Keep Calm & Carry On.
Until the age of twelve years, Akbar was living life to the fullest in Kampala, Uganda, both in school and during his free time. His experience of school was rigid but mostly pleasant, and his overall lifestyle in Uganda was active and varied.
Thanks to his father’s pragmatism, Akbar’s escape from Uganda to the UK as part of the exodus was smooth. Moreover, the kindness shown by workers at the camp and neighbours in the UK made it easier for him and his family to adapt during their initial days in the new country.
Akbar continued to make the most of school in the UK. Although he had to deal with a few instances of racism, he took them all in his stride, played sports and made plenty of friends. He performed well academically, too, which was part of what led him to pursue and enjoy a long, diverse and fulfilling career in medicine. Now, content with all that he has achieved, he can’t imagine his life having played out any other way.
Below is an extract from Akbar’s gratifying story.
“I was twelve years old when we arrived in the UK and had missed the eleven-plus exam. I was automatically enrolled at Eastholm School in Peterborough. I was placed in the top set, along with another English boy who’d also arrived recently, which was a shock for the local kids. It was a boys’ school at first but soon girls were allowed to join, and shortly thereafter I had my first experience of racism. One of the girls in my class asked me what I was doing there, implying that I couldn’t have been smart enough to be in the top set. Another boy kindly stuck up for me by telling her I was there because I knew what I was doing. I was also, surprisingly, blamed for a local rise in racism by a Pakistani boy: he said that Ugandan Asians had disrupted life for other communities and that’s why racism had reared its ugly head. But I didn’t think too much of it and just carried on.”
We will be releasing contributors’ full stories at a later date, so please stay tuned for them. If you would like to read a full story now, then please see the first five stories posted here on our website.
This is a project by AFFCAD UK to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the exodus of Ugandan Asians, by collating and archiving the stories of those involved. If you would like to contribute a story, do get in touch here.