before the death of Francisco Macías Nguema, the president-turned-dictator of Equatorial Guinea between 1968 and 1979, he begged North Korea to look after his family. He sent his wife and children to Pyongyang, where they spent the next 15 years. Monique attended a prestigious military academy also attended by Kim Jong-il where she learned survival skills, military drills and how to fire a Kalashnikov. Now in her forties, she moved to Spain in 1994 and two years ago published her memoir I'm Monique, From Pyongyang.

Margot Honecker

The wife of the former leader of East Germany and herself a former education minister, Margot Honecker fled the country in 1991 to avoid criminal charges related to communist policies before Germany was reunified. She has made a home in Chile and gets by on a £1080 monthly pension from the German government, which in a 2012 interview she called "derisory".

Sar Patchata

The only daughter of Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge party that carried out genocide in Cambodia in the second half of the 1970s and who died in 1998, enjoyed a low-key wedding last year. Marrying a fellow student that she met while studying English literature in Malaysia, she says that she now intends to live in the Malai District of Cambodia and help run her uncle and aunt's rice mill.

Aisha Gaddafi

Two months before Colonel Gaddafi's death in October 2011 at the hands of the National Transitional Council, his only daughter Aisha fled to Algeria as the rebels took control of Tripoli. In 2013 Aisha, a western-educated lawyer, was thrown out of the safe-house amid reports she repeatedly vandalised the property, set fire to it and attacked the guards responsible for her safety. She was kicked out of the country and she is believed to have found asylum, along with her mother, in Oman where the government is covering the family's expenses.

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