Indians in Uganda

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ugandan Indians
Regions with significant populations
Kampala, Jinja
Swahili, English, Gujarati, Malayalam, Sindhi, Urdu, Kutchi, Marathi, Hindi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Konkani, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali
Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Jainism
Related ethnic groups
Non-resident Indian and Person of Indian Origin

There is a sizable community of people of Indian origin living in Uganda. In 2003, there were an estimated 20,000 people of Asian descent (majority of Indians and Pakistanis living in Uganda, compared to approximately 100,000 before they were expelled by the dictator Idi Amin in 1972.[1]

Many returned to Uganda in the 1980s and 1990s and have once again gone on to dominate the country's economy.[2] Despite making up less than 1% of the population, they are estimated to contribute up to 65% of the country's tax revenues.[2] Sudhir Ruparelia, who is of Indian origin, is the richest man in Uganda and has an estimated fortune of $1 billion.[2]


Shree Sanatan Dharma Mandal faith (SSDM) was established by early Asians who came to Uganda to work on the Uganda railway under the colonial era. The foundation stone to this temple, was laid in 1954 and completed in 1964. It was the first Shikma temple built outside India. This structure was built without any iron bars or steel right from the foundation up to its dorm which is over four floors high.

In 1895 construction of the Uganda Railway began. The Imperial British East Africa Company awarded Alibhai Mulla Jeevanjee, an agent based in Karachi, with the contract to supply the required labour force. Jeevanjee recruited his workforce from the Punjab region of British India.[3] The first group to arrive had a total of 350 men, and over a six-year period, a total of 31,895 men worked on the project. Some died, others returned to India after the end of their contracts, and others chose to stay. The population was later bolstered by Gujarati traders called "passenger Indians", both Hindu and Muslim free migrants who came to serve the economic needs of the indentured labourers and to capitalize on the economic opportunities.[4][5]

Over time, Indians became prosperous and dominated much of the Ugandan economy, with some acting in the role of 'colonial overseers' for the British regime, which prompted the rise of resentment and Indophobia.[4] These resentments came to a crisis when Idi Amin ousted Milton Obote by military coup d'état in 1971. The following year, Amin ordered the expulsion of Asians living in Uganda.[6] As a result, many Indians migrated to the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and elsewhere and began rebuilding their lives. After Amin's death, however, more Indians who were born in Uganda started migrating back.[7][8]

Notable Ugandan people of Indian descent or notable people of Indian-Ugandan descent[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lacey, Marc (17 August 2003). "Once Outcasts, Asians Again Drive Uganda's Economy". New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Dawood, Farhana (15 May 2016). "Ugandan Asians dominate economy after exile". BBC News. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  3. ^ Uganda Society, The Uganda Journal, Kampala, 1948, p.7
  4. ^ a b Ember, Melvin (30 November 2004). Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World. Volume II: Diaspora Communities. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9780306483219. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  5. ^ Hiralal, Kalpana (1994). "Indian Family Businesses in Natal, 1870–1950" (PDF). Natal Society Foundation. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  6. ^ Dowden, Richard (4 August 1992). "Short-sighted demagogue who played the race card: Idi Amin expelled the Asians 20 years ago. Richard Dowden, Africa Editor, explains why the decision was supported by Ugandans". The Independent. London. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  7. ^ Cohen, Ronald Lee, 1944- (1997). Global diasporas: an introduction. University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-97620-9. OCLC 318266657.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Rajani, Rupal (6 August 2012). "Ugandan Asians: Life 40 years on". London: BBC Asian Network. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  9. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Kumar, Mukesh (2011). "Indians in Post-War Uganda, 1948-62". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 72: 1096–1106. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44145722.

External links[edit]