The Ugandan Asian Story was launched on Thursday 5th September at Kensington’s Royal Geographical Society. In front of an audience of more than 200, the exhibition tracing the history of the Ugandan Asian community in England was launched with an evening of talks by a series of speakers including JP Agarwal of the Council of Asian People, exhibition curator Sunil Shah, historian Karim Hussain of The National Archives and Karen Brookfield of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The exhibition which runs from Friday 6th to Sunday 15th September is the culmination of the year-long Exiles project, an initiative launched last year to build an archive of oral histories collected from east African exiles. Made to leave Uganda in 1972 when Idi Amin forced Asians to leave the country, their arrival in England – determined by ownership of British passports – created one of the most notable immigration stories in recent British memory.
Featuring beautiful photography, striking interviews and emotive testimonies from those who left Uganda, Making Home provides a fascinating wealth of information for anyone interested in British cultural history. It tells the story of twice-displaced Ugandan Asians who after arriving in east Africa as workers for the British Empire, would later become British citizens who claimed England as their home. Vividly documenting their present day lives as well as their pasts, Making Home accurately captures the complex private drama of resettlement.
The Exiles Project is a community-based initiative collecting oral histories of Ugandan Asians 40 years on. It is delivered by The Council of Asian People (CAP) in partnership with Amphora Arts and Collage Arts, with the support of an £86,700 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Launched last October, the Exiles Project has been co-ordinated by Jayesh Amin of CAP. The project has engaged and trained volunteers to research their own heritage and formalise the archiving process in order to create digital stories, deliver workshops and produced learning materials in collaboration with heritage sites such as The National Archives, London Metropolitan Archive and the Royal Geographical Society.
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The project is also creating resources that will enable visitors and students to learn more about this under-reported aspect of London’s heritage. These resources will be accessible online and will offer insight into the lives of those who experienced the trauma of leaving everything behind to start a new life.
‘Making Home’ – Exiles: The Ugandan Asian Story will run from Friday 6th – Sunday 15th September 2013 at the Royal Geographic Society (IBG Exhibition Pavilion), 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR from 10am – 5pm daily, including weekends. Admission is free.