I am Ugandan

The Ugandan – a new film from director Patrick Sekyaya – will make its US premiere on Thursday, December 6th, at the Embassy Theater in Boston. The film chronicles several intertwined and complicated relationships that result from Idi Amin’s 1972 expulsion of Asians from Uganda.  From the film’s synopsis:

The Ugandan is a feature film about Raman, an Indian survivor of Idi Amin’s regime, who is blackmailed by his Ugandan girl friend (Becky) when he claims his father’s property. Drama unfolds when his daughter falls in love with Becky’s brother. In this riveting story of lies, love and xenophobia, we get a peak into the legacy of Idi Amin’s Uganda and the challenges of inter-racial relationships in a country where polarization has created a deep mistrust on all sides.


The Ugandan took top honors at this year’s Silicon Valley African Film Festival, and stars the director as well as Halima Namakula and Dora Mwima.  Forrest Whitaker (who played Idi Amin in Last King of Scotland), Van Vickers of Nollywood, and Ghyslaine Tchouaga (Miss Africa USA) will all be in attendance at the premiere in Boston, which was chosen to host the premiere in part because of its large Ugandan expat population (check out Radio Uganda Boston here).  The Kampala premiere will occur in early 2013.

Here is the trailer for the film:

The film is noteworthy for its specifically Ugandan take (that is, uniquely taking place in Uganda and produced/directed by Ugandans, even as Ugandan-ness itself is interrogated in the film) on the expulsions of Indians in 1972, and takes its place in a small but important filmic body dealing with the era, from an array of interesting perspectives.

Mississippi Masala, the 1992 film directed by Mira Nair and starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, tells the story of an Indo-Ugandan family expelled in 1972 who settle (and find love) against another racially charged backdrop: Biloxi, Mississippi.  The film is set in Mississippi and Uganda.  There’s also Charas (the title refers to hashish made in the greater Indian subcontinent), a 1976 Hindi movie directed by Ramanand Sangar, in which the expulsions take place while Kalicharan tries to conceal his involvement in drug smuggling from another Indian family whose property he is supposed to be caring for.

It’s great to see The Ugandan added to the canon, and I’ll look forward to seeing how the film wrestles with the past, if it becomes widely available. If you’re in Boston – check it out!


~ Jonathan Jenner

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