Fifty years since Asians were kicked out of Uganda

Compilation of stories marking 50 years since Idi Amin expelled thousands of Asians from Uganda in 1972. We hear about why they migrated there, their expulsion, and what they did next.

Jamie Govani’s grandparents always dreamed about finding a better life away from India. After getting married in the Indian state of Gujarat in the 1920s, they decided to pack their bags and move to Uganda with their young family. It was a wonderful place to grow up for Jamie, but racial segregation lingered in the background, and things began to change after Ugandan independence in 1962. She’s been speaking to Ben Henderson.

As well as in Uganda, there was also an Asian population in Kenya, who experienced discrimination. This was initially from white settlers but, after independence, it came from black Kenyans too. Following the partition of India in 1947, Saleem Sheikh’s parents fled to Kenya. His family joined a thriving Asian community there. But, they were forced to leave in the late 1960s after a rise in violence against the Asian population. Saleem tells Ben Henderson about his life.

In August 1972, the dictator Idi Amin announced that all Asians had just 90 days to leave Uganda. Nurdin Dawood, who was a teacher with a young family, initially didn't believe that Amin was being serious. But soon he was desperately searching for a country to call home. He spoke to his daughter Farhana Dawood in 2011.

Thousands of Asians who were expelled from Uganda in 1972 settled in the UK and many made the city of Leicester their home. They helped to shape the east Midlands city’s identity with lots of new businesses. Now Leicester has the largest Diwali celebrations outside of India. Nisha Popat was nine-years-old when she arrived there with her family who later opened a restaurant in the area that became known as the Golden Mile. Nisha tells her story to Reena Stanton-Sharma.

President Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986. He encouraged exiled Asians to return to Uganda and reclaim their homes and businesses in order to rebuild the country. The economy had collapsed under the dictator Idi Amin. Dr. Mumtaz Kassam was one of the people who went back to Uganda years after arriving in the UK as a refugee. She talks to Reena Stanton-Sharma about returning to the country that had expelled her.

(Picture of Jamie Govani's grandparents, aunts and uncles in Uganda in the 1950s)

The following programme has been updated since its original broadcast.