‘ India must seize the opportunity to develop Africa ’
AHMEDABAD: Before the infamous exodus of Asians from Uganda in 1972, there
were about 1.2 lakh Indians in the African nation, primarily
involved in trading and business. Today, the number has come down
to 32,000 as majority of the population, having a large chunk of
Gujarati who had made Africa their home for over two generations,
settled in countries such as England and Canada.
“For majority of the families, the initial period was very difficult. My family also sought asylum to the UK and got it. But I decided to return like 50 others - it was land where I was born and flourished. My father made Uganda our home in 1938 and there were a number of like-minded people who decided to rise again,” said Dr Rajni Tailor, a former minister in Buganda kingdom of Uganda and president of Africa Hindu Association. He traces his family to Navsari in south Gujarat.
Rising from humble background, Tailor dabbled into a number of trade and vocations in Kampala and later in London. When he was questioned at his wedding whether he considers going back, the answer was an emphatic yes.
“By the end of Idi Amin era, the shops and properties seized by the government were exhausted and the government and local population needed good administration and management. Uganda might be one of the few countries that handed over the seized property back. Between 2006 and 2013, I was also appointed MoS for economic development & planning in Buganda government,” said Tailor, now associated with tire business and international trade. He was in Ahmedabad for a personal visit.
A regular member of Ugandan and African delegation to India, Tailor had hosted the then CM Narendra Modi to Uganda. “Africa is developing and a few other countries are getting very aggressive in economic expansion. India has to seize the chance to be part of African development,” said Tailor. In the Vibrant Gujarat season, Tailor said that industries like food and agri products have huge potential in Uganda.
He said that Gujarati community today is predominantly associated with industries as other communities are barred from retail business.