Forty years ago this August, the brutal dictator of Uganda, General Idi Amin, ordered the deportation of the country’s Asian population, which mostly comprised Indian Gujaratis who had lived in the East African country for more than 100 years.
The order by Amin in 1972 created a diplomatic crisis involving Uganda, India and Great Britain (where most of the Asians eventually emigrated to).
Indians had often been the target of resentment and violence throughout their sojourns in southern Africa. Indeed, as reasons for his expulsion order, Amin cited that the Ugandan Indian community were “bloodsuckers” that had exploited the local economy and refused to integrate with black African people after a century in the country.
Amin committed many atrocities during his bloody rule of Uganda, including the mass murder of up to 300,000 of his own people. In that respect, the expulsion of 90,000 Asians from the country may have been overshadowed over the years.
Amin himself was overthrown in 1979. The expulsion is largely forgotten today, except by the Ugandan Asians themselves and their descendants who have spread across the world. For them, it was a traumatic experience that highlighted the inherent insecurity of migrants and their place in a rapidly changing world.