In August 1972, Ugandan President Idi Amin expelled all Asians from the country and gave them only ninety days to leave. Lucy Fulford, author of The Exiled, a book about Ugandan Asian History was inspired by her own family’s history and delves into why she felt passionate about writing the book.
My grandparents, like tens of thousands of others, migrated from India to Uganda during the colonial era. However, in 1972, they faced expulsion when President and dictator Idi Amin announced that the country’s entire Asian population had ninety days to leave. They packed up just single suitcases and left their homes, their pets, and their loved ones behind.
This led my family to the UK and later to Australia, where I was born. My family having lived on four continents is a testament to the global diaspora that characterises many immigrant families.
My grandparents and mother were part of the exile. Many people don’t know about this expulsion and when we think about migratory history, this is an important part of that puzzle because it has all the elements of so much of today’s migration story. There was resistance to taking in Ugandan Asians; that was racism. There was also goodwill and incredible kindness from people. There were huge geopolitical forces, and it was, and still is, highly politicised.
From a young age, I had been curious about my family’s past, and today, I’ve turned that curiosity into a book; The Exiled: Empire, Immigration, and the Ugandan Asian Exodus. I hope this book helps bridge the gap between historical events and our understanding of the present.
We hear politicians today talking about migration in negative ways, and yet, the Ugandan Asian story is often held up as a success story. I believe this label can be problematic, as it implies comparisons and perpetuates the “good migrant versus bad migrant” rhetoric that still influences policies and public perception today. I was interested in exploring what it was about that and interrogating that idea.
While it may seem that events from fifty years ago are distant history, the Ugandan Asian expulsion is alive and well within me; it’s part of my family’s personal history. The legacy of the British empire continues to shape the lives of those influenced by our shared past. The Exiled aims to connect personal stories with the broader historical context to help us all appreciate our recent history and its ongoing impact on our lives.
Grab a copy of The Exiled: Empire, Immigration, and the Ugandan Asian Exodus.
🎥 Watch Lucy and her mom discuss their family’s history and how it inspired The Exiled ⬇️