"Mulembe" is a greeting in Lugisu, my language. It is a language spoken by a people who live on the western slopes of Mt. Elgon in eastern Uganda. When literally translated it means "peace." The person being greeted would also respond with the same, "Mulembe." This greeting serves the purpose of declaring no intention of harm. Therefore, I welcome everyone to this blog with, "Mulembe!"

Jun 16, 2011

A Facebook Reunion with Ugandan Asians who left Uganda in 1972

Stopped to meet Leoz's Restuarant Family, Main Street Jinja, February 2012.

Two months ago, I joined "Ugandan Asians who left Uganda in 1972 and their descendents.", a Facebook Group.  I am an indigenous Ugandan and was curious to know how these Ugandans felt about the way dictator Idi Amin kicked them out of Uganda, giving them 90 days to leave with $100 only. They left behind their businesses, friends, and the country of their birth. Their lives were abruptly disrupted.

The Group group was created by Ashok Dattan.  It gives an opportunity to the Uganda Asians to share and vent on what they feel now and how they suffered when they had to leave Uganda. It is generally a positive group which understands that Idi Amin was evil and that he killed his own people too, and ruined the economy.  The unfortunate thing is that the businesses that were stolen by Amin's henchmen did not survive and some of  homes that were grabbed are in a sorry state. Amin's henchmen had no business skills and so the economy crashed; a heartbreaking story of greed, inhumanity and ignorance.

With the assistance of UNHCR and IOM, they were resettled in different countries, have become successful  but are still Ugandan at heart.  They cherish the life they had in Uganda and some of them would love to visit. Many have already visited and posted great pictures of their visits on the Group page. Others are happy where they are and have no desire to return.

 They welcome indigenous Ugandan friends and other well-wishers, who share a common interest with them: Uganda, then and Uganda now! Ashok Dattan's vision has paid off.  It appears this kind of forum was very much needed and is serving as successful group therapy. Most of the group members are about my age and have brought back good memories, in stories and pictures, of the good old Uganda.  There is great humor and comradery. There are also debates based on articles and books written by Ugandan Asian women who contend that Ugandan Asians isolated themselves, were racist and had formed a small Indian in Uganda. 




The Madhivanis of Kakira:

When  President Museveni invited the Ugandan Asians to come back, the Madhivans returned to claim back their business and in a short time business was booming.  It is unfortunate that one of the sons of the founders passed away recently.  He was very much loved by Uganda for his kindness and contribution to the economy.  Please read attached article:


Nimisha Madhivani:
I met the High Commissioner to India, Nimisha Madhivani in Washington, D.C. when she was the Ugandan Economic Counselor at the Uganda Embassy. I developed a great respect for her as an individual. She is a down-to earth person, very brilliant and a great diplomat.   She explains what happened to the Ugandan Asians, Ugandas's current economic position, and the Uganda Government policy on this issue, in better terms than I can.  Please listen to the attached video:


Here is another well presented analysis of the Uganda Asian experience:


Jim Lassiter said...

Great post, IR! Cross-cultural connections, like this one the Ugandan Asians and you have made, prove that reaching out across cultural and language barriers is a most important step toward a better future for all Humankind.

Immy Rose said...

Thanks, Jim. I have been pleasantly surprised at how so much Ugandan the Ugandan Asians still are even after all these years away from home. They bring back childhood memories.

Anonymous said...

What a touching and accurate comment you make about Ugandan Asians...they are "still Ugandan at heart." Wherever scattered in the four corners of the world, there is still tremendous affection for Uganda from former residents, in spite of the upheaval caused by the expulsion. Please do follow the commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of this event at www. facebook.com/BritishUgandanAsians

Immy Rose said...

Thank you! My nephew posted on FB a few months ago, "You are not African just because in Africa, but because Africa lives in you". I think he was quoting Martin Luther King but anyhow - how profound! Thanks for the invitation to follow the commemoration. I will.

Shasta said...

Thank you for featuring my article in your blog. I came from there, and am enjoying reading about Uganda now and reminiscing, especially with the photographs. I do miss it, even though I am happy in the United


Immy Rose said...

Thanks Shasta. I, too, live in the United States and visit home every year. This year we were in the Jinja area for three months. The shops are well stocked and half of them owned by Asians, but the building are in urgent need of repair and painting. We patronized 'Leoz" a restaurant on Main Street, owned by an Asian. The Indian food was great. He personally fixes a Ugandan dish, smoked fish in peanut, my favorite.