• Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation to host panel talks on September 1 about Asians’ expulsion from Uganda

The panel discussion, which will complement an ongoing exhibition on the Uganda-Asians crisis, will be moderated by Praveen Moman, founder of Volcanoes Safaris, and feature a number of distinguished guests.

By: Shubham Ghosh

The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation is hosting a panel discussion with distinguished guests on September 1 to examine the expulsion of the Asian community from Uganda by then president Idi Amin Dada in 1972, the experiences of those who came to Britain and the contribution they have made to Britain.

The event will be hosted between 17:30-20:30 hours at Arundells, the home of Sir Edward Heath, the former British  prime minister who welcomed over 28,000 Ugandan-Asian refugees with open arms despite some fierce political and public opposition.

50 years of expansion of the Ugandan Asians by Idi Amin
(Picture: The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation)

The panel discussion will complement an exhibition on the Uganda-Asians Crisis at Arundells which started on August 12 and will run till November 1. Tickets and further details are available here.

The evening’s proceedings will bring together key contemporary players to examine the mass expulsion of Uganda’s Asian community; their experiences in Britain; the political battle for acceptance; and the lessons learned for policy today.

The panel will be moderated by Praveen Moman, conservationist, founder of Volcanoes Safaris which has been at the forefront of reviving gorilla tourism in Uganda and Rwanda, and former UK government special adviser.

The panel will also include:

· Her Excellency Nimisha Madhvani, the Republic of Uganda’s high commissioner to the UK (formerly Uganda’s ambassador to the Nordic countries). Notably, Her Excellency was also a victim of the expulsion

· Rt Hon Lord (David) Hunt, chairman of the Young Conservatives in 1972, who led the opposition to Enoch Powell and his allies’ attempts to derail the government’s policy at the Party Conference

· Cllr Ravi Govindia, the highly respected Conservative leader of Wandsworth Council (2010-2022). Notably, Cllr Govindia was in a West Country resettlement Camp before reading law at University

· Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, renowned journalist, author and broadcaster, regular columnist for the i newspaper and the Evening Standard, and founding member of British Muslims for Secular Democracy

· Giles Foden, acclaimed novelist and author of the ‘The Last King of Scotland’, a story about Idi Amin, and co-author of ‘Tide of Fortune: A Family Tale’ with Manubhai Madhvani

The panel discussion will reflect the latest exhibition at Arundells ‘Exodus: the Uganda Asians’ Crisis of 1972’, which tells the remarkable story of the expulsion of the Asian community from Uganda; the initial resistance from some political elements to their admission to Britain – even though they were British passport holders; the courageous decision by the Heath government to honour Britain’s humanitarian obligations; and how from arriving virtually penniless, the community has made new and successful lives in Britain over the last 50 years.

Theatre and film director Jatinder Verma is also making a collage of interviews with Uganda-Asian emigrants, especially for the event and the exhibition.

As prime minister, Heath commented on the Uganda Asians exodus, “The British people have refused to be scared into supporting the attitudes of meanness and bad faith towards the Ugandan-Asian refugees. They have responded in accordance with the traditions of honouring our obligations and holding out a friendly hand to people in danger and distress.”

Peter Batey CMG, OBE, chairman of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation said, “Marking the 50th anniversary of the shocking expulsion of Uganda’s Asian population, this panel discussion brings together first-hand testimony of the events. Hearing the remarkable stories of our distinguished guests against the backdrop of the latest exhibition at Arundells promises to be an enlightening and likely emotional evening.

We are thankful to all the participants for this opportunity to hear their unique stories, recognise the strength of the thousands of Uganda Asians forcibly uprooted, and reflect on the decisions of the Heath government which remind us of Britain’s tradition of generosity towards refugees and the rewards for our nation that have stemmed from compassion and generosity.”

The exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of the Ahluwalia Family Foundation and of the Rumi Foundation and the sponsorship of Volcanoes Safaris, the foundation said in a release.

It also thanked its advisory group comprising Rt Hon Shailesh Vara M.P., Cllr Ravi Govindia and Moman for its contribution towards making the exhibition a success.

Eastern Eye

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