The Ugandan Asian community has been a major force in shaping the profile of Belgrave, and enriching it for the benefit of the whole city. This area has always experienced change and will continue to evolve in the future. As local businesses and professional people became more successful many moved out to more affluent suburbs such as Rushey Mead, Oadby, Stoneygate, and Syston. Some shops and offices have also relocated following their customers out to the suburbs, and new places of worship were built.
Belgrave has hosted many ‘new’ communities from the Irish in the late 1800s and 1950s to Somalis in the 2000s and Sri Lankans today. As one community moves on another moves in, each demanding new shops and places of worship to meet their particular needs.
Forty years after the expulsion of the Asian community from Uganda how does that community see itself?
Local community worker Ranjan Saujani describes herself as African by birth, Indian by origin, British by nationality, and a citizen of Leicester and the United Kingdom
Charity executive Bala Thakrar believes that:
“Coming to a different country gave us different options and choices”.
In the 1990s Uganda attempted to reopen its economy to foreign investment and enterprise. Former Ugandan Asians were encouraged to return to start-up businesses as
Ugandan politicians recognised that Idi Amin’s policy had been a grave mistake.
Businessman Jaffer Kapassi O.B.E.was one of those who led a trade delegation back to Uganda. He had mixed feelings when asked if he would like to return to the country of his birth.
“My response was that I would love to come back to Uganda and live and develop the country but my children who were born in the UK are more British than the British themselves and they would not accept an alien way of life and it will be very difficult to part with my family. But when I do retire I may think of coming back”.