The year was 1972 in Tanzania, East Africa, and my
grandfather was ready to open shop, just like he’d done every day for
the last thirty years.
Unexpectedly, a shout erupted from the top of the hill, and he looked up
in horror to see twenty men with machine guns marching towards him.
One of them barked at him in Swahili. “We have orders from President
to take over your shop. Hand over the keys.” My grandfather trembled
with fear, and managed to muster a distressed response.
“I haven’t done anything wrong! What is going on?” He whirled around and
noticed the entire town gathered, equally alarmed.
The man refused to answer his question. “Hand over the keys.” The
soldiers shifted their guns impatiently, ready to shoot at any given
At the time, my grandfather didn’t understand what was happening. He
didn’t understand how everything his family had worked so hard for could
be taken away from him in one, terrible moment. He didn’t truly realize
until that one moment how life could take such an awful turn. He felt
powerless to stop it, but he knew what he had to do.
Reluctantly, he handed over the keys, and watched the men march off,
taking away everything he had.
All across Africa, soldiers were targeting Asians and taking over their
businesses. It was a dark time for Africa, and many like my grandfather
were left with nothing. But, despite losing everything, my grandfather
moved on with his life. He emigrated to London, restarted a new life and
raised his children with newfound courage. He taught them to be honest
and never take anything for granted.
Years later, I listen to my grandfather with an open mind, and feel
proud when I think of everything he overcame to get to where he is