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Thursday, December 8, 2022
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Harrow resident recalls flight from Africa at gunpoint

A resident of Harrow, Jatin Shah, made an emotional visit to Buckingham Palace recently to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of British Asians in the UK from Uganda.

Back in 1972, more than 70,000 fled the country after dictator Idi Amin ordered them to leave within three months claiming ‘God had spoken to him in a dream.’

Harrow resident recalls flight from Africa at gunpoint Harrow Online

They were forced to hand over their businesses, homes and savings and threatened with prison if they remained.

Harrow resident Jatin said: It was a frightening time with curfews and soldiers on the streets. My father got a call one evening from a friend saying the Army was looking for him and that we needed to pack a suitcase and leave straight away.

I remember the worry on my parents faces as we passed through numerous armed check points on the long drive to Entebbe airport.

We would be asked to get out of the car at each checkpoint and the soldiers just helped themselves to whatever they wanted. Our driver heard that several people who argued with soldiers were simply shot on the spot.

I was born in Uganda and here I was being kicked out of my own country. We were allowed to leave with one suitcase and had to leave everything else behind and start over in the UK.

More than 200 people attended the function at Buckingham Palace which was attended by King Charles III.

Harrow resident recalls flight from Africa at gunpoint Harrow Online
Credit: LNWUH NHS Trust

The event included presentations by David Dimbleby and Jon Snow, who both reported from Uganda as young journalists in the 1970s.

Jatin who has spent the past 22 years working as a volunteer at Northwick Park Hospital, said: It was lovely to met everyone and share those memories. It’s been a long journey.