East to West

The History of
Ugandan Asians

January 27, 2023 by Max Russel

We have the privilege to share with you a brilliant panel discussion organised by the The Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) U.K. that took place on the 6th of November 2022.

Part of its Heritage Series this discussion reflects on the Ugandan Asian expulsion and the emergence of a new Ismaili diaspora in North America and Europe as one of its consequences. The panellists include: Jalal Jaffer – a practicing lawyer and author based in Canada, Arafat Jamal – A UNHCR Representative to South Sudan (at time of filming), and Dr Mohamed Keshavjee – a lawyer and international specialist on cross cultural mediation.

The 80-minute discussion covers a range of topics from the situation in Uganda prior to the expulsion, the expulsion process itself, and the role of the UNHCR and Prince Sadruddin in providing alternative pathways for resettlement. It also addresses the attitudes of countries like Canada and the UK towards the expulsion and how they dealt with the Ugandan Asians they took in.

The discussion also covers more conceptual themes such as current western attitudes towards refugees and the role of countries in the developing world in taking in refugees. The panellists also discuss the idea of identity and belonging all having been displaced at some point in their lives.

It is an incredibly informative discussion that offers a unique insight into what happened just over 50 years ago and what has followed since.

We thank ITREB for their cooperation to allow this piece of work to be shared with as many people as possible.