Former Daily Nation Chief Reporter Produces a Special Souvenir to Commemorate 60th Anniversary of Paper founded by His Highness the Aga Khan

Reviewed by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/editor SimergBarakah and Simergphotos

(Special Edition Yesterday at the Nation by Cyprian Fernandes, published by Cyprian Fernandes, Pendle Hill NSW Australia, printed and produced by Australian Trade Printers, April 2020. 132 pp.)

The Daily Nation was my favourite newspaper in Dar es Salaam, along with the Tanganyika Standard (later the Standard and then the Daily News). The popular Kenyan newspaper founded by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, first rolled off at the press as a Sunday newspaper on March 20, 1960, and then as a daily on October 3 of the same year.

The paper would arrive in Dar es Salaam from Nairobi in an afternoon flight. At around 6 PM, our 2nd floor neighbour at Islamabad Flats on United Nations Road, (Late) Akbar Ladha, would knock on my door on his way up and hand me a copy of the paper. He and Sherali Bhai owned a prestigious camera shop on Dar es Salaam’s Independence Avenue, and received letters and packages from all over the world from their clients and suppliers. Akber Bhai knew I was an avid stamp collector, and he would pass all foreign envelopes to me.

On Saturday afternoon, I would cycle to downtown to get my own copy of the early editions of the Sunday Nation and the Sunday Post — without the English premier league results! I became conversant with many of the Nation’s columnists, writers and photographers as well as editors. Among them were Philip Ochieng (who would later join the Tanzania’s Daily News for a brief period), Kul Bhushan who reviewed Indian films, sports writer and editor Norman da Costa, chief reporter Cyprian Fernandes, Ismaili reporter Sultan Jessa and photographer Azhar Chaudary, among several others.

The Daily Nation 60th anniversary souvenir edition by Cyprian Fernandes
Front cover of special souvenir edition to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nation. The portraits are of Nation journalists, deceased as well as living. Photo: Cyprian Fernandes / Yesterday at the Nation.

Many years later, I had the fortune of meeting the Nation’s Bill Fairbain in Ottawa. Author of a number of books in recent years, he contributed a special piece for Simerg. Then, I connected with Sultan Jessa who invited me to his home in Montreal and handed me a collection of photos taken by Azhar Chaudary, which were reproduced in Barakah and Simerg. Sultan passed away in 2019. I prepared a tribute to him and linked it to a much longer piece I had written earlier in Simerg.

Cyprian Fernandes Daily Nation Chief Reporter Simerg
The many faces of Cyprian Fernandes through the years as they appear in his souvenir publication, “Yesterday at the Nation.” Photo: Cyprian Fernandes / Yesterday at the Nation.

Last December, I received a note from the Nation’s former chief reporter Cyprian Fernandes, who has made his home in New South Wales, Australia. He wanted to reproduce my article on Sultan Jessa in a special “not for sale” souvenir to mark the 60th birthday of the paper that he stated in his email to me was “my other mother, The Nation.” I was glad to oblige. When the publication was ready in April 2020, Cyprian mailed two copies to me by Australia’s Post Express — including one to give to Sultan Jessa’s widow, Rosila. I kept on tracking the package for weeks. Due to Covid-19, it never left Australia by air. Instead, I would learn several weeks later, that it was sent by surface. I received “Yesterday at the Nation” just last week!

The Daily Nation 60th anniversary souvenir edition by Cyprian Fernandes
“Once when they were young,” from left Nation’s Polycarp Fernandes, Fibi Munene, Norman da Coata, Alfred Araujo and Sultan Jessa. Photo: Cyprian Fernandes / Yesterday at the Nation.

Cyprian commences his souvenir book by producing the introductory note that appeared on the front page of the Nation on the first day of its publication, March 20, 1960. He then says that the souvenir “was made possible by the articles provided by former Nation colleagues and the writings and obituaries of colleagues who have gone before us.”

In his preface “Once Upon a Time” Cyprian notes the brilliant work that Gerry Loughran did chronicling the first 50 years in “Birth of a Nation, The Story of a Newspaper in Kenya” (available in paperback or kindle edition at Amazon).

But for this 60th anniversary souvenir produced completely independently, Cyprian wanted to go further and he therefore dug deep to find more stories about the paper and from the paper. One thing he has done most admirably is to recognize the surviving and deceased journalists who worked at the Nation as well as those whom he tried hard to locate but was unsuccessful to get in touch with. His focus is on the period 1960-1975, a little over the time he himself spent at the paper.

The Daily Nation 60th anniversary souvenir edition by Cyprian Fernandes
Back cover of a special souvenir edition to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nation. The portraits are of Nation journalists, deceased as well as living. Photo: Cyprian Fernandes / Yesterday at the Nation.

The 132 page souvenir contains previous articles by Michael Curtis (1920-2004) who Mawlana Hazar Imam first recruited as a speech writer and publicity organizer when he became Imam in 1957; experiences at the Nation by numerous editors such as Jack Beverley (Sunday Nation editor from 1962-64), Jon Bierman (Daily Nation, 1960-63), Joe Rodriques, Boaz Omori and Hilary Ng’weno among others. In reading their stories, one learns about the challenges the editors and journalists faced when they were bold in their opinions about heads of state or on local and international political issues. As we find out from Cyprian’s book many were fired or forced to resign or even ended up in jails. One, a news editor by the name of Mike Chester, was expelled from Kenya due to mistaken identity!

One particular event that was reported well, and has been reproduced in the Souvenir, is when Kenya successfully launched the San Marco’s satellite into equatorial orbit from Malindi. Adrian Grimwood’s column in the Sunday Nation of November 12, 1972 explains what would likely take place on the day of the launch. The launch itself was reported on the front page of the Daily Nation’s coast edition with the headline “Kenya in the Space Age.”

A tragic story that Cyprian includes in his souvenir is that of the extraordinary photographer and front line cameraman Mohamed “MO” Amin who was at the right place at the right time when Kenyan cabinet minister Tom Mboya was assassinated. Within a couple of minutes of being shot, Mo Amin was there to record on still and movie cameras, like the photo that is shown below. The souvenir also notes Mo Amin’s coverage of the 1984 Ethiopian famine in that it proved to be so compelling that it inspired a collective global conscience and became the catalyst for the greatest-ever act of giving. “Unquestionably,” the souvenir notes, “it also saved the lives of millions of men, women, and children.”

The Daily Nation 60th anniversary souvenir edition by Cyprian Fernandes Tom Mboya assassination
Within a couple of minute’s of the Kenyan Minister Tom Mboya being shot on Nairobi’s main street, Mo Amin was there to record on still and movie cameras, like the photo shown here. Photo via Cyprian Fernandes / Yesterday at the Nation.
The Daily Nation 60th anniversary souvenir edition by Cyprian Fernandes Mo Amin Photo
Mo Amin in Ethiopia at the height of drought crisis. Photo via Cyprian Fernandes / Yesterday at the Nation.

Mo Amin died in a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines plane that crash landed in November 1996 in the Comoros Islands. It is said that he died standing while still negotiating with the hijackers until the moment of the crash.

A great piece in the souvenir is about Joe Rodriques, who spent 18 years at the Nation, the final few as the paper’s Editor-in- Chief. During his tenure, The Daily Nation was accused by President Moi’s government of assuming the role of an opposition party and selecting news on a sectarian and tribally motivated basis. Rodriques had written an editorial against the Government when the long time Kenyan politician and opposition leader Oginga Odinga was banned from standing in a by-election. Rodriques was arrested and interrogated. The souvenir notes that “The Nation published an apology of sorts, assuring the government of its support, but actually without using the word apology. This was the beginning of the end of Joe Rodriques, as Editor-in-Chief and his own 18 year association with the paper.”

The Daily Nation 60th anniversary souvenir edition by Cyprian Fernandes profile of Sultan Jessa
A page from Simerg’s 4 page piece on Sultan Jessa from “Yesterday at the Nation” by Cyprian Fernandes.

Writing for himself, Cyprian Fernandes observes, “I owe the Nation — everyone who worked in editorial, photographic, proofreading, the compositors, advertising, Karo and Kano the drivers — and everyone else at Nation House the greatest debt of my life. Thanks for giving me a journalistic life that has spanned nearly 60 years and like Johnny Walker still keeps on walking — for the moment at least.”

He ends his detailed narrative about his days at the Nation with the following anecdote:

“I was travelling with the then Vice President Daniel arap Moi and his wife to Botswana. All went well, except for two things: The VP’s security kept his spare bullets by a candle in his bedroom…there was a lot of bang bang. When I tried to phone my story in via Johannesburg, the operator at the other end let loose a torrent of racist abuse including telling me to ask my wife and taste the real thing….and lots more. Unfortunately for him, the President of Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama, was in the room and listened in. A few weeks later I received an official apology from the South African government and an invitation to visit South Africa as (an honorary white man).”

Cyprian’s love for “my other mother, The Nation” is deep and sincere. The souvenir edition has been prepared, printed and mailed out from his own personal resources. I was delighted to receive a personalized signed copy and thank him for a volume that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It is one of very few copies that has been produced, and I am indeed lucky to be among the recipients. I hope a demand for the souvenir will prompt Cyprian to come up with a larger printer run for interested readers to purchase. The Daily Nation’s 60th anniversary falls on October 3, 2020.

Date posted: August 27, 2020.

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Pakistan Visit 1961: Exclusive Photos of His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Hazar Imam, by Abdul M. Ismaily

PLEASE CLICK: Exclusive: Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Pakistan by the Late Abdul M. Ismaily (“Papa Jaan”)

Please click on image for exclusive photos by Abdul M. Ismaily

Please click on image for exclusive photos by Abdul M. Ismaily

Date posted: February 20, 2016.

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Uganda: Exclusive Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, by Abdul M. Ismaily (“Papa Jaan”)

PLEASE CLICK: Exclusive: Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Uganda by the Late Abdul M. Ismaily (“Papa Jaan”) 

Please click on image for more photos by "Papa Jaan" of His Highness the Aga Khan's visit to Uganda. Photo: Abdul M. Ismaily. Copyright.

Please click on image for more photos by “Papa Jaan” of His Highness the Aga Khan’s visit to Uganda. Photo: Abdul M. Ismaily. Copyright.

Editor’s Note: Following our recent posting of the late Abdul Mohamed Ismaily’s photographs of His Highness the Aga Khan’s historical first visit to Hunza in 1960, we now present you a collection of his photographs taken in Uganda. Please share this website with your family and friends via email and the social media. We thank our readers for their excellent response to the Hunza photos, and welcome your feedback by completing the applicable comments box or by sending an email to simerg@aol.com.

PLEASE CLICK: Exclusive: Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Uganda by the Late Abdul M. Ismaily (“Papa Jaan”) 

Date posted: February 14, 2016.

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For Hunza photos, please click Exclusive: Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 1960 Visit to Hunza by the Late Abdul M. Ismaily (“Papa Jaan”)

A Reflection on the Land Grant Ceremony of the New World Class Aga Khan University Hospital to be Built in Uganda

Partnership for Change

Aga Khan and Musoveni at the Land Grant CeremonyBY SHARIFFA KESHAVJEE

The sacred space is set
The energy is invoked
The earth’s ochre red
Makes a path through the green.
Reflected in the Ismaili and Uganda flag
The logo of the university
Radiating, rippling outwards

Our world of rapid change
Meets in Uganda to break the ground
Nakawa is chosen to propel
the University Hospital

To reach beyond its borders
The frontiers of Science
Radiation ever outwards

Decades of decay at Mulago
A new seed of hope is planted
Pioneering pluralism
In Uganda’s rich soil
Revitalizing the land
For life long learning
Radiating ever outwards

Coat of Arms Uganda, AKU Logo, Flags Uganada and Ismaili ImamatThe President and Imam’s vision
Bringing to the region
Appropriate advanced Health Care
The people can access
Here at home the very best
The youth empowered to remain
Here at home to give their best practices
Expanding ever outwards

The people rejoice with lush voices
Their partners join hands to celebrate
This great milestone laid by the red bricks
That fulfills the words of the anthem
That ever propel outwards

Aga Khan Musoveni Kampala

Salute to the President and Imam for
Their vision, their respect
For national progress
Global standards of excellence
To be in the frontier of scientific
and humanistic knowledge

The best in the world
Propelling expanding ever outward
An emblematic crown over Uganda

Date posted: December 18, 2015.

Copyright: Shariffa Keshavjee/Simerg

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Nakawa – an area in the city of Kampala.
Mulago – The hospital located on Mulago Hill in Kampala.

Links to stories and videos of the Land Grant Ceremony of the new Aga Khan University Teaching Hospital to be built in Uganada:

Please also visit:
http://www.theismaili.org
http://www.akdn.org
http://www.ismailimail.wordpress.com.

Also, http://www.nanowisdoms.org is an excellent resource for speeches of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment.

@Simergphotos – An Ismaili Wedding in Badakhshan Through the Lens of Muslim Harji

Muslim and Nevin Harji have just returned from a remarkable trip to Badakhshan, which is located in one of the most remote corners of the earth, in the midst of the magnificent Pamir mountains. The Harjis were fortunate to be invited to an Ismaili wedding in the small village of Namadgut (near Ishkashim). The whole village consisting of forty Ismaili families was involved in the preparation and celebration of the wedding. We continue our special series on Badakhshan with this special photo essay An Ismaili Wedding in the Pamirs Through My Lens by Muslim Harji.  

A bride-to-be is pampered with a manicure and pedicure before her wedding in a small village in the Pamirs.   Please click on image for Muslim Harji's photo essay.

A bride-to-be is pampered with a manicure and pedicure before her wedding in a small village in the Pamirs. Please click on image for Muslim Harji’s photo essay.

     

Visions of Badakhshan on Simerg

Letter from Publisher

Muslim Harji's portrait of an Ismaili girl in the Wakhan Corridor of Badakhshan. She is seen Little Suranoor having breakfast before getting ready for school in the Village of Namadgut.

Muslim Harji’s portrait of an Ismaili girl in the Wakhan Corridor of Badakhshan. Little Suranoor is seen having her breakfast before getting ready for school in the Village of Namadgut.

By Abdulmalik Merchant

When my parents visited me in Voorhees, New Jersey, during the spring of 1995, we would together walk to the main library twice a week. The short walk passed by scenic ponds and streams. There was a scary component to it though — encounters with scattered groups of unfriendly geese.

Once in the library, our focus was to read the Sunday newspapers from nearby cities that made their way into the magazine and newspaper section by Monday.

During one such visit, my dad found himself staring at the Baltimore Sun’s wonderful two page spread of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s first historic visit to Tajikistan, that had taken place a few days earlier. The June 4, 1995, story gave a moving account of the visit by the paper’s correspondent Kathy Lally. It was obvious that she was well acquainted with the Ismailis, and also understood the emotions of the Ismaili people, who had greeted their Imam for the first time in centuries. To my delight, an on-line version of the report did become available, and I reproduced it on Simerg, with the Sun’s permission, some 5 years ago under the title A Western Correspondent’s Account of the Aga Khan’s Historic First Visit to His Followers in Gorno-Badakhshan.

The photo was taken during Didar (Invitation) – a celebration that takes place on 28th of May every year to commemorate the anniversary of the Aga Khan’s visit to the village in the 1990s. During the celebrations the villagers dress up, dance outdoors to the accordion and drums and sing ginane (religious songs), which tell of him being their Noor (light). The photograph was taken as these girls, dressed in bright atlas silk fabric with crowns on their heads, were going out to dance. Photo: Matthieu Paley. Copyright.

The photo was taken during Didar (Invitation) – a celebration that takes place on 28th of May every year to commemorate the anniversary of the Aga Khan’s visit to the village in the 1990s. During the celebrations the villagers dress up, dance outdoors to the accordion and drums and sing ginane (religious songs), which tell of him being their Noor (light). The photograph was taken as these girls, dressed in bright atlas silk fabric with crowns on their heads, were going out to dance. Photo: Matthieu Paley. Copyright.

Two decades are not long in the life of a community, and for each of these past twenty years, since Mawlana Hazar Imam’s first visit in May 1995, the Ismaili community of Gorno-Badakhshan has commemorated the historic visit with a celebration known as “Didar” (a Glimpse, of the Imam) or “Noor” (the Light, that the Imam represents). The happiness of this annual event was captured by world-renowned photographer Matthieu Paley in the picture above where Ismaili girls are proudly displaying a framed decorated photo of their beloved Imam.

Subsequently, in addition to many other Badakhshan pieces, we published Ismaili Portraits From Tajikistan, by Khorog’s most distinguished and beloved ‘foreign’ permanent resident, Dr. Ali Rajput of Birmingham, England who in his personal capacity has served the jamat in Badakhshan in numerous ways.

Another piece that we were fortunate to publish was a personal account from Gulnor Saratbekova entitled  “Shukr Mawlo, Shukr Mawlo” – When Hope is All You Have Left, describing the dangerous and nervous state of affairs during the prolonged period of civil strife and unrest in Tajikistan in the early 1990’s. Her gratitude, shukr, in this piece is of course to Mawlana Hazar Imam who through the work of his Imamat institutions averted a serious famine that the jamat and other countrymen faced during the Civil War. I would strongly recommend that readers visit the links mentioned for some historical memories.

…..AND NOW MUSLIM HARJI’S SUPERB BADAKHSHAN SERIES

Scenic Badakhshan. Please click on photo for an incredible collection of photos of Badakhshan. Photo: Muslim Harji.

Scenic Badakhshan. Please click on photo for an incredible collection of photos of Badakhshan. Photo: Muslim Harji.

Now, Simerg is happy to present a photographic series dedicated to Badakhshan and Central Asia by none other than Canadian photographer Muslim Harji of Montreal. While he admires and cherishes the memories of the beautiful landscapes of Badakhshan that he captured with his lens, what he has come away most from this visit is the hospitality and warmth of the Ismaili people of Badakhshan. Harji’s incredible photo essays about his journeys to Jerusalem, Dubai, Iran, Turkey, South and South East Asia, have been seen by thousands on this blog, and we are delighted to add this new one to Simerg’s superb photo collection. Please click The Ismailis of Badakhshan Through My Lens by Muslim Harji.

With Tajikistan and Badakhshan now more accessible than ever before, and with so many exciting Imamat projects underway in that part of the world, we hope that Harji’s story will inspire the professional and youth of the jamat to visit this remote and beautiful region. By the way, there is an incredible array of well-organized professional tours to the region that are led by highly experienced non-Jamati operators in North America and Europe.

In Memoriam: Mohammed Ibrahim Ali (1925 – 2014) by Enoo

PLEASE CLICK: In Memoriam: Mohammed Ibrahim Ali

 A SON’S TRIBUTE TO A LOVING FATHER

Renowned Ismaili musician and composer, Enoo, pictured with his beloved dad in 2005 before the Vancouver  mulaqat with Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: Enoo archives.

Renowned Ismaili musician and composer, Enoo, pictured with his beloved dad in Vancouver in 2005 before the mulaqat with Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: Enoo archives.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Simerg invites obituaries/in memoriam pieces honouring deceased family members. Please see submission guidelines and examples by clicking Obituaries and Tributes.

Voices of Graduates: The Magnificent Aga Khan University Convocations in Nairobi, Kampala and Dar-es-Salaam

….The guiding rope
That God has cast
We hold fast to it
The pendulum moves

We Appreciate…Read More

PLEASE CLICK: “We Appreciate” – Poem and Voices from the Aga Khan University East Africa Convocations: Graduates and Families Speak About Hopes and Express Gratitude to University’s Founder, His Highness the Aga Khan
Dar-es-Salaam Procession

The Jamatkhana in Toronto — “A Seed of Faith Planted…” by Shariffa Keshavjee

The Jamatkhana Toronto

The “Muqarnas” is a finely crafted corbelled ceiling whose skylight provides a subtle transition from the outside to the serene Jamatkhana inside.

BY SHARIFFA KESHAVJEE

A thousand years and  more
A seed of faith planted
In Khadak in Mumbai
Transplanted to many soils
India, Pakistan, Afghanistan
Bagamoyo, Zanzibar, Mombasa
Now the park on Wynford Drive

The murid murshid seed
Planted and transplanted

Now sacred space of meeting
People, stories, histories
Identities, languages
Fused, bonded, shared
Nascent unity love and care
For the highest potential
Nurturing and flourishing

The murid murshid seed
Nurtured flourishes

When  open arms welcome
Pluralism of mind and heart
Where ideas take root
A Mission is in bloom
The intellect soars
The vision expands
In the park in Canada

The murid murshid  spark
A strong foundation

A screen made from ribbons of steel separates the anteroom from the prayer hall.  It repeats an 8 sided pattern exhibiting a geometric tool used by Muslim artists to create order and rhythm for contemplation.

When vision, mission, ideas
Empathetic understanding
In harmonious symphony rise
The universe conspires
The crucible swells
Then there is alchemy
In Toronto in the park

The murid murshid love
Consecrated to Thee

A park, ineffable light, a sacred space,
Where nature, man, knowledge
Come together in unison
Of mind, body and spirit
Of dialogue and collaboration
A mosaic of cultures, languages
Inspiring hope and harmony

The murid murshid bond
Reaches out to man and nature

Circle of infinity encompasses
A Jamatkhana for supplication
The jamat comes together
To submit in humility before the Divine
The hymnal voice rising into the dome
Reaching heavenward ascending
To arrive into the silence  of the heart

The murid murshid bond
Reverberating beyond time

Inside the Jamatkhana, the central skylight panel descends to a white translucent onyx block.

The sound of prayer ascends
Reaches a crescendo
From the dome to beyond
Through the crystal clear
To the Divine Light matrix
Into the heart of  Divinity
Enlightened luminescence

The bond of murid murshid
Sets free the heart of man

Those who come together in dialogue
Those who contemplate and reflect
Welcome to the open arms of wonder
Sacred space, the crucible
That transmutes base to pure
That nurtures and gives flight
To the wings of the souls

The soul of murid to murshid
Transcends human understanding

Had we but wings
We would fly in the sky
To search  for the light
Neither of North, South
East and West
To flutter and land
In the windowsill
Of the Divine Master

Where murid murshid
Blend and Unite

Date posted: Monday, September 22, 2014.

Copyright: Shariffa Keshavjee/Simerg. 2014.

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The images shown in the poem may be clicked for enlargement. Image captions are as follows:

Top image – The “Muqarnas” is a finely crafted corbelled ceiling whose skylight provides a subtle transition from the outside to the serene Jamatkhana inside. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte.
Centre image – A screen made from ribbons of steel separates the anteroom from the prayer hall.  It repeats an 8 sided pattern exhibiting a geometric tool used by Muslim artists to create order and rhythm for contemplation. Photo: Copyright Gary Otte
Bottom image – Inside the Jamatkhana, the central skylight panel descends to a white translucent onyx block. Photo: Copyright Shai Gil.

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About the writer: Shariffa Keshavjee is  a philanthropist and an entrepreneur with an objective to help women empower themselves. Raised in Kisumu, she considers herself a “pakaa” Kenyan. She is now based in the nation’s capital, Nairobi. Her other interest is in visual arts where she delights in painting on wood, silk  and porcelain using water colours, oils and acrylics. She also likes writing, especially for children, and bird watching.

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