IN 1972, when Uganda’s erratic despot, Idi Amin, expelled some 80,000 Asians, mostly from the subcontinent and born in Uganda, the 30,000-odd refugees who arrived on Britain’s shores encountered anything but open arms.
The city of Leicester went so far as to take out a full-page advertisement on 15 September 1972 in the Ugandan government newspaper Uganda Argus admonishing anyone who was considering coming to Britain to think again. “In your own interests and those of your family you should accept the advice of the Uganda Resettlement Board and not come to Leicester,” it concluded.
Despite this warning, Ugandans of South Asian ancestry still came. As a result of their arrival—along with those of countless other immigrants—Leicester may soon become the first city in Britain with a white minority. Defying all gloomy predictions that their presence would overburden the social infrastructure and strain the fabric of society in smaller towns, South Asian immigrants have not only made Britain their new home, they have also thrived. Leicester has elected South Asian Members of Parliament and lords mayor, and many of the city’s successful businesses are South Asian-owned. The South Asian community is very much at the centre of Leicester’s social and civic fabric.