Students killed and smuggling jewellery: Headteacher shares memories of Asian Uganda expulsion

ITV News Central reporter Rajiv Popat sits down Colin Grimes who moved to Uganda with his family in the late 60s, to work as a headteacher at a secondary school. He and his wife Norma have been sharing their memories of the country and of Amin's brutal regime.

A former headteacher who taught in Uganda has shared his memories of the country and dictator Idi Amin's brutal regime - which left many of his students dead.

Colin Grimes, who lives in Mountsorrel in Leicestershire, moved to Uganda with his family in the late sixties to work as a headteacher at a secondary school.

He worked at a school in Jinja, while his wife Norma worked for a textiles firm.

The country was ruled by President Idi Amin - now considered one of the most brutal dictators in modern history.

Colina and Norma Grimes moved to Uganda in the late sixties. Credit: Colin Grimes

In 1972, Asians in Uganda - around 80,000 - were given just 90 days to leave the country.

Many of Colin's students, who were in lodgings, belonged to tribes that Amin believed were against him. And by that afternoon - 27 of the students were dead.

"Sadly by that afternoon there was only three of them left alive," Mr Grimes said.

He adds: "One of them we hid in our garage overnight and helped him to escape very early in the morning.

Norma tells of being stopped by the military who were throwing bodies over the dam

"The other two just sort of disappeared, we're not sure what happened to them."

Europeans, like Colin and Norma, who were living in Uganda were not ordered to leave and they were not persecuted or targeted.

But many decided to go because the atmosphere was tense and they feared for their safety.

It is believed that some 300,000 people were killed and countless others tortured during Idi Amin's presidency.

On the way to the airport to leave for the UK, Colin and Norma witnessed more violence from Amin's troops and described seeing bullet holes in the wall of the airport.

Asians were only allowed to bring a limited amount of jewellery to the UK. At the airport, women were injured when their necklaces and earrings were torn off.

Colin and Norma helped their Asian friends to get their jewellery out of the country - by wearing their necklaces and bracelets under high necked jumpers before boarding their flight.

Mr Grimes said: "I'm not sure I should tell you this story...they asked asked us to bring back some jewellery on their behalf and both my wife and my daughter had these high necked blouses and had gold bracelets under their sleeves and necklaces under their top."

"We were quite frightened at seeing how the Asians had been treated that we would get the same and be accused of smuggling - which we were. I confess. We got through perfectly naturally."

"We were stopped several times on the Owen Falls Dam on the way home and we were told 'don't worry they're just throwing bodies around'"

"It was quite terrifying, but again, I didn't feel threatened."

Her husband, Colin, adds: "It was very frightening on behalf of my students, and I have to say there was never any direct, or indirect threat to the Europeans.

"They left us alone, providing we weren't in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was no direct threat to us".

The couple went to Middlesborough before settling in Leicestershire.

They haven't visited Uganda since leaving and say they prefer to hold on to memories of the people they met and the incredible places they saw.