On August 4, 1972, then former President of Uganda, the late Gen. Idi Amin, announced the expulsion of Asians from Uganda.
Thousands of Indians who had heavily invested in Uganda and regarded it as their home, were forced to flee their country as their businesses were dished to Amin’s cronies, soldiers and Government officials.
August 4, 2022 will be the 50th anniversary of the expulsion.
To mark this momentous occasion, a team of Indians led by Bharat Ghelani, who is the Chief Planner and Organiser Uganda Reunion 2022, are planning a gathering in Uganda for those who are interested in visiting their birthplace.
In an exclusive interview with the New Vision at Munyonyo Speke Resort on Friday, Bharat said they had planned a mega celebration that will see hundreds of Indians fly into Uganda to celebrate.
For those who wished to extend their stay to visit Kenya or Tanzania, additional tours were made available through our travel partners. This reunion will form a poignant memory, where we were born, how we grew up, the schools we attended and the businesses we set-up with our families: Bharat said.
He said the celebrations will offer the Indian community, “a time to reflect on the expulsion from Uganda, the traumatic journey, new beginnings and life today, after leaving Uganda the future that we built, how remarkably successful the ex-Ugandan Asians have become wherever they happened to settle in the world.”
Particularly in the UK and Canada, the Ugandan Asians are well respected for their business acumen they have become extremely successful and still contribute enormously to the economies of their current countries of residence: Bharat said.
Asked why he opted to organize the celebrations, Bharat said his main aim was to promote tourism in this beautiful country and as such many different tours of Uganda by our guests.
“It will bring together a range of excursions and activities that will make this a trip of a lifetime, giving everyone the opportunity to reunite with their old friends from across the globe. In other words we want to ensure that the trip is befitting of this momentous occasion”, he added.
Bharat said he has been working in the UK with a range of arts organizations, community groups and the media in planning celebrations in the UK as well as in Uganda.
“Words cannot express how delighted I personally feel, that we will all be here, together, smiling and catching up with each other after so long. It will be a feeling of sheer joy, seeing that spring has sprung and 50 years have passed so quickly since we left this beautiful country,” he stated.
Bharat noted that although distance separates us all that close, lifelong friendship bonds remain stronger than ever.
“Seeing us all here together will bring back so many memories of all the years passed. Regrettably there are many Ex-Ugandan Asians who are unable to attend the gathering due to various reasons! Sadly we have also lost many of our dear friends, we dearly miss you all but I am sure their spirit will be with us all on the day” he explained.
He expressed his heartfelt thanks to his fellow committee members who included Ramesh Bharania from USA, Khalil Allandin and Maurice Fernandes, both from Canada who have all worked tirelessly with him to organise, plan and execute this unique gathering.
“We do not stop enjoying because we are old; we grow old because we stop enjoying. You’ve got to have that dream and desire to continue in some capacity with the life that we all love so dearly, when you lose that passion to live, you physically die,” Bharat stated.
He said there is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability.
“The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity to change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what they did, but rather for things they did not do. It is time to celebrate all the living we still have left to do and commit ourselves to making positive changes, small and large, within ourselves, within our family, our society and thereby in the world we live in,” Bharat said.
He said they will have many legends, both from overseas and locally who are willing to provide a platform for all the younger generation Ugandan Asians today to let everyone’s love and dedication, so that yesterday’s sentiment, today’s persistence, and tomorrow’s pursuit can be true.
“Friendship is a flower that exudes a warm fragrance and makes people feel the beauty of the world. Friendship is a drop of water that nourishes the thirst of the heart, and makes the body taste warm to the human world,” he said.
He said he hoped the gathering will be a wonderful legacy for our youngsters.
“I have to thank sincerely and from the bottom of my heart to the fabulous team here at Munyonyo, working under the stewardship of Sudhir Ruparelia, for giving me a free hand in my responsibility for the welfare and success of this prestigious event at this scrumptious Speke Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort.
Without their unswerving support, guidance and professionalism from the team at Munyonyo, it would not have been possible to organise, plan and execute this event, surely a once in a lifetime opportunity for all my Ugandan friends,” Bharat stated.
He also expressed his sincere gratitude and enormous encouragement and support that he had have received from my many local friends here in Kampala.
“I am confident that everyone coming will have a wonderful time over the coming few days: Bharat summed it up.