Sam Thaker was born to Indian immigrant parents in Uganda in 1940. He grew up in the days when it was one of the most beautiful, fertile and contented countries in the world. But in 1971 Idi Amin swept to power, and under his tyranny Sam’s paradise became a hell on Earth. Along with 80,000 other Ugandan Asians – the people who had been chiefly responsible for Uganda’s economic success - he was given three months to get out.
Forced by Amin’s thugs to abandon his home, his thriving airline cargo business, his possessions and most of his savings, Sam began a new life in England with his family, near-penniless and reduced to living in a shared flat and standing in dole queues.
But Sam was a survivor. Ignoring his bank manager’s patronising advice to open a corner shop, he decided instead to build on his experience in the cargo business to start up a London-based air freight company. Innovative thinking and hard work soon put the Thakers back on their feet, and in 1986, realising the immense and untapped potential of the Indian market, Sam returned to the land of his fathers to try to open up the import trade in Mumbai, the city from which his father had sailed for Uganda 75 years before. Within 10 years he had built an international company with offices in six Indian cities.
Along the way Sam and his wife were caught up in the wave of terrorism which struck Mumbai in 1993 and again in 2008, fleeing bombs and machine-gun attacks which slaughtered hundreds. They also narrowly escaped the floods, which engulfed the city in 2005 and drowned more than 5000 people.
Safely retired to England, Sam Thaker has now told his story 'The Crocodile’s Teeth' a tale of survival and resourcefulness against a background of cultural contrast, tyranny and terror on two continents.
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