Friday, 28 June, 2002, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Ugandan Asians: 30 years in Britain
Idi Amin expelled Asians from Uganda 30 years ago
1972, Asians were expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin. Those that settled in the UK
have become one of the great success stories of British immigration, as a Radio
4 documentary discovered.
August 1972, General Idi Amin, the Ugandan president, announced that all Asians
in his country would have to leave.
were "bloodsuckers," he said, who had milked the Ugandan economy of
30,000 Asians came to Britain, on a hastily arranged airlift to Stansted
Airport. Others went to India, the US and Canada.
Britain they have rebuilt their lives and their community, showing an
extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit and self-reliance.
never fell back on the state for any kind of support at any time from the very
first day that I arrived here," says Manzoor Moghal. "I wanted to
explode this myth that Asians were scroungers."
who was mayor of a small town, was part of a well-established and prosperous
community, which made up the country's mercantile class.
Like most Ugandan Asians, he remembers happy years enjoying Uganda's natural beauty and an easy life, surrounded by servants.
resentment was rising among the country's black African majority. Many regarded
the Asians as "parasites", making money off the backs of African
Amin was ousted from power in 1979
General Amin, who took power in a 1971 coup, was
quick to exploit this resentment.
The expulsion order threw the Asians into terror
and confusion. They had to dispose of their homes and assets within just 90
"We lost a lot, especially
photographs," remembers Mumtaz Kassam. "I have no pictures of me as a
child and neither do my brothers and sisters."
Adjusting to Britain
In Britain, the Ugandan Asians were offered
temporary accommodation in converted RAF barracks. Most left as soon as possible
to find their own homes or to share space with friends or family.
"We had just two basic rooms to share
between seven people," says Vinod Tailor. "It was very, very tough and
we would be in bed by five o'clock because we couldn't afford the heating."
Not everyone could cope with the adjustment.
Ramjan Saujani, who became a social worker in Leicester, remembers meeting an
old Asian man in the city. He had been forcibly separated from his wife and
children, who were black Africans.
"He was distraught. All he wanted to do was
go back to Uganda. And he died a very lonely man," she recalls.
However, most Ugandan Asians were determined to
succeed in Britain. Vinod Tailor, aged 16, persuaded a bank manager to give him
a job over the phone without an interview. Tailor worked his way up through the
industry and became a successful stockbroker.
Moghal eventually managed to establish his own
business as a financial consultant in Leicester. He's now a magistrate and an
Islamic community leader.
"For the Asian community honour, loss of face, these are very important things," he says. "They've never wanted to be on the receiving end of someone's patronage if they could stand on their own feet."
Out of Uganda, presented by Nand Sall, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 2000 BSTon Saturday, 29 June.