Before the hijacking, Karim Teja’s father, Sultan, said violence in Uganda ebbs and flows. When Idi Amin deposed the president and installed himself in 1971, promising more for black Ugandans, Sultan said, “Don’t worry.” Then rumours began about what could happen to the property and bank accounts of the Asian minority, but Sultan said, “This will pass.”
It didn’t pass. On August 4, 1972, Idi Amin announced that Asians had 90 days to leave the country. One month later, the tortured bodies of two family friends were found in a nearby field. Soldiers behaved unpredictably under their new boss. Asians were recast as foreign saboteurs of the Ugandan economy, although many like Karim’s family could trace generations in Uganda and other parts of East Africa since their ancestors had sailed from India.