British colonial authorities brought thousands of workers from the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) to sub-Saharan Africa for projects such as the Ugandan Railway, above. In 1972, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin forced 60,000 Asian Ugandans—mostly the children and grandchildren of these workers, who had never lived in either India or Great Britain—to leave the country.

Photograph courtesy National Archives UK

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  • On August 7, 1972, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin demanded that Ugandans with Asian ancestry (about 60,000 people) leave the country within 90 days. The Asian presence was a legacy of colonialism, as most Asian Ugandans were the children and grandchildren of Indians brought to Uganda by British leaders when the nation was a colony.
    The expulsion of Asian Ugandans is an example of ethnic cleansing. Ethnic cleansing is the forced migration of a group of people by leaders and residents in order to pursue a more unified or homogeneous population
    Asian Ugandans were a vital part of the Ugandan middle class. They owned businesses, farms, and manufacturing centers. More than 5,000 homes and businesses were taken from Asian Ugandans when they were forced to leave. The country was drained of human, financial, and manufacturing resources.
    Most Asian Ugandans immigrated to Great Britain, where many faced racist hostility. Others immigrated to the United States, Canada, India, Pakistan, and neighboring African nations such as Kenya and Tanzania. 
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ancestry Noun

    family (genealogical) or historical background.

    colonialism Noun

    type of government where a geographic area is ruled by a foreign power.

    colony Noun

    people and land separated by distance or culture from the government that controls them.

    dictator Noun

    person with complete control of a government.

    ethnic cleansing Noun

    policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.

    expulsion Noun

    process of driving out or getting rid of.

    farm Noun

    land cultivated for crops, livestock, or both.

    forced migration Noun

    the movement of people away from their homes due to political conflict, natural disaster or environmental hazard.

    homogeneous Adjective

    uniform, or the same, in structure or composition.

    hostility Noun

    conflict or ill-will.

    immigrate Verb

    to move to a new place.

    manufacturing Noun

    production of goods or products in a factory.

    middle class Noun

    people and culture characterized by incomes between the working class and the wealthy.

    nation Noun

    political unit made of people who share a common territory.

    Encyclopedic Entry: nation
    population Noun

    total number of people or organisms in a particular area.

    racist Adjective

    community or government policy of denying certain rights to people based on their ancestry, usually signified by skin color.

    resource Noun

    available supply of materials, goods, or services. Resources can be natural or human.

    vital Adjective

    necessary or very important.