Shirin S. Laviolette’s Small but Precious Personal Collection of Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visits to Soroti and Mbale, Uganda

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher/Editor BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

Uganda Map
Soroti and Mbale are located North East of Kampala and Jinja, which are nearer or at Lake Victoria. Map: University of Texas. Circled city annotations are Barakah’s.

Barakah’s request to individuals and families to seek out Mawlana Hazar Imam’s photos from their old ‘forgotten’ photo albums and other archives has met with some success. Over the past 3 years since Barakah was launched in 2017, we have published around 18 posts containing memorable photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam and members of his family; they were submitted for exclusive publication in Barakah. These photos are khajanas (treasures), and they bring immense joy and happiness — as well as surprises — to members of the Jamat as well as friends of the Ismaili community around the world.

Shirin Sayani Laviolette of Ottawa

Shirin Sayani Laviolette of Ottawa, Canada, sent us digitized version of 9 photos that have been in her collection for many years, most of them since 1968. She told me that they were handed to her by one of her siblings as well as a non-Ismaili photographer who was at events during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visits to Soroti and Mbale. Two striking pictures of volunteers were shared with her by her social media group. Shirin is a member of the well-known Sayani family from Uganda. She was among the thousands who fled Uganda following Idi Amin’s Asian expulsion decree of August 1972. Her first home outside Uganda, was Ottawa, Canada. She then spent some time in Niagara Falls, Mississauga, and Hamilton before once again making Ottawa her permanent home in 2016, where she lives with her husband Denis. We are deeply grateful to Shirin for her interest in sharing the photos with readers of Barakah.

Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah Aga Khan visit Mbale, Uganda,1971
Shirin Sayani Laviolette holds up an umbrella as Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah visit Mbale Jamat in February 1972, accompanied by Mbale Aga Khan Council President Sultan Mitha. Photo: Shirin Sayani Laviolette Collection, Ottawa, Canada.
Aga Khan Soroti Muslim Society signing ceremony.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, at a signing ceremony for the Soroti Muslim Society during his Takhtnashini visit in October 1957. Others from left: Mr. Gaffur Hassamatali, Mr. Hasham Devraj Sayani, Mr. Aziz Alibhai Mitha (all standing), and the Teso District Commissioner seated next to Mawlana Hazar Imam. Ismaili Volunteers in the background (l to r): Mr. Akbar Alibhai Mitha, Mr. Sadrudin Govindji, Mr. Ramzanali Hasham Mitha. Photo: Shirin Sayani Laviolette Collection, Ottawa, Canada. Date of photo to be verified, clarification welcome.
Ismaili volunteers Soroti and Jamatkhana safai committee
Members of the Soroti Ismaili Ladies Volunteers and Jamatkhana Safai (cleaning) Committee. Sitting (from left): Mrs. Khursabai Najak, Mrs. Sakarbai Kassamali Lila, Mrs. Manibai Gulamhusein Adatia, Mrs. Sugrabai Pyarali Najak, Mrs. Sherbanubai Hasham Jamal, and Mrs. Daulatbai Ramzanali Mitha. Standing (from left): Mrs. Zubeda Pyarali Adatia, Mrs. Khatoon Nizar Kaba, Mrs. Mehrun Madatali Mitha, Mrs. Mohamedali Daya, Mrs. Zubibai Hudani, and Mrs. Gulshanbai Badrudin Lila. Photo: Shirin Sayani Laviolette Collection, Ottawa, Canada. Date of photo unknown, clarification welcome.
Members of the Soroti Ismaili Heath Committee with winners of a baby competition.
Members of the Soroti Ismaili Heath Committee with winners of a baby and small children health competition. Sitting (from left): Kherunissa Bata, Mrs. Shirin Sayani Laviolette, Dr. Babubhai Hudani, Mr. Haiderbhai Adatia, Mr. Aziz Fakirani, and Mrs. Sheila Mitha. Standing (from left): Mrs. Daulat Mitha, Mrs. Pyarali Jaffer, Mrs. Shirin Lila, Mrs. Bandali, Mrs. Sugrabai Najak, Mrs. Gulshan Sayani, Mrs. Parin Bata and Mrs. Sultan Bhanji. Photo: Shirin Sayani Laviolette Collection, Ottawa, Canada. Date of photo approximately 1968-1970, clarification welcome.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, Soroti Uganda
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, with Soroti Mukhisaheb Lutafali Bhanji (left) and Kamadiasaheb Hasham Devraj Sayani. Photo: Shirin Sayani Laviolette Collection, Ottawa, Canada. Exact date of photo unknown, clarification welcome.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, in Soroti.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan (seated), pictured with members of the Aga Khan Council and Mukhi and Kamadiashab of Soroti Jamat during his Takhtnashini visit in October 1957. From left: Mr. Hasham Mitha, President of the Aga Khan Council, Mrs. Hasham Mitha, Kamadia Hasham Devraj Sayani, council secretary Badrudin Kasamali Lila, hon. secretary Aziz Alibhai Mitha, council member Mrs. Daulatbai Akberali Mitha, and Mukhisaheb Lutafali Bhanji. Photo: Shirin Sayani Laviolette Collection, Ottawa, Canada. Exact date of photo unknown, clarification welcome.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, pictured during his visit to Soroti, Uganda in 1966.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, pictured during his visit to Soroti, Uganda, in 1966. Sitting from left: council member Mrs. Khursabai Najak (partially visible), Aga Khan Council President Dr. Babubhai Hudani, MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM, Mukhisaheb Amirali Lutafali Bhanji, Kamadiasaheb Aminmohamed Hasham Devraj Sayani. Standing (from left): Council member Hassanali Fakirani (partially visible), council secretary Zulfikar Ramzanali Najak, Lira district council member Sadrudin Nazarali Dharamsi, Gulu district council member Badrudin Abdulla Devji, hon. council secretary Ramzanali Hasham Mitha, council member Nizar Kaba, council member Madatali Alibhai Mitha. Photo: Shirin Sayani Laviolette Collection, Ottawa, Canada.
Begum Salimah Aga Khan Mbale Jamatkhana
All attention, including Begum Salimah’s, is on the umbrella as Shirin Sayani Laviolette struggles to open it during Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum’s visit to Mbale in 1972. Photo: Shirin Sayani Laviolette Collection, Ottawa, Canada.
Begum Salimah Aga Khan Mbale Jamatkhana
Shirin Sayani Laviolette holds up an umbrella for Begum Salimah as she walks to mulaqat hall during the February 1972 visit to Mbale, Uganda. Photo: Shirin Sayani Laviolette Collection, Ottawa, Canada.

We once again request our readers from around the world, Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike, to search their photo albums and archives and bring their treasures of His Highness the Aga Khan’s photos to our attention by writing to Malik Merchant at Simerg@aol.com.

Date posted: November 24, 2020.

_____________________

If you come across typos or can help us accurately complete the dates of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visits, please write to Malik Merchant at Simerg@aol.com.

Barakah welcomes your feedback. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or send your comment to simerg@aol.com. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

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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, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamate.

Before departing this website please take a moment to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 230 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, his family and the Ismaili Imamat.

10 comments

  1. Great job, Shirin auntie, thanks for putting this together and sharing these cherished memories of our Nana Bapa , Sayani clan and of course Hazar Imam’s visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice photos. Good memories. Thank you for your efforts and time. Our big thanks to Malik Merchant.

    I remember Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Soroti. Sadru, my baby brother, and I had a chance to recite couple of lines of Ginana in front of Mawla Bapa. At that time we also qualified to receive the isme-azam from Hazar Imam. I vividly remember Maa collecting grapes to make juice for Mawla, his favourite. She also made chicken samosas.

    The main streets of Soroti were decorated with flags by our volunteers and the members of other faith. My mom cooked biriyani, chicken samosa and gulab jambun for Darbari. She was an excellent cook.

    I had an opportunity to work with Malik Merchant in Ottawa District Committee when he was Tarika Board Chair.

    Thanks a lot.

    Regards,
    Roshan Sayani Budhwani

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Was quite moved to see the two photos of the visit to Mbale in February 1972: (a) Because it was in the epochal year for us Ismailis as expulsion happened 6 months on; and (b) I had participated in that didar from Kampala as the president of the Council was brother-in-law Sultan Ibrahim Mitha. Naturally we had front seats at the public functions. I missed the banquet the previous night as I had come down with malaria. Begum got talking to Zaibun and asked where is your husband remembering her from the Kampala visit as our son had won a prize in the baby show. Zebun said I was down with the flu and we were in Uganda for me to collect data for my dissertation for Stanford. In those days Begum came to the didar and when our turn came for mehmani she whispered to the Imam about Stanford and Hazar Imam asked me what I was studying and whether I’d come back to work in Uganda. Late Sultan Mitha is in the first photo and perhaps Mrs Sultan Mitha in the second. Hello Shrin Sayani, well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. WOW! Excellent. Great memories. Thank you for doing this.

    The photo’s are so special for me. Since I don’t remember much…..
    was too protected being the youngest 🥰

    BUT I remember all the excitement about you had the chance to hold the umbrella.
    Cheers to great memories! Thank you Malik and Dr. Nurin Merchant. Appreciate the positive influence your three websites create.

    Salma Rahim.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Shirin: You must recall the event with honour and pride since you had performed a highly coveted duty/task in welcoming the dignitaries. Not everyone would have possibly got that kind of a chance.

    Ranjit.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Quite an interesting collection of pictures of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visits to East Africa in the 60’s. It is amazing to see such cherish able memories over 5 decades later. Wonderful effort.

    Liked by 1 person

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