A NEW exhibition at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery will form the centrepiece of a programme of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of thousands of Ugandan Asians.
The Uganda 50 exhibition will both mark the anniversary of the exodus in 1972 by those fleeing the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and also celebrate the contribution the Asian community has made to Leicester’s culture and community over the last half a century.
Leicester-based arts organisation Navrang has been awarded just over £102,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a programme of regional events including the exhibition.
The project will bring to life the extraordinary experiences of an entire community of people who were given just 90 days to leave Uganda, and the stories of those displaced people who settled in the UK, and in Leicester.
The exhibition in Leicester has also received a £10,000 contribution from Leicester City Council’s Museums and Galleries Services. It is due to open in July 2022.
A wider programme of events is also being planned, details of which are yet to be finalised, but in Leicester Museum and Art Gallery the exhibition will be the first to occupy the new display space which is being created in the former World Arts Gallery on the museum’s first floor.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This is a very important year in the history of the city’s Ugandan Asian community, and we are looking forward to developing a wide-ranging programme of events and activities recognising that.
“The Uganda 50 exhibition is just the first part of what is planned, and we will be announcing details in due course of other events we are planning.
“More than 27,000 Ugandan Asians came to Britain after being expelled by Idi Amin, and several thousand of those started new lives in Leicester.
“Their wealth of experiences, personal accounts and memories of that time are something we want to be reflecting in this programme of events across the community. ”
Cllr Piara Singh Clair, Leicester deputy city mayor responsible for culture, leisure and sport, added: “The new exhibition at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery will be a fitting celebration of the resilience and resourcefulness of a whole people who were displaced and forced to start all over again, far away from home.
“Leicester’s Ugandan Asian population have helped forge a unique identity for the city over the last 50 years, and these commemorations will celebrate the huge contribution they have made to the city’s culture.”
Arts organisation Navrang previously worked on the 2012 ‘Kampala to Leicester Exhibition’ marking 40 years of Ugandan Asians in Leicester, which included an exhibition that is now a permanent exhibit at Leicester's Newark Houses Museum.
The organisation has planned events for Charnwood Museum in Loughborough, along with three smaller traveling exhibitions touring the city and county, plus a programme of lectures and activities in local schools.
Navrang’s Nisha Popat added: “The project will explore the emotive and inspiring story of Ugandan Asians, the links to Empire and the impact this community has had on the city it made its home.”