Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 1972 Visit to Jinja, Uganda, Preceding the Expulsion of Asians, and Two Earlier Visits Made in 1957 and 1966

Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah at Aga Khan Council Chambers in Jinja, Uganda, 1972. Simerg and Barakah Photo
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah pictured during their brief visit to Jinja on February 27, 1972, a few months before the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin issued an order for Asians to leave Uganda. Pictured at right is the Honorary Secretary of the Aga Khan Provincial Council for Jinja, Sadrudin M. Mitha. Partially visible, between Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah, is the President of the Aga Khan Council for Uganda, Abdul Gombha. Diwan Sir Eboo Pirbhai is seen in the background, slightly lower in the picture, immediately to the left of Sadruddin Mitha. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.

Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 1972 Visit to Jinja: Sadrudin Mitha Collection

By SADRUDIN M. MITHA

The recent informative piece by Montreal’s Somani brothers about the history of the Ismaili Jamat in Jinja carried photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s two visits to Jinja — the first one taking place in 1957 shortly after his Takhtnashini ceremonial installation in Kampala on October 25, 1957, and the second one as part of his elaborate tour of East Africa in 1966.

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.

Aga Khan and Begum Aga Khan in Jinja, Uganda, Barakah and Simerg
A newspaper clip from the English daily Uganda Argus of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah’s visit to Jinja on February 27, 1972. Escorting them are the President of the Aga Khan Provincial Council for Jinja, Alijah Haji Bachu Ladha (left) and Honorary Secretary of the Provincial Council Mr. Sadrudin M. Mitha (right). Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.

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 simerg@aol.com 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.

Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah in Jinja, Uganda, 1972. Simerg and Barakah Photo
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah pictured in the Aga Khan Ismaili Council Chamber in Jinja, Uganda, following their mulaqat with the Jinja Jamat on February 27, 1972. Late Diwan Sir Eboo Pirbhai is pictured at left. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.
Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah in Jinja, Uganda, 1972. Simerg and Barakah Photo
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah pictured during their visit to Jinja, Uganda, on February 27, 1972. They are being escorted by the President of the Aga Khan Provincial Council for Jinja, Alijah Haji Bachu Ladha (at left, face not showing) and the Hon. Secretary of the Aga Khan Provincial Council for Jinja, Mr. Sadrudin M. Mitha. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.
Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah at Aga Khan Council Chambers in Jinja, Uganda, 1972. Simerg and Barakah Photo
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah at a reception held in Jinja’s Aga Khan Ismaili Council Chamber on February 27, 1972, following a mulaqat with the Jinja Jamat. Standing from left to right: Kamadia Sadrudin Khamis, Mukhi Badrudin Charania, Aga Khan Provincial Council for Jinja President, Haji Bachu Ladha, Hon. Secretary of the Provincial Council for Jinja, Sadrudin M. Mitha and member of the Ismaili volunteer corps, Rahim Rajan. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.
Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah in Jinja, Uganda, 1972. Simerg and Barakah Photo
Begum Salimah is accompanied by President Banu Shirin Bachu, wife of the President of the Jinja Aga Khan Provincial Council, Abdul Gombha, President of the Aga Khan Council for Uganda, and Hon. Secretary of the Provincial Council for Jinja, Sadrudin M. Mitha, during her visit to Jinja with Mawlana Hazar Imam on February 27, 1972. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton.
Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah in Jinja, Uganda, 1972. Simerg and Barakah Photo
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah arrive at the compounds of the Jinja Jamatkhana on February 27, 1972 for a brief visit to the Jinja Jamat. A crowd of well-wishers is seen welcoming them at the far end, while at the near end, Shiraz Mohamed, major of the Ismaili volunteer corp, opens the door of the vehicle for Begum Salimah, and Hon. Secretary of the Aga Khan Provincial Council for Jinja, Sadrudin M. Mitha, prepares to greet her. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.
Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah in Jinja, Uganda, 1972. Simerg and Barakah Photo
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah being served refreshments in the Aga Khan Ismaili Council Chamber shortly after their mualaqat with the Jinja Jamat on February 27, 1972 Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.
Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah in Jinja, Uganda, 1972. Simerg and Barakah Photo
Mawlana Hazar Imam with Jinja’s District Commissionar (centre) and Jinja’s Police Chief in the Aga Khan Ismaili Council Chamber during his visit to Jinja, Uganda, on February 27, 1972. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada
Mawlana Hazar Imam at the reception in the Aga Khan Ismaili Council Chamber during his visit with Begum Salimah to Jinja, Uganda, on February 27, 1972. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.
Mawlana Hazar Imam (centre), President of the Jinja Aga Khan Provincial Council, Alijah Haji Bachu Ladha (right), and President of the Aga Khan Council for Uganda, Abdul Gombha (following), walk towards the Aga Khan Ismaili Council Chamber after a mulaqat with the Jinja and district Jamats on February 27, 1972, in the mandap (tent) shown in the background. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.
Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Begum Salimah in Jinja, Uganda, 1972. Simerg and Barakah Photo
Ismaili leaders including the President of the Aga Khan Provincial Council for Jinja, Haji Bachu Ladha (with folded hands), Jamati members and other well-wishers bid farewell to Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah as they depart Jinja, Uganda, on February 27, 1972 after a short visit. Photo: Sadrudin Mitha Collection, Hamilton, Canada.

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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.]

1957 Visit

Aga Khan in Jinja
Mawlana Hazar Imam being received by the Jamati leadership upon his arrival at the Jinja airfield. Here he is seen blessing Kamadia Haji Bachu with Kamadiani Shirin standing next to him. Immediately behind Hazar Imam is Mukhi Shamsudin Mohamed (with hat). Leaning on the car is Alwaez Jaffererali Sufi. On the extreme right is our father (‘Sir’) in full uniform, standing behind Mr. Haji Molu, his colleague. Photo: Gulamali Kara Somani Family Collection.
Aga Khan in Jinja, Simerg
Mawlana Hazar Imam blesses Mrs. Jenabai Karim after being garlanded by her upon his arrival at the Jinja airfield. In the foreground, dressed in white with a hat is Mr. Sadruddin Karim, who was designated to drive Mawlana Hazar Imam’s car in Jinja. In volunteer uniform, at far left, are (left to right): Mr. Amin Alarakhia, Mr. Haji Molu and our father, Mr. Gulamali Kara Somani (‘Sir’). The two persons shown immediately to the left of the policeman (in shorts) are President Mr. Haji Rashid Khamis (in a light colored suit and dark glasses) and Mr. Abdulla Hassam Gangji (light suit). Photo: Gulamali Kara Somani Family Collection.
Aga Khan Jinja, Uganda, Simerg
Mawlana Hazar Imam paid a visit to the Jinja Provincial Council Chamber during his 1957 visit. In this photograph, he is seen conferring with the leaders of the Jamat. Seen from left to right are President Haji Rashid Khamis, person standing (not visible), Mr. Abdulla Hassam Gangji, Kamadia Haji Bachu, Mawlana Hazar Imam, Mrs. Zohrakhanu Allidina (seated), who held the portfolio of Member for Women and Mukhi Shamsudin Mohamed (standing). Photo: Allidina Family Collection.
Jinja Ismaili volunteers
The Jinja Ismaili volunteers in full uniform on duty in 1957 during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s arrival at the Jinja airfied. Standing from right to left: Our father Gulamali Kara Somani (Lieutenant), Haji Molu (Lieutenant), Amin Alarakhia, Bahadur Fazal, Hassam Mawji, Ahmed Jamal, Madat Khamis, Feroz Khamis, Sultan Allidina and Nizar Sheriff. Photo: Gulamali Kara Somani Family Collection.

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.

Aga Khan arrives in Entebbe, Uganda, Simerg
Mawlana Hazar Imam arrives at Entebbe Airport for his visit to Uganda in 1966. Photo: Gulamali Kara Somani Family Collection.
Aga Khan in Jinja leaving Counci Chambers Simerg
Mawlana Hazar Imam leaving the Ismaili Council Chamber building surrounded by his murids, trying to get a last glimpse before his departure. From left to right are Amir Madhavji, Zulfikar Devji, Abdul Alarakhia, Mehboob Charania, Malik Kassim-Lakha, Salim Somani, Nizar Sheriff and Sadruddin Karim. Photo: Gulamali Kara Somani Family Collection.

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.

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Sadrudin Mitha Jinja Aga Khan Barakah contributor
Sadrudin Mitha in his earlier days

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.

~~~~~~~~~~

Gulamali Kara Somani (1924 - 2010) of Jinja, Uganda, Montreal Canada, Simerg tribute Ismaili and Aga Khan
Gulamali Kara Somani (1924 – 2010).

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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Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com if you don’t see the comment box. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

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.

9 comments

  1. Highest commendations to the Jinja families for this wonderful opportunity to walk down memory lane – from 1957 up-to 1972. There must be a multitude of stories and photos of visits to many, many jamats, however small, from 1957.

    It would fill volumes if every jamat emulated the exemplary work of the Jinja visit. My heartiest congratulations to all those who have made this possible. I reiterate Malik’s request to others, with a treasure trove of stories and photographs, to share them with the global jamat.

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  2. When Salim and I were writing the history of the Jamat of Jinja based on some old photographs that we found in our beloved father’s family album, we knew that there were some gaps and missing information, as we had indicated in the article. And sure enough, when Mr. Sadru Mitha submitted photos of Hazar Imam’s 1972 visit to Jinja, he completed an important and significant segment of the Jamat’s history in Jinja.

    Relying on our collective memories and photographs, it is amazing how with everybody pitching in with bits & pieces of information and pointing out any errors to make the article as complete & accurate as possible, the Jinja Jamat`s history has been so beautifully reconstructed. Another fallout benefit of this exercise of writing history has been that it has brought together old friends & relatives who had been out of touch for a long time.

    If the history of every city in East Africa or elsewhere, where Ismailis resided were to be written, what a treasure-chest of historical record would we have! And Simerg provides the platform to do so!

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  3. This is amazing!! Thank you for sharing these pictures, which include two of my grandfather Mr. Haji Molou’s pictures that I’d never seen before in Uganda. My eldest son was also amazed to see him in the same picture as Mawlana Hazar Imam.

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  4. I saw my dad in two of the pictures. Amazing memories. I was born in Jinja but have no memories. This is beautiful. Thank you.

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  5. I am from Jinja and never got the chance to see these pictures of Hazar Imam’s visit to Jinja in 1972 till Mr. Sadrudin M Mitha shared his collection.
    I am sure there may be other Ismailis from Jinja or other parts of Uganda who might have some memorable pictures of Hazar Imam in their collections, then they should also share them.

    Like

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