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WE REFUGEES Redefining Britain's East African Asians





WE REFUGEES?
Re-defining Britain's East African Asians
Saima Nasar

As a coda to decades of Africanisation policies, thousands of East African Asians were confronted with mass displacement dunng the 1960s and 1970s. I Popularly associated with the Ugandan Asian expulsion in 1972, when Idi Amin enforced a series of presidential decrees that called for all South Asians  to leave Uganda within just ninety days, this displacement took place irrespective of citizenship status. It followed the propagation of inflammatory

rhetoric, such as the notion that South Asians were a self-segregating community of bloodsuckers' that had 'sabotaged the economy'c? Patterns of Ugandan
Asian deracination could be traced, and indeed were mirrored elsewhere in the
region. Faced with social, ethno-political and economic persecution, South
Asians were also excluded from the new nation states of Kenya and Tanzania.
Altogether, approximately 103,500 East Africa Asians relocated to Britain
during this period.

In John Buff's Island Cohn Holmes described the 'frightening elasticity' with
which immigrants have been defined and classified.I This elasticity is strikingly evi-
dent in the historiography of Britain's EastAfncan Asian population. In the chaotic
politics of decolonisation, border enforcements were used to order populations and
to redesign the parameters of national citizenship.As imperial power diminished
and post-independent nation states emerged, Britain, alongside Kenya,Uganda and
Tanzania, exercised the power to exclude. Accordingly,over the last sixty-year period,
East African Asians have been discursively constructed and then reconstructed as
subjects, citizens, aliens, exiles, others and refugees. Their narratives of multiple
migrations have been told and re-told by all kinds of social and political actors,
be that behind official parliamentary doors, at the European Court for Human
Rights or in community centres, museums and living rooms across continents.
More recently, there has been an attempt by community historians to re-fashion

Re-defining Britain's East African Asians 

139bpopular projections of the 'East African Asian refugee' as a 'model minority'. In the
process of doing so, and as this chapter will set out, they have variously questioned,
reinforced, absorbed, challenged and subverted the refugee label Much like Hannah
Arendt sets out in her influential essay 'We Refugees', which lends its title to this
chapter, East African Asians have sought to re-define their ascribed refugee status on
their own terms." In particular, commemorative projects have been used to repro-
duce the Mr Cohn character, which Arendt describes as the ideal transnational mul-
tiple migrant who, having shed the deficiencies of refugeedom, is deeply patriotic
in every country, he resides. Having faced the realities of statelessness, the migrant is
recognised as a zoon politikon, a political animal.

Contemporary historians have inherited from these synchronic and diachronic
perspectives an extraordinary archive of mostly untapped private papers, reports,
petitions and conversations. The processes of East African Asian identity formula-
tion will therefore be used to shed light on the re-negotiation of minority iden-
tities.This chapter begins by exploring the historiography on Britain's East African

Asians and the elasticity with which they have been classified. It elaborates on the
ways in which scholarly analysis, and broader political discourse, has evolved since
the 1960s. It then turns to forms of self-representation and British East African
Asian attempts to question the refugee label and establish a new identity as a 'model
migrant'. In so doing, this chapter interrogates the role of migrant classifications in
the struggle for meaning and belonging.
From subject to citizen
Prior to their forced migration in the 1960s and 1970s, East African Asians were
deemed British subjects and imperial citizens of the Commonwealth. With the
passing of the 1948 British Nationality Act, a new identity was brokered for
British subjects. The concept of a shared Commonwealth citizenship was espoused,
which privileged Britishness above any and all other national affinities. Residents
of the Empire swore allegiance to the crown - they were British subjects and
Commonwealth citizens first, and local citizens second.
While as a cornmon status Commonwealth citizenship served to hold together
the 'octopus power' and sought to invoke a shared identity, the uncoupling of citi-
zenship from national identity in this way meant that, technically, the British gov-
ernment inadvertently opened the door to any person who was living anywhere in
the Empire. East African Asians were no exception. Britain pledged responsibility
for East Africa's minority South Asian population and repeatedly assured them that
their citizenship status was not under threat - even in the event that they were
displaced. As set out by Ann Dummeu and Andrew Nicol, 'subjecthood signified
a personal link. It was a vertical relationship between monarch and individual, not
a horizontal one between members of a nation or citizens of a body politic." In
an attempt to consolidate and espouse British imperial strength, the British East
African Asian subject was horn.

Goodbye Europe


For those of you who have been kind enough to follow my pictorial safari of Europe ...Asante Sana. This was probably my last visit to Europe, but you never know. As part of my bucket list, I have completed my personal assignment. In the days ahead, the photos I took this time and others from the past will keep my memories happy to be have been there and done that. It was probably selfish of me to have imposed this on you ... I am sorry.

Paris ...perhaps the greatest city of them all.

Here are some of my fav memories:




























Spent a day in Munich and did all the old Glockenspiel and this and that ...the Church of Our Lady and the devil's footprint has always had me naturally disbelieving. Local laws say that no building can be built taller than the important century gothic church. Apparently heavily damaged in WWII, the devil's footprint (after he stormed out of the church after an argument and with whom no
one can say).  Heading tomorrow for Paris and London home soon.

The last picture in this group is of my hotel room in Bavaria... but the food was found wanting ...the girl reception turned out to be a Kenya of coastal Taita decent.

The first picture below is the one I tried to take ...others failed after even six attempts ... but some succeeded.




Pretty pictures leaving the Swiss Alps, Austrian beauty-side and the fourth smallest country in the world, Liechtenstein.











GENEVA ....money money money, watches, WWII hypocrisy, expensive, expensive, clean, clean,





Jungfrau ... in the Swiss Alps, the roof of Europe, may be even the world




AVIGNON ... one of the great historic cities of Europe. Set on the banks of the charming River Rhone in the Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur, it is often called the city of popes. The Papal Palace, the Episcopal ensemble and the Avignon Bridge provide living link to a historic past, sometimes, bitter, warring and sometimes glorious.

There was an episode when the Church left the holies Rome for a century and Avignon played a major role in the development and diffusion of a particular culture throughout Europe.
The Papal Palace is often described as one of the most magnificent edifices of the 14th century. Various popes had a hand in its construction. It is as large as it is magnificent.

There is also considerable Roman architecture and the Roman aqueduct built in the 1400s is a brilliant example and shine today as it did in its early days. It is pictured below:




















LEFT THE camera at home as I spent the whole day jumping on and off buses. Why the camera? Because most places require you to queue for hours and it gets above pay grade and loss of lots of time. For example, FC Barcelona WAS FOUNDED in 1899, The Camp Nou looks back to 1954 although it was not inaugurated until 1957, replacing the old Les Corts stadium which dated back to 1922 ... today there is a museum that boasts 1 million visitors each year ... sadly I was not one of them, the person I was with got fidgety and we hopped on the coming bus.

Some pix by a travelling friend Grant Thomas








Perhaps the most famous Barcelona landmark of all, the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, more commonly known as simply the ‘Sagrada Família’ is a Roman Catholic church designed by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí

I wanted so much to see and photograph this but time beat. They reckon this modern miracle will be opened in 2026. I hope some of my European friends will be there for the inauguration.

Construction began on the Sagrada Família in 1882, but remarkably the architect Antoni Gaudí did not become involved with the project until 1883 and was appointed director in 1884. Gaudí was aware that he would not be alive to oversee the full construction of the building but left detailed designs to guide its completion. In fact only a quarter of the construction had been completed when Gaudí tragically died in 1926. The building of the church is still not complete today, and it is estimated that the current construction represents only 70% of the final design. Despite this, the edifice was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and declared a minor basilica.

Construction began on the Sagrada Família in 1882, but remarkably the architect Antoni Gaudí did not become involved with the project until 1883 and was appointed director in 1884. Gaudí was aware that he would not be alive to oversee the full construction of the building but left detailed designs to guide its completion. In fact only a quarter of the construction had been completed when Gaudí tragically died in 1926. The building of the church is still not complete today, and it is estimated that the current construction represents only 70% of the final design. Despite this, the edifice was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and declared a minor basilica.

Palau de Mar, or Sea Palace, is the only building remaining from the old port of Barcelona. This 19th century building was restored before the Olympic Games in 1992 ... the museum takes visitors on an interactive journey through the history of Catalonia.



Situated at the bottom of Barcelona’s iconic ‘La Rambla‘ street, across from the waterfront of the Port Vell, the Mirador de Colomis a monument erected in the memory of Christopher Columbus and his visit to Barcelona after his first voyage to the ‘new continent’.



Of all the cities I have been blessed with visiting, Barcelona always remain my all time favourite although I have had a lot more fun in Rome, Paris, London and New York. But for sheer history, Barcelona takes the cake. And id you visit the rest of Spain, you will be in history heaven, easpecially if you follow in the footsteps of the aftermath of the Inquisition and the rape and pillage of the grandest of Moslem mosques which survive today under the guise of Catholic cathedrals, in the process losing on a little of their former grandeur. So tomorrow morning, perhaps my last night in s
Spain, we leave for AVIGNON, literally winding down on this something of an epic journey.

Thanks to the snappers of the pix I have used.


Barcelona is too great city, too large metropolis, too many museums, too many works of arts in too many places, the longest streets, the biggest traffic jams, just a colossal work of genius, except for the traffic:













The principality of Monaco has an enduring effect on anyone who has been there even for a few minutes. Old fogies like me have another connection, the late actress and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly ... we were all in love with her ,,, the beautious of all female movie stars.

MONACO

















ARLES is a historical town attracts  its share of tourist. Its main claim to fame is the Church of St Trophime which became a primatial in 417 AD when Pope Zozimus named the Bishop of Arles Primate of Gaul..

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I guess by now some of you may be feeling like you are overdosing on my European safari pictures. Sorry about that and the good news is that there just 14 more days to go ...perhaps two or three or four places of interest. Just did the mighty Medici city of Florence. The whole city is a living museum and a monument to the Medici family who were its life blood for several centuries. This is the high season and it was packed wall to wall ... even taking a decent foto was difficult. One had to queue for the tickets for hours be you could go in... so I gave it a miss, I had been there before and, instead, walked around for a few hours, stopping off for lunch (which was not very good) and afternoon  tea (which was very good), Went passed Pisa, did not spend much there because nothing has changed. And then with night closing in we headed for the Riviera ... stopping en route at a perfume making factory. We had go at making our perfume, not the expensive kind of course, eau de toilette. Perfume without the eau before it is the most expensive perfume.There were not too many buyers from our mob. Below are our first glimpses of Monaco and its environs. Going this afternoon for a brief appearance at the Monte Carlo Casino where I invested some money several years ago, just want to see if they will return, may be even with a little profit.











POMPEII

Destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, Pompeii was unearthed in the 1700s. Today it is one of the major tourist attractions of the world. Engjoy.












ROME as glorious and as expensive as ever

I shared lot of photos the last time I was here are some of the memories.









VENICE
Some folks love Venice in the Winter when the local have Venice almost all to themselves, more love it in the Spring Time, the world loves in its droves in Summer and Fall. In any case, you will love Venice any time you visit. Every time you Venice, you are actually saying the words Magic, Romantic, Beautiful, serenading gondoliers, the great masked carnival festival and lots and lots more. Below is a collection of the sights ...























BRATISLAVA, serene on the banks of the romantic Danube, is charming to say the least, I doubt they would have a traffic jam regularly. Spent the lunch hour there and felt revitalised and pretty pleased with my self ... before heading off  to...



VIENNA ... the country, Austria, that gave the world Hitler and Hell is steeped in all sorts of history and at the heart of it all is Vienna with its uncountable waltzes, opera houses that rank with the best as do the concert halls and art and history museums ... and lots more including several palaces, cathedrals and places of worship of note.

Entrance to the Imperial Palace, more pics below
















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St Peter's  Cathedral

St Stephan's Cathedral where I heard the Mass led by a Cardinal



PRAGUE ... was once where Bohemia lived but that was a long time ago. True, if you were young in the 1960s, Prague was inspiration as fought to cut loose of the Soviet yoke ... eventually succeeding to become what it is today. Once the the legend was that there was a write, a poet, an artist, a musician, classical singer and much more outside every cafe around every corner. They tell me that was the way it was ... Today there is still much of that still to be had but you won't find it on every corner. The lone young man who smothered himself in flames tried to launch the Prague spring, thought he would recover from the burns to his body and never did. There is a tiny sculptor of his head to remind us of this local hero. Alexander Dubcek, the hero of the 60s struggle is long dead in an accident but there are older folks who have other conspiracy theories. Still, there must be something about Prague that forces the rest of the world to jam into the city every year. It is still the city of a hundred spires but they are blackened by age and are just a reminder of the past.But this around I will have to miss the literati, glitterati, the poets, street musicians, the readings, discussions, the table thumping young wannabee politicians, the heroic Prague spring makers ... because there were none visible ... or may be I did not look in the right places. But we did find all the Catholic and Protestant churches, the few Jewish synagogues and cemeteries. Went on a 150 minute hike up to Prague Castle, a collection of historic palaces, a basilica, various churches, buildings that are now government offices, halls of fame that are now presidential palaces and home to people of trillions. As I said we walked but we did not have time to go into these magnificent buildings, however, the day was not all lost ... great lunch while lazily sauntering down the river Vtlava and later in the evening a raucous knees up (German beerkellar style) where the Poles tried to outdo the Turks, the Americans failed to get up to speed, a couple of Aussies took on the rest of the world and shouted them down ... including going on stage and attempting their own version of the Czech dancing ... somewhere between Knees Up Mother Brown and the Hokey Pokey! Fun though, lots of grog flowing all night, what is more beer is cheaper than water, ice cream, tea ...



Here are a couple of guys pissing on a cut out of the Czech Republic ... there is plenty of healthy cynicism around.





Had a delightful lunch while sauntering down the river with an accordionist playing those old time faves


One of the saints who adorns the famous Charles Bridge


The world famous Charles Bridge with artists who will crayon your portrait or caricature al a Montmartre

Another church, another glittering square

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St Xavier's Church

A clock which on the hour opens up a couple of squares and various characters come in and out much to the delight of the waiting crowd

A little Prague street music

The previous night's dinner and drinks are delivered by miniature electronic rail, cute!














DRESDEN


Once the great art city of Europe, Florence on the Elbe, Dresden was virtually destroyed by Allied bombers in WWII. From the rubble, they have managed to resurrect a new Dresden using as much of the stone masonry as possible. Famous for its china among other things, Dresden was also a very arty place boasting one of the best opera houses at the time ... because it was blessed with terrific sound ... here are some pretty pictures including that of an Australian restaurant...











Some stunning gold leaf work in Our Lady's church. Lots and lots of visitors, lots of restaurants and a pleasure to walk around.


LIKE EVERYONE else, I have always loved visiting Berlin. What's not to love? The first time I was here in the 1960s, the Berlin Wall was the evil incarnate, Willy Brandt was Germany's Chancellor and John F. Kennedy was shouting from the rooftops Ich bin ein Berliner (I am a Berliner). There was still plenty of the WWII bombing wreckage quite visible and somehow through all the ugliness that now smothered Berlin like tight belt, one street, the Kufurstundam seemed to live on with a stiff upper lip. That was also the first time, while as a guest of the West German Government, I came to the now historically famous Checkpoint Charlie (alpha, bravo charlie). I had go leave my German liaison officer/guide in West Berlin, while crossed into the East. It was a depressing site. There seemed to be no one there and the few that were around would not even acknowledge my presence. There was a thick aura of sadness, grim sadness, weighing down the people. In the years to follow I would visit Berlin and enjoy it as continued to grow in confidence and reparation. I never saw the wall before but it was always on my bucket list.

The world famous Brandenburg Gate ... once in East Germany now free to the world


Somewhere under this garden, Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide. Bits of their skeletons were salvaged from the ashes and are now somewhere in Russia. Also under this and surrounding grounds are the remains of a network of tunnels and bunkers all dynamited to bits.
Slabs of concrete pay silent vigil to the men, women and children who were hideously killed in the Holocaust. There is still a huge debate whether this was an appropriate memorial, but it is what it is in the eyes of its creator
The other side of the wall below is part of the Topography of Horror exhibition both an indoor and outdoor historical expose on the timetable to disaster for the Jews and the rest of the world. In words and pictures, with clippings of newspaper cuttings, the awful truths come alive to haunt the viewer

The last bit of the evil wall saved as a tourist attraction. Other parts have been smashed up and are now sold as tourist souvenirs.




The so-called Russian soldier who used to showcase the the face of the Russian soldier in East Berlin is a fake. He was not a soldier but just someone picked off the streets. My guide told me he is a Czech and now drives a coach and often comes to Berlin and he can only grin at the irony.



The television tower where you can zoom up 200 flights to a viewing platform in a whisker!
This Berlin Victory memorial to a Prussian victory is stunning to say the least.The golden angel that rules for miles around is no angel but the Roman goddess of victory



We took off for Calais without a worry in the world ... until will arrived at Dover (which is just across the road so to speak). The French Customs and Excise guy said: Non! Sacre bleu!!! Our driver was told to go back and return for a baggage check. It is rare for package tours to be baggage checked hence there was considerable apprehension in the air, yes, a lot of concern on the faces of many people. So we got out of the customs area, headed back for London and the at the first opportunity we came back into the Dover check point. They took off a token small suitcases and quickly rushed them through the scanner. All clear. 

GHENT

The smiles came back and we were soon overdosing on the quiet charm of the quiet Belgian  city of Ghent. It was a holiday after all and locals and visitors alike were  out in force, enjoying lunch in the midday sun. It was not long before Dover nor a hint of it were on radars of any of our minds. Did you know that the Belgians sheepish laid claims to having invented Cricket? And they have 16th or 17th century evidence to prove it but I doubt if the Cricket bosses have anything to worry about. For some reason we could not find an ATM machine that worked ... it seemed it was all out of money.

Here is a pic I borrowed:


AMSTERDAM

The world knows that when you talk about Amsterdam, you are really talking about Red Light District, Heineken beer, canals, bridges, cheese, football and lots of historic architecture. Oh if you are wondering about lights in the red district, well red indicates a female worker, a red and blue light is of the other persuasion ... this is of no interest to my readers but I thought ... another useless fact ... you know that hashish, marijuana is legal in the Netherlands. If you want to buy some you go to a coffee shop, if you want to buy coffee you go to a cafe. By the way, Holland is a district, the Netherlands is a country, as if you did not know that. There are a lot of museums in Amsterdam, but this trip I gave it miss because I did not have enough time to do them justice. Instead, I went walk-about, train-about, tram-about around this large metropolitan city. With a co-traveller from Melbourne tried hard to find a fish restaurant. There was meat of all shapes and sizes everywhere ... and of course, Mackers, Kentucky fryers and other chicken cookers as well as Turkish kebabs abound. Oh, lots of pork too. Had to settle a fish and chippo at a British pub ... nothing like the fish and chips at a genuine English fish N Chips shop in England before 1970, when the dish was authentic, the fish genuine, the chips fried in pretty clean oil and do not come as brown as they do today. It filled a gap. 

With that we had 10 minutes to get back to catch our coach to the hotel. One wrong left turn and we missed it by 10 minutes. Had to quickly learn the train system ...

PS: Jackpot ... dined on pink salmon, lightly, lightly cooked! Heaven.

Some images of Amsterdam central, 






So tomorrow we do a pretty long hike to Berlin ... really looking forward to this:





Most folks go on holiday to relax, make new memories, recharge the batteries,l sun and sans, party...generally having the time of their lives ... my having the time of my life is ticking off bucket list places by revisiting some, discovering new and exciting things about them ... treading the paths of old and stamping footprints anew. So it June 9, I have just come from London Heathrow into the caring arms of my very special friends Don and Alvira Almeida in Bexley, London. Due to bad luck missed Leo and Gerry Rodrigues were waiting at the airport to pick me up. Will have to make up for that. One leg of the flight was brilliant, the other so-so, the lounge made up for it a bit. Had a brunchy breakfast in the London sun.

Heading for Greenwich in the South to begin my epic holiday as illustrated below.

Some places I will have been to a number of times, there is always something new to discover.

Will keep you posted.


\
June 10 to July 16 or so

FIRST BRIEF STOP IN Bruges en route to Amsterdam. Been here many times, so am planning a little off-the-beaten track historical exploring.
BERLIN: The last time I was there was in 1972 for a pre-Olympic slosh as part of a whistle stop tour of Germany. Before that I had been there many times since 1965. I know Berlin has gone tremendous change since the wall came down, lookin' forward to it.

DRESDEN:


Once the great art city of Europe, Florence on the Elbe, Dresden was virtually destroyed by Allied bombers in WWII.

PRAGUE: Along with Greenwich Village in New York, Prague was a haven for writers, poets, musicians and intelligentsia of all sorts. Like GV, Prague has always had a delightful cafe culture, a fun, easy-going culture.

BRATISLAVA:

Lots more to come on this epic safari