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.