30 Years
HomeUganda days - I look back by Kuldip Rai Moman, July 1986

I am a retired officer from the East African Posts and a Retired Community Relations Officer from London. Most of my years were spent in Uganda. There was a time I used to travel 3000 miles a month to some of the remotest posts of the country - beyond the horizon, viz:

I founded East African Association in 1974 as part of my Civil service work in London and started magazine "Jambo for the East African Asians and Englishmen. The foreward was written by N.G.Ellingham, O.B.E. I was the first person to get a grant for the East African Centre. I would say we all have lost a paradise in Africa. It shall not be regained.

Recently, my wife and myself spent two months in Uganda and Kenya and travelled extensively. We did not wish to come back. I look back with nostalgia and have a feeling that I belong to the soil there.

I had a misfortune to shake Iddi's hand and have a drink with him in his house at Aru. My personal library has almost every book written about Uganda and His Excellency, The Field Marshal including "Rivers of Blood".

On 5th August 1972, when Iddi, the tyrant announced the expulsion of all the Asians, I felt melancholy and for a fortnight I wandered aimlessly without a destination in Kigizi, Toro and Ankole districts to have a last look on the lands and in the meandering roads and paths which were a grave and of my memories. I am doing a story on this "The Last Safari" on those gloomy days.

I was travelling some 200 miles from my base when I arrived at a cluster of dwellings. It was bush country, away in the wilderness. I felt something strange about the place. There was dead silence, an eerie stillness. It appeared there was no soul in the vicinity. I got down from my car. My fears were confirmed. There used to be four Asian shops. They had left in haste, a few days ago. At the doorstep the lady of the house had drawn a Swastika. Swastika is a Hindu sign which brings prosperity to the surroundings. It is the same Swastika which Hitler had used but he had given a different meaning to it. It brought misery and destruction to the world half a century ago. Hindu Swastika has nothing to do with Hitler's emblem. In the stretch of my imagination, I could visualize and hear the prayers the lady must have uttered to her God to bring prosperity and peace to the neighbourhood. The wilderness will never hear the Gujarati hymns nor reverberate with their sweetness. I could see the padlocks on the doors. Marigold flowers were in bloom. There was freshness in the air. A cat was sitting, calling the old occupants, in vain. A dove was cooing in the trees. I knew the place would be razed to the ground soon. The grass would overgrow the Asian's dwellings and the whole place would revert to the bush. The nearby rivulet was flowing softly.