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Expelled Ugandan Asians reunite in Seven Kings

PUBLISHED: 18:21 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:22 14 November 2017

Reunited Ugandan Asians dance to traditional Kakiran folk music in at Palmers Catholic Academy, Seven Kings. Photo: Parshotam Bhai Nakum

Reunited Ugandan Asians dance to traditional Kakiran folk music in at Palmers Catholic Academy, Seven Kings. Photo: Parshotam Bhai Nakum

Archant

More than 600 Uganda Asians, exiled 45 years ago by General Idi Amin, reunited in Seven Kings on Saturday.

The Uganda Asian reunion organising committee. Photo: Parshotam Bhai Nakum The Uganda Asian reunion organising committee. Photo: Parshotam Bhai Nakum

Members of the scattered diaspora travelled from Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton, Scotland and as far as way as Canada and the US.

Gants Hill resident Parshotam Bhai Nakum, 64, who was on the organising committee, described the atmosphere at the reunion.

He said: “It was an emotional feeling. I saw people coming in throwing up their hands and saying ‘wow!’

“There were people who were meeting for the first time since 1972.”

Demand to attend the reunion at Palmers Catholic Academy, in Aldborough Road South, Seven Kings, on Saturday was overwhelming, he added.

Event sponsors Madhvani Group, Uganda’s biggest sugar manufacturer, needed to hire an additional 100 chairs to guarantee all guests a seat.

Through the event Parshotam became reacquainted with his old next door neighbours, former schoolmates, his English and Maths School teacher Pritam Singh.

Reflecting on his relationship with his teacher, now 83 and living in Leeds, he said: “He was so strict. What he really taught us was discipline and my school mates and I really appreciated that.”

The event was a gathering of the former residents of the village of Kakira, near the town of Jinja in Southern Uganda, whose mostly originate from Gujarat, India.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, Shailesh Vara MP for North West Cambridgeshire, also formerly from Kakira; and Julius Peter Moto, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the UK.

Food for the evening included a selection of curry dishes and samosas with entertainment provided by a Kakiran six-piece band that is now based in Redbridge.

They performed folk music which traditionally accompanies the Hindu celebration of Navratri, which takes place over nine nights in autumn each year.

Commenting on whether there are any plans for further reunions, he said: “The Facebook page is inundated with people congratulating us on the event.”

“They want us to organise another one. There is a lot of logistics involved so we will look at the finances and decide what to do next.”

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