This week marks the 40th anniversary of a pivotal moment in British history. A shock announcement by a brutal dictator overseas was to have a profound effect on the British nation and shape the way Britain is today.
As a result of the announcement by dictator Idi Amin on August 4th 1972, Britain accepted its biggest single wave of immigrants and set herself on a path of becoming a truly multicultural country.
Amin announced that he was expelling the 50,000 strong Asian community from Uganda and almost 30,000 of these exiles came to Britain, in one go.
Britain, 40 years ago, was a very different nation to today and there was considerable resistance to the arrival of the Ugandan Asians from some quarters. Some workers at London’s Smithfield meat Market lead a protest against these immigrants coming to Britain.
The British Government, however, wanted to help the Ugandan Asians and moved them into resettlement camps around the country. Azim Somani and his family went to Tonfanau in Wales. Today, three buildings still remain there. But Azim remembers how his family was torn apart and while his father came to Britain, his grandma went to India and his father never saw his mother again.
Families, on the whole, were able to remain together and despite an advert by Leicester Council, which was placed in Ugandan newspapers, stating that the Ugandan Asians should not come to Leicester, ironically almost 10,000 of them chose to settle there
Jaspal Minhas, the President of the Leicester Asian Business Association, who was already living in Leicester at that time, remembers that even the Asian community, already based there, was concerned about the arrival of the new immigrants who they feared would increase the climate of racism in the area.
But, the Ugandan Asian community thrived in Britain both individually and as a community and in the last 40 years, the Uganda Asians have transformed the city of Leicester.
Bhagwanjibhai Lakhani arrived with his family in 1972 and four years later opened the now legendary Bobby’s restaurant on the Belgrave Road.
The entire area surrounding the Belgrave Road is now known as the 'golden mile' and has become a booming area of shops and businesses in large part due to the hard work and determination of the Ugandan Asians.
So forty years on from their arrival in Britain, the Ugandan Asians are now integrated into British society and feel proud to be British.
Proud to be British in on ITV this evening at 7.30pm
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