It was here, well over a century ago, in 1899, that a young 22-year-old Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, came by yacht from Zanzibar, the first Ismaili Imam ever to set foot on East African soil, in the then German East Africa….READ MORE
Date posted: August 19, 2017.
A great story and much to learn from.
Zahir Dhalla should be thanked from our hearts for this piece preserving a very important part of our (Ismaili) history in East Africa, with names of some illustrious people. Sewa Haji Paroo is there and Jaffer Somji. He is the grandfather of Noordin Somji, Tanga/Kampala/Vancouver, and a common ancestor to the Somjis in Mombasa. I have his story from the autobiography of Noordin Somji that he shared with me in Vancouver around 2009 when I had embarked on writing my book about Uganda Asians. Greatgrandfather Somji Khaukani had migrated to Bagamoyo in 1848 from his home village Bharapur in Gujarat. Noordin’s grandfather Jaffer Somji was born in Bagamoyo in 1860. Now just think of that – born in East Africa as early as that.
Allidina figures in Noordin’s book, the account here and in my book. Allidina came to Bagamoyo in 1863 at the age of 12 years. By 1900 or so, he was the King of Commerce in UGANDA, more than Kenya. Most Ismailis came to AfriKa as his agents, among them my grandfather Valli Jamal (Pradhan) and elder brother (later Count) Hasham Jamal. My grandfather was only 15 years old when he came to East Africa in 1903. He sailed from Kisumu to Entebbe in the company of the Mota Sheth in the Sheth’s own dhow and from there he was asked by the Mota Sheth to go to Wadelai (250 miles up north from Kampala). My grandfather stayed out up there for six (6) months and in fact went into the land of the “tuk tuks” – the height-challenged in Congo. My grandfather kept a diary to record the above and my own father kept notes about our grandfather that he also passed on to me, along with the precious diary. My grandfather stayed on in Uganda and became the Uganda Ismailia Council’s first president at 1915 – age 27.
Thank you again to Zahir Dhalla. History must be preserved. I did so in my own book for all Uganda Asians. For Ismailis I have stories of how the Takhtnashini ceremony (August 1957) came to be sited last-minute on the grounds of the Kampala Jamatkhana, when the Lukiko (Kabaka’s government) disallowed the ceremony to be performed on public land. My book is also of special significance for Ismailis because I documented the roles played by HH Aga Khan and his uncle Prince Sadruddin (as head of UNHCR) in resettling us in Canada and scores of other countries. Out in November, Inshallah.