On this day in History August 7, 1972: Ugandan Leader Idi Amin declares that all Asians that were not citizens of Uganda had 90 days in which to leave the country. Why? The article Why Idi Amin Expelled The Asians from the New Africa Magazine dated October 1, 2012 states the following:
Colonial Uganda had strongly favoured Asians. Many arrived with the British colonialists to do clerical work or semi-skilled manual labour in farming and construction. They had a salary, which became the capital to start businesses.
Aspiring Ugandan entrepreneurs on the other hand faced many odds. The British colonial government forbade Africans to gin and market cotton. In 1932 when the Uganda Cotton Society tried to obtain high prices by ginning and marketing its own cotton and “eliminate the Indian middleman,” it was not allowed.
The banks – Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, and Standard Bank of South Africa – did not lend to many Africans. As such, the Africans could not participate in wholesale trade because the colonial government issued wholesale licenses only to traders with permanent buildings of stone or concrete. Very few African traders had such buildings. It was clear that the colonial wanted native Ugandans to remain hewers of wood and drawers of water.
It was estimated that there were 60,000 Asians in Uganda at the time of the edict. The majority of the Asians in Uganda had British passports from their time under British colonialism. This posed a problem for the British. Many in Britain did not want the Asians relocated there. It took Ted Heath, the Conservative Prime Minister to fight for the Asians to be allowed into Britain.
After negotiating with the British (of whom close to the 50,000 Asians held British passports), 30,000 Asians left Uganda for the United Kingdom. The article Uganda’s loss, Britain’s gain by Amit Roy from the Mid-Day website places estimates of expelled Asians moving to the following countries:
India took 4,500 Ugandan Asians. Canada was persuaded to accept 6,000, while smaller numbers went to Australia, Austria, Sweden, West Germany, Mauritius, Malawi, New Zealand, Pakistan and neighbouring Kenya.
Many left Uganda penniless with their businesses and assets being taken by the government without compensation and being robbed by troops on their way to the airport to leave Uganda.
For Further Reading: