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Ugandan Asians forced to flee homeland 45 years ago set to reunite this weekend

PUBLISHED: 14:15 08 November 2017

Ilford's Ugandan population mainly moved here in the 1970s and 80s.

Ilford's Ugandan population mainly moved here in the 1970s and 80s.

Rochelle Scholar

Forty five years after Uganda’s Asian population was expelled from the country by General Idi Amin, an emotional reunion is set to take place in Seven Kings.

In 1972, the UK took in 25,000 Ugandan Asians after they were forced to leave their homeland by the country’s dictator.

He denounced them as “bloodsuckers”, and warned that any people choosing to remain in the country would be imprisoned in military camps.

The 80,000-strong community was given 90 days to pack up and leave.

Around 50,000 people in total left the country, and many settled in India, US, Canada and many other parts of the world.

Now hundreds of people from across the globe will attend a sold-out reunion at Palmers Catholic Academy, in Aldborough Road South, Seven Kings, on Saturday.

Redbridge resident Hitesh Jolapara, who is on the organising committee, recounted his experience of leaving the country.

He said: “In the case of my family, my parents and three young children, aged between four and 10, were forced to leave Kakira penniless, like all other Ugandan Asians.

“We arrived in England on 22nd November 1972.

“We spent the first week in a military camp in Warrington and a week later we found private accommodation (one room) in Harlesden, Brent and stayed there for two years.

“In 1974 we moved to East Ham, Newham and through tremendous hard work by my parents, we were fortunate to enough buy our first home in Manor Park in 1976.

“After finishing my schooling in Newham and university education, I moved to Redbridge.

“If I was in my parents’ position and had to leave a country I had lived in for over 20 years and move to a new country and start over again, I’m not sure that I would have survived it.

“I’m immensley grateful to them both for getting us through that.

“I personally don’t think I would have survived.”

More than 500 people have registered to attend the event which will also be attended by Shailesh Vara MP for North West Cambridgeshire, formerly from Kakira; Mike Gapes, Ilford South MP and Julius Peter Moto, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the UK.

It will be sponsored by Madhvani Group, Uganda’s biggest sugar manufacturer.

See pictures of the event in next week’s Recorder.

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