OPINION: Remember When 50,000 Asians Were Exiled From Uganda?

OPINION. June 11, 2020

It’s no secret Asian-Americans have been targeted by racism, xenophobia, and now looting. For those readers who are Asian-American, have you noticed this universal reply every time you bring up Asians being victims of violence? ‘Yeah, but let’s talk about what’s happening in China right now.’

That obviously is referencing what the regional Chinese government did to African nationals in Guangzhou. Canceling their lease agreements, kicking them out in the streets, and refusing them services from motels to food. All because five infected Nigerian nationals broke quarantine procedures, visited eight different restaurants, and infected a dozen more African nationals.

We do not condone what the Chinese government did to the African nationals, let’s get that straight right now. 

However, it’s important to point out, not all Asians are Chinese, and not all Chinese agree with what the Chinese government did. That response falls on deaf ears to most because Asians are still somehow responsible for what the Chinese government is doing to African nationals in China.

Surprisingly, many mainstream media personalities love bringing up the “China thing” every time Asians complain these days.

Let’s play their game and wait until they respond “Not all black people are Ugandans!” Maybe then, they’ll understand not to judge an entire race for what one country did if the argument is flipped on them.

In 1972, Uganda exiled over 50,000 South Asians (Indians) out of their country. Why? Because they were too “successful.” Not because they had a virus, not because they disobeyed the Ugandan government, controlled by Idi Amin at the time, but because they were “milking Uganda’s money.”

President Idi Amin. Image via History

According to the BBC article titled: “Ugandan Asians Dominate Economy After Exile,” Ugandan Asians, through hard work, owned 90% of the country’s businesses and made up 90% of Ugandan’s tax revenue. Because of this, Asians had their properties seized, their bank accounts frozen and they were literally kicked out of Uganda.

All their businesses were seized and given to Ugandans. However, in the years that followed, Uganda’s economy tanked and a series of new leaders took control of the country. President Yoweri Museveni took control of Uganda in 1986 and begged Asians to return from exile.

President Yoweri Museveni. Image via Twitter

Many Asians have since returned and once again, flourishing in the country. Asian-Ugandans make up only 1% of the population, but make up 65% of the country’s tax revenue and own about 70% of the country’s businesses. Uganda’s richest man is South Asian, Sudhir Ruparelia worth $1.2 billion (USD).

Sudhir Ruparelia. Image via Ruparelia Foundation

Hopefully, China will one day pay compensation to the African nationals they wronged in Guangzhou. President Xi can learn a lot from President Yoweri Museveni’s handbook and correct a mistake.

The next time someone says ‘Let’s talk about what China is doing to Africans,’ because you were complaining about your grandmother being punched in the face at a bus stop, don’t forget to reply “Let’s talk about what Africans did to Asians in Uganda.” Because explaining to people not all Asians are Chinese doesn’t seem to be working.

Feature Images via The Mirror & History

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