The Roots and the Trees is a work of fiction built around landmark events that shaped the life of South Asian communities in East Africa, with a focus on the Ismaili Muslim community. It tells the story of two Ismaili boys, Rafiq Abdulla and Anil Damji, starting with their high school years in Dodoma (then a small town in Tanzania) in 1957, and follows them and their families ultimately to Canada as they navigate the political turmoil in East Africa in the 1960s and 1970s.
The book chronicles the Ismaili exodus from Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda in the 1970s and the community’s early settlement challenges in Canada. It describes the social governance institutions and economic support programs His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan – the community’s spiritual leader (Imam) – established, and which Rafiq and Anil got appointed to serve on, to facilitate the community’s settlement in Canada.
It then goes on to relate how, guided and supported by their Imam, within five years of its arrival in Canada, the Canadian Ismaili community came to be well settled and respected, from coast to coast, for its organization, self-reliance, voluntarism, professionalism, business enterprise and philanthropy.
Book available for purchase here: The Roots and the Trees by Nizar Sultan