Frontline/World

Season 2007 Episode 05.10.07

Uganda: The Return

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Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM May 10, 2007 on PBS
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Uganda: The Return
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I was always fascinated by the Indian traditions my family has preserved, even though my parents -- and grandparents -- have never visited India. They were born in Uganda. On family vacations to Mexico or Hawaii, they'd make casual references to their African homeland. My mom and dad recalled the mango trees that grew in their backyards, the intense afternoon sun and lush scenery. But no matter how hard I pressed for more information, they were always slightly reticent. In 1972, my parents were expelled from Uganda by the notorious dictator Idi Amin, along with about 60,000 other Asians who called the East African country home. My great-grandparents had emigrated to Africa from India in the late 1800s, part of a wave of people who were seeking their fortunes elsewhere. In the decades that followed, Asians became a part of Uganda's mercantile elite, contributing significantly to the country's economy. Eventually, though, the financial disparity between blacks and Indians grew into racially motivated acrimony on both sides. Paul Theroux wrote of his experiences in the region: "In East Africa, nearly everyone hates the Asians."moreless
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