A memorable 1951 photo of Prince Aly Khan taken in Mombasa, Kenya


Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth, Mombasa 1951, with ismaili leaders Jindani and Kaderali Patel
Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth with Ismaili icons Kaderali Patel (left) and Gulamhusein Jindani. Photo: Zahir Dhalla collection, via Meherab Jamal, Calgary.

This original photo of Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth was taken in Mombasa, Kenya, in 1951. My childhood friend, Meherab, brought the photo to me some 20 years ago. As we started talking about the Prince’s visit, Meherab could see that I was very enthusiastic about the photo. When I told him that I would like to scan it, he looked at me and said that he had brought it to give it to me. I said “No!” He said “Yes!” Both of us smiled. I was gratified. The historical photo includes two well-known Ismaili personalities, Diwan Gulamhusein Jindani and Missionary Kaderali Patel, in their own right.

Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth, who were married in 1949, visited a number of towns and cities in East Africa in 1951. Amin Jaffer of Edmonton, Alberta, curated a collection of photos of this same visit, but of the Arusha leg which was published exclusively in Barakah.

His Highness the Aga Khan III with Prince Aly Khan, Princess Yasmin, Prince Sadruddin, Prince Amyn Muhammad and His Highness the Aga Khan IV
Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah with members of his family. Standing from l to r: Prince Amyn Muhammad, Prince Sadruddin, Prince Aly Khan holding Princess Yasmin, and Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini Hazar Imam. Photo: (Late) Zul Khoja Family Collection.

They had a year old baby girl they had named Yasmin. It was a well known name. It was already in use, but Princess Yasmin Aly Khan triggered a flood among the Ismaili Jamats around the world, just like Princess Zahra and Prince Rahim’s births did some 20 years later in the 1970s. This phenomenon had precedents, of course. One well-known was in 1946, at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Dar es Salaam, where many, many boys were named Diamond and girls were named Almas, diamond in Arabic! Even in my family, children were named Yasmin and Diamond, and then Rahim and Hussain in later years.

Missionary Kaderali Patel and Diwan Gulamhusein Jindani

As related by Mohamed Abuali Alibhai, his maternal grandparentsMissionary Mohamed Muradali and wife Rahematbai adopted 5 children. Of these, three including Kaderali Patel,  came from the untouchable caste. Like his adoptive father, Kaderali Patel, also became a missionary, and was appointed by Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah as religious education instructor to Prince Karim and Prince Amyn Muhammad while they lived in Kenya during World War II. In his personal diary, Missionary Kaderali provided beautiful accounts of the Princes’ childhood years in Kenya.

Gulamhusein Jindani, of Zanzibar, Mombasa and Nairobi was conferred with the title of Diwan by Mawlana Sultan Muhammad Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, in 1948 for his devoted services to the Jamat and the Imam of the Time. This rare title would be bestowed 35 years later by Mawlana Shah Karim Hazar Imam on Diwan Count Sir Eboo Pirbhai during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in London, England in July 1983.

Diwan Jindani gave the presidential speech at Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1946, on Upanga grounds, Dar es Salaam. Of Jindani’s progeny, two grandsons come to the Willowdale Jamatkhana, in Toronto, which I have been frequenting.

As I noted in my earlier piece, we are not known for keeping personal journals. Thus, there is a dearth of records documenting our history. However, the practice of keeping family photo albums was quite widespread. Photos can fill in some of those blanks, provided someone can tell the stories behind them. I sincerely hope that Jamati members will dig into their archives and submit electronic versions of historical photos in their collection to Simerg@aol.com. I am willing to work with families and write-up the stories for publication in Barakah or its sister websites, Simerg and Simergphotos.

Date posted: June 4, 2020.

Before departing this website please take a moment to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 200 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, his family and the Ismaili Imamat.


Zahir K. Dhalla is a retired GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and IT (Information Technology) freelance consultant in Toronto, Canada. He is a graduate of the University of Nairobi, Kenya (mapping science) and the University of Toronto, Canada (computer science). In addition to his non-fiction writings (see list below) he has also written many private biographies as family keepsakes. He is also the editor of Ismailis of Tanga. His earlier pieces for Barakah’s sister blogs include A rare 100 year old Ismaili family photo (in Simerg) and Bagamoyo Beach Landing, where Aga Khan III set foot on East African soil in 1899 (in Simergphotos).


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Please follow us at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and http://twitter.com/simerg. This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan and members of his family, as well as the Ismaili Imamat.


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