Sheffield lecturer releases debut novel to shine a light on Ugandan history and to inspire the younger generation
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Noreen Nasim became more curious about her family’s history a few years ago after watching a documentary.
Realising that families, including hers, went through quite difficult times, she began asking her father questions about the event which affected 80,000 Ugandan Asians.
Noreen said: “I recorded all the details and I had enough for a book. I realised, I’ve got to get this out there.”
Expelled from Uganda tells the story of a “huge historical event” which took place in Uganda in 1972.
Although this year marks the 49th anniversary, very few have come forward to share their stories, as 38-year-old Noreen believes “many have simply buried those dark memories”.
She is keen to share her father’s story however, as “it is really important” that her daughter knows about the history.
The book, which has taken almost two years to complete, is written as narrative fiction, telling the story of how her father came to the UK from Uganda as a 19-year-old, leaving his family behind.
Amir - Noreen’s father - is an African Indian who lived a carefree life up until his teens, when he was suddenly faced with an expulsion order from dictator and President at the time, Idi Amin.
Along with 80,000 Ugandan Asians, Amir was publicly ordered to be removed from Ugandan soil within 90 days.
Noreen said: “It was a race against time to get out. There was corruption in the bureaucracy of the country and they had to pay lots of bribes just to get through.”
She told how it was a ‘tough’ period for many Ugandan Asians at the time and the country became very unstable.
Those who made it to different countries tended to “just get on with it” and focused on working, which is something Noreen admires.
She described how there were mixed experiences amongst those who fled Africa, but the courage, resilience and selflessness shown was common.
Noreen explained that her father, who suffers from PTSD, was quite reluctant to share his story at first, but he is ‘pleased’ with the result of the book.
She assures readers that the book is “not all doom and gloom” and offers flashbacks of Amir’s childhood days living in Kakira.
The graphic arts and creative media lecturer has described her editor, Amy Wilson, as “amazing” and keeping her father’s story true was important for Noreen as it “wouldn’t be a memoir otherwise”.
She describes the novel as “for everyone” and one that “many people can connect with”.
Noreen believes it is “so important to share” about family heritage and hopes it will shed light on the conversations surrounding where people originate from.
She said: “I hope to create a ripple effect. I hope to inspire other families to talk to their grandparents, to open up more dialogue, to ask more questions. Most stories have been lost in a time capsule”.
Despite having never written a novel before, Noreen hopes her book will also inspire and encourage more young people to write, as she believes it is a dying art.
Expelled from Uganda is available on Amazon from May 17.
For more information, see here.