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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 13:41 GMT
Asians return to Uganda
Idi Amin
Idi Amin expelled Asians from Uganda in 1972

Thirty years ago, in the autumn of 1972, the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin issued one of his most infamous orders. He expelled Asians living in the country, giving them only a matter of weeks to leave.

Thousands came to Britain, others went to Canada or India, many of the exiles went on to a better life - and made their fortunes overseas. However, when Amin fell, some went back to their homeland.

Kampala skyline
Many Asian Ugandans are now returning home
Mansur Hudda sees many changes in the streets of Kampala. In 1972, these small trading shops - like the majority of business in Uganda - were owned by Asians.

When Idi Amin kicked them out, Mr Hudda was one of the last to leave, departing virtually penniless:

"Everything was left here from cars to books. You name it and we left it here, we went with 50."

Mr. Hudda was one of the first Asians to come back. He and his family have rebuilt their lives here.

New opportunities

His son even gave up a promising medical career in Canada - a new generation is being raised in Uganda.

"There are good business opportunities here. I see returns in my revenue, my kids are happy, my wife is happy and I am happy," explains Mahmood Hudda.

One of the main ways to attract Asians back to Uganda was to return the property seized by Idi Amin.

However, many here are not Ugandan Asians. They are investors that the present government has tried to attract - entrepreneurs willing to take a gamble on business in Africa.

Lingering resentment

Babulal Ruperalia was one of the few to stay on during the Amin years. He believes there is still a lingering suspicion of Asian businessmen.

"They are resenting the Asians' presence in these small villages because they think that their presence in rural areas is impeding their chances are growing big in business," he says.

But most people want to put aside the past. When the Huddas retrieved their farm it had reverted to bush, but now many workers are employed here.

Uganda has learnt the hard way - you can't throw out the rich without hurting the poor.

See also:

06 Nov 02 | Africa
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