May 2014 \ Diaspora News \ Asians in Uganda
Book On Exodus

A Kenyan Asian economist has spent seven years compiling the history of Asians in Uganda and especially their expulsion, prosperity in new lands and return to Uganda in a monumental book reports Kul Bhushan

 After working for seven long years away from his family, Dr. Vali Jamal, an economist, has almost completed his magnum opus – Uganda Asians: Then and Now, Here and There. This book is has 1.2 million words spread over 1,656 pages with thousands of historical photographs, illustrations and tables. It contains personal stories of 444 Ugandan Asians expelled by the dictator Idi Amin. Of these Dr. Jamal interviewed 155, received 155 by mail and researched the remaining on the web. In all, 2,222 people have been mentioned in this book.

Born in Kenya and brought up in Uganda, Dr. Jamal obtained his degree in economics from Trinity College, Cambridge. After graduation, he worked in Uganda Ministry of Commerce and Industry (1964-67), but left to go to Stanford for his doctorate. In 1972, he came to Uganda to collect data for his dissertation (The Role of Cotton and Coffee in Uganda’s Economic Development). Then the expulsion happened.

He helped his parents and sisters with visas to leave Uganda and kept notes of the historic happening. After he completed his dissertation, he was recruited into UN-International Labour Organization. On an ILO mission to Kenya in 1982, he visited Uganda and did so every two years after. He was the first to chronicle the post-expulsion decline of the economy in economic journals.

On his retirement from the ILO in 2001, he spent three weeks at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) researching on Uganda Asians. In 2005, he returned to Uganda to open a restaurant with disastrous results. After several publishing ventures, he embarked on writing this book.

Tags: Book