Revealed: Why Idi Amin expelled Asians from Uganda

The Uganda Asian exodus begine in 1972 after being expelled by Idi Amin.

We once again go deep into Dr Arnold Spero Bisase’s book Guardian Angel Volume One: The Beginning to find out what actually made former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin to expel Asian British passport holders from Uganda.

The story, if true, goes like this, and I knew the   narrator and his family well as they were my friends and patients at my Practice in Kampala. He told me that Idi Amin was once invited to an Asian function in 1972. He and many dignitaries, some local and some international, attended this rather lavish occasion; our Asian friends can really lay it on when they have someone eminent to impress, like The President of Uganda. The many well to do businessmen from their community paid their respects, and as per custom their families followed in their wake. Towards the end of the procession came the family of a very prosperous businessman Mr Sherali Bandari Jaffer, the owner of The Fairway Hotel by the Kitante Road, Kampala. He was now the one narrating this story to me. Among the ladies following him was his beautiful youngest daughter. One look at her and Idi Amin instantly fancied her; his gaze fixed on her until she sat down amongst the ladies enclosure. At the conclusion of the event, Idi Amin sent his bodyguard to tell Mr Jaffer that the President wanted his daughter and was therefore proposing for her hand in marriage. At that stage Amin had already four wives, so it would have necessitated getting rid of (sack) one of them in accordance with Muslim tradition.

There was pandemonium.  Sherali Bandari Jaffer was scared witless. He and the entire family scurried away to get home. But by the next morning Idi Amin had tracked down the home of Mr Jaffer and sent him his driver carrying the official confirmation of the “request”. Mr Jaffer told the President’s driver that he had to consult other members of his family before giving his response but promised to do so soon. According to my friend Jaffer, this was the longest day of his life. That night, under the cover of darkness, he arranged with one of their relative to smuggle the entire family out of the country, bribing all their way to Nairobi. Mr Jaffer, rather like the rest of us, thought that this “request” would remain harmless and dissipate itself out. Besides, he still had his investments in the country. So he stayed behind to take care of their businesses. The family had already confirmed their safe arrival on the ‘phone’. Like a beast on heat, Idi Amin could not wait to get his chance and sent for the answer. Mr Jaffer gave the excuse of this being a family and community decision not to accept and that the girls were already away (in Nairobi of course).

Amin was so incensed by this snub that he vowed to punish, and he quoted “these people who showed flagrant discrimination against him (me)” The next day All Non-Citizen Asians were given 90 days to get out of Uganda. But the reason Idi Amin gave now was that: ‘Because God spoke to him (me)in the night  and told him (me) that they had to leave as they were responsible for exploiting the indigenous citizens of the country’!! Take that! And it is exactly as I got it from Mr Jaffer. And so began the Exodus of unimaginable proportions and suffering for the victims of this man’s obsession for the skirt.

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6 Responses to Revealed: Why Idi Amin expelled Asians from Uganda

  1. Pradyuman Joshi says:

    This report by Bisase is totally wrong. If what Jaffer claims to be the truth, Amin on finding out that Jaffer had sent away his girl & family against & without his knowledge and finding Jaffer at his place, Amin would have been so greatly enraged and would have blown Jaffer to pieces. Amin was an authoritarian, dictator and wasn’t used to being disobeyed. No one in those days was safe to oppose him and be alive. Bisases’ report is fabricated and holds no truth to it.
    On Aug, 5, 1972, Amin was in Soroti & stayed over night there. That’s when he ‘d a dream whereby Allah told him to get rid of British Asians. On Sat. eve, Amin made the announcement about his dream.
    On Mon. Aug. 8, ’72, he signed a decree in parliament where he informed his cabinet about his dream/decision. Br. Asians were given 3 months/till Nov. 9, ’72, to leave Uganda. Evidently, Amin was pissed off at Britain who did not give him any aid to Uganda earlier. He wanted to get even with Britain. Also, Asians had the economy of the country in their hands. That also was a contributory factor for his decision.
    I strongly advise to check out the facts in the Uganda Argus daily newspaper of Uganda then. They would have complete report about this event.
    I’m sure there must be other contributory factors involved in Amins’ decision to get rid of Br. Asians, but not what Jaffers claims to be the reason.

    • I agree with you dear but again correct a simple mistake: He was in Tororo when he had the dream about Indians milking a cow without feeding it!
      But still Jaffer might have been true because the sparkle factor was the “Fallen love” where by Amin was rejected by an Indian lady!

      • boogyman says:

        Though I am not Ugandan, I can assure you that you rarely survive even in the face of today’s African dictators after refusing what they demanded. It is a miracle how mr. Jaffer made his daughter’s flee, disputed with Amin on later step and survived to tell us such a joke.

    • BABY ELEPANT says:

      I am in no way racist, however the british brought the asians there, to do adminstrative work on our land build our infrastructure and control our economy via england. How did this help Ugandans build up their social infrastructure. Is this right? Don’t call him a dictator. Why should britain have the right to control any african country. Why did britain have to help put him in amin in power? Why did britain have to support the pahlavis of iran into power, and gadaffi and mugabe? They put military rulers an regime to control and oppress the population. He was put there by the British, to be a puppet. But he wanted freedom for his people. but like many other African leaders who spoke up about decolonization, they were either maimed or had their economies crippled. Their interventions has destroyed world culture, from asia persia to africa to america.
      I apologise if any asians were killed but you have to blame the british for putting you there in the 1st place

      • Ram Hirani says:

        Its just a lack of intelligence to point fingers at this man Amin.
        All he was trying is to put his people to gainful and fair employment which was shamefully denied and sometimes rediculed by the asian community describing africans by their color of the skin.
        No one seems to question :
        1. How much of the wealth asians had in the secret accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere,all looted – yet calling Uganda home !
        2. Did any asian actually grew his or her food ? If they didnt steal from the little farmer,they paid him very little.
        3. Check the respective countries registrys and it would be discovered that a vast number of these people had properties in India, UK Canada.
        4. Check all the places of their worship – built of marbles and golden statues and their leaders weighed in gold, silver & platinum ! – while the africans were sleeping in open spaces & children dying of malnutrition everyday.
        Check all the donation stone engravings – 10 % – all african loot.
        5. This majority trading tribe -, takes special pride in not working on a farm or even touching the soil !
        6. When they arrived in the camps in the UK they even stole blankets while having fat sums of money in their bank accounts and a family member living in fully paid up homes.
        7.Remember, all Nyerere said was that to be a good citizen, you have to produce food.Vast majority vanished very quickly to Canada – blaming him also like Amin.
        8.Afterall Amin did NOT expel all asians, lets be truthful about the man.All the artisans,builders, masons, mechanics, doctors teachers all stayed behind with the RED ID Cards.Only the beneficiaries of the Colonial privilages – the milkers were not required simply because the people of Uganda could do all that without weighing their religious people in diamonds etc.
        9.Yes, there could have been a lot of adjustment in the judiciary custodians to combat the direct passage – but where is it not ? Almost 2 million innocent men pregnent women and children have been killed in search of “WEOPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION” by various very peaceful democracies !
        This man was not a politician elected on billion dollar budgets,
        he was an army guy and the blunt justice delivered by his regime is no where closer to the comparables going on since around the world.
        10. So yes we must condemn his legacy as a comparative not as The Event of the Century as put out by the manipulators.

  2. Ankush says:

    When quite young, I remember my father talking about Amin’s attempt to marry a Gujarati woman being the cause of his anger towards Indians and their subsequent expulsion.

    Seems it is certainly a part of the lore on why Indians were expelled, though for obvious reasons, considered too trivial to be documented officially

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