In 1972, as is well known, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin issued a decree expelling Asians from Uganda, and the Ismaili Jamat was affected by this senseless act. We were given 90 days to leave, and started fleeing the country shortly after the order was given in early August 1972.
Little is it known that a few months earlier, in February 1972, Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah made a brief visit to Uganda during which they visited Jinja on February 27, for a few hours.
It was my good fortune and privilege to welcome Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah to Jinja in February 1972 as Hon. Secretary of Aga Khan Jinja Provincial Council. Highlights of the visit included Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah’s mulaqat with the Jamat in a special mundap (tent) that was set up in the Jamatkhana complex, entertaining them in the Ismaili Council Chamber and introducing to them leading figures of the Jamat as well as public figures such as Jinja’s district commissioner. Although it was a very short visit, it filled up the hearts of Jinja and district Jamats with joy and enthusiasm. This was the Begum’s first visit to Jinja after her marriage to Mawlana Hazar Imam in 1969, and the Jamat was absolutely thrilled to see her.
I was fortunate to acquire a small collection of photos of the visit, and they became the most important piece of the luggage that I carried with me, as I desperately prepared to depart the country with thousands of other Ismailis and Asians. I am aware that at the time there were approximately 900 Ismailis in Jinja.
The Barakah website has given me an opportunity to share a few photos of the 1972 Jinja visit with readers around the world. My earnest request to all readers is that they seek out from their archives and photo albums historical photos and other documents pertaining to Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Jamat in general, and approach the editor Malik Merchant at firstname.lastname@example.org for possible publication on one of the three websites he publishes.
It is indeed my pleasure to be among those who have submitted rare and historical photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family for publication in Barakah, which is specifically dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, members of his family as well as the Ismaili Imamat.
Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Jinja in 1957 and 1966: Gulamali Kara Somani Collection
[In addition to the 1972 visit to the Jinja Jamat, as described above by Sadrudin Mitha, Jinja was blessed with two other visits by Mawlana Hazar Imam. The first one was in 1957, after the Takhtnashini ceremonial installation on October 25, 1957 in Kampala, and the second took place in 1966, during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s extensive tour of the Jamats in East Africa and Madagascar. The photos of the 1957 and 1966 visits shown below were published recently as part of a much broader article contributed by Salim and Sultan Somani to Simerg entitled A Brief History of the Ismaili Jamat in Jinja. The photos shown below and in the Simerg piece were preserved by their later father, Gulamali Kara Somani – ed.]
1966 Jinja Visit
Mawlana Hazar Imam graced the Jinja Jamat with a second visit in 1966. The first photo, though, where Hazar Imam is seen stepping down the plane, is of his arrival at Entebbe Airport.
Date posted: August 9, 2020. Last updated: August 12, 2020 (caption updates with name of person(s) as they become available, and typos).
Please report typo or error in story to Simerg@aol.com.
The photos of the February 27, 1972 visit by Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah to Jinja, Uganda, are from the personal collection of Sadrudin M. Mitha (pictured at left), who was serving at the time as the Honorary Secretary of the Aga Khan Provincial Ismaili Council for Jinja. He had the honour of presenting a welcome address to Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Begum during their mulaqat with the Jinja Jamat. Mr. Mitha arrived in Canada following the Ugandan exodus of Asians in 1972, and has lived in Hamilton ever since. He served as Mukhi of the Hamilton Jamat preceding the Silver Jubilee Year of Mawlana Hazar Imam, and has been an active member in the donations drive for the Aga Khan Foundation for Canada for the past 30 years. He was bestowed with the title of Alijah for his long and devoted services during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Silver Jubilee Year. We are deeply indebted to Mr. Mitha for sharing this collection of the 1972 Jinja photos with readers of Barakah. Mr. Mitha lives in Hamilton with his wife Zarina.
The photos of the 1957 and 1966 visits of Mawlana Hazar Imam to Jinja are from the collection of late Gulamali Kara Somani (1924 – 2010), pictured at left. We are deeply indebted to the family of Gulamali Somani for the photos, as well as to his sons Salim and Sultan for their excellent piece in Simerg entitled A Brief History of the Ismaili Jamat in Jinja from which the photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam visits to Jinja in 1957 and 1966 are reproduced. The Jinja history piece includes a comprehensive overview of Mr. Somani’s rich life, as well as profiles of his sons Salim and Sultan who authored the article.
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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.
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.