50 Years and Counting: Remembering the History and Legacy of South Asian-Ugandans’ Journey Into Britain

The horrors of dictator Idi Amin, Africa’s most brutal leader, is a story commonly known and told within the South Asian-Ugandan diaspora in Britain. Fifty years on since the expulsion of South Asians in Uganda begs the question of truth and experience through the eyes of those who were part of this history. Guest contributor Aditya Tiwari, along with BGM Social Media manager and writer Jamilah Moktadir reflect back on the legacy this historic event has impacted the diaspora.

One such witness, Sejal Sachdev, 57, remembers an incident from when she was a little girl:

Idi Amin came to my school and he landed in our sports field in a helicopter. We were told to let our skirts down because we had short skirts, and we were told that he’d shoot us — it was horrific.

To understand how South Asians populated East Africa and how hostilities grew, historical context must set the scene. The British planted their seeds of imperialism in India in the 1600s, formally the ‘East India Company,’ to later be developed by the British Empire, who destroyed the economy, livelihood, culture and religions, leaving a history of exploitation and horror. The British also controlled Uganda from 1894-1962, importing around 30,000 Indians via indentured labour to build the railways and accelerate extraction after the abolition of slavery. 

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White settlers were encouraged to move over, ‘diversifying’ Uganda by creating a ruling class, thus fuelling tension. Rumours emerged that the British actually encouraged more South Asians into Uganda as a scapegoat to settle these growing hostilities —whereby the newly resided Indians would become the country’s new middle class as they searched for jobs, and inadvertently settle the animosity between the self-proclaimed upper class (white residents) and native Ugandans — reflecting how the British were perceived as having a history of carefully orchestrated imperialism.  

It was from here, one could start to see the prosperity of the South Asian Ugandans — an emerging middle class, well-educated and dominating the economy. South Asians may only have been occupying 1% of the population but they were generating 5% of income. This was a long way from famine and poverty in India so, for many, their hard work had paid off. 

Families tell stories of Uganda, the ‘Dream Land’, where soils were fertile and there was economic stability. Supposedly, life in Uganda was better, safer and happier. Although there seemed to be resentment, families employed native Ugandans in shops and as domestic help around the house. But most importantly on that dreadful day in 1972, tears were shared, and injustice had been broadcasted. 

Amin gained legitimacy to expel Ugandans much before his reign, with hostilities among South Asians and natives brewing since their arrival. Many natives of the country viewed South Asians as the so-called coloniser pleasers; benefitting from their perks and doing as they pleased. This idea was supported by the thousands who opted for U.K. citizenship over Ugandan residency. The British specifically invested in educating Asian populations — an essential point to note since racism perpetrated by these communities, contributions to tropes such as laziness or simply believing superiority, was implanted and then upheld. Another divisive tactic played by the British, “institutional racial segregation was orchestrated,” which the majority of South Asians then facilitated by failing to integrate into Ugandan society. Sachdev goes on to say, 

I believe there were some Indian people who might have mistreated the native communities. The South Asian communities didn’t mix with them because our cultures and traditions were very different. Basically, Idi Amin kicked us out because he realised that Indians were making money, and he felt that natives should be making that money. Despite that, a lot of black people that we knew were saddened for us. We were the sole reason why we were kicked out. Gold, for example, is a big thing in our communities, as we store gold. Somebody I knew hid her gold in a water tank and she could never go back to get it. Idi Amin’s people would loot and kill people, so if I walked on the street wearing jewellery, they’d just threaten to kill me and loot me. We were lucky, but a lot of Indians lost a lot. Everything in the household — the furniture and everything that belonged to us — we gave to them when we left.

Sudhaben, 82, reflects on her life in Uganda, looking at a picture of her when she was just 35 and was expelled from Uganda.

I was nervous when I settled in Britain. It was 1971 when I first came to England for a visit. I remember Trafalgar square from my memories of the first time when I came here. We came there for a two-week holiday and didn’t like it because of the weather. We never envisioned that we would come and live here.

She reflects on how the expulsion occurred and adds,

Only in a few months, we were forced to move, when Idi Amin announced the expulsion. My husband had a Ugandan passport, so I could leave with all my children but my husband had to stay. He eventually got a visa and then was able to move later. When I heard about the announcement of expulsion, I thought it was a joke. When we realised that this expulsion was real, we had gatherings in our communities with friends. We sold everything that we owned and relocated. The people who worked for us were really scared. Idi Amin killed up to half a million Black Africans. Surprisingly, no Indians were killed. A few people stayed who couldn’t get a British passport. My husband carried on working during that time at the shop and lives just carried on.

She further goes on to say,

We didn’t have any animosity towards the Black communities around us, and my husband always had a soft spot for them. For instance, some people would show up at our house every other day to ask for stuff, and my husband would always give them whatever they asked for.

Through testimonies and reports, it’s evident that generations of fear and trauma emerged from the Uganda expulsion. Yet, those who migrated in the early ’70s show trends of prosperity and success in the U.K. From big political figures such as Priti Patel to “proportions ending up in high occupational status jobs”, Ugandan-Asians continue to blossom. 

Whilst there are many successful immigration stories, initially, the “Paki-bashing” and racist ideologies ran rampant throughout the U.K, especially within the conservative cabinet. Right-wing groups such as The National Front overtly opposed South Asian migration, and were supported by cabinet members proposing to send British passport holders to The Solomon and Falklands Islands, but later bashed ethically. Yet, this didn’t stop racial attacks throughout the ’70s.

This contradicts many South Asian-Ugandan attitudes, as it seems that many conform to conservative political views or even members of the Conservative party. Attitudes of gratitude and respect for the British can appear confusing and contradictory given the abhorrent treatment stated prior, yet due to Conservative party leaders seeking these groups as potential voters, it seems the orchestrated approval had worked to gain their support.

[Read Related: Op-Ed: Is Rishi Sunak U.K’s Potential First South Asian Prime Minister That the Country Actually Needs?]

It’s undoubtedly true that British-South Asians from Uganda should be commemorated for the struggles they faced on their path to a prosperous life. The story of expulsion and its legacy is an essential one, showcasing how intricate history can be and especially how it plays out. Just recently His Majesty The King hosted a reception ahead of a ceremony at Buckingham Palace to commemorate those who arrived in 1972 and contributed to the country. November 2 marked the end of the 90 days notice that General Idi Amin had originally given Ugandan-South Asians to leave the country, however, this was then extended to November 8, 1972. 

Although the diaspora is divided immensely, it can be agreed that political bodies played a role in their successes and outcomes, and in the absence of this institutional interference, these communities may not have had the same success stories. As generations continue, the question of legacy for South Asian Ugandans in Britain still stands; powerful stories and Ugandan heritage will always continue to be taught. 


Aditya Tiwari is a writer and queer activist from India. He has written two books of poems “April is Lush” (2019), which received international acclaim, and “Lilac Dreams and Bruises” (forthcoming), short-listed for the 2022 Verve Poetry Prize, which HuffPost (US) lauded as “alluring” and The Times of India described as “raw, whimsical, and moving” in early praises. He holds a postgraduate in Journalism from the University of East Anglia. His writings have appeared in The Telegraph, PinkNews, BBC, Vice, Hindustan Times, The Alipore Post, Outlook Magazine, The Wire, and elsewhere. He has been named in GQ’s 2021 list of 5 Indian Poets To Watch Out For and Outlook Magazine’s 2022 list of 75 Indians Who Have Made a Difference to Communities Around Them, among other places.

Jamilah Moktadir BGM’s social media manager and U.K. writer. She is a half-Bengali, half-Gujarati PPE student currently studying at SOAS, University of London. As a British South Asian she is actively decolonising her mindset whilst re-learning through communist theory. As well as a part-time procrastinator Jamilah enjoys trash TV, paneer and practicing her Muslim faith.

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By Brown Girl Magazine

Born out of the lack of minority representation in mainstream media, Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South … Read more ›

Anita Verma-Lallian Launches Arizona’s First South Asian-owned Film Production and Entertainment Company

Anita Verma-Lallian

Indian-American commercial real estate and land consultant Anita Verma-Lallian launched Camelback Productions at an event held in Paradise Valley, Arizona, Jan. 7. Billed as the state’s first women-and South Asian-owned film production and entertainment company, it will focus on South Asian representation and storytelling, according to a press statement issued by Verma-Lallian. The announcement follows “Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s $125 million film tax credit for film and TV production that was introduced in July 2022, “ the statement added.

The Jan. 7 private launch party and meet and greet introduced investors and supporters to what’s ahead for Camelback Productions.

Noting the “major push to see minority groups represented in the media over the past few years,” Verma-Lallian said she wants to see more South Asians represented. “I want my children to see themselves when they watch TV. I want my daughter’s dream to become an actress to become a reality. Skin color shouldn’t be a barrier to that.”

The event opened with remarks from Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, who has served as the city’s 62nd mayor since 2019. She welcomes the company to “the greater Phoenix community.” She expressed confidence that “the team will attract some of the country’s top talent to the Valley.”

Guests at the event included actor and comedian Lilly Singh, actor Nik Dodani, Aparna of Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking,” Bali Chainani and Anisha Ramakrishna of Bravo’s “Family Karma” fame, and Paramount+ executive P. Sean Gupta, to name a few.


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The company is Verma-Lallian’s first venture into the film industry. She is known for providing full concierge services for land seekers and developers of all types of sites and assists investors in discovering viable properties in the Phoenix area through her company, Arizona Land Consulting, the statement added.

Named in honor of the iconic Camelback Mountain in the Valley, Verma-Lallian says she wants her production company to have the same indestructible foundation. Camelback Productions plans to begin its first project later this summer.

In Conversation With Kevin Wu: Creating Content in a new Generation

Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu

Kevin Wu, previously known as KevJumba, is an American YouTuber, from Houston, Texas, with more than 2.68 million subscribers on YouTube and more than 323 million views. His content consists of vlogs, social commentary, musical parodies and more. Wu also streams on Twitch and has released original music as well as freestyles. His most popular YouTube video is titled “Nice Guys” with Ryan Higa. Wu has also worked with many individuals including A-Trak, Chester See, David Choi, Globetrotters, Iyaz, Jamie Chung, Jeremy Lin, Ryan Higa, Wong Fu Productions, and more. He has also appeared in movies such as “Hang Loose,” “Revenge of the Green Dragons,” “Man Up,” and more. Wu is one of the first original YouTubers gaining popularity in 2008 and even had another channel, titled JumbaFund, now known as Team Jumba. Continue reading to learn more about Kevin Wu’s journey!

[Read Related: Superwoman and Humble the Poet’s #IVIVI Music Video Celebrates Toronto’s Diversity]

We really enjoyed the project ‘Underneath the Lights.’ On the track “WHY U IN LA” the lyrics, “Don’t know who I might be, it might surprise me. I could be a hypebeast, That’s nothing like me, It’s so enticing.” How do you feel this speaks to the idea of self-discovery? What have you learned about yourself, diving back into making content?

I love that song we did. The artist who sang those lyrics his name is Zooty. I really provided the energy and direction for the musical piece, but I give credit to my producer Jonum and Zooty credit for the lyrics. Both guys are a slightly different generation, gen-Z, whereas I grew up as a millennial. I find that I left a lot on the table when I left YouTube at 23, so when I work with gen-Z I have so much that I want to give. Coming back to YouTube this time around, it’s all about self-reliance. Coming from movies and television, you have to depend on people to get a better product. But with YouTube, I’m going back to my roots and putting my wit and effort into every part of the process again (writing, directing, performing, producing, editing). I want the result to be authenticity and a homegrown feeling.

[Read Related: JusReign’s Reign on YouTube]

When you started your YouTube channel you were known for your vlogs and social commentary. How do you feel about the new age of content creation — where content is in surplus but individuals aren’t feeling the content?

It’s hard to say whether or not individuals are or aren’t feeling content — the taste is just so wide now. It’s like living in Los Angeles; food is very competitive, and when picking a restaurant you have every ethnic variety and even fusion foods. I imagine opening a restaurant in LA to be very competitive and the attention to detail in what you make has to be authentic or hit a certain demographic. I feel on the Internet, YouTube does a decent job of catering to your sensibilities, the so-called algorithm. However, the personal connection you get with content creators has somewhat been shifted, and now it’s become more interest-based (ie gaming, how-to, music, politics, etc.)

How do you feel the original algorithm has changed, and what do you miss most about that time?

I don’t remember talking about algorithms back in 2010 to 2012. People watched their favorite Youtubers because their homepage included their subscriptions first and foremost, and then if your subscriptions hadn’t posted anything new, you would typically check the most popular page. Then trending became a thing and now you have algorithms generating your timeline based on a bunch of data. I think it’s forced creators to think externally and hanging onto identities i.e. what are my interests? Am I a gamer? Am I a streamer?

We parodied your music video for “Nice Guys” for our orchestra music camp skit back in high school. If Chester, Ryan, and you, had to recreate “Nice Guys” today, would you focus on the concept of self-love for the current generation? We also really loved “Shed a Tear.”

I definitely think self-love would be a very nice theme. Recreating it would be nice, actually. I think it’s hard to get three people to all be in the same room again, especially after leading different lives. But “Nice Guys” was something special for each one of us, and Chester See deserves a lot of credit because of his musical talent. It’s made me realize today the impact of music. I really enjoy the expression of music because it forces you to be more artistic, versus just saying what’s on your mind. Like poetry, or hearing harmonies.

You’ve worked with many individuals and groups in the past including, A-Trak, Chester See, David Choi, Globetrotters, Iyaz, Jamie Chung, Jeremy Lin, Ryan Higa, Wong Fu Productions, and more. If you could create content with any group of individuals who would be your dream collaborators?

At this stage in my life, I really enjoy coming back and rekindling those creative connections and checking in with previous friends or acquaintances. Doing a video with Ryan Higa, Jeremy Lin, Chester See, David Choi, Wong Fu, Jamie Chung, those would all be very fun. But the first step would be to just see how they’re doing. So that’s the closest thing to a best case scenario for me. I’m not trying to force any collaborations at the moment (haha!). Unless it’s convenient.

As an NBA fan you expressed you would like to talk more about basketball on Ryan’s “Off the Pill Podcast.” How do you feel watching sports and has playing sports helped you become more in tune with yourself?

After going through a lot of physical adversity after my car accident, reconnecting with sports has been really helpful. I played basketball for a while and I’d like to get back into soccer. I wanted to talk about basketball on Ryan’s podcast because I was still dipping my toes into Internet content/social media and didn’t want to talk too much about myself at the time.

As a content creator how do you balance not letting validation get to your head and authentically connecting with your audience?

We all seek validation. It’s innate, but it’s about where you seek it. Nowadays I remember to validate myself first, by starting with my mind and body. After a while, you can get a sense of when you need validation versus being totally unconscious of it. Sometimes that sense of validation is important, so we know to check in with our parents, or see if a friend needs positive feedback. To connect with the audience, that’s like number five in my priority list (haha!). Having an audience can be scary; you definitely want to be in tune with yourself first.

How do you deal with comments consisting of “I miss the old KevJumba?”

I just smile. I miss the old KevJumba too!

[Read Related: The Authenticity and Individuality of 88rising’s Niki]

As live streaming has become a new form of content now, how have you enjoyed live streaming on Twitch for the Head In The Clouds Festival both in 2021 and 2022? We really enjoyed seeing Ylona Garcia sing “Nice Guys!”

It’s fun, I enjoy live streaming and I really appreciate 88rising and Amazon Music for inviting me both years to be the host for their livestream.

What was the decision behind putting your family in your videos?

I put my Dad in my videos accidentally; we were on a ski trip. I think people responded really positively in the comments, and then I just sat down had a conversation with him on camera, and it became a hit. After that he just became his own character. I think I tend to come alive more when I am interacting with someone on camera.

We really liked seeing you upload videos to Team Jumba. Is the mission still to donate earnings to a charity that viewers suggest?

At the moment, no. The Supply, which was the charity I donated to before, has since shut down. I also don’t make much money on YouTube anymore, since I was inactive on my channel for a while, so that format from 2009 will be difficult to replicate.

We really enjoyed the ‘KevJumba and Zooty Extended Play,’ specifically the track “With You in the Clouds” featuring fuslie. How has Valorant inspired your music as well as other forms of content creation?

The album was really experimental. I find the personal connections I made in gaming to be the most enlivening. “With You in the Clouds” was inspired by TenZ and, since he’s such a legendary figure in the pro FPS community, we had to do a worthy tribute. I think paying tribute to the things you like is a really great way to think about content creation.

How do you feel your childhood experiences in Houston, and playing soccer, have shaped you to chase your dreams of acting? How have you enjoyed acting in comparison to YouTube?

I love acting. It’s a wondrous lens at which to see your relationship with others. I find that in studying acting, you are often really studying the human experience or the mind. It’s like learning psychology but you are on your feet, or you are reading great theater. Playing soccer and growing up in Houston don’t really contribute directly to why I enjoy acting, but I very much enjoy coming from Houston and thriving in soccer. It made me commit to something and seeing how consistently “showing up” can really ground your childhood and prove to be valuable, later in life.

How do you feel we can uplift each other across the Asian diaspora and unify to create ripple effects of representation?

I think listening is probably the best thing you can do. Just genuinely hearing about something, or someone, helps you really invest in them during that time that you are there. So I think that’s probably the first step.

What made you go back to school and finish your degree at the University of Houston in Psychology?

No one reason in particular. I was also studying acting at the time back in 2017-2018 when I completed the degree, so it was just testing my limits and seeing what I could balance. I finished it online.

What are your upcoming plans?

Just experimenting on YouTube for now. Making videos with my own effort.

Your first video was uploaded back in 2007 and was titled ‘Backyard,’ where you are dancing to a song called “Watch Me” by Little Brother, off of the “The Minstrel Show.” We also really enjoyed your video with Ryan Higa titled “Best Crew vs Poreotics.” Are you still dancing these days?

Yes. The body does what the body wants.

Lastly, what do you hope individuals take away from this interview with Brown Girl Magazine?

Nothing in particular. I try to let my mind flow when I answer questions. I may have jumped to conclusions before fully investing in some of the questions, so I apologize. If you are reading, I thank you for your time and patience. I also thank Brown Girl Magazine for putting together a vast array of questions that allow my mind to stretch and work out a bit. I hope you find a stronger connection to your own truths, and I hope I did not disturb those in any way. Regards.

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Wu

By Arun S.

Arun fell in love with music at a young age by way of his middle school music teacher Mr. D. … Read more ›

Op-Ed: An Open Letter to President Biden in Light of Prime Minister Modi’s Visit to the States

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit
The following open letter is written by Hindus for Human Rights, an organization advocating for pluralism, civil and human rights in South Asia and North America, rooted in the values of Hindu faith: shanti (peace), nyaya (justice) and satya (truth). They provide a Hindu voice of resistance to caste, Hindutva (Hindu nationalism), racism, and all forms of bigotry and oppression.

Dear President Biden,

As Indian-Americans, human rights organizations, and concerned allies, we are writing to urge you to engage publicly and meaningfully to push back against the Indian government’s escalating attacks on human rights and democracy, especially ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the United States.

Despite objective evidence that India’s democracy is under critical attack, you have not spoken out about this crisis. In early 2023, Indian authorities conducted retaliatory raids on the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai offices for releasing a documentary about Prime Minister Modi. The week before the Summit for Democracy, the Indian government made three successive attacks on Indian democracy. First, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party expelled Rahul Gandhi from Parliament. Second, the Indian government shut the internet down in Punjab, severely impacting the rights for Sikhs to peacefully organize and protest. And third, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that Indians can be found guilty by association for terrorism. And yet, not one representative from the Biden Administration said anything about even one of these developments. Instead, while Islamophobic violence gripped India in late March, you invited Prime Minister Modi to speak at the Summit for Democracy. Mr. Modi visits DC at a time when the state of Manipur has experienced heavy communal and anti-Christian violence after Modi’s ruling party pushed an initiative to undermine Indigenous rights in the state.

Even when confronted with questions by Indian reporters about human rights in India, your administration has only had private two-way conversations about how both of our governments can always improve. Quite frankly, we find it unacceptable to see such equivocation on Indian democracy from an administration that has been strident in its defense of American democracy and the rule of law. 

India is one of the fastest autocratizing nations in the world, mostly thanks to the current government. Freedom House has rated India as a “partly-free” country for the past three years, and has blamed Prime Minister Modi’s government for a rise in discriminatory policies, including persecution against Muslims and caste-based violence against Dalit and Adivasi communities; harassment of civil society, protestors, academia and the media, and the targeting of political opponents. It has also rated Indian-administered Kashmir as “not free,” citing violations of human, civil, and political rights after the Modi government revoked the territory’s autonomous status. In Reporters Without Borders press freedom ranking, India has dropped to 161 out of 180 countries in 2023. India has appeared in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Impunity Indexwhich examines accountability for unsolved journalists’ murders — every year for the past 15 years and currently ranks in 11th place worldwide. According to PEN America’s Freedom to Write Index, in 2022, India was one of the top 10 countries that jailed writers globally. The Varieties of Democracy Institute characterizes India as an “electoral autocracy” and blames India’s descent into autocracy on Prime Minister Modi. And the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has said India has been one of the top 15 countries at risk for a mass atrocity event every year since 2017, which reflects the toxicity of Indian politics under Modi. 

Given the magnitude of this crisis, we ask you to engage directly with Indian-American and human rights civil society leaders to explore solutions to address India’s human rights crisis. We also ask you to employ the tools at your disposal to ensure that the Indian government cannot attack Indians’ human rights with impunity. As the 2022 Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor report details, several government individuals have committed human rights violations that, under U.S. law, would qualify them to be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. Indian security forces that have engaged in human rights violations should have security assistance rescinded, under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. 

Finally, we urge you to publicly call on the Indian government to honor its commitments to human rights, including calling on Prime Minister Modi and his cabinet to halt the use of anti-terror laws to arbitrarily detain political critics. You can publicly denounce the rising numbers of political prisoners and the weaponization of the rule of law in India to shut down criticism. Even if you are not willing to personally criticize the Prime Minister, you have ample opportunity to criticize the Indian government’s misuse of public trust and public institutions to consolidate power and undermine the will of the Indian people.

As President of the United States of America, you hold a unique position to lead the fight against authoritarianism. Prime Minister Modi will listen to you when you speak. But he and his allies will only change if you take a stand publicly. We urge you to listen to those of us who care about India and ensure that one man cannot steal the futures and the rights of our loved ones in India.

— Signed by countless organizations and individuals leading the charge (linked here).