By MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, Barakah, Simerg and Simergphotos)
Two framed photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, hang prominently on a wall in Sadruddin and Sakerkhanu Velji’s apartment in Burnaby, British Columbia. They live across from the Vancouver Ismaili Centre. The photos are 62 years old from 1957, when Mawlana Hazar Imam performed their marriage ceremony in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (then Tanganyika) during his Takhtnashini (ceremonial installation) visit in October 1957.
The Velji’s gladly allow me to take the frames to my mum’s home for scanning. I also notice a memorable photo of a young Julius Nyerere greeting Mr. Velji. The picture is of good quality and I take that photo too. Their place soon starts feeling “empty” without the photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam; I soon realize that, and after a couple of days I return them, hanging them on the same spot. Their eyes light up once again.
Sadruddin Velji was born in a small town near Tabora; Sakerkhanu too was born in a small town – Manyoni, near Dodoma. They met each other when Sadruddin was assigned to a teaching project in Manyoni. They got married a year later in 1957, and went on to settle in Dar es Salaam. My family always addresses them as Mukhisaheb and Mukhianima because they held those esteemed and respectable positions in the Ismaili Jamat sometime during their lifetime. A day doesn’t pass without my mum having a talk with her beloved “Mukhianima” whom she regards as her own sister.
Mr. and Mrs. Velji migrated to Canada in 1975, and made Kitchner in Ontario their first home. They later settled in Burnaby. They are blessed with three daughters and four grandchildren.
Barakah sincerely thanks the Velji family for sharing their beautiful memories with our readers, and invites other families to submit their own unique and memorable collection of photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family for publication on this blog. We have mentioned before that there are khajanas (treasures) of memorable and historical photographs all around the world, and we are doing our best to bring those to you. Your photo submissions will be deeply appreciated and I invite you to write to me at Simerg@aol.com to discuss your collection and how we can best post them in this blog Barakah, which is dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, his family and the Ismaili Imamat.
Date posted: December 16, 2019.
Last updated: January 30, 2021.
Update: We are sad to record the demise of Sadruddin Velji on January 26, 2021. We pray that his soul rest in eternal peace. Ameen. A tribute celebrating his life will be published at Simerg.
Before departing this website please take a moment to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 190 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, his family and the Ismaili Imamat.
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My name is Zeeba Pirani. We lived in Kitchner for almost 10 years and know the Veljis very well. After moving to Dallas, we lost contact. I recognized Sadrubhai and Sakerbai right away from the pictures. Would love to get in touch with both of them if I could get their contact after relating to them.
I will get you in touch with them in the next few days.