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

2022 will be marked by a wide-ranging programme of “Uganda 50” events, reflecting both on 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 then.

Picture: Leicester City Council

Leicester City Council has announced plans for a permanent sculpture or artwork in the city, created with the involvement of the city’s Ugandan Asian community over the coming 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 put forward as a likely location.

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

The proposed artwork is the latest part of 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. Many thousands settled in Leicester to start a new life.

Leicester Museum and Art Gallery is also due to host its Uganda 50 exhibition, in conjunction with community arts group Navrang, as the centrepiece of commemorations. The Leicester-based arts organisation was awarded just over £102,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a programme 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 just 90 days to leave Uganda, and the stories of those displaced people who settled in the UK, and in Leicester.

The exhibition in Leicester has also received a £10,000 contribution from Leicester City Council’s Museums and Galleries Services. It is due to open in July 2022.

Curve Theatre is also staging a community production this summer looking at the Ugandan Asians’ exodus, their journeys to Leicester and contributions to the city over the last five decades.

The production – entitled 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 arrived in the UK from Uganda.

Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The expulsion of thousands of Asian families from Uganda, and their arrival of some of those in Leicester, is a hugely important moment in the city’s history, which has shaped the city’s identity to the present day.

“The next stage will involve working with the city’s Ugandan Asian community to look at how that can be commemorated in a suitable way.

“Throughout 2022 there will be a programme of events marking this half-century anniversary, to recognise the wealth of experiences, personal accounts and memories of people who left everything behind fleeing a cruel dictator, to find refuge and start rebuilding their lives once again in our city.”

Leicester deputy city mayor for culture, leisure and sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, added: “It is very fitting to have a permanent artwork or sculpture commemorating this part of our shared story, in a way that can be appreciated and keep alive the story for future generations to understand.”

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