|REFLECTION | Diwali falls on the anniversary of the
When Idi Amin expelled the Asians out of Uganda
many swapped palatial homes, servants and the hot African sun for
the drafty wooden chalets of a disused holiday camp on the Somerset
Thirty years ago, Idi Amin, the President of Uganda gave Asians 90 days
to leave the country. Amin was losing control over his country and decided
the best way to recover was to expel the Asians in a bold move.
What most Ugandan Asians and the British Government thought
was another empty threat turned out to be extremely serious.
Most of the Ugandan Asians had British passports and were
compelled to go there, rather than India.
arrived in Britain with £50 and very few possessions|
They lost their homes, their businesses and all but a
handful of possessions. One man told the BBC then that he didn't know
if he would survive the West Country winter. But survive they did, and
much more than that.
The Ugandan Asians now make up one of the most successful
and prosperous immigrant communities in Britain.
We join them as they celebrate their New Year at a temple in Bristol.
Many of the Ugandan Asians are Hindu and this year the
celebration of Diwali, the festival of light and New Year, coincides with
anniversary of the exodus.
Celebration and reflection
The temple was founded by a teacher, Mr Joshi, and a group
of Ugandan Asians living in Bristol. Now in a more multicultural Bristol,
those coming to attend Diwali are not only from Uganda, yet the strong
links within that community are still there.
Ugandan Asians were temporarily housed in disused holiday camps|
Mrs Joshi, the widow of the founder has come with her
daughter to worship and reflect in the temple her husband established.
When her family first came to England, her husband and
son were placed in a camp at Donniford in Somerset, before making Bristol
their permanent home.
Abdul Ismail also took a day trip to Bristol with his
family and chose it above anywhere else. His father had the additional
difficulty of a large family to support, eight mouths to feed.
After running a large and successful business in Uganda,
his father refused to compromise his standards. Instead of going into
a menial job, he set up a small shop selling ethnic foods and hot snacks.
Asian community are looking to the future|
Thirty years later the shop is busy selling Diwali sweets,
having expanded ten-fold in size.
The enduring characteristic of the Ugandan Asian community
is their astute business sense coupled with a willingness to work extremely
hard, making them the most successful immigrant group in Britain.
This however, has been borne out of times of immense pain
and sadness, with many Ugandan Asians preferring not to dwell on the past,
but look forward to theirs and their children's’ future.