"After nearly 50 years here I feel like I am now part of the furniture in Bury. My siblings are here and I have brought up my own family here. It is the town that I love."

After being given 90 days to leave their homeland - joining 30,000 people resettling in England - the first Ugandan Asian family settled in Bury 50 years ago.

Coming to England aged six, Naushad Majothi has shared his story from seeing snow, his first taste of fish and chips to finally becoming "part of the furniture" in Bury.

In 1972, the expulsion of Asians from Uganda by the country’s leader Idi Amin, led to almost 30,000 Ugandan Asians, who held British passports, moving to the UK.

Three families out of the 30,000 people resettled in Bury.

Naushad, who is from the first family to resettle, said: “I was born in Jinja, Uganda.

"When I was six years old, we were told by the government to leave the country within 90 days, along with the rest of the Asian community.

Asian Image: Family PhotoFamily Photo (Image: Family Photo)

“My dad had to queue for many, many hours at government buildings to get passports and travel documents for our family, mum, my brother and two sisters, to leave.

“We packed our lives into suitcases and headed for England.”

Greeted with havoc at Entebbe airport, Naushad vividly remembers the fear he felt seeing soldiers holding guns, a fear exacerbated when in that crowded airport, he lost his parents.

He added: “People were being stopped at departure points and money, watches and jewellery were taken from them.

“I got separated from my parents but saw other members of our family at the airport so boarded the plane with them.
“It was a long flight, and we were tired when we landed at Stansted before we were taken on a bus to a resettlement camp in Somerset.”

In the resettlement camp, an old army barracks, Naushad and his family were fed and given army blankets and coats.

But in all the chaos and upheaval of leaving, one thing he hadn't been prepared for, was how cold the winter of 1972 England would be.

Asian Image: The Majothi family, c.1973. Manchester Road, Bury (family photograph)The Majothi family, c.1973. Manchester Road, Bury (family photograph) (Image: family photograph)

He said: “It was a strange feeling being in a new land much colder than Uganda and where we didn’t speak the language.

“I had never met any white people before too so that was odd to me at the time.”

Taking his first ever train journey shortly after, he said: "We travelled to Bury by train to start our new life, it was exciting, and our first home, on Manchester Road, had a nice back yard to play in.

“On the first night, my dad found an old TV upstairs and got it working for us to watch.

“We were sent to school at Holy Trinity in Bury and I remember having extra English lessons in an upstairs room and being given sweets as a reward for good work.

“I made a good friend too, they use to give me chewing gum sticks and I loved it, almost as much as I loved fish fingers, chips and beans.

“Our next-door neighbour was also a retired councillor who would help if we had any problems, it was really good, but there were some difficult times too.”

Asian Image: Bury Times report 9th February, 1973Bury Times report 9th February, 1973 (Image: Family Photos)

The Majothi family were the first Ugandan Asians to set up a home in Bury and were featured on the front page of the Bury Times in February 1973.

The report details that the family “were impressed by the friendly attitude of the local people”, and Naushad’s father, Abdul, is quoted to have said, “everyone has been very nice to us and Bury seems a nice place to live although it has been very cold”.

Despite finding a new home and friends here in Bury, the warm welcome wasn’t extended by all.

Naushad said: “Unfortunately, we did experience some racism in the early years from organised groups and individuals – name calling, graffiti on walls and more….but my parents were steadfast and chose to ignore them as best they could.

“It must have hurt them so very much though, it hurt me when I came to have an awareness of it.”

Naushad, now 56 and still living in Bury, said over the years the racism has reduced.

He also spoke about the time Prince Charles came to Bury in 1977.

Asian Image: Family photograph taken in 2021 whilst on holiday in ScotlandFamily photograph taken in 2021 whilst on holiday in Scotland (Image: Family photograph)

He said: “We were in the crowd and he came and spoke to us, asking where we were from and whether we were happy.

“Generally, I can say that people were really nice, friendly and welcoming.

“After nearly 50 years here I feel like I am now part of the furniture in Bury.

“My siblings are here, and I have brought up my own family here.

“It is the town that I love.”

After being contacted at the archives, Naushad’s story can now be read and heard for many years to come.

A spokesperson from Bury Archive said: “We were contacted here at the archives for any historical documents relating to the resettlement in 1972.

“We were delighted to be able to help Mr Majothi and his family delve into this part of their history and produced a file of information on how the Town Council helped to make Bury their home.

“We would love to hear more from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic members of the borough with histories to share; the more community voices we listen to, the better our archive becomes resulting in a greater collective identity! so please do get in touch.”

To contact the Bury Archives you can click here or alternatively, to share a similar story with us about your family's past, email Harriet.Heywood@Newsquest.co.uk. 

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