"Uganda was granted independence in 1962, and the Ugandan Asians
set about working with the Government to build the economy
further, including constructing schools and hospitals.
"Yet, as we all know, things did not progress smoothly."
Lord Popat went on:
"On 4 August 1972, Idi Amin announced that he had had a dream
in which God had told him to expel the Asians, and he issued a
decree ordering almost all Asians-some 60,000 of them-to leave.
"At the hands of this brutal dictator, who murdered and
tortured hundreds of thousands of people, these 60,000 people
were forced to leave behind everything but the clothes on their
"They were brutally evicted and given only three months to
"India made it clear that the 60,000 were Britain’s
"Kenya closed its borders to them."
Lord Popat has been appointed by the British Prime Minister
as his trade envoy to Uganda and Rwanda.
These Asians worked very hard and changed the retail trade in
Britain by opening their corner shops for long hours and over
Educating their children and their grandchildren, they have
excelled in the professions and play a sizeable role in British
Hon Jaffer Kapasi, OBE, the Consul General of Uganda to the
Midlands, compiled a short list for this article of Uganda
Asians who made it to the UK rich list to include:
Lord Dolar Popat, Hotels & Care Home;
Lord Rumi Verjee, Thomas Goode & Co;
Lord Jitesh Gadhia; Jitu Patel, Europa Foods;
Lord A Sheikh, Finance;
Hasmukh & Kamlesh Thakrar, HKS Petrol;
Shahid Sheik, Clifton Packaging;
Pravin Majithia, MPK Garages;
Nik Kotecha, Morningside Pharmaceuticals;
Shiraz & Amin; Tejani in paper products;
George & Mike Jatania, Lornmeads, Yardley to Lypsil, to
name a few.
Added Hon. Kapasi: "Listed above I know of, but there are
many more of them.
"This list is endless."
In 1997, recognising the economic contribution lost to
Uganda, President Yuweri Museveni invited the Ugandan Asians to
While some families did, most chose to remain in Britain as
integrated British Ugandan Asians, one of this country’s
greatest success stories.
But they also started trading and investing in Uganda.
Two of the famous global industrial groups – Madhvani and
Mehta – revived their factories, farms and other businesses.
Many new businesses were set up; Subash Thakrar constructed a
They import coffee, cotton and soon oil from Uganda and sell
pharmaceutical, engineering, manufactured and packaging goods,
among other industrial inputs.
The next Asian business delegation going to Uganda is planned
for September 2017, said Hon. Kapasi. Lord Popat has been
appointed by the British Prime Minister as the trade envoy to
Uganda and Rwanda and so he may lead this delegation.
Uganda Asians have maintained strong cultural and religious
links with India as majority of their families migrated from
India to Uganda and then to Britain.
They visit India for pilgrimages, tourism and their ancestral
villages and towns.
Of course, business is a major part of these bilateral
relations as Uganda Asian traders import engineering goods,
pharmaceuticals and other manufactured goods from India.
Meanwhile, India has reached out to Africa in a big way with
the Third India-Africa Summit in 2015 attended by almost all the
heads of state in Africa were welcomed by Prime Minister Modi in
New Delhi. This deepened cooperation in many areas and at many
This Summit has been followed up by the annual CII-Exim Bank
Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership held in March this
year addressed by the President of India, Pranab Mukerjee who
said India has supported development in Africa through Lines of
Credit estimated at over US$7 billion.
Over 27,000 Indians origin are contributing to Uganda’s
economy today and India has strong bilateral relations with
In February 2017, the Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari,
visited Uganda and met the Ugandan President Museveni for
promoting bilateral relations.
President Museveni said the bilateral trade between India and
Uganda, involving goods and services such petroleum products,
automobiles, IT and machine products, among others, stands at
US$ one billion and US$57 million respectively.
On the future prospects of Indians and Asians in Uganda, the
erstwhile leader of Uganda Asians, Praful Patel, has some
reservations because of the insurgency in Northern Uganda and
the instability experienced by Museveni.
He said: "Our people were expelled by the brutal regime of
Idi Amin but prospered in Britain and a lot of my friends have
gone back to Uganda in the last 30 years and are making vital
contribution to the development of Uganda."