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Exhibition to mark 50 years since Ugandan Asians sought refuge in York

York College & University Centre has the honour of hosting an exhibition, brought together by Shamim Eimaan, to mark 50 years since York became home to refugee Ugandan Asians.

The exhibition documents the journey of around 80,000 Ugandan Asians who were banished from their homeland by dictator, Idi Amin, and forced to seek refuge all over the world.

Stripped of their possessions, work and way of life, Ugandan Asians were given little notice to leave, with only enough space for a small suitcase of personal belongings.

At just 6 years old, and the second youngest of 10 siblings, Shamim and her family were just one of the many families who journeyed to the UK.

Shamim and her family were initially housed in Birmingham before she later moved and settled in York in 1986.

The exhibition gives a detailed account of the events of 1972 and displays personal artefacts which really bring to life this inspirational story.

“For me, the personal artefacts are the highlight of the exhibition. Members of the York Ugandan Asian community have donated things like old Ugandan passports, cherished black and white photographs, childhood toys and cooking utensils. These are among the few things they managed to bring with them 50 years ago when they were forced to leave almost everything behind.

“This event will commemorate the events of 1972 as well as celebrate Ugandan Asian culture. It will showcase the resilience and resourcefulness of our community as we established new lives in York and other cities around the UK, and remember the kindness we experienced from strangers.”

In 2019, Shamim went back to visit the remains of her childhood home in Kabatoro, Uganda. Her memory of the events of 1972 is hazy, which she attributes to trauma.

“Sadly, I didn’t remember anything about my home, but the grills near the top of the house looked familiar. The house had cactuses and big bushes growing out of it and it was just full of bricks and rubble.

“I climbed inside the house and picked up 2 brick pieces to bring back home to the UK because despite it not bringing back any memories, I felt some kind of connection. My trip didn’t jog any memories for me, but I actually fell in love with Uganda because it is truly beautiful. I would like visit again one day.”

The exhibition will be on display in the York College & University Centre Atrium until 28th January 2023 and we would welcome you to visit and take the time to learn more.

Calling all York College & University Centre students…

Exhibition organiser Shamim Eimann as well as Yogesh Joshi, who was part of one of the first families to arrive in York, will be giving a talk and answering questions on Friday 27th January at 12:15pm in CC122, please come along!