Public works of art planned as permanent commemoration for Ugandan Asians in the city

Posted on Tuesday April 5th, 2022

A NEW piece of public art is to be designed and installed in Leicester as part of the commemorations of the 50and anniversary of the arrival of thousands of Ugandan Asians in the city.

2022 will be marked by an extensive program of ‘Uganda 50’ events, reflecting both the arrival in Leicester of thousands of Ugandan Asians in 1972 and the vital contribution they have made to the city’s unique identity since during.

Leicester City Council has announced plans for a permanent sculpture or artwork in the city, created with input from the city’s Ugandan Asian community over the next few months.

Funding for the artwork will come from a combination of a planned CrowdFund Leicester campaign and a contribution from the City Council.

It follows recent work with the city’s Asian community to explore how best to mark the anniversary and where such a work of art could be located.

Belgrave Circle has been suggested as the likely location.

Work will take place over the next few months, including the selection of an artist and additional community engagement on the design and site of the artwork.

The proposed artwork is the latest in a series of events and activities planned for 2022 in commemoration of the more than 27,000 Asians who were expelled by the regime of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 1972. Thousands people moved to Leicester to start a new life.

The Leicester Museum and Art Gallery is also set to host its Uganda 50 exhibition, in conjunction with community arts group Navrang, as a centerpiece of the commemorations. The Leicester-based arts organization has received just over £102,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a program of regional events, including the exhibition, which is due to open in July.

The project will bring to life the extraordinary experiences of an entire community of people who were given only 90 days to leave Uganda, as well as the stories of those displaced people who have settled in the UK and Leicester.

The Leicester exhibition has also received a £10,000 contribution from Leicester City Council’s Museums and Galleries Department. The opening is scheduled for July 2022.

Curve Theater is also hosting a community production this summer about the Ugandan Asian exodus, their journeys to Leicester and their contributions to the city over the past five decades.

The production – titled Finding Home – Leicester’s Ugandan Asian Story at 50 – will run from July 29 to August 6 and will feature three new short plays by local writers whose families have arrived in the UK from Uganda.

Leicester Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The expulsion of thousands of Asian families from Uganda, and the arrival of some of them in Leicester, is a hugely significant moment in the city’s history, which has shaped the identity of the city until today.

“The next step will be to work with the Ugandan Asian community in the city to see how this can be appropriately commemorated.

“Throughout 2022, a program of events will mark this half-century, to recognize the rich experiences, testimonies and memories of people who left everything to flee a cruel dictator, to find refuge and start anew. to rebuild their lives in our city.”

The City of Leicester’s Deputy Mayor for Culture, Leisure and Sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, added: ‘It is very appropriate to have a permanent work of art or sculpture commemorating this part of our shared history. , in a way that can be enjoyed and keep history alive for future generations to understand.

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