Vali Jamal: How Ismaili settlement came about in East Africa (and what lessons I derive from that)

Vali Jamal: How Ismaili settlement came about in East Africa (and what lessons I derive from that)Count KR Paroo lovingly compiles bits about Ismaili history from diverse sources and talks of the imperative of recording our history systematically by even paying someone to do so. The pre-1970 period is gone but even the post period when we did the second migration to Canada and UK will be history soon. It’s a continuum and that history has to encompass our times in East Africa from 1850 onwards. That generation passed away and the one’s who carry memories of their father and grandfather told to them by their father are going senile. A lot of facts must be in council files in Zanzibar and everywhere. There was a fanfare project in 2007 to write our history as part of our Imam’s Golden Jubilee celebrations but nothing came of it.

I shall use the paper in my book, not to brag about Ismailis but simply record one aspect of recorded East African history. The present Imam and Prince Sadruddin (UNHCR) played heroic roles in Uganda Asians’ resettlement in 1972 and that is recorded in my book from archival material, on the urgings of non-Ismailis even.

The other thing I got out of this was the rise and rise of Ismaili fortunes, in parallel to all other East African Asian communities. At 48th Imam’s Golden Jubilee (1936) Ismailis had difficulty raising 25,000 pounds for the celebrations and an equal amount for the proposed Jubilee Insurance Co. Ten years late for the Diamond Jubilee 350,000 pounds was easily collected for the celebration and 1 million pounds for the DJIT (Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust). No wonder Aga Khan III prided in saying, “How many such companies are there in East Africa?”

Personal disclosures: 1. K R Paroo as head of the board of DJIT in Mombasa chose my father to come out to Uganda to open the first branch of DJIT in 1946. My father’s memos are there at the-now Diamond Trust Bank in Kampala. The India-arrival CEO wasn’t moved.

  1. I used to meet Count Paroo after prayers at the Mombasa JK with my uncle Ismail Ebrahim Jamal (passed away Feb this year) on my visits in the 1990s. It was a privilege.
  2. All the illustrious names mentioned by Count Paroo are in my book over several pages each, including Somji Khakhwani, Tharia Topan, Sewa Haji Paroo, Lakha, Virjis, Allidina Visram.

Click here to read K. R. Paroo’s Report

All related Vali Jamal

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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