The Ismailis’ unmeasurable love for their 49th Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

The Youtube link to the Diamond Jubilee Tribute Song to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, is one you can play repeatedly and keep on enjoying forever. The expression of love for Mawlana Hazar Imam is visible on each musician’s face, and this is what is most inspiring about this video. What we might say is our “unmeasurable love” for Hazar Imam becomes even more unfathomable to grasp when we read what Hazar Imam said to his jamat (community) during his visit in 1964 to Pakistan that “my love for my Jamat is a lot stronger than yours can ever be for me and I would like you to remember this….When I leave, each and everyone of you will be in my heart, in my prayers, in my thoughts and you must remember that Imam loves you more, much more than you can ever love him and you must be strong in this knowledge.” Unmeasurable unmeasurable love indeed! We are all recipients of his care and barakah, 1000fold, nay a million fold….Happiness forever to all Ismailis.

We welcome your feedback…. Please LEAVE A COMMENT.

Please also visit http://www.facebook.com/1000fold, a page dedicated to the Visual and Textual Celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan, with a corresponding website, http://www.barakah.com.

Date posted: June 8, 2017.

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For feedback, please click LEAVE A COMMENT

My Mum’s Pick! A Must Read Story About a Former Child Soldier Transformed by Education

INTRODUCED BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

Mrs. Merchant with Nazim Rawji

Malek Merchant, 85, with her former student and Dar es Salaam neighbour Nazim Rawjee pictured outside the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

My mum is an avid reader. She is 85 but doesn’t look her age when you see her glowing face; she is often interrupted with “he is your brother” before she gets a chance to introduce me to anyone as her son! I feel embarrassed but it also makes me proud for her! Her facial skin is soft and supple;  “Oil of Olay,” I tell all my friends as her secret to a good skin! She spends a lot of time everyday on her Ipad. I go to her aid mostly when she wants to visit my website — otherwise she is okay!

Today, for a change, I gave her my copy of Africa Renewal, a UN magazine that I have been receiving for the past few years on a regular basis and that I collected from my mailbox during my recent trip to Ottawa. She read the two issues I gave her cover to cover in a span of a few hours, and while on the story about Mohamed Sidibay, a former child soldier who attributes his success to education, she started reading it loudly because she was so inspired by it. She wanted me to hear it. It was distracting for me, but her reading the story aloud intrigued me and grabbed my attention. Here it is, below. It is “MY MUM’S PICK” and everyone, young and old alike, must read it! Don’t I wish she owned Chapter’s Indigo! “Heather’s Pick” would then become “Malek’s Pick” and she would even offer bigger discounts on her top picks! And she would personally be at different stores telling the visitors what to read!

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REMINISCENCES OF A FORMER CHILD SOLDIER

“My biggest fear was children, high on drugs, wielding AK-47 rifles…The war stole my childhood and left me orphaned and homeless. In Sierra Leone, children barely old enough to tie their own shoelaces committed most of the atrocities. I was one of those children. I learned to refill a bullet chamber instead of an ink cartridge, and I mastered the “skill” of spraying a wall with lead before I could write 1, 2, and 3.”

BY MOHAMED SIDIBAY

Mohamed Sidibay

Mohamed Sidibay. Photo: Africa Renewal.

My name is Mohamed Sidibay and I was born in Sierra Leone, a beautiful country on the coast of West Africa.

When I had barely reached five years of age, we were engulfed in a civil war. Kidnapped by rebels, I lived in a world where my captors made me fear not God but children, high on drugs, wielding AK-47 rifles taller than them, and forced to kill or be killed.

I was one of those child soldiers and I lived in a world where your best friend could kill you because his own life depended on it.

I witnessed murder for the first time when I was only five years old. In 1997 the civil war had reached my village. It was only after I was forcibly taken away from our house that I got a sense of the evil that would befall me. The man I would later come to call General took my parents’ lives before my eyes. That was the beginning of my encounter with war.

Years passed and one night I fled to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. It was one of the longest nights of my life. I slept on a wooden bench too small for my tall frame. I spent most of the night fighting off mosquitoes and trying to stay warm. When I woke up, I had white, salty residue on my face as a result of hours of crying. I wished things were different.

Shunned by community

sierra_leone_sm_2016

Sierra Leone, University of Texas Map, 2016.

An Italian priest gave me shelter and connected me to an NGO that links students and teachers worldwide through technology. This is where I started my education and was soon sponsored to join a primary school in Sierra Leone.

The war stole my childhood and left me orphaned and homeless. In Sierra Leone, children barely old enough to tie their own shoelaces committed most of the atrocities. I was one of those children. I learned to refill a bullet chamber instead of an ink cartridge, and I mastered the “skill” of spraying a wall with lead before I could write 1, 2, and 3. At the time, the more youthful we appeared, the more gruesome the carnage we inflicted.

Although the civil war eventually ended in 2002, a new struggle for reintegration had just begun for me. My former community shunned me, the worst punishment a close-knit community could exact on a repentant child soldier. Elders derided me for my shamelessness, and my peers were vicious towards me.

One day something unexpected happened. A complete stranger told me the truth I did not want to hear: I had the power to create my own destiny if I could get education. But how could I do that when at the age of ten I could not read or write? Where would I begin? I wondered whether education would help me forget my experience with killing in war. Would it end my nightmares?

We know all wars eventually end, but the scars and burden may last forever. But that’s life, right? Things do not always turn out the way we wish.

Transformation

In 2007, at the age of 14, I was invited to talk about my experience as a child soldier at two American universities. What was meant to be a short trip became a permanent stay after I refused to board my plane home. I ran away from the airport in New York with only $40 in my pocket, an iPod Nano, my passport, a white-dotted pair of jeans and an orange shirt.

I stayed because America had given me hope. I lived in Maplewood, New Jersey, where I enrolled in high school. At the age of 14, I was preparing to attend high school for the first time in a community that was completely different from the one I had known. Reconciling the new life with the past continued to be a challenge.

I never imagined graduating from high school, let alone becoming a university graduate. Education has offered me choices, chances and challenges.

Education can enable the unfortunate to rise up and know the world. I am now dedicating my life to advocacy and service through my work with the Education Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity and the My Hero Project.

I appreciate the gift of education. I believe that even if we give people the whole world, that world could crumble. But if we give them an education, they can rebuild their world.

Date posted: June 2, 2017.

Note: Mohamed Sidibay has since graduated from George Washington University.

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CREDIT:

Mohamed Sidibay, “United Nations Africa Renewal.” The complete story with the photo of Mohamed Sidibay is reproduced from Africa Renewal, Special Edition 2017, page 30. Please visit http://www.un.org/africarenewal.

We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment.

Must Watch: A Fantastic Cultural Celebration in Moscow for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 80th Birthday

Please click: Ismailis in Moscow Celebrate His Highness the Aga Khan’s 80th Birthday

Please click on photo to view segments of concert.

Please click on photo to view wonderful segments of concert.

Date posted: January 4, 2017.

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Simerg in 2016: Photo Blog Published Rare Photos from Hazar Imam’s 59 Year Reign and Great Travelogues and Stories

Kindly share http://www.Simerg.com with your friends, family members, relatives and all your other contacts around the world via email, the social media and by word of mouth! Thank you – ed.

Prince Amyn Muhammad and Princess Zahra applaud as the birthday cake is presented to Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

A marvellous end to 2016! Mawlana Hazar Imam is applauded by members of his family as a cake is presented to him for his landmark 80th birthday, making him the oldest serving Imam in Ismaili history. The celebration was held at his home in Aiglemont, France, on Friday December 16, 2016. Photo: The Ismaili/Zahur Ramji.

By Abdulmalik Merchant
(editor/publisher Simerg, Simerphotos, and Barakah)

SIMERGPHOTOS commenced the year with the publication of rare photographs that had never been released or seen before! The late Papa Jaan’s treasure trove of photographs of  Mawlana Hazar Imam’s historic first visit to Hunza, was brought to our attention by  Montreal’s Muslim Harji, and with the  family’s support we published more photos that Papa Jaan (Abdul M. Ismaily, 1926-1981) took during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Pakistan and Uganda as well as Prince Sadruddin’s Visit to East Africa. Sultan Jessa, who worked at the Daily Nation, then shared with us a set of his colleague Azhar Chaudry’s photos of the Aga Khan’s Visits to East Africa!

Muslim Harji’s name is on the lips of all our readers! He has never failed to take stunning photographs during his countless trips around the world, and his Central Asian photo essay series from 2015 overflowed into 2016 with Tajikistan’s Stunning Landscapes. Harji later would overwhelm our readers with  Photographs about Sacred  Spaces and, with the year about to end, he brilliantly captured Montreal’s Celebration of the 80th Birthday of Mawlana Hazar Imam. With regard to the birthday celebration we showed Mawlana Hazar Imam Being Gifted with a Unique Piece  of Art Created by Ismaili Artist Gulgee.

Even as he approached — and now has completed — his 80th birthday (December 13), a record for any Imam in Ismaili history, Mawlana Hazar Imam tirelessly visited many parts of the world. We have photos of his  Parliament Hill Visit in Ottawa by Jean-Marc Carisse , the visit to Portugal Where He Introduced Officials of the Imamat  and His visit to Egypt for a Business for Africa Forum. He also attended and awarded prizes in the UAE to The 2016 Winners of Aga Khan Award for Architecture. We decided to relive a Ten minute 2015 PBS episode about His Highness the Aga Khan  and we know that many readers visited PBS.

We received a few pleasant surprises along the way with Juby Sprake of Vancouver offering three very sweet photos of Hazar Imam’s 1966 visit to the Nairobi Aga Khan Primary School. Linda Baxter, a niece of the late Mr. Frank Pattrick, who worked for the Daily Nation, kindly sent Letters and Photographs of His Highness the Aga Khan from her family collection.

12 year old Renaye Tejani bakes cookies for charity and spreads joy in Mumbai, India.

12 year old Renaye Tejani bakes cookies for charity and spreads joy in Mumbai, India.

Nurin Merchant had visited Yellowstone, the world’s very first national park, some 5 years ago with her dad (author of this post) and decided to do a photo summary about Her One-of-a-Kind Experience in Yellowstone. Her grandparents came up with Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Alykhan’s visit to Mozambique where they had both served during the 1950’s.

Family members sent us inspiring stories about their children. Readers were charmed with Renaye Tejani  of Mumbai Spreading Joy Through Baking. The Maherali family in Atlanta had taken their two sons to Dubai for the Ismaili Jubilee games where Riyaan Maherali met a basketball player who touched his heart. Not to be overlooked was the story about the Welcome Celebration of the Jubilee Games Lantern at the Children’s Soccer Camp in Burnaby.

Members of the  Ismaili community are active everywhere in supporting initiatives for a better world, and we were immensely proud to record the inspiring work of Ismaili Educators helping with Marginalized Children in Nairobi. We also showcased thousands of  Canadians participating in the Annual World Partnership Walk in Vancouver.

Ali Karim, like Muslim Harji, is an intrepid traveller and he undertook a momentous journey with his wife Dilshad to China and Northern Pakistan along the old Silk Road. His travelogue began in Shanghai, and he then proceeded to Urumqi, Turpan and Kashgar before he finally reached his last stop in China in Tashkurgan where he met an Ismaili family. His remarkable account with stunning photographs of Ismailis in Northern Hunza is a must read for everyone who hasn’t yet read the post! We have one final Hunza episode from Karim coming up within the next fortnight.

Passu, Hunza. Ali Karim. Copyright.

Passu, Hunza. Ali Karim. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam mentioned in his remarks during the celebration of his 80th birthday, that he feels he is half his age! Therefore, we look forward to celebrating his Diamond Jubilee in 2017, with a prayer and a hope that he will remain in good health, and that all communities around the world will continue to benefit from his wisdom and his selfless work that has had such a major impact on marginalized communities around the world, especially in Asia and Africa. Mawlana Hazar Imam’s support of major development projects through his network, including Ismaili institutions and the Aga Khan Development Network, has always been  underpinned by the  Qur’anic ethic and principle that everyone is “born out of a single soul.”

We wish all our readers around the world a New Year filled with good health, peace, happiness and success in all their endeavours, and particularly pray for a peaceful world!

Individual Links to Our Treasure Trove of Photos

Aga Khan’s Inspiring Interview on PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly is Worth Revisiting (Now Includes Transcript)

This Interesting and Well Presented PBS Program is Worth Watching [and Rewatching]

Click on image or on any text below for link to interview/transcript.

INTRODUCED BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

With an Advisory Aboard consisting of distinguished educators and scholars representing different faiths, the Religion & Ethic Newsweekly of PBS has set itself apart by providing distinctive, cutting-edge news coverage and analysis of national and international events in the ever-changing religious world. “The show has become something of a blueprint for how to accurately report on religion,” noted the Des Moines Register.

This fairly accurate perspective on the Ismaili faith and its hereditary leader, His Highness the Aga Khan, was provided by PBS in a comprehensive and extraordinary ten minute program featuring segments from an interview with the Ismaili Imam as well as insights from numerous individuals familiar with Ismaili history and the work of the Aga Khan. All in 10 minutes! Readers who didn’t watch the episode when it was aired in 2015 should not miss the program, and  those who have already seen it should see it again, as the special PBS feature was updated this year, and now includes a transcript. Please click  anywhere on this text for interview and transcript. For the extended interview please click on the next photo, below.

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Now Watch the Extended Interview

pbs-aga-khan-interview-2Date posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2016.

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How an Athlete at the Ismaili Jubilee Games Became a Hero to a Young Boy

Adnan Dahlvani of the USA Basketball Team had a deep impact and inspired 8-year old Riyaan Maherali to follow him to every basketball that he played in. Read Riyaan’s story, where he explains why he will never forget Adnan for the rest of his life.

PLEASE CLICK: Riyaan Maherali: My Ismaili Jubilee Games Hero – Adnan Dahlvani of Team USA Blue

Please click on image for story.

Please click on image for story.

Date posted: August 15, 2016.

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Your Opportunity to Acquire a Highly Acclaimed Beautiful New Book About the People and Food of the Pamirs

Co-Author holding "With Our Own Hands"Frederik van Oudenhoven happily displaying the 688 page book “With Our Own Hands” that he co-authored with Jamila Haider. Photo: Facebook page, PamirFoodandLife

“Those of us reading this book several thousand miles away from the Pamir Mountains cannot fail to be moved by the celebration of human diversity and dignity. I hope this book will act as a spur to other such works, and to the preservation and celebration of other such ancient cultures, wherever they are in the world” — HRH The Prince of Wales in Foreword to “With Our Own Hands.”

“These mountains [the Pamirs] have had a strong influence on the culture and practices surrounding the Pamiri Ismaili faith. While 15 millions Ismaili Muslims live around the world, the Pamir mountains is the only region in the world where they form a majority of the population.” — Excerpt from “With Our Own Hands,” page 382.

A book that began as a simple 30 page recipe book to fulfill a promise to a grandmother has grown to a magnificent volume of almost 700 pages telling the cultural and agricultural history of the Afghan and Tajik Pamirs, one of the world’s least known and most isolated civilizations. Through the lens of local recipes, essays and stories, and accompanied by the work of three award-winning photographs, “With Our Own Hands” describes Pamiri food and its origins, people’s daily lives, their struggle and celebrations. Simerg carried a special feature on the making of the book (see link at end of this post). The highly acclaimed and award winning work by Frederik van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider was beautifully featured on BBC a few weeks ago. Jamila Haider says that everyone who has seen the book, has asked how to get one.

12316071_440190226178538_2484686561241700908_nThe authors ensured that each of the 1800 communities of the Pamirs received a copy of “With Our Own Hands.” In this photo, schoolgirls in the Bartang valley are standing with a copy of the book. The authors have noted that they were received time and time again with the warmest hospitality one could ever imagine. Photo: Facebook page, PamirFoodandLife.

ACCOLADES FOR THE BOOK

“This…may be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read..!” — Frénk van der Linden.

“People touch the book and stroke it, and it is as if there is no distance between them and the pages…it’s very touching to see.” – Facebook comment

In size, rigor and thoughtfulness [this book] has become a touching piece of art.” — Geerdt Magiels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

TO BUY “WITH OUR OWN HANDS”

WOHcover1s

We take great delight in informing our readers that with great luck and timing, we have managed to obtain a few copies of “With Our Own Hands” that were in stock in North America. We are grateful to the book’s Canadian distributors, the UBCpress, for making 21 copies of the book available to us. The book is out of stock at Amazon.com, but numerous sellers are offering the book from US$120.00 and up. Simerg is offering the book to interested Canadian readers on a first-come first-served basis at Cdn$85.00 per copy plus taxes/shipping/insurance (which will vary across Canada). The book may be reserved/purchased as follow:

NOTE: We wish to inform our readers that the book is sold out. Request a copy by writing to simergbooks@aol.com, and we will notify you as soon as we have more information from the book’s distributors in North America about its availability in Canada.

Payment Methods:

Paypal: Simergbooks has been verified by Paypal. To purchase a copy of “With Our Own Hands”, please send a request to  simergbooks@aol.com and an invoice will be generated through Paypal provided we still have the book in stock. You can then pay via Paypal. In view of the limited quantities, payment should be received within 24 hours after the invoice.

Email Transfer: To purchase a copy via email fund transfer, please send a request to simergbooks@aol.com. Once we have confirmed to you via email that we have the book in stock, we will request you to send the payment via email transfer. In view of the limited quantities payment should be received within 24 hours after the invoice.

AN EXTRAORDINARY BOOK FOR YOUR HOME

This book will remain for a long time on your family’s shelf by virtue of its extraordinary quality and for its portrayal in a respectable manner of the food, culture and traditions of the beautiful people of the Pamirs.

Date posted: Sunday, August 7, 2016.
Last updated: Monday, August 22, 2016.

NOTE: We wish to inform our readers that the book is sold out. Request a copy by writing to simergbooks@aol.com, and we will notify you as soon as we have more information from the book’s distributors in North America about its availability in Canada.

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Related: With Our Own Hands – A Celebration of Food and Life in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan and Tajikistan

Premji Vaghela, Now a Centenarian, Shares Early Memories of Cricket in Dar-es-Salaam and a Rare Historical Photo of His Highness the Aga Khan

Editor’s note: Naren Varambhia, an avid reader of Simerg residing in London, England, recently brought to our attention a piece on cricket which Premji Vaghela had contributed for a “Dar-es-Salaam Jambo Reunion” that took place in Toronto, Canada, on August 9-10, 1997.

Mr. Premji Vaghela is now a hundred years old and lives in Toronto, Canada: Photo: Premji Vaghela Collection. Copyright.

Mr. Premji Vaghela is now a hundred years old and lives in Toronto, Canada: Photo: Premji Vaghela Collection. Copyright.

We are pleased to publish this highly interesting piece after contacting Mr. Vaghela’s sons, Rajnikant and Niranjan of London and Toronto respectively. We learnt from them that their beloved father has been living in Toronto since 1985, and that the family celebrated his 100th birthday last December! We offer our good wishes to Mr. Vaghela and his entire family for this blessing of a long life.

Both Rajni and Niru mentioned that they have stayed in touch with several Dar-es-Salaam cricketers, including Ismaili cricketers Hasnu Kalyan, Mamda Kassam and Badru Bhamji who played for the Aga Khan Club and Tanzanian national cricket squad for many years.

We are indebted to Mr. Vaghela’a family for this memorable and historical piece, which includes a very rare photo of the 48th Imam of Ismaili Muslims, His Highness the Aga Khan, Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah, meeting cricketers Mamda Kassam and Premji Vaghela, among others, at Dar-es-Salaam’s Gymkhana cricket ground.

Mr. Premji Vaghela was awarded the cup on the left for scoring 150 runs in a cricket match. The plaque on the right was given to him for his contribution to the Hindu Sports Club. Photo: Premji Vaghela Family Collection. Copyright.

Mr. Premji Vaghela was awarded the cup on the left for scoring 150 runs in a cricket match. The plaque on the right was given to him for his contribution to the Hindu Sports Club. Photo: Premji Vaghela Family Collection. Copyright.

My School Days and Cricket

BY PREMJI VAGHELA 

I was born in Dar es Salaam in 1915 when the British were bombing Dar, when it was under German rule, and the people took shelter in the Jangwani Creek.

I started playing cricket bare-footed at the age of seven with a tennis ball and a locally made wooden bat. Dar streets were our  playgrounds and street lamp posts or dust-bins were our wickets. Those days, in the early twenties, the streets were safe to play in as there were no cars — only rickshaws. Few cars were seen after 1931.

I studied in a Gujarati school called Lokmanya Tilak Memorial School, where Arya Sukh Shanti Lodge is presently situated. After 1918, Tanganyika was called British Protected Territory. The Indian Central School (ICS) was built by the Government in 1929. All the teachers were recruited from India. All the students — boys and  girls — from Tilak school were transferred to this new school. The first headmaster of the new school was Mr. N. O. Mody, a very strict disciplinarian He introduced cricket in the school. It was this school that supplied the most cricketers to all the communal teams in Dar-es-Salaam till 1960.

I earned my name as a bowler and batsman. My first century came in 1932 against the Punjebhai Club (later known as the Aga Khan Club). We did well in the League Tournament. In the knockout tournament in 1934, the school came in the final against the British Gymkhana Club. I scored 150 runs and we piled up a huge score of over 300 runs. We won the knock-out Cup.

In 1932, Mr. A.A. M  Isherwood, then the Director of Education, donated a cup called the “Isherwood Cup”* (see note below) for cricket to be competed by the schools in Dar. There were only two schools at that time: the ICS and the Aga Khan School. We won the trophy  in 1932. It was a coincidence that in 1956 — almost after 25 years —  my son Rajni, when he was school captain, brought the same trophy home. I left the school in 1935. The school had a very good reputation in cricket.

Please click on photo for enlargement

His Highness the Aga Khan (1877 - 1957), 48th Imam of Ismailis, meeting with Mamda Kassam, Premji Vaghela and others at the Gymkhana Cricket Ground in Dar-es-Salaam. Photo: Premji Vaghela Family Collection. Copyright.

His Highness the Aga Khan (1877 – 1957), 48th Imam of Ismailis, meeting with Mamda Kassam, Premji Vaghela and others at the Gymkhana Cricket Ground in Dar-es-Salaam. Photo: Premji Vaghela Family Collection. Copyright.

In 1936, I joined the Indian Sports Club. At that time there were few teams competing in the League Tournament – the “Sachu Pira Shield”. One of the conditions of League matches was that whichever team won for three consecutive years, would retain the Shield forever. In 1936, 1937 and 1938, the Indian Sports Club were the winners and won the Shield permanently. Today, the Shield is on  display in G.M. Sulemanji’s Hardware shop window on Independence Avenue (then Acacia Avenue).

Many young and promising players were coming out from the school, and there were not sufficient teams to accommodate them.  Consequently, the Indian Sports Club was split into two communal teams: the Hindus and the Bohras. The Goans, the Ithnasharis and the Aga Khan teams were already there. By 1940, many other teams cropped up; Punjab Sports Club, the Maratha Mandal, Sinhalese Sports Club  and Malabar Sports Club were new additions. Customs Sports Club and the P.W.D. also joined the cricket competition. The Khalsas and the Goans were the main hockey rivals.

On match days, the whole Asian population turned out on the Gymkhana and the Government Service cricket grounds which were adjacent to each other. The whole atmosphere was like festivals. Machunga (oranges), makai (corn), madafu (coconut), sekela-bafela jugu  (fried-boiled peanuts) and ndhizi (plantains) were always in demand.

I must also mention names of two Englishmen: Mr. F. H. Woodrow, the Director of P.W.D, and Mr. Hudson, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise. They both took keen interest in promoting cricket. There were not enough cricket grounds in Dar then. Mr. Woodrow gave the P.W.D. ground, and Karimjee donated the Bohra’s ground. I consider it only fair to mention the name of Seth Abdulkarim Y.A. Karimjee, of the wealthy and philanthropic Karimjee Jivanjee family. He always supported the cause of cricket  in Dar. He was a good cricketer himself and a thorough sportsman. He was kind, helpful and unassuming.

I should not also forget the grand old man, Count Kassum Sunderji Samji, who donated trophies to cricket and tennis competitions in Dar. He always supported sports one way or the other.

Cricket was the most popular sport in Dar. The competitors were keen and played in high spirit. Sometimes, the communal tension was high, particularly when the Hindus and the Aga Khan Clubs were playing. At times the police were called to control the overenthusiastic supporters of both sides! However, on and off the field, the personal relationship between the players was always cordial and friendly.

Cricket was also played in Mwanza, Tabora, Dodoma, Moshi and Tanga. Cricket was particularly popular in schools and carried on by kids playing in the streets.

Perhaps the most enjoyable competition, for almost all cricketers, was when Dar and Zanzibar used to visit each other every year in early August. Every alternate year we used to play in Zanzibar and vice versa. Many tourists used to accompany the teams and create considerable excitement and jubilation, just like a big festival!

In order to strengthen their side during the final or critical stage in the competition, it was a practice among certain teams to import players from Zanzibar, Mombasa and other centres, during the weekends. Such practices later on were banned by the Dar-es-Salaam Cricket Association.

Unfortunately, the status of cricket has changed considerably due to various reasons: shortage of cricket grounds, lack of encouragement in schools and the high cost of cricket gear·. Considering all these factors, I think cricket will eventually die out in Dar. This is the unfortunate reality of life.

During my cricket career in Dar-es-Salaam, I scored five centuries and taken a great many wickets. These were, undoubtedly, the happiest years of my life.

Date posted: June 5, 2016.

Copyright: Premji Vaghela.

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*The Isherwood cup was played in Dar for many years until the late 1960’s. The editor of this blog played in the Isherwood cup for Shabaan Robert from 1967-1969, and featured prominently in the school’s victories during the 3 year period. Pranlal Divecha and Tahir along with Ismaili brothers Shiraz and Abdul Sumar were the top ranked players for Shabaan Robert when they shockingly defeated the favourites Aga Khan Secondary in the 1965 semi-finals/finals. All four went on to play for the Tanzanian squad. Prior to 1965, the cup was dominated for several years by Aga Khan School, whose arch rival was Azania School, located near Muhimbili Hospital. All rounder John Solanki was one of the most well-known players for Aga Khan Secondary — the all-rounder went on to play for England’s county team, Glamorgan, during the 1970’s. By 1971, the Isherwood cup became a non-entity, as there wasn’t any competitive spirit or interest left in the game at the school level. We will be happy to receive an update on the state of Tanzanian school cricket today, and whether the Isherwood has been revived– ed. 

Share your cricket memories of Dar-es-Salaam and other parts of East Africa. Click Leave a comment or write/send photos to Simerg@aol.com. All correspondence will be promptly acknowledged.

What is the state of cricket in Dar-es-Salaam today? Has cricket become a mainstream sport? Please submit your feedback at Leave a comment.

“Together-Ensemble”: The Aga Khan Foundation Exhibition on 18 Wheels is now in Vancouver

BY ABDULMALIK J. MERCHANT
Publisher-Editor, Simerg

The bus is travelling across Canada and offers perspectives of Global Development to thousands of Canadians. Photo: Aga Khan Foundation.

The bus is travelling across Canada and offers perspectives of Global Development to thousands of Canadians. Photo: Aga Khan Foundation.

Editors’ note: After being on the road for the past 12 months, the “Together-Ensemble” is now in Vancouver. The mobile exhibition, which has covered a distance of 19,000 kms, is housed in a 53-foot truck with over 1,000 square feet of exhibit space. It will be at the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby on May 26 and 27 from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm, and at Stanley Park on Sunday, May 29 from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm when thousands of Canadians are expected to participate in the Aga Khan Foundation’s Annual World Partnership Walk. The following piece was written when the exhibition was launched in Ottawa in 2015.

“Development is ultimately about people, about enabling them to participate fully in the process and to make informed choices and decisions on their futures.” – His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam speaking in 2013, excerpt on a panel display at the exhibition.

Launched on April 27th, 2015, at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building by the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and Khalil Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the collaborative exhibition of Global Development under the theme “Together” (French “Ensemble”) arrived at the city’s famed Le Breton neighbourhood, located by the new War Museum on Thursday, May 7, 2015 for a 7-day stop over.

I took an opportunity to visit the astonishing bus filled with educational and inspiring exhibits today (Sunday, May 10th), a much cooler day than the previous few days when the temperatures in the city had surged to 30 Celsius, not taking humidex into consideration. While thousands of local Ottawa residents and tourists were enjoying the marvellous and colourful annual tulip festival by Dow’s Lake, hundreds of parents with their children took to the Le Breton grounds to visit the Ottawa International Children’s Festival as well as take a tour of the exhibition in the “Together/Ensemble” bus, just metres away.

Before reaching the Aga Khan Foundation's magnificent Together bus, I was politely confronted by

Before reaching the Aga Khan Foundation’s magnificent Together bus, I was politely confronted by “a past British Monarch” who was measuring my loyalty to her rule. I excelled as a fine citizen, for which she offered to crown me with some kind of an Order named after the Ottawa’s River Parkway, a fine and scenic road running by the Ottawa River one hundred metres behind her! Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Together Exhibition Bus just metres away from activity tents set up for the Ottawa International Children's Festival. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Together Exhibition Bus just metres away from activity tents set up for the Ottawa International Children’s Festival. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A youth takes the time to view the interactive global map and test out his knowledge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

A youth takes the time to view the interactive global map and test out his knowledge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

A panel introducing the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and its founder, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Foundation offices around the world are now agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network created by His Highness the Aga Khan to serve millions on this planet in all areas of human endeavour. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A panel introducing the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and its founder, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Foundation offices around the world are now agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network created by His Highness the Aga Khan to serve millions on this planet in all areas of human endeavour. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Children exchange their ideas and thoughts on global matters on these little leaves. They are invited to take away with them any leaf containing the though of another child. When the leaf is cut open at home it contains wild flower seeds that children can plant in their gardens. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Children exchange their ideas and thoughts on global matters on these little leaves. They are invited to take away with them any leaf containing the thought of another child. When the leaf is cut open at home it contains wild flower seeds that children can plant in their gardens. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A young child's aspirations and hopes for a better world:

A young child’s aspirations and hopes for a better world: “No hunger, child labour, everyone being treated equally.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another child, 8 year old Hannah Saikaley, describes her thoughts of helping others:

Another child, 8 year old Hannah Saikaley, describes her thoughts of helping others: “Donating food, money, drinks and clothes and by cleaning the earth.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another informative section of panels inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another informative section of panels inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The centre panel is the actual width of the bus. The two side panels show the extensions for this bus, giving the exhibition space inside the bus the feel of an actual museum gallery. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

The back of the Together-Ensemble Bus. The centre panel is the actual width of the bus. The two side panels show the collapsible exhibition extensions on the bus, giving the space inside the bus the feel of an actual museum gallery. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Inside the bus, an exhibit. Photo: Malik Merchant/Malik

Voices of Change exhibit inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Malik

The

The “Together-Ensemble” Exhibition Bus at the Le Breton neighbourhood at the Canadian War Museum grounds. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A display inside the bus under the theme

A display inside the bus under the theme “Stronger Together.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Stephanie, coordinating the media on behalf of the Aga Khan Foundation, was eager to participate in an interview with me, though she felt before the interview that she was a little bit nervous. “Simerg is the first media I am talking to,” she explained. But any apprehension that she felt quickly dissipated as she enthusiastically explained the exhibition with all her charm and grace. Please watch her excellent interview by clicking on the link below.

Date first posted: Sunday, May 10, 2015.
Date updated: May 26, 2016.

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We invite your feedback and comments. Please click Leave a comment.

Please also visit the Aga Khan Foundation Canada Website http://www.akfc.ca for more details and schedules about the Global Development Exhibition, which will be touring Canada in 2015/2016.

This piece has been simultaneously published under a different format at Simerg’s photoblog. Please click Photoessay and Interview: Aga Khan Foundation’s Unique Global Development Exhibition on 18 Wheels

“With Our Own Hands” – An Intriguing Cookbook from the Pamirs by Frederik van Oudenhoven & Jamila Haider

“It doesn’t often happen that one needs to find superlatives to describe a book. For ‘With Our Own Hands’, an entirely unique book about the hard life and beautiful culture in the Pamir Mountains, it is inevitable. In size, rigor and thoughtfulness [this book] has  become a touching piece of art.” — Geerdt Magiels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

PLEASE CLICK The Story of a Beautiful and Intriguing Cookbook from the Pamirs

Co-Author holding "With Our Own Hands"Frederik van Oudenhoven with his multi-year effort “With Our Own Hands.”  Please click on image for story about the award-winning book.

“This…may be one of the most beautiful books I have ever read..!”– Frénk van der Linden….Read More

“You know…the design really is perfect – people touch the book and stroke it, and it is as if there is no distance between them and the pages. The book pulls them into their own world…it’s very touching to see.” — Facebook Friend….Read More

With a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales, authors Frederik van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider provide an intimate portrait of the Afghan and Tajik Pamiri people and the forbidding mountains that are their home. Through the lens of ancient recipes, stories and essays, and accompanied by the work of three award-winning photographers, the book tells about Pamiri food and agricultural traditions, people’s daily lives, their struggles and celebrations.

With Our Own Hands appears in a single three-language edition, with English, Dari and Tajik. The choice to make a book in which these three languages are combined was inspired by the authors’ commitment to return a copy to each of the 1800 communities, schools and libraries in the Pamirs. Read More