Barakah is dedicated to Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness the Aga Khan, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat – a Hereditary Divine Institution from the Time of the Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali
Exclusive Photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 1972 Visit to Uganda Through the Lens of Sultan Baloo
By SULTAN BALOO
Since its founding some three years ago, Barakah has published some rare and extraordinary photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and members of his family from private collections from around the world. For quite some time now, I have had the desire to submit photographs for publication on Barakah that I myself took some 48 years ago in 1972. That little project was expedited when I saw my cousin sister Shirin Laviolette share her Collection of Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visits to Soroti and Mbale on the blog.
Thus, I am truly delighted to share an important sub-set from several dozen photographs that I took during Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah’s visit to Kampala, Masaka, Mengo and Kololo Secondary School during their visit to Uganda from February 20-27, 1972.
My interest in photography goes back to early childhood. I picked up a Kodak Box camera at the age of 10, and have continued to shoot photos to this day. I am an Optometrist by profession which is a good fit for my interest in photography. I came to Canada following the Uganda Asian Exodus in September 1972, six months after Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Uganda Padhramni (visit). Luckily, together with all my photo collection, I made sure I had my negatives and colour slides with me. The negatives — well preserved — sat in a box for close to 30 years. Around 2005 as good quality home scanners started to show up, I managed to digitize all my photos, negatives and slides. I was one of a group of official photographers during the 1972 Padhramni. As you can see from the photographs, all outdoor events were a free for all, and anyone with a camera could join in to take the pictures.
My first settlement in Canada was in Winnipeg. I was Chairman of the Administrative Committee when Mawlana Hazar Imam came to Canada for his first mulaqat with the Jamat in 1978. Readers will be surprised to know that at that time Winnipeg was the only centre where Mawlana Hazar Imam gave Deedar in a Jamatkhana in Canada, a fact that was also noted by Mawlana Hazar Imam in his Farman.
Several years later I settled in Vancouver. Moving forward to 2017, Begum Salimah was in Vancouver for a fundraiser in her capacity as the Global Ambassador for SOS Children’s Village. We have an SOS centre in Surrey, BC, and I was invited to cover the event together with another photographer. I met with the Begum and had an interesting conversation with her. She remembered her 1972 visit to Uganda as well as the visit to Winnipeg in 1978. So over a span of 45 years, I have had three occasions to see her.
I sincerely hope that this humble collection will bring back many many wonderful memories of the 1972 visit. It is my hope that individuals who appear in the photos will come forward and identify themselves so that photo captions can be updated over a period of time. Please write to Barakah’s editor Malik Merchant at Simerg@aol.com. Each photo has an Id associated with it, which should be specified when submitting details for captions.
1. Mawlana Hazar Imam at Kampala Darkhana Jamatkhana
2. Begum Salimah at Reception Organized by the Ismaili Women’s Organization at Apollo Hotel, Kampala
3. Mawlana Hazar Imam Visits Aga Khan High School in Kampala’s Kololo Suburb
4. Mawlana Hazar Imam at Foundation Laying Ceremony of Fairway Hotel Extension, Kampala
5. Mawlana Hazar Imam Visits Mengo Jamat
6. Begum Salimah at Joint Reception by the Aga Khan Health Board and Ismaili Women’s Organization
7. Mawlana Hazar Imam Visits Masaka Jamat
8. An Anecdote and Photo: Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah at Equator Crossing
The Equator marker is located along the 130 km drive from Masaka to Kampala, 35 km from Masaka. I was tipped off that a surprise unscheduled very short stop was going to be made at the marker for a photo-op. I had my brother-in-law, Noorali Hasham, who passed away less than 2 weeks ago in Masaka, drive me behind the six car deep motorcade. By the time we reached there and I got out of the car and dashed towards the spot, Mawlana Hazar Imam and Begum Salimah had already had their pictures taken, but I did manage to get this wonderful single shot!
Date posted: December 24, 2020.
Before departing this website please visit our exclusive collections of photos that we have received from individuals and families from around the world as well as take a moment to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 250 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat.
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It was great to capture myself as a student standing amongst my classmates. It is a moment I will never forget.
Sultan uncle, thank you kindly for capturing that precious moment- Allah bless you, for all those memories, & for being a close family friend🙏
Dear Sultan Uncle,
Happy New Year to both Roshan Aunty and you…..
what a great gift you have shared with us all by, these memorable photographs of our last Padramani of 1972 Uganda (Kampala) before the exodus.
Also want to thank you for the photo #0016 where I am blessed to be in, and remember that day so well. Thank you, and feel so lucky to have this gift which I will cherish for ever…
May you always be blessed with this skill and gift of clicking away always…….
All the best!
Azmina & Farouk.
Wonderful pictures for the children of East African families to be able to share our history and roots.
Good job, Sultan. I’m glad you were able to showcase your work and keep some memories alive for some of the people in these photos!
Memories live forever!!
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Sultan, excellent collection. This is very good keep sake; photos and excellent memories!
Malik Bhai thank you for posting Sultan Bhai Baloo’s excellent photographs on Barakah. I am seeing these pictures for the first time in my life. May Mawlana Hazar Imam Bless you both. Ameen.
Excellent photographs Sultanbhai. You have a very keen eye. Thanks for making the pictures available on Barakah.
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Says Sultan Baloo:::>>>I was one of a group of official photographers during the 1972 Padhramni. As you can see from the photographs, all outdoor events were a free for all, and anyone with a camera could join in to take the pictures. <<<
Yes we see how Hazar Imam moved about during that visit (as he did during previous ones). I had didars at main Jamatkhana (JK) in Kampala, Nakulabye JK, and Mbale JK. I am in one photo at the steps of the HQ JK, from Shamash Kamadia's collection. At Mbale didar Hazar Imam was prompted by Begum Salimah that I was at Stanford having learnt that fact from Zaibun at the banquet where I was absent due to malaria. Hazar Imam asked me what I was studying and whether I saw a future in Uganda. Photos of Mbale visit were displayed here from Shrin Laviolett's collection. Photos of Jinja didar were displayed here from Mukhi/President Sadru Mohamed Mitha's collection. Our son Arafat won the first prize in the baby show at Kampala and there is a photo in the family collection.
In 2010 or so Sultan Baloo had a dinner at his home and showed a movie of some of the events at the 1972 didar. One was the opening of the IPS building by Idi Amin Dada. I have a photo of that. So the visit lives in the memories of us Uganda Ismailis for the expulsion that followed. I have made a full record of that in my book below in which Sultan figures in my book as do 25 other Canadian Ismailis and 111 Ismailis all over.
As Sultan says he hopes people will come forward and ID some people there. At the Fairway's ceremony SB Jaffer MP is marked but we see Mrs SB Jaffer too. Marhum Vazier Sherallibhai gave me his story of the expulsion. He says he was warned soon after the foundation ceremony that he "was next" and he abducted after hearing that. It was nice to see AGG and Zarin Jivan Abji. Just today I was chatting with Anwer Omar on Facebook and he put up a close-up photo of himself talking to the Imam at the Kololo School.
All the best.
Vali Jamal BA Cambridge, PhD Stanford,
Author Uganda Asians 2666 pages, to be launched Inshallah at mid-2021.
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Memorable pictures Sultanbhai. Thanks for sharing them. Also thanks to Malikbhai for publishing.
Thank you for documenting these wonderful memories of this historic event. What an amazing idea this was Sultan.
Excellent work Sultan, and thank you for sharing. Mubarak.
Moez and Fatima Manji
Thank you Sultan for sharing this incredible collection.
Your eye is as keen as joyous as your soul.
And now days you preserve of history here though big and small events
Much love and kind regards for your wonderful work.
Zaher Meghji Ahamed
Selected comments from Facebook:
Azim Sachedina: Awesome
Pyarali Assani: Very nice and good memory
Parvin Esmail: Ya Ali Madad…🙏❤
Samir Jahon: Ya Ali Madad 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏
Zery Mitha: Thank you Sultan Baloo. Beautiful photos.
Rualy Rualys: Beautiful pictures thank you for sharing. Bless you.
Afaq Faryadi: Ya Ali Madad ❤❤❤❤❤
Amina Zulfiqar: Beautiful
Salma Haidary: یا علی مدد (O Ali help us) 🙏🙏🙏
Shellina Mohamed: 🙏🙏🙏
Mohd Akbar Karamy: اللهم صلی علی محمد و آل محمد
یاعلی یاعلی یاعلی یاعلی یاعلی یاعلی یاعلی مدد (May Allah bless Muhammad and his family
O Ali, O Ali, O Ali, O Ali, O Ali, O Ali, Help)
Mubaraki for the excellent compilation of our history of the diaspora over the past 50 years. Pictures tell a thousand words, and my sincere compliments to Sultan Baloo for this latest post as well to Laila Datoo and others for sharing their photographs and stories on Barakah.
Editor’s note: For more exclusive photos, please click https://barakah.com/exclusive-photos/
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Well done Sultan for the photos. Amazing that Mawlana Hazar Imam went to Uganda a few months before the expulsion of Asians.
Thank you very much for posting the historic photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Uganda, 1972. Sultan Baloo took amazing photos. Thanks again for sharing.
Beautiful photographs cousin Sultan Baloo. Thank you for sharing. Malikbhai keep up the excellent work.
These are some extraordinary and historical images by Sultan Baloo. Thank you SultanBhai for so generously sharing them and Malikbhai for publishing them.