THEATRE SPOTLIGHT: LEICESTER’S UGANDAN ASIAN STORY AT FIFTY YEARS
August 2022 marks a poignant time for the Ugandan Asian population of Leicester (as well as around the world) as they mark the 50-year anniversary of one of the most traumatic atrocities recorded in history. ‘Made at Curve’ re-tell the story of this traumatic experience for future generations to understand the heritage of Leicester’s Ugandan Asian population.
Production Photography Credit: Kieran Vyas
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Disclosure: I received a press invite to experience ‘Finding Home’. All opinions and views are my own and along with non-production photography remain a copyright of be-lavie. For more information, refer to our disclosure policy.
A Brief History of the Ugandan Asian Expulsion
On 4 August 1972, the president of Uganda, Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of around 55,000 Asian minority individuals, giving them 90 days in which to leave the country. Their crime claims Amin, which he bases on a handful of individuals, included disloyalty, non-integration, as well as commercial malpractice. Claims that were disputed by Asian leaders. Amin argued he was ‘giving Uganda back to the ethnic Ugandans’. But his ways were barbaric and violent, he seized businesses and finances, leaving Uganda in economic dismay.
Once the Asian Ugandans with British passports acquired their documents, they arrived in Britain with nothing more than £50 and a suitcase to their name. Following being distributed to camps around the country in locations such as Lincolnshire, Somerset and Devon, many secured employment, with a large proportion deciding to settle in Leicester.
50 years on, the Curve, Leicester brings us insightful and heart-wrenching performances from real life stories forming a part of the Finding Home series of plays including Ruka, Ninety Days and Call me by My Name. These have been written with first hand accounts of events shared sympathetically by the Asian Ugandan population of Leicester and their experiences of what they endured before, during and following their expulsion from Uganda.
Ninety Days written by Ashok Patel tells contrasting stories of two couples, Wynnie (Chisenga Malama) and Joshua (Nathan Obokoh) and newlyweds Geeta (Sneya Rajani) and Sudesh (Rav Moore). One couple Ugandan Natives and the other, Ugandan Asians, the play explores the reality of what Ninety Days means to each as the deadline approaches. The tensions between both couples as well as with each other show how loyalties and friendship are tried and tested in such a powerful situation. How greed can tear lifelong relationships to shreds in moments. The subjects of social class in Ugandan society are highlighted and showcased with integrity. The gasps from the audience as well as the pin-drop silence of the reality of such conversations and disrespect between the couples and their intertwined dependency for one another consolidated the true essence of the events. of the expulsion.
Wynnie faced following her love or her head and Geeta the demise of leaving everything behind and starting over.
Ninety days charts the journey of the exodus with standout performances from the leads supported by a great cast on stage combining serious moments, jestful banter as well as a popular Hindi movie track which had the audience tapping away! A momentary escapism from the severity of such a preposterous situation.
Call Me By My Name
Call Me By My Name, written by Dilan Raithatha connects the story of the Ugandan Asian Expulsion to the current generation by way of Darshan (Manas Kotak) who asks his grandfather (Nicholas Alphonso Pereira) and Great Uncle (Jishnu Soni) an innocent question which leads to the unfolding of his family heritage.
Completely relatable and beautifully explored history through the eyes of two brothers who witness first-hand the arduously dangerous struggle to make the journey during the exodus, Call Me By My Name, leads them to contemplate their identities past and present and the importance of their name. By educating their grandson they relive the atrocities, celebrity moments and reveal many family secrets along the way which had previously been buried deep throughout the years with their adjustment to a new life in Leicester.
Call Me By My Name is emotional in places but counteracted by well-placed anecdotes that are relatable to both todays Ugandan Asian generation as well as their parents and grandparents. It’s about maintaining a legacy and never giving up hope. It’s about the struggle of equality with Identity being at the very forefront of an individuals existence.
Both Ninety Days and Call Me By My Name are directed by Mandeep Glover.
Finding Home: Call Me By My Name & Ninety Days are now showing at Curve, Leicester up until 06 August 2022.
- Address: The Curve. Alexandra House, 60 Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1SB
- Box Office: 0116 242 3595
- Box Office Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: Curve Theatre.
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