Jamatkhanas in Uganda
There are a total of 12 Jamatkhanas in Uganda. Old pictures of the Jamatkhanas in Kampala (Darkhana), Masaka, Jinja, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Lira and Mbale are shared here. The other Jamatkhanas in smaller centres are in Gulu, Hoima, Kololo, Soroti and Arua.
Kamrudin A. Rashid
December 12, 2017.
KAMPALA DARKHANA DAMATKHANA
FORT PORTAL JAMATKHANA
Beautiful view of different Jamatkhanas of Uganda. I am very eager to visit all these 12 Jamatkhanas old & new ones with my wife shortly.
The interest here is the Expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972. Ismailis were part of that and so now the interest is (1) How many jamatkhanas are open; (2) What is the number of each jamat.
At 1972 there were 12-15 thousand Ismailis in Uganda, 7-9 thousand in Kampala-Mengo. There were THREE JKs in the Kampala area. The one in Nakulabye has not been reclaimed from the Muslim Supreme Council. It existed for the 400 or so Ismailis living in the Nakulabye Estate. There are no Ismailis there or in Mengo. The Kampala JK is 2/3rds full on big nights with the arrival of new immigrants from India and Pakistan, numbering about 2,500. There are additionally two hundred fifty or so “original” Uganda Ismailis in Kampala. They live in high-market Kololo area and since traffic on Friday evenings is impossible a new JK was built in Kololo. At first it was for just 200 people but had to be extended as the total number increased to 500 as the “newcomer” Ismailis have become very rich and aspire to the Kololo Ismaili standards. Mukhi-Kamarias in both JKs are from India-Pakistan. The Kampala Darkhana lives in the memories of all Uganda Ismailis for its architecture [mind you, the photo is elongated: the tower is not sooo high] and for the fact that one ceremony of the Takhtnashini was performed on its very grounds as a last-minute move necessitated by the ruling by the Baganda Lukiko that only Baganda Kings could be crowned on public land. Wolinters from all over Uganda came to build the stage and do the ground, with exams but three months away. The exam results were so-so; the stage was perfect! Myself I was in my last year of senior school and did very well, haha. The Masaka JK which could accommodate 3 thousand or so people has no more than 25 people there, but the jamatkhana is opened every evening for prayers by Mr Noorali, who lives in the jamatbhai’s house. Mbale has no more than 30 Ismailis. I got married there, January 1968.
Commercial: ALL the above information is detailed in my book Uganda Asians, now completed at 2330 pages, 2 million words. There is much in it for Ismailis to take pride: (1) An Ismaili did this book alone. (2) It shows Ismaili role in East Africa dates from the time of the 46th Imam Hassanali Shah Aga Khan I. (3) It shows in detail the role played by MHI in the resettlement of the stateless Ismailis (and other sects) in Canada out of a special friendship with Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Prime Minster of Canada then. (4) It shows the role of Prince Sadruddin as head of UNHCR in the evacuation of the unplaced stateless people to refugee centres in five European countries. Hazar Imam was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa on October 9, 2017, Head of State level, the highest in Uganda, partly in recognition of his role at a critical time in Uganda’s history, the 1972 expulsion.
My book should be published Mowla ji Marji in July. Tabling at the Uganda Parliament has been assured by Rt Hon Speaker, motion by Rt Hon Prime Minister, and UK and Canada launches will be done at the House of Lords and Senate respectively.
Who writes so much (867words)? Who will read the comment? In that case who will read the book? But it was something on my mind to do and I had the heart for it. My advantages were: (1) I was here in Kampala in 1972 (to collect data for my dissertation at Stanford, on the Role of Cotton and Coffee in Uganda’s Economic Development, 1976); (2) I have come back to live in Uganda since 2005; (3) I grew up in Uganda in the still-pioneering days of the late 1940s. A “trifecta” – and oh, my dissertation had per necessity to address the question of distribution of the gains from cotton and coffee – to wit income inequality based along racial lines. The statistics derived there have been incorporated in my book to explain the reason for the expulsion and carried forward to 2017 to look at the status of income inequality now (much much worse, except it is not solely along racial lines).
When you write a book for nearly 11 years, interviewing >350 people and editing submissions by >200 it had to have a meaning. It will not be in terms of sales. Whatever publicity I make sales will not go beyond the “low hundreds” (there are no more than 5,000 Uganda Asian households of the 1972 cohort left in the world) and at the price set for the book sales will not cover my past expenses. My hope is the book is recognized in serious media and academia. Three parliaments are going to honour the book and I have hopes it will be seen at Aiglemont, UNHCR/UN and the ILO, the last since a lot of my post-doctoral research was on African economies, lots on Uganda, as part of ILO missions. The signs are good.
I thank IsmailiMail for often featuring articles about my book. I thank them for accommodating such a long comment!
how can i get hold of your book?
Jinja JK was built by my maternal grandmother Varasianima Virbai Alibhai Bandali
Al Hamdu Lillah!
What happened to the Jamathkhana in Entebbe