A pair of Leicester actors, who are starring in play about the expulsion of Ugandan Asians, are encouraging people to come along to be moved and educated by the piece, which has opened their eyes to the “raw reality” of what happened 50 years ago.
Sneya Rajani and Rav Moore are starring in ‘Ninety Days’, which is being shown at the city’s Curve later this month, alongside two other plays centring on the mass exodus; ‘Ruka’ and ‘Call Me By My Name.’
In the play, the pair play a newly married couple called Geeta and Sudesh, who are torn over whether to stay in Uganda or leave everything behind, when Ugandan dictator Idi Amin declares that all Asians have just ninety days to leave.
The pair hail it as a “raw and powerful” story, with “plenty of grit.” It’ll certainly leave audiences with plenty to think about.
“When I first read the script, which is written brilliantly by Ashok Patel, I had tears in my eyes,” revealed Mr Moore. “It’s very intense and there are a lot of emotions in it.
“Being born and brought up in Leicester I just feel really proud to have been given the opportunity to tell our story and educate others about our history,” he added.
“So many Asians don’t get a chance to tell their story. We’re either in a Western story, or telling other people’s stories, and I feel really privileged to be able to do this.
“Through these stories we can learn a lot. It helps us to educate our younger generation about what our ancestors went through to make sure we have the lives we have today,” added Ms Rajani.
“Not only that, we can educate people in Leicester about why our city’s so diverse – how Belgrave Road started and why there are so many South Asian shops there, which are all flourishing. It just shows how the community pulled together and what we went through in order just to survive here really.
“We both feel really privileged, happy and honoured to be putting our story out there, because it’s one that’s not told that often.”
‘Ninety Days’ is one of a series of three plays which are being put on by Curve to mark the 50th anniversary of the Ugandan Asian exodus.
In 1972, over 70,000 were forced out of the country on order of brutal military dictator Idi Amin.
Both Rav and Sneya have personal connections to the mass exodus, with various family members being forced out of Uganda.
For Rav it was his Grandma who was born over in Uganda. However it was her brothers who were more brutally affected, he told the Leicester Times.
“One of them was held at gunpoint by the soldiers. It was only because of his personal connection to another soldier that his life was spared,” he revealed.
“A few of them ended up rotting in jail for a while, before they were allowed to leave…”
For Sneya, it was her Aunts and Uncles who were forced out of Uganda. However, growing up it was something that was never really talked about.
“Even though our family was affected by it, we never really had those conversations. But after being given the script for ‘Ninety Days’, it opened those conversations up and we were able to understand what our family went through,” she explained.
“They had so much resilience, and survival to be able to basically start again from scratch with just £55 to their names. They cushioned it for us and just got on with it in order to give us better lives. I have so much respect for that, and that’s why it’s really important that these stories are told and that we get them right.”
Asked how audiences will feel as a result of watching ‘Ninety Days’, Mr Moore said: “It will open up a lot of memories, maybe some traumatic ones, but we’re hoping that people enjoy it. It’s definitely going to start a few conversations for sure.”
“Our play is quite dark and gritty. It doesn’t sugar coat anything and I think that’s really important,” added Sneya.
‘Ninety Days’, ‘Ruka’ and ‘Call me by my Name’ will play at Curve between July 29 and August 6.
To find out more, visit: https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/finding-home-90-days-and-call-me-by-my-name/