“I became Ugandan, and then I became stateless, and then I became British Citizen again”

Born in India, Govindbhai moved to Kampala at the age of 11, where he attended Shimoni primary school and later Kololo secondary school. Govindbhai’s father and uncle worked together in manufacturing spices for locals in Kampala.

In 1960, at the age of 18, Govindbhai and 16 of his friends who also attended Kololo came to England on a small propeller plane on a journey that lasted several days.

Initially, the plan was for Govindbhai to study in England for three years on a grant provided by the government. He would then return to work in Uganda as part of the grant and pursue his Ugandan citizenship. However, he never ended up returning to Uganda as planned.

He was told, after he completed his studies, that there was no job available for him. Shortly after that, in 1972, Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of Uganda’s Indian population. Govindbhai was left stateless. His Ugandan citizenship had expired, as had his British visa.

However, he was allowed to begin his transition to UK citizenship: “The home office was very fair to me. They said, you’re stateless, but you can stay as long as you want in the UK. You can’t currently leave the UK, as you have no passport, but as long as you don’t commit any crimes, you can apply for naturalisation.”

In 1965, Govindbhai returned only once to Uganda, for his holidays at the time. Although brief, this was a fruitful final visit, as he reunited there with his childhood sweetheart. “As it happens, I fell in love with my sister-in-law’s younger sister and married her.”


We will be releasing contributors’ full stories at a later date, so please stay tuned for them. If you would like to read a full story now, then please see the first five stories posted here on our website.

This is a project by AFFCAD UK to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the exodus of Ugandan Asians, by collating and archiving the stories of those involved. If you would like to contribute a story, do get in touch here.