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Main body image of Hamida and Sophia Jaffer

Hamida and Sophia Jaffer

History graduate helps create poignant film on 50th anniversary of Ugandan migration

A poignant film in which a history graduate interviews her grandmother about her experiences of being forced to leave Uganda has been featured as part of a national campaign.

So I came WITHOUT A Penny has been chosen as one of nine films in the ‘GenerAsians’ series that are being shared online by Rifco Theatre Company to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the migration enforced by dictator Idi Amin.

Inspired by Sophia Jaffer, a History alumna from the University of Exeter, the film captures her grandmother Hamida talking for the first time about being expelled from the family homestead in Mbale.

This included her being unable to obtain the £50 voucher that had been issued to those being forced to emigrate – because the bank had run out – meaning she had to leave the country with four young children and no money to support them.

With gentle prompting from Sophia, Hamida goes on to relate the hard reality of life in Bude, North Cornwall, working late into the night, and encountering discrimination from some members of the community.

“This was an emotional experience as it was the first time my grandma has opened up about having to leave Uganda in 1972 and arriving in the UK, alone with her four children,” said Sophia, who graduated with a First-Class degree this year. “And we have received a very positive reaction from family and close friends, who were all moved by my grandma and her experience and sacrifices. My family found it a very emotional watch but were glad that the story is getting out there.”

So I came WITHOUT A Penny is the second film in the GenerAsians series, which will grow to nine over the course of 90 days – symbolising the timeframe that Amin afforded Ugandan Asians to leave the country.

Sophia, who will be studying Ugandan Asian migration in her forthcoming postgraduate degree at King’s College London, responded to a call-out from Rifco. The company then sent a camera crew to London to film Sophia and Hamida in conversation.

“I think the experience of Ugandan Asians is a very important and relevant topic to be explored in both public and academic settings,” added Sophia. “It’s an area that I am hoping to contribute further to in the future.”

Professor Helen Berry, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and a Professor of History, said: “This is a very powerful piece of oral history documenting the challenges facing Ugandan Asians coming to Britain in the 1970s. It is a great example of using a modern medium to explore the past so that we can better understand the social justice challenges that we face in the present and how we might address them in the future.”

The video can be viewed at

Date: 7 September 2022