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‘Ninety Days’ and two other plays reflect trauma of Ugandan South Asian explusion on 50th anniversary…

‘Ninety Days’ and two other plays reflect trauma of Ugandan South Asian explusion on 50th anniversary…

It was this week 50 years ago that Uganda declared that South Asians could no longer live in that country and three new plays on till Saturday (August 6) reflect the trauma and upheaval it caused as thousands fled to Leicester…

AUGUST promises to be a month of revelations and difficult conversations.

Not only do we have the 75th year of Independence – when the British finally left India after some 200 years – but we also have another very significant anniversary.

It will be 50 years since brutal dictator Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of South Asians from Uganda. Most had been lured there by the British to work on the construction of the railways.

Geeta (Sneya Rajani) and Janti Bhai (Sanjay Dattani) in ‘Ninety Days
Sneya Rajani

A process had been under way for some time. Known as ‘Africanisation’ on the continent, former British colonies were becoming more assertive and African politicians found popularity by talking negatively about South Asians in East Africa. Some Asians had done well and were rich and comfortable, others were in professions and commerce and were okay without being particularly wealthy.

Amin’s expulsion had been foreseen but it was a convulsion that had immense consequences as many Asians arrived in Britain when the Tory Prime Minister allowed those affected to come to Britain – against opposition.

Many had to flee with little more than the clothes on their back and their experiences have remained somewhat confined to family memories – but now after 50 years there is a greater willingness to talk about the trauma of that time.

Rav Moore by ©MichaelWhatley

This is now being reflected in three new, short dramas at The Curve in Leicester.

Ninety Days’ by Ashok Patel; ‘Call Me By My Name’ by Dilan Raithatha; and the children’s play, ‘Ruka‘ by Chandni Mistry, are all part of the theatre’s ‘Finding Home’ series – which explores local Leicester writers’ families’ experiences of migrating from Uganda to the UK.

Ninety Days’ is about newly married Geeta (Sneya Rajani) and Sudesh (Rav Moore) facing up to the 90 days Amin gave the Asian community to leave Uganda on August 4.

Rav Moore and Sneya Rajani as Sudesh & Geeta

It looks at how the couple coped and what the expulsion meant on the ground – another local Ugandan couple Wynnie (Chisenga Malama) and Joshua (Nathan Obokoh) are also affected.

Both Moore and Rajani have family members who were caught up in the trauma and landed up in Leicester.

Rajani in a conversation with, said: “It is inspired by real stories – it’s really gritty, it doesn’t hold anything back and it’s what encouraged to us take these parts.

“It’s a way for us to celebrate what our families went through in a positive way and educate the next generation.”

‘Call Me By My Name

Moore also told acv: “Our families don’t really talk about it, it’s only now that we are addressing it. I got emotional just reading our play and ‘Call Me By My Name’. It’s given me a new found appreciation for our families, our communities, our culture, traditions and religion and we want the younger generation of British Asians to understand and be proud of their heritage.”

Both actors are Leicester born and raised and feel deeply connected to these plays.

In ‘Call Me By My Name’ – an elderly couple recount to their grandchildren what it was like arriving in Leicester 50 years ago and what it meant to be starting again in a foreign land.

It is estimated that around 27,000 migrated to the UK with a significant number landing up in Leicester.


Moore said many came to the town slightly confused by an advertisement warning them not to come – many misread it as an invitation.

Both these plays are presented in a single evening bill and are about 50 minutes long each.

In ‘Ruka’, it is a story told through a computer game with the taking off point being around ‘What’s your family story’. It is suitable for children six and above.

“Our families are really happy that these stories are being told and told at scale, pretty much everyone’s family (in Leicester) are connected to this and we’ve had lot of support and praise and it’s really important to educate this generation – it doesn’t get taught in schools,” said Rajani.

Pictures: The Curve (unless indicated)

Caption and picture amendments since publication (August 1)


‘Ninety Days’ by Ashok Patel and ‘Call Me By My Name’ by Dilan Raithatha, The Curve, 60 Rutland Street, Leicester LE1 1SB.
(July 30) – Saturday, August 6 7.15pm

More info & tickets:

‘Ruka’ – (July 30) to Saturday, August 6 – 2pm & 4pm.

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture