Posted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 3:52 am Post subject: Ismaili community in Tanzania
I have just started a project that looks that Tanzania in the 1960s and I am trying to find members of the Ismaili community in Tanzania that would like to share their memories. Educators or teachers are especially encouraged.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
AFRICA'S WINDS OF CHANGE
Memoirs of an International Tanzanian
Al Noor Kassum
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The 1960s were a tumultuous period in the history of Africa as one country after another won independence from the colonial powers. This was particularly true of Tanzania as it sought to carve out a role for itself between conflicting European and inter-African interests.
It was in these extraordinary times that Al Noor Kassum rose to become a prominent political figure in newly independent Tanzania. Hand-picked by Julius Nyerere – later to become the country’s first President – to run for elections on a Tanganyika African National Union ticket, he embarked on a career that brought him to prominence nationally and internationally.
Africa’s Winds of Change documents the changes that have taken place in Tanzania from the middle of the 20th century to the present day, through the prism of an East African Asian experience. The author sheds new light on the character and legacy of Julius Nyerere, who emerges as radically different from the stereotypical anti-Western firebrand which became his image in the West.
Africa’s Winds of Change offers a fascinating personal history of a unique African nation at a critical stage in its development.
Educated in Tanzania and the UK, where he was called to the Bar at the Inns of Court in London, Al Noor Kassum was a prominent figure in Tanzanian politics and the Ismaili Muslim community after the country’s independence. He held several ministerial positions within the Tanzanian government and was also the East African Community’s Minister of Finance and Administration. He has also held senior positions in Unesco and at the UN Headquarters in New York. Currently, he is Vice-Chancellor of Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania.
Table of contents
Foreword * Preface * Early Years in Tanganyika and Abroad * From Lincoln’s Inn to Legislative Council * Wind of Change in Africa * Arusha Declaration * Diamonds * Towards the East African Community * Developing Tanzania’s Natural Resources * Reflections
There is also an interesting article below by Mansoor Ladha who is now in Calgary but was a journalist in Tanzania.
Futility of governments trying to set fashion
By Mansoor Ladha, Calgary HeraldJuly 26, 2009
In Nicolas Sarkozy's France, the debate on "To veil or not to veil" rages. But, back in October 1968, I witnessed the "Battle of the Minis" in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, when in the country's sprawling Kariakoo market a screaming mob halted buses, dragging off African girls wearing tight dresses or miniskirts. The girls were beaten and had their clothes ripped off.
This was the beginning of "cultural revolution," African style. President Julius Nyerere, a disciple of Mao Zedong, had decreed Tanzania should copy China's Proletariat Revolution, rejecting all foreign things. Nyerere's "green guards," so-called for the colour of their uniforms, targeted miniskirts as their priority item.
Opposition came from the University of Dar es Salaam, where coeds put on their shortest minis and told the green guards to "Get lost." Girls at a youth hostel unanimously voted that "men should not decide what women should wear." One secretary defended her mini, explaining that it made it easier for her to move around the office and push through a crowded bus. A female member of Parliament backed up the miniskirted girls, assuring them that "you can go naked--we won't object."
However, the country's stubborn President Nyerere appeared determined to fight: "It is foolish to wear clothes that show legs," he declared. "It would be better for people to go unclothed if their intention is to expose their legs."
In their enthusiasm, Tanzanians sparked up a lively debate in the national press. The Standard, the country's leading English daily, received 108 letters concerning the ban, while only 14 supported it. Ban supporters maintained miniskirts, tight trousers and wigs undermined Tanzania's culture and were foreign in nature. Opponents claimed it was futile to condemn banned fashion as imitation of foreign culture, as all mass-produced goods were also foreign in any case.
"Unless they want all Tanzanians to go naked, they should have no fashion in Tanzania which is acceptable as originating from this country. . . . Whatever we choose as our national dress, we shall be deceiving ourselves," one letter writer said. Football, declared another letter, is "a degrading product of colonialism and elite European boarding schools. African culture never produced such a clownish performance."
Many writers took jabs at the dress worn at the state banquets by the local leaders and political stalwarts, with some arguing that "traditional" costumes featured by the national dancing troupes were just as revealing as miniskirts. Others were bold enough to point out that the ruling party, TANU's elite, including Nyerere, who has increasingly made the "Zhou Enlai" suit popular, was in itself foreign.
However, one correspondent really hit the nail on the head. He said if the government's intention really was to preserve African culture, they should all go half naked as "our grandfathers used to do." All the clothes "we are putting on now are "foreign culture." But if the government wanted people to preserve our culture, than "why are we telling the Masai tribesmen to stop going half naked and put on modern dress like trousers."
The correspondence in newspapers and the mood in the country clearly showed at the time that the nation had become modern, mature in its thinking, critical and fashion conscious.
Opponents of miniskirts were right in the sense that if women sported skirts with their thighs exposed, they were crossing the bounds of human decency while a group of Masai roaming, half naked, with their buttocks showing, is certainly not a pretty sight on any street.
The newly independent government's aim was to create a modern African society. These measures were aimed at doing so, but the "green guards" took the law into their hands and became too anxious to implement it.
Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere
With the 50th anniversary of the independence of the then Tanganyika (now Mainland Tanzania) being marked on December 9 this year, a researcher from a university in the UK is embarking on a journey to trace the very early years of Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere.
Dr Thomas Molony, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh is looking for those who knew Mwalimu Nyerere in the first 30 years of his life, a significant period with enormous implications for post-independence Tanzania.
The researcher said in a recent interview at the Dar es Salaam offices of The Guardian that his interest in Nyerere’s life is for the period from 1922-1952, adding: “Those were his formative years, when he’s beginning to get a world view.”
“This history is important because it’s obviously the foundations for the nation of Tanzania. It’s a part of Tanzania’s history which hasn’t been much explored,” he said.
He explained that a lot is known about Mwalimu Nyerere’s time with TANU (Tanganyika African national Union), his subsequent tenure as the first Prime Minister and later as the first President of an independent Tanganyika as the country was then known and his legendary oratory skills.
“He was a phenomenal debater but there is very little biographical data from the early period (which is) very important to where this peaceful nation is now,” notes Molony.
He wants to hear from those that knew Nyerere as a child and a young boy at his native Butiama village in Mara Region, as a student at Tabora Boys and later at Uganda’s Makerere University and much later at Edinburgh University.
“It’s a real insight to hear from people who actually knew him at a time when evidence suggests he was getting political,” he said, referring to Nyerere’s time from 1949 to 1952 as a history and economics student at the University of Edinburgh, when he had entertained thoughts of joining the Holy Orders before being nudged towards Fabian thinking and socialism.
Molony is working to turn Nyerere’s formative years into a book “for the people of Tanzania”, whose release he hopes will coincide with Tanganyika’s Independence Day celebrations in December.
He is asking that Tanzanians that knew Nyerere personally during this period to contact him at email@example.com (and cc firstname.lastname@example.org), or to call +255(0)767 501602 or +255(0)717 068515.
“I’d like to get all sorts of perspectives from all sorts of people” he said in the exclusive interview.
AFRICA'S WINDS OF CHANGE
Memoirs of an International Tanzanian
Al Noor Kassum
Below are some interesting extracts from the book.
Because of his wealth and charitable work, my father became quite influential and the then Governor, Sir Edward Twining, appointed him an unofficial nominated member of the Tanganyika Legislative Council. He was one of four Asian members. The others were Dr.S.B. Malik, D.K. Patel and A.A.A. Adamjee. My father was a member of the Legislative Council from 1936 to 1940. However, even then, as an Asian, he was not allowed to enter a hotel set aside for Europeans. He was also not allowed to live in European areas. Eventually this regulation was circumvented when my father joined with some other Asians in buying land for salt pans at Oyster Bay. When he could afford it, he bought out his partners. The government realized at that time that he owned a large piece of land in a European area and it agreed to let him keep one parcel of the land if he would give the rest up to the government. In this way, he became the first Asian to be allowed to have a house in Oyster Bay, although it took some time before he could actually live in it. In the late 1930s and early 1940s it was occupied by the British and used as a convalescent home for servicemen, particularly from the Royal Air Force. Later, we moved into the house. Since then, all members of the Aga Khan’s family have stayed at the house at one time or another. (page 3)
In this context, it was not surprising that, in 1934, after the death of my mother, desirous of giving me a good start in life, my father decided to send me to a boarding school in England. Later I realized it was the best gift he could have given me.(page 6)
Communications then were not as simple as they are today, and a trip to England for me was like a trip to another planet. My father (who was going to Europe to meet the late Aga Khan as well as on business) and I went by a Messageries Maritime ship, Le Conte de l’Isle, accompanied by several other prominent Ismailis, who were also travelling to England for their own reasons. Among them were Count Jindani accompanied by his two daughters; Suleman Virjee; and Varas Mohammed Saleh Kanji from Zanzibar. We sailed to Marseilles, where we had a first meeting with the late Aga Khan. (Later, we met His Highness again in London, with other members of the Ismaili community.) We were received very warmly and it was a joyful occasion for all of us. Then, we went by train to Calais, from where we sailed to Dover and then travelled again by train to
Every morning at the school, the pupils congregated in the assembly hall to listen to readings from the Bible. We took turns to read out passages from the Bible and one day it was my turn to do so. I read out a passage and later explained that, while, as a non-Christian, I was not fully conversant with all the meanings of the passage I had read out, ultimately we all believed in the same God.(page 7)
One of the highlights of my stay in Bombay was a meeting with Prince Aly Khan, the eldest son of the late Aga Khan and father of the present Imam. He used to visit Tanganyika quite often and on one occasion he and his wife, the film star Rita Hayworth, had stayed at my father’s home in Oyster Bay. During Prince Aly Khan’s visit to Bombay, two fellow East African Ismaili students and I called on him to pay our respects. The other two students were Kamruddin Shariff Pradhan and Abdul Tejpar.(page 13)
One of the major events in my life occurred in 1946, with the Diamond Jubilee celebration of His Highness Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah’s accession to the Imamat and thus his leadership of the Ismaili Muslim community worldwide. The celebration was marked by a ceremony that riveted the attention of people internationally: the Aga Khan visited various capitals, where the Ismailis demonstrated their love for him by weighing him in diamonds. The media were full of breathless stories about the event, to such an extent that its real nature was often distorted by the drama. For the Ismailis it was a symbolic ceremony to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Aga Khan’s Imamat, to express their devotion to him and appreciation of his leadership. In Dar es Salaam, the celebration was held in the grounds of the Ismaili jamatkhana in Upanga. Our family wanted to accommodate the Aga Khan at our Oyster Bay house, but it had not yet been returned to us. Therefore, we asked a tenant of another of our houses to vacate it for the Aga Khan. During the Aga Khan’s visit to Dar es Salaam in the previous year, I had been asked
to be His Highness’ aide-de-camp, and that honour was given to me again for the Diamond Jubilee.(page 15)
On the day of the Diamond Jubilee ceremony, wearing a red fez, I was seated on the steps of the dais, next to Ibrahim Nathoo, one of the most senior community members, who lived in Nairobi. I watched as the Aga Khan sat on one side of a giant pair of scales and raw, uncut diamonds were placed on the other side until the scales balanced. The diamonds had been purchased from De Beers of South Africa on the understanding that they would be used for the weighing ceremony and then resold to De Beers for the same purchase price. The deal was negotiated by Count Abdullah Hasham Gangji of Zanzibar. Money for the purchase of the diamonds was donated by the Ismaili community. People contributed what they could. There were, of course, some rich families who contributed large sums. Among those in Tanganyika were the families of Habib Punja; Hussein Nasser Shariff; Jaffer Haji, who owned a jeweller’s shop and also sold ivory and carpets; and, of course, my father. In Zanzibar the wealthy families included those of Count Abdullah Shariff, Count Abdullah Hasham Gangji and Count Jindani. The wealthy Kenyan families included those of Count Fatehali Dhala; Sir Eboo Pirbhai; Ahamad Mahommed; Hasham Jamal; and Suleman Virjee.(page 15)
The money raised during the Diamond Jubilee provided the core capital to set up institutions such as the Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust, which then provided low-interest loans to enable members of the community to build or purchase their own homes. Thus, there was no question of the money being given for the Aga Khan’s personal use. It came back to the Ismailis and was utilized for their social and economic progress.(page 16)
I remember one day as we were driving through the city, the Aga Khan told me that he was going to advise the women in our community to adopt western clothing. He explained that once the women began wearing European-type clothes, which included the colonial frock, they would have an incentive to improve their health through exercise and better food. And so it happened: The Aga Khan issued a Firman and over the years the result was as he had predicted. The women began to lose some weight and their health, too, improved immensely."(page 16)
"The Diamond Jubilee was also when the Aga Khan changed my name from Noordin (meaning ‘light of religion’) to Al Noor (‘the light’). He kept referring to Noor around the house and people asked him, ‘Who is Noor?’ He replied, ‘Noordin. His name is Al Noor now.’ And the Begum Aga Khan, Mata Salamat, told me, ‘Don’t forget now, your name is Al Noor.’ So I changed my name by deed poll. My second son was born on 9 August, the day before the Diamond Jubilee celebration and the Aga Khan named him Diamond. My third son was born in 1948 and the Aga Khan named him Jemal-ud-din, after the great Afghan leader Jamaldin Alafghan. Later, I accompanied the Aga Khan to Madagascar as his aide-decamp in an entourage that included Sir Eboo Pirbhai, Abdullah Hasham Gangji, Fatehali Dhala and Ibrahim Nathoo, as well as a member of the Javeri family from Bombay. I was the only young man to be included in that august company."(page 16)
The next watershed in my life came in 1950, when the British Governor, Sir Edward Twining, suggested to me that I would make better use of my capacities by going back to England to study law. However, my father did not like the idea. He could see no reason for my abandoning a business in which I was doing so well, to go and study abroad. He also thought that, as a married man, I had an obligation to continue earning an income to maintain my family. Besides, my brother was not interested in the shop and my father had hoped that I would continue the business tradition he had started. He warned me that if I decided to go, he would not pay the costs. After several acrimonious discussions, I told him that I intended to consult the late Aga Khan for his advice. I therefore wrote to His Highness, explaining my situation, and I received a reply in a letter dated 13 September 1950. He wrote:
"I have carefully thought over your letter about your proposal to go and study for the Bar and to take up a political and public career later.
We very badly need men like you in public life. I have been worrying that my [spiritual] children out there have not got the proper kind of spokesmen in sufficiently large numbers to help in the stormy times that will come in the next few years and that will be of long duration. For these reasons I cannot but feel that it is a blessing that you should have had these ideas.
On the other hand, he pointed out that my personal life and future financial security should also be taken into consideration in making the decision."
With this encouragement, I reviewed my financial situation. I had saved money that I had earned in the business and also had shares in various enterprises. My wife thought it would be a good career move and that I had the brains and the capacity to do it. Her father, Count V.M. Nazerally, also thought it would be a good idea. In 1951 I told my father that I was going. Looking back, I think that had it not been for the Aga Khan’s reply, I would not have had the courage to do so.
As a result of this advice, my father reluctantly accepted my decision. So, I flew to England with my wife and three children to start a new phase in my life.(page 17)
The year 1946 was also the beginning of my involvement in the community’s educational affairs: I was appointed Honorary Joint Secretary of the Ismailia Education Committee. At that time the Chairman of the H.H. Aga Khan Provincial Education Board was Jafferali Ali Meghji.(page 17)
I was brought up in a staunchly religious family and went to mosque and offered prayers regularly, because of my absence from home my knowledge of my religion was somewhat limited. I accepted my Ismaili faith but did not yet understand its intellectual and spiritual dimensions. Later, when I went to England, I read the late Aga Khan’s Memoirs and that was the beginning of my knowledge of the Ismaili faith.(page 17)
In 1951 the late Aga Khan appointed me President of the Ismailia Council in the UK. Initially, the Ismaili residents of the city had no jamatkhana (centre for congregation) and the well-known Indian Javeri family made their house available for prayers. On the instructions of the Aga Khan, I negotiated the purchase of a building, 51 Kensington Court, London, which became a centre for the Ismaili community in England. It housed a prayer hall as well as the Ismailia Social and Residential Club. The building was opened on behalf of the Aga Khan by the Begum Aga Khan, Mata Salamat, on 17 May 1953. She read out a message from the Aga Khan, in which he said, ‘Although very few of you are residents in Great Britain, the moment you are in this country you belong to the fraternity which is known as the Jamat of England; and the Headquarters of this fraternity are now in London.’ In his message the Aga Khan added that the Centre would be ‘a social and religious centre as well as educational in the highest sense of the word’ for Ismailis ‘who, for better instruction, for commerce or for pleasure come to this greatest of all cities’. Urging the community to ‘build up a library of Ismaili literature and Islamic studies in History and Cultural and Political Thought of the past,’ The Aga
Khan added, ‘Everyone of you must consider this as a home from
home in the true sense of the word; that is, where your spirit gets rest
from the wear and tear of life.’(page 19)
We stayed in London until l954. Shirin, the boys and I travelled together to France, where we called on the late Aga Khan and were invited to dinner at his residence, Yakimour. At the dinner, Prince Aly Khan invited us to have lunch with him at his home, so the next day we went to the beautiful Chateau de l’Horizon. I then saw Shirin and the children off on a ship from Marseilles and went back to London.(page 19)
In l954 the late Aga Khan appointed me Administrator of the Aga Khan schools in Tanganyika, which meant automatic membership of the Indian Education Authority. The Aga Khan also bestowed the title of ‘Varas’ on me – at the age of 30 years, I was the youngest Ismaili to be given that title. I moved the office of the Administrator to the building owned by the First Permanent Building Society. I was helped in my work as Education Administrator by an Executive Officer, S.V. Peerwani. Rather old-fashioned, he came from India but was a very methodical man, excellent at his work. We got on marvellously. During my ten-year tenure as Administrator, the Ismaili community built many schools and the current Aga Khan made available a large number of scholarships for students to go abroad for higher education.(page 23)
The Aga Khan provided scholarships for hundreds of students to go abroad for university studies during my period as Education Administrator. They were mostly for subjects such as economics and engineering, which would be of immediate practical use to the country.(page 23)
As the political situation began to change, even before independence, on the instructions of His Highness Prince Karim Al Husseini, the Aga Khan, who succeeded his grandfather as Imam of the Ismaili Muslims in 1957, I opened the Ismaili schools to all races as soon as it became possible to do so.(page 24)
It was a very busy period for me. In addition to my governmental responsibilities and work as the Education Administrator of the Ismaili community in Tanganyika, I was given other assignments by the Aga Khan. For instance, in 1962 the Aga Khan asked Jimmy Verjee, a lawyer from Nairobi who was the Aga Khan Education Administrator in Kenya, Zaher Ahmed, who was attached to Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) and myself to assist in drafting a new constitution for the Ismaili community in Africa, to replace the one issued in the 1920s. Jimmy Verjee and I spent two weeks in Gstaad, Switzerland, working all day on the basis of the Aga Khan’s directives and then presenting our output to the Aga Khan every evening for his comments. He would call us in at half past five every morning to discuss the previous day’s output and then we would start that day’s work. In 1962, the Aga Khan called a conference in Kenya to discuss the proposed new constitution. The participants included Jimmy Verjee, Zaher Ahmed, the President of the Ismailia Supreme Council, community presidents at the national level, presidents of the Ismaili Associations, myself, and various other people.(page 24)
So, I went to Paris and began my career at Unesco on 1 July 1965.(page 4
I also made friends within the Ismaili community in Paris and had the good fortune of visiting His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan at his residence several times.(page 49)
In April 1971, when I was back in Tanzania, the government nationalized all private buildings from which the owners were earning rent in excess of a certain amount. Our family owned many commercial properties in Dar es Salaam, including a very well-known bar and restaurant, the Cosy Café, office and residential buildings, and cinemas. There was a hasty family gathering to discuss the government action. My brothers and I expected our father to be furious about losing the properties he had acquired through hard work over more than half a century. However, he surprised us. ‘I am happy the buildings have been nationalized – I will no longer have to pay income tax since I won’t be earning rent,’ he said with a broad smile.(page 69)
I enjoyed my stay in New York. There was a small Ismaili community and we met regularly for prayers at the home of Sadru Devji, an Ismaili Muslim businessman. I wrote to the Aga Khan and asked if we could establish an official jamatkhana. The Aga Khan agreed and subsequently appointed Sadru Devji and a Doctor Karim as the community leaders.(page 80)
In February 1972, when the Williamson Diamonds report was almost ready, I received a message from State House that Mwalimu wanted to see me. When we met, Mwalimu told me, ‘Nick, I want to whisper something in your ear. I would like you to be the Minister of Finance and Administration of the East African Community. I am sorting it out with the other two [Presidents] and I don’t think there will be a problem, and there should be an announcement soon.’ I was shaken.(page 99)
Minister of Finance of the East African Community? To be the colleague of Robert Ouko from Kenya and W. Rwetsiba from Uganda? It would be a great honour. (Captain Marijan replaced W. Rwetsiba in 1975.)(page 99)
After the expulsion of the Asians, I was concerned that the Ugandans would be hostile to me next time I met them. However, when I attended a meeting of the Community ministers in Kampala, I received red carpet treatment. I was allocated a full floor in a five-star hotel. Interestingly, even when I met Idi Amin in person – several times – there was no indication of any hostility towards me or feeling of discomfort on his part because of my being an Asian. On the contrary, he was very friendly.(page 101)
In March 1977, the same month that construction of the Community headquarters was completed, Mwalimu telephoned me and told me that the way things were going, the Community was obviously not going to survive. ‘You’ve done so much work for it, I don’t want you to be there for the funeral,’ he said. ‘Come back home. I want you to be a minister in the national government.’ ‘But Mwalimu,’ I told him, ‘I don’t know enough Kiswahili, how am I going to manage?’ He replied, ‘I am not appointing you a minister or a member of parliament because of your knowledge of Kiswahili. All the members of parliament are supposed to know English, therefore you can communicate in English.’(page 121)
So Mwalimu appointed me Minister for Water, Energy and Minerals and during my contributions to parliamentary debates and in the Cabinet I spoke in English. There was one exception: my Budget speech was translated into Kiswahili and I read out the Kiswahili version. This was not a problem, since I had adequate knowledge of the language even though I was not fluent enough to speak it extempore.(page 121)
On 31 October 1985 Mwalimu Nyerere awarded me the Medal of the United Republic. The citation read, ‘Your contribution to people’s rights and development by applying your wide knowledge and experience has not been confined to Tanzania, but has passed beyond our borders to other nations.’ After listing the various positions I had held during my career nationally as well as internationally, it concluded, ‘Your outstanding achievements in these different positions are many and were for the development and rights of Tanzanians and other peoples throughout the world. You have discharged your duties with great patriotism, obedience, sincerity, and selflessness, with our nation’s interests in the forefront.’
The next day Tanzanians were informed that Mwalimu Nyerere had decided to step down and that elections would be held for a new President.(page 141)
In 1991, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan appointed me as his Personal Representative in Tanzania. In this capacity I helped with the establishment of projects undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Tanzania. These ranged from health and education to tourism. I also helped to negotiate the protocol of cooperation between the Government of Tanzania and the AKDN, which facilitated the AKDN’s contribution to the country’s economic development. I held this position until 2002, when the Aga Khan appointed his brother Prince Amyn Aga Khan as his Personal Representative globally.(page 147)
It is at times like these, when I walk on the beach, that my mind goes back to the man who played such an influential role in my own evolution. I remember Mwalimu as a man deeply influenced by his religion and yet not a religious bigot. He constantly spoke out against bigotry, racism and tribalism and took practical steps to eradicate them because he did not believe in inequality. Mwalimu had a particular sense of humour and the ability to laugh at the ridiculous aspects of life. He was the most punctual person I have ever known and that is a quality that I learned from him. In some quarters he was painted as a communist, but that was a false picture. Mwalimu opposed exploitation of any kind and firmly believed that a just economic system should enable everyone, not just a few people, to advance economically. And, in the bipolar ideological environment of the Cold War, that was interpreted by some people as communism. He believed in democracy, not dictatorship, and his speeches constantly emphasised this particular creed by which he lived.(page 152)
I reflect about Mwalimu very often when I think of my own life. And it was some of these thoughts that were in my mind on the day when my wife Yasmin and I travelled to Butiama, to the Nyerere family home, for his funeral. I could not contain my emotion as all my experiences with Mwalimu flashed through my mind like images in a film.(page 154)
I do not wish to dwell on this subject in depth, but let me say quite honestly that the guidance that I have received all my life, beginning from the late Aga Khan, when he appointed me Administrator of the Aga Khan schools and gave me other social and development responsibilities, and continuing with the present Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, His Highness Karim Aga Khan, has been crucial in the evolution of every aspect of my career.(page 155)
Last edited by kmaherali on Sat Nov 05, 2016 2:41 am, edited 1 time in total
In his book, Prof Hirji takes us back in time when there was no grey area between black and white in Tanzania. His father, Fathali Hirji, was born in 1919.
By Esther Karin Mngodo
Perhaps it is a difficult thing to say, but it is often hard to think of people of Indian origin among us as Tanzanians. At least that is how Prof Karim Hirji, a retired Professor of Mathematics feels about the matter.
In his book, ‘Growing up with Tanzania’, a memoir that was published in 2014 by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers he writes of how he and Tanzania have grown up together. “I wrote this book for memory. I realized that the young people do not know where we have come from as a nation. They are clueless on how it was like during colonialism. So I focused on what changed in the first 10 years of independence,” he says.
In his book, Prof Hirji takes us back in time when there was no grey area between black and white in Tanzania. His father, Fathali Hirji, was born in 1919.
And his late mother, Sakerbai, was born in Unguja in 1920. As a young man, Fathali’s first job was working as a truck driver in Lindi. They encouraged him to pursue his choice of career.
When his family moved to Dar es Salaam in 1962 from Lindi, young Karim was 14. He had just completed Standard Eight. He joined a Secondary Technical School in Dar which offered technical studies such as Engineering Drawing, Metal Work and Wood Work in addition to normal secondary school subjects. He recalls the first day in a mixed school. Although it is hard to imagine today, but in the colonial times people of different race didn’t mix in school, he says. In Indian schools, they were taught in Gujarati.
“On the first day of class, I was the only person of Asian origin. Everyone else was African. I was in shock and I couldn’t even speak Kiswahili. But I made good friends who taught me a lot of things. They taught me the meaning of humanity, and of course I learnt how to speak Kiswahili,” he says in fluent Swahili. Later on, he took Physics, Chemistry and Pure Mathematics (PCM) at Kibaha Secondary School (1965-6).
The first ten years after independence were very hard, he says. People had to learn the new way of life. “Can you imagine that there was no black African family residing in Upanga. And even the Indians didn’t mix in the same area. The Ismailia lived near Jamatini while the Baniani lived near Hindu Mandal.”
He admits that one of the most difficult things to talk about in his memoir was about race. Especially, the story that involved his mother. “I remember how a friend of mine came for tea one day. He was Asian. When he left, my mother asked me why didn’t I give him enough food while we had plenty. A few days later, an African friend came for tea. When he left, my mother asked me why I gave him so much food. Did I want my family to starve? I do not blame her for thinking that way, she was raised in a system that created this kind of view. And I love my mother and my family. They are why I am here today. But I had to write the truth. Although it wasn’t a very pleasant thing to describe,” he says.
He shows me a picture taken in 1966 at Buguruni Primary School. He was among a few people who volunteered to build the school every Friday. It was rare to see such a thing happen before. Indians building a school in a black community? It was a very strange thing that indicated positive change. He thinks that when President Mwinyi came into power and changed the economic system, racism escalated.
In his book he explains that he was almost mugged one day and nobody helped him. He writes: “I had expected someone to assist… an elderly man obviously in trouble. But no onlooker had batted an eye. On the contrary, a few had muttered gleefully in Swahili, muhindi anaibiwa, muhindi anaibiwa. (The Asian is being robbed). As the muggers fled, I angrily said to the bystanders, “Why did you not do anything? They shrugged their shoulders and averted their eyes. I was but a muhindi, not one of them.
Student activist at Mlimani
The young Karim joined University of Dar es Salaam in 1968 where he pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Education. He was a member of United Students African Revolutionary Front (USARF), a students’ body that supported Mwalimu Nyerere’s philosophy on socialism and self-reliance. His brother-in-law, Prof Issa Shivi, Yoweri Museveni and Walter Rodney were among the members.
“We started our own newspaper called Cheche. I was its Chief Editor. We came to a conclusion, after conducting a research, that in theory Nyerere’s thoughts were good but in reality, there were a lot of challenges in implementing them. The major one being, people in the government agreed with Mwalimu by word but were against him in action.” They wrote about this openly in Cheche and as a result, the paper and the students’ body were banned by TANU in November 1970. “The University Chancellor, Pius Msekwa, called us to his office and gave us the news. I will never forget that,” he says.
Prof Karim edited ‘Cheche: Reminiscence of a Radical Magaine’, a collection of essays published in the Cheche paper. The anthology was released in 2010 by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers.
“We published an essay that Yoweri Museveni wrote back then. But we made it clear that the author was not the President of Uganda but a student. The distinction must be made clear since he is no longer the same man in his thinking.”
Although Cheche was run by students, the English publication was read by people from all over the world. At the time, Tanzania was the headquarters of African liberation. And that is why many people didn’t understand why Mwalimu was against it since it promoted Pan-Africanism and socialism. Perhaps, he was pressured by government officials, wonders ProfHirji. After Cheche, another students’ body started Majimaji which had similar political views.
In 1971, Karim was employed at the university as a Tutorial Assistant and later as an Assistant Lecturer in the Mathematics Department. “I remember how in 1973, as the Teaching Practice Supervisor in my department, I travelled to Dodoma, Iringa, Tanga, Moshi, Arusha and Morogoro for work. And I witnessed how students and teachers disliked Mwalimu’s education for self-reliance. Their agricultural projects were not well integrated with academics.
“For instance, even though they would have a great supply of vegetables and fruits, their canteen didn’t have the good food from their farm because it was ‘shared’ with other communities. This was disheartening,” he says.
He wrote about this in Majimaji and criticised Mwalimu’s philosophy. Mwalimu was not happy about it. In 1974, he was transferred to Sumbawanga where he was given a new post, Rukwa’s Regional Planning Officer. “From a Lecturer in Mathematics to a Planning Officer! Everyone knew that I was punished because Sumbawanga was where political prisoners were sent in colonial times. It was the Siberia of Tanzania,” he says.
He explains that although his parents advised him to pursue further studies abroad since they didn’t like Mwalimu’s philosophy, he refused. “This is my country, I had to stay. And I had to go to Sumbawanga. In those days, students had a 5-year contract with the government to work for the government on completing your undergraduate studies since the government financed your education. I had not yet finished my contract. I couldn’t just break the law,” he explains.
He stayed in Sumbawanga for two years. He had just been married for 6 months. His wife, Farida, who was expecting when he was transferred, joined him three months after she delivered. He says that his new life wasn’t so bad. He thanks Mwalimu for the opportunity to see more of Tanzania. It was a great experience.
BOOK REVIEW : Hirji on Growing up with Tanzania
•By telling his story, Hirji takes the reader across the colonial and liberated Tanzania through its people, history and politics. The author is also providing a rare glimpse into an Ismaili Community with critical innocence throughout the book.
Ismailis urged to think of investing and doing business in Tanzania
JULY 14, 2016
President John Magufuli urges former Arusha Ismailis to think of investing and doing business with Tanzania
By Sultan Jessa
Ottawa: Ontario – President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli has urged former Arusha Ismailis to think of investing and doing business in Tanzania.
“By doing so, you will be showing gratitude to a country you once called home.”
President Magufuli made the remarks in a special congratulatory message to former Arusha Ismailis who will be gathering in Calgary, Alberta, starting July 29 for the threeday reunion, the second major fullscale event since 2010.
In the joint message, President Magufuli and Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Canada, Jack Mugendi Zoka, extended heartfelt congratulations to Ismailis who lived in Tanzania in the 1970s.
“It remains a fact that reunion offers the platform to reflect life in the past, as well know that old in gold. It also offers the
opportunity to take stock of what you have achieved in your new countries of residence and chart the way forward.”
President Magufuli noted that regardless of many years since Ismailis relocated to different countries, they still have great fond memories of Arusha in particular and Tanzania in general.
The president noted that despite the fact that many have acquired different nationalities he is convinced hearts and minds of many Ismailis have passion for Tanzania.
Ismailis urged to think of investing and doing business in TanzaniaTanzanias High Commissioner to Canada Jack Mugendi
This, he added, is substantiated by the fact that many will attend the second reunion and there will be many others in years to come.
The Tanzanian president said that children of many former Arusha residents might not know Tanzania was the country where all were groomed.
President Magufuli also assured everyone Tanzania government’s commitment to continue working with all Ismailis closely, and recognizing them as pertinent development partners as the country bents on fighting against ignorance, disease and poverty.
President Magufuli and High Commissioner Zoka wished all former Arusha Ismailis continued good health, happiness and prosperity in whatever they are doing.
The President in particular also reminded them of the need for unity as one of the important factors for success.
“If you remain in unity, the sky will be the limit.” He said.
Reunion activities will include a meet and greet reception, a picnic, a special brunch and a gala banquet.
THE ISSUE OF DUAL CITIZENSHIP IN TANZANIA : Revisiting recommendations by the Law Reform Commission
It was reported that “members of the Tanzania Diaspora reiterated their commitment of being good ambassadors abroad, including promoting investment opportunities, and working closely with the Government in changing the lives of their compatriots back home”.
It was further reported that several topics were scheduled for discussion, including the issue of dual citizenship, as well as the matter of giving Diaspora members the right to vote during general elections.
I am particularly interested in the issue of dual citizenship, for one specific reason; which is that I was still a member of the Law Reform Commission of Tanzania (LRCT), when that Commission made a thorough and extensive study of this matter in 2004, and submitted its recommendation to the Union Government on 12th May 2006, recommending its adoption.
But to date, no decision seems to have been taken on those recommendations.
That is the reason why, in this article, I am revisiting the findings of that study, plus the recommendations arising there from, for the benefit of our readers who may have a vested interest in this particular matter including, obviously, the Diaspora members themselves.
The pressure starts to rise as the deadline approaches. February 16th is ticking ever closer and there are just short of a million things to be done. Each year Houston Vision Source Optometrist Dr. Moes Nasser’s mission trip to Tanzania proves to be a frenzied orchestra of logistics and organization. Communications extend out to vendors, field reps, corporate vice-presidents, government officials, friends, colleagues and patients. And it spans across states and nations. All is orchestrated by just a handful of people 14,000 miles away from those who will be directly affected. In Tanzania, a country of 47 million people, where 80% of the country lives on less than $3.10 a day, there are fewer optometrists than staff members organizing this mission trip. This is Dr. Nasser’s home. His annual mission trip is nothing short of a miracle.
Dr. Nasser grew up in Tanzania, in a village where his one room school house is now nothing more than a crumbling heap. He often jokes that he “went to school under a tree”. Now, fifty years later, the tree is in better shape than the school. And yet for all the poverty and lack, each year he returns astounded at the level of happiness and contentment he finds amongst his people. Each year he returns reinvigorated and determined to launch a larger campaign the following year. In the beginning it meant more glasses, more medicines. Then, it was the establishment of a clinic in the capital. Now it is a mobile examination room and lens lab to reach patients in the countryside. Hundreds of Tanzanians walk dozens of miles to his village to see the doctors. They wait in the sun for hours and days. Hundreds are seen daily, and yet even at that frantic pace, they cannot all be seen. There is not enough time, not enough days. The mobile clinic will allow greater access to more patients. More sight gifted. More lives change.
Subject: AMIR JAMAL-NYERERE'S CLOSEST FRIEND & MOST TRUSTED MINISTER
: AN INTELLECTUAL OF THE HIGHEST CALIBRE AND NYERERE'S CLOSEST FRIEND & MOST TRUSTED MINISTER!!!*
1. *Birth of A JEWEL*
AMIR HABIB JAMAL was born on 26.1.1922 in Mwanza, BONGOLAND. He was born to Gujarati parents of Indian ancestry namely Mr. HABIB JAMAL & Ms KULSUM THAWER.
2. *JAMAL Attains Primary & Secondary Education in BONGO*
JAMAL attained his Primary education in his home town of Mwanza and later pursued his Secondary education in Dsm. He was a very brilliant student who always passed his exams with flying colours.
3. *JAMAL Leaves for India and Graduates SUMMA CUM LAUDE*
JAMAL left BONGO for India and graduated from the University of Calcutta with a First Class in Economics(Hons).
4. *JAMAL returns to BONGO*
Upon graduation in 1942, JAMAL returned to BONGO and joined the family business.
5. *AMIR Marries His Cousin, ZAINY*
JAMAL married his cousin, ZAINY HUSSEIN KHERAJ, a well educated daughter of a wealthy businessman.
6. *JAMAL: A Founding Member of the Asian Association*
In 1950, the Asian leaders in Dsm responded to the post- war nationalism by forming an association, the Asian Association, concerned with, _inter alia_, African interests. Among the towering figures and the 20 founder members was AMIR JAMAL who featured prominently in the political groundwork for independence.
7. *JAMAL Meets Mwalimu NYERERE for the First Time:*
JAMAL first met NYERERE in 1952 at a Grand Reception hosted by the British Council, Dsm, in honour of NYERERE's return as a graduate of Edinburgh University. JAMAL was hugely impressed by NYERERE's _"Thank You"_ speech.
8. *JAMAL encourages His Fellow Asians to Support TANU*
After the birth of TANU on 7.7.1954, JAMAL tirelessly urged his fellow Asians to support TANU.
9. *Mwalimu NYERERE Frequently Visits JAMAL*
JAMAL's father had a shop _"HABIB & Co. Importers"_ located at Market Street near Morogoro rd. NYERERE used to visit JAMAL at the shop frequently and there were many meetings between these two young close friends. At the end of these meetings, JAMAL's cousin, AMIR HUSSEIN KHERAJ, would usually be directed to give NYERERE a ride back home.
10. *JAMAL Helps to Pay for NYERERE's Visit to UN*
In February 1955, JAMAL was among those who contributed financially enabling NYERERE to go to the United Nations to deliver a speech on Tanganyika's independence. JAMAL gave NYERERE £100 as his contribution.
11. *JAMAL Helps in the Funding of NYERERE's Lawyers*
NYERERE's leadership of TANU was vibrant as he used to confront the colonialists head on. TANU had a newspaper _"SAUTI YA WATU"_ and its 29th Issue, on 7.5.1958, Mwalimu NYERERE had written an article criticizing, in no uncertain terms, two colonial DCs namely Hon. F.B. WEEKS and Hon.G.T. SCOTS.
Thus, on 9.7.1958, Mwalimu NYERERE was charged with a Sedition case (Regina Vs JULIUS NYERERE, CC 2207/1958) dubbed _"The Trial of the Century in Tanganyika"_. Considering the status of Mwalimu NYERERE in the society, the Kisutu court was always jam-packed!.
Mwalimu NYERERE was represented by a formidable panel of lawyers namely DN PRITTY, MM RATTANSAY and KL JHAVERI. As neither NYERERE nor TANU could afford to pay for the legal services of these expensive lawyers, JAMAL and his friends helped in funding this defence team.
The judgement was delivered on 13.8.1958 by Hon. A.L. DAVIES. Mwalimu NYERERE was convicted but avoided a 6-month jail term after paying a TZS 3,000/= fine, which was an astronomical amount in those days. JAMAL, again, was there to lend a helping hand!.
12. *JAMAL Elected to the Legislative Council*
In 1958, JAMAL became a candidate for the Legislative Council. JAMAL was with Mwalimu NYERERE and GRAHAM LEWIS when they received news of the election results in September 1958. JAMAL succesfully contested the TANU-backed "Asian" seat of the Eastern Province (Morogoro) constituency. A photographer snaped the iconic picture of jubilant Mwalimu NYERERE holding the hand of LEWIS (wearing all white) to his right and JAMAL to his left(I have attached the said photo).
13. *Hon. JAMAL: The Only Indian in Mwalimu NYERERE's First Cabinet:*
Mwalimu NYERERE's First Cabinet, following the election of August-September 1960, comprised 7 Africans, 4 Europeans and 1 Asian, the one and only AMIR JAMAL!.
14. *Hon.JAMAL Becomes the First Non-African TANU Member*
On 17.1.1963, the TANU Annual Conference decided to approve a Resolution opening up party membership to all races after years of intense debate within the party.
On the same day, Hon. OSCAR KAMBONA, then Minister of Home Affairs and TANU Secretary General, presented JAMAL, then Minister of Communications and Works, with a TANU Card No. 487,382 becoming the First Person not Black to join TANU!.
15. *Hon. JAMAL Served as Minister in Various Ministries*
In 1961, Hon. JAMAL was appointed as Minister for Communication and Works. In 1965, he was appointed Minister of Finance. Between 1972 and 1975, he was appointed Minister of Trade and Industries. He led the Ministry of Finance again between 1975 and 1977. Following the dissolution of the EAC in 1977, he was transferred to the Communications & Transport docket. He led the Ministry of Finance for a third time between 1979 and 1983. Between 1983 and 1984, he served as Minister Without Portifolio and lastly; between 1984 and 1985, he served as Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs.
16. *Hon. JAMAL : The Most Versatile Minister _"KIRAKA"_*
Mwalimu NYERERE had the greatest confidence, admiration and trust in Hon.JAMAL. During his presidency, Mwalimu would swifly shuffle him into several ministries that he felt were non performing or lagging. Once Hon. JAMAL got them back on track, Mwalimu would reinstate him as Minister of Finance!.
17. *Hon. JAMAL's Integrity was UNIMPEACHABLE*
Hon. JAMAL had sharp political instincs but as a public servant, he never did anything for political expediency. His integrity was unimpeachable.
18. *Hon. JAMAL: The Longest-Serving Minister of Finance in TZ's History*
Hon. JAMAL was the longest-serving Minister of Finance in TZ's history as he led the ministry for about 12 years.
19. *Hon. JAMAL was MP for Morogoro constituency from 1958 to 1985*
Hon. JAMAL was continually being re-elected to Parliament by his Morogoro constituency despite the fact that members of his racial group comprised less than 1% of the population. This is because _"Morogorians"_ admired him sooo much!.
20. *Hon. JAMAL Serves as TZ Ambassador to UN, GENEVA*
Hon. JAMAL served as TZ's Ambassador to the United Nations, Geneva from 1985 to 1993.
Hon.JAMAL was an *Exceptional Intellectual* who was Mwalimu NYERERE's *Closest Friend* as the following quotes show:
21.1 Ms JOAN WICKEN, _hitherto_ Personal Assistant to Mwalimu- *"Amir was a key ally of _"Baba wa Taifa"_ and had more formal and informal one to one meetings with _"Baba wa Taifa"_ than any other minister"*.
21.2 GODFREY MWAKIKAGILE (A Prominent TZ Scholar- Former news reporter for the STANDARD-the oldest newspaper in TZ)- *"Hon. Amir Jamal was the most knowlegeable and the most intellectual Cabinet Minister in the First Independence Cabinet, besides Mwalimu NYERERE"*.
21.3 SIR GEORGE KAHAMA - *"The late Amir Jamal was an intellectual giant who was highly respected by Mwalimu and all of us, his fellow Ministers, for his diplomacy, down to earthness and outspoken approach to local and international affairs. It was always intellectually stimulating to discuss grobal issues with him"*.
21.4 PROF. SEITH CHACHAGE - *"Hon. JAMAL was a gentle, liberal-minded and extremely astitute administrator. The qualities which he and Mwalimu recognized in each other idealism, thoughtfulness and open hearted friendship sealed a partnership that lasted since they first met"*.
21.5 Rev. TREVOR HUDDLESTONE - *"No one in his life in politics had a closer relationship with Mwalimu Nyerere than did Amir Jamal"*.
21.6 SIR ANDY CHANDY - *"Hon. Amir Jamal, a Tanzanian of Indian origin, was a confidant of Mwalimu Nyerere. Their close relationship was forged when Amir helped in funding Mwalimu's defence team in the notorious sedition trial held in 1958"*.
22. *Hon. JAMAL Shocks IMF Staff*
Dr. JAMAL served as Chair of the 35th Annual Meetings of the IMF and WB in 1980.
A brilliant intellectual, Dr. JAMAL, upon his arrival in Washington DC, was suprised when IMF Staff presented him a draft for his opening speech. He politely declined telling them that he is not a parrot as he had àlready prepared his own speech! It was unprecedented and all the staff were visibly shocked!.
23. *Hon. JAMAL Becomes the First African GATT Chair*
In 1988, Dr. JAMAL became the first African to chair the Council of the Geneva-based General Agreement on Tarrifs and Trade (GATT).
24. *SOME of the Highlights of JAMAL's Contributions to his Country*
24.1 He steered the establishment of BOT on 14.6.1966 & NBC 1967.
24.2 He, between 1967-1970, led the TZ Team to Chine to succesfully conclude the Agreement to finance and build the $ 1 Billion TAZARA Railway.
24.3 He led the TZ Negotiation Team for the Treaty for East African cooperation which established the EAC in 1967.
24.4 Monday, 6.2.1967, was the day when Hon. JAMAL suprised investors and industrialists especially the Big 3 (National bank, Grindlays bank & the Backlays bank) with the Govt decision to nationalise all banks without prior notice as it was anounced to them that their power was ending at the close of business of the very same day!.
24.5 He mentored many, many Tanzanians especially those who were under him.
24. 6 He participated in all key political and economic decisions made for two and half decades.
25. *Hon. JAMAL Becomes MWALIMU's Personal Rep"*
Hon. JAMAL close working relationship with Mwalimu continued as he became his personal representative when Mwalimu was Chair of the South Commission and then on the South Center.
26. *Hon. JAMAL Retires, Moves to Canada:*
In early 1995, Hon. JAMAL retired to Canada to spend time with his family.
26. *Hon. JAMAL Passes Away in Canada*
Hon. JAMAL died on 21.3.1995 in Canada leaving a widow (SHAHSULTAN KASSAM as he had divorced ZAINY) and 4 children after a distinguished political career and an outstanding diplomatic service.
27. *Mwalimu NYERERE Weeps Openly and Bitterly:*
Mwalimu wept openly and bitterly upon hearing the news of JAMAL's death. Mwalimu's efforts to have Hon. JAMAL's remains repatriated to TZ were in vain.
This was the second time Mwalimu was seen weeping openly. The first time was on Thursday night, 12.4.1984 when he received the late EDWARD MORINGE SOKOINE's body.
28. *Mwalimu NYERERE's Tribute to JAMAL*
The late JAMAL's exemplary and unwavering devotion to his country as well as his extraordinary career commanded a befitting tribute.
And who else to deliver it, other than Mwalimu NYERERE, his closest friend?
Mwalimu, in a touching tribute to his departed, lifelong friend:
*"Amir was a fine human being, a good man. He was a person of absolute integrity. He was a man of principle, dedicated to self-less service. These qualities, combined with his great intellectual ability means that as a Senior Minister in every post independent Govt until 1985, Amir was an active participant in all TZ's political, social and economic advances throughout the period. As TZ Ambassador to the UN, he worked tirelessly for the interests of our country and all developing countries. Amir was never a _"Yes Man"_. In Cabinet, in Govt or Party Committees, he vehemently argued for the measures he felt necessary and he vehemently opposed those he felt were mistaken. But he was also a democrat and a person who respected others. He groomed for leadership those who worked under him and no wonder several Principal Secretaries succeeded him as Ministers. Amir was a Tanzanian of whom we can be proud. I WAS PRIVELEGED TO COUNT HIM A FRIEND"*.
On 26.4.2014, the late DR. JAMAL was posthumously awarded, by HE President JM KIKWETE, the Order of Union First Class in recognition of his outstanding contribution to protecting and preserving the Union.
Dr. AMIR HABIB JAMAL was an Illustrious Son of the Soil and a Distinguished Patriot who always put the country's interests before his own. He was an Extraordinary Mentor, a Towering Intellectual of the Highest Calibre and a Diplomat Per Excellence who kept our Country's Flag flying high on the International Scene. Though he is now gone but his legacy lives on!
However, the Million-Dollar question is; although Dr. JAMAL's legacy lives on, is it cherished by all of us?
Adieu Annar: A Tribute to the Personal Assistant to President Nyerere
By Chambi Chachage
It has been a tragic year. We have lost so many people. A month ago, Annar Cassam also left us.
She passed away in relative obscurity far away from her home country of Tanzania. Adarsh Nayar, the personal photographer of the first president of Tanzania, was the first one to break the sad news in the social media. “REGRET informing my friends and colleagues Mwalimu Nyerere’s personal assistant Annar Cassam,” he posted on Facebook, “seen here speaking with him, passed away at 05.00 am this morning in Geneva, Switzerland, after a long illness.” In that photo (reproduced below with permission) one gets a glimpse of the extent in which she was not then obscured in the Tanzanian political scenary. “Annar, who was in regular touch with me,” Adarsh recalls, “had moved to Geneva after Mwalimu’s retirement in October 1985 and worked for the United Nations.” Yet so little is known, especially among my generation, about this daughter of Tanzania.
There are at least five reasons for this obscurity. First, the most widely known assistant of Mwalimu Nyerere is the late Joan Wicken. Second, Annar was expected to keep a very low profile during her years in the state house. Third, some people tend to confuse her name with that of the relatively renowned Al Noor Kassum. Fourth, our national historiography still suffers from what Mohamed Said, following Dossa Aziz, refers to as a position in which Tanzania is a country without heroes and heroines. By this, they mean there has been a deliberate dearth of historical narratives of some of those who contributed dearly to the struggle for independence and nation building. In line with this, the fifth reason is that Annar did not write much about herself and, in a way, spent most her time ensuring the legacy of Mwalimu lives on. Yet his legacy was also hers.
It was while she was a student at the London School of Economics (LSE), Annar told me, that she “first saw and heard Mwalimu” who “used always to find time to meet us students during his frequent trips to London in the 60s.” After specializing in international law, she went on to Geneva on a fellowship at the International Commission of Jurists. While there, she met freedom fighters for the first time. They were from the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO). Consequently, her first treatise there was on the illegality in international law of the then apartheid South Africa’s occupation of South West Africa (as Namibia was then called). It is thus not surprising that she was asked to come back home to work at Foreign Affairs in the 1970s. At that time Dar es Salaam was the headquarters of the African Liberation Committee (ALC) and Tanzania was instrumental in supporting Southern African Liberation Movements. Tanzania’s foreign policy prioritized this role as it was a cornerstone of Nyerere’s presidency. With her expertise, she ended up working closely with him at State House. One of her jobs as Mwalimu’s assistant, recalls Adarsh, was to help him with translations of all French correspondence, and also be with the President when he was meeting French speaking leaders. She therefore experienced, at close range, Nyerere’s role in Africa’s liberation.
Annar’s ardent concern for setting the record straight about that legacy is partly what led us to our e-meeting. It all started when Firoze Manji, then editor-in-chief of Pambazuka News and Pambazuka Press, invited me in late 2009 to be a guest editor for a special issue of Pambazuka News to commemorate Mwalimu Nyerere on the 10th anniversary of his death. He then e-introduced me to Annar who was eager to share some unpublished articles with us, and was also willing to write an article aptly entitled Nyerere on Nyerere. That was the beginning of a decade long friendship in which I learned so much from her about Tanzania and Africa.
One of the outcomes of this was the publication of our co-edited book on Africa’s Liberation: The Legacy of Nyerere. No one captures the process of publishing it as succinctly as her. “Dear Chambi,” she wrote, “as your other half in this exercise, as your absent other half, to be precise, I can rely on you to transmit my heartfelt regrets for not being in Dar tonight to celebrate the launching of our book of tributes to Mwalimu on this day, April 13th, his birthday.” So began a heartfelt letter that she asked me to read publicly at Nkrumah Hall in 2010 during the book launch.
“As the editor of Pambazuka Press will tell you,” her letter continued, “this entire project started with my email to him of August 2009 to consider publishing a special issue of Pambazuka News in October 2009 in order to remember and celebrate Mwalimu ten years after he left us.” Until then I had no idea that she was the one who initiated it, itself a testament of how easily we can write out someone from history. After crediting the publishing team, she then wrote:
Through you, I would like to thank the Dar-based authors for their contributions which, by some strange alchemy, have come together to provide coherence and weight to this book despite the fact that it was compiled, edited and published across the oceans, between Dar, Geneva and Oxford. This is surely an example of minds meeting across distances!
To me this is important because the strength of the book derives from its duality. Annar brought into it the continental and diplomatic dimensions with chapters from Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Nawal El Saadawi, Firoze Manji, Ana Camacho, and Mohamed Sahnoun. I drew upon scholarly and national dimensions with contributions from Madaraka Nyerere, Neema Ndunguru, Seithy Chachage, Haroub Othman, Horace Campbell, Marjorie Mbilinyi, Faustin Kamuzora, Ng’wanza Kamata, Issa Shivji, Salma Maoulidi, Vicensia Shule, Helen Kijo-Bisimba and Chris Maina Peter.
So often have I wondered why I didn’t know about Annar before. What excuse did I have as a scholar of Africa in general and Tanzania in particular? None. Her name appears in the archives that I accessed years later during my PhD fieldwork. Karim Hirji’s debate with Annar published on Udadisi blog in 2011, for instance, also hints at her role in engaging with students at the University of Dar es Salaam during its heydays of revolutionary scholarship. “My fellow editor of Cheche, Henry Mapolu, and I”, Hirji recalls, “had two meetings with Annar Cassam in those days.” He notes that Annar “came as a representative of Mwalimu (she was one of his assistants).”
Even after reading this tribute to Annar, you may still ask who was she? Why should we know more about her? All I can say is that it is because she was a living library and part of the institutional memory of our country. Take, for instance, the article she wrote about Kiswahili. “During my career at the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) in Paris,” she notes therein, “I had the opportunity to follow the literacy–language story from an international angle and so I offer these comments by way of history and context.” After sharing how the success of Tanzania’s literacy programs for schoolchildren and adults during the Mwalimu years (mid 1960s-mid 1980s) aroused great interest and respect at UNESCO, both among the member states and within the Education Sector in the Secretariat”, she commends our lingua franca:
It was obvious to literacy experts from around the world that the fact that these programs were carried out in Kiswahili was a major reason for the success. The advantage of teaching any subject, above all literacy and numeracy, in the language already spoken and understood by students and teachers was clear. This perception led to the design and promotion of mother-tongue methodologies as these provided the fast track to achieving literacy. Of course, in the case of Tanzania, Kiswahili was not strictly speaking the unique mother tongue, but it was as good as any because it was used in schools and was the national and official language of the country’s adults.
Her passion was for us to write our own history. When I told Annar in 2015 that I was writing a chapter on Mwalimu Nyerere as a Global Conscience, she genereously offered to ship me her papers on the subject and related matters. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen event, she wasn’t able to do so. She still managed to offer constructive comments and edits on my draft chapter, affirming that what I was “recounting in this piece is pure factual history as it happened.” In her public letter, referred to earlier, Annar also called for a publication that I am now told has been in the pipeline:
My gratitude goes to our brother Salim for honouring the occasion with his chairmanship, together with my ardent hope that he too will publish the record of his long years of close collaboration with Mwalimu. Salim Ahmed Salim was his trusted Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister, UN Permanent Representative and Ambassador – his first post was as Ambassador to Nasser’s Egypt at the age of 21. No one else holds such a lengthy and privileged place in the history of Nyerere’s Tanzania and we look forward to reading his account of this unique experience.
The same quest permeated her gratitude to another guest who graced our book launch. “I am delighted”, she wrote,” that the Guest of Honour is our most distinguished comrade and poet, Marcelino Dos Santos, who has agreed personally to launch this very modest salute to Mwalimu’s legacy of liberation.” He was a leading freedom fighter in Mozambique’s Frente de Libertacao de Mocambique (FRELIMO). “We could not have asked for a more appropriate witness on this occasion,” intimated Annar, “for it is Frelimo’s struggles – and victories – that have touched the lives of more Tanzanians more intimately than any other.” She concluded by stating: “Here also, there is a story that needs to be told, if I may say so.” She would be so proud that Azaria Mbughuni is writing a book on Tanzania and the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa.
It is my hope her niece, Laila Manji; friends, Anna Pouyat, Walter Bgoya and Mahmood Mamdani, and co-authors of the recently published Development as Rebellion: A Biography of Julius Nyerere – Issa Shivji, Saida Yahya-Othman, and Ng’wanza Kamata – will make publicly available Annar’s archival materials for posterity. As Laila aptly puts it, these papers are her careful notes and memories of Mwalimu’s extraordinary legacy. May they, together with Annar’s brother, Mohamed Cassam, and their friends, relatives, and compatriots find comfort in what Laila refers to as “her spirit, her contribution, and her commitment to our common humanity and our Tanzanian heritage.”
Although Annar and I only met once, geographical boundaries did not stop us from furthering such goals. One of the lessons I learned from her is the importance of not mincing words and not refraining from challenging the ideas of others, especially when they depart from historical facts. She once told me: “Thanks to Pambazuka, I have the luxury of writing what I want outside the mainstream mental habits but always with the essentials in mind, essentials which I learnt under Mwalimu which remain pertinent, for me.” It was indeed an honor and a privilege to collaborate with someone who christened herself my “old/aged shangazi” (aunt). Fare thee well my dear shangazi.
Posted: Fri Dec 03, 2021 10:30 am Post subject: The life and times of ‘Nick’ Noor Kassum (1924 -2021)
The life and times of ‘Nick’ Noor Kassum (1924 -2021)
FRIDAY DECEMBER 03 2021
Dar es Salaam. Al Noor Kassum Sunderji - popularly known as “Nick Kassum” - was born in Dar es Salaam on January 11, 1924. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his three sons: Saleem, Diamond, and Jemal-ud-din(Jamil) in Dar es Salaam on November 18, 2021. Nick first attended schooling in Dar es Salaam, and later in Ashford, England. However, his studies in England were abruptly ended by the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-45) - and he returned to Dar es Salaam to work alongside his father in the family business.
In 1951, he returned to England with his young family to study law. He was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in London in 1954. He practiced law in Dar es Salaam until the start of his political career in 1958.
Mwalimu Julius Nyerere asked him to join the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) and the independence movement. He was subsequently elected Member of Parliament for Central Province. From then on, his friendship with Mwalimu Nyerere strengthened.
In 1965, Mwalimu gave him a leave of absence from politics to take up an appointment with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in Paris. After a couple of years there he was sent to New York where he was transferred to the United Nations as Secretary of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Nearing the end of his five-year leave, the UN Secretary-General wanted him to become his Chef du Cabinet with the rank of Assistant Secretary-General.
The Secretary General wrote to Mwalimu who replied that his need for Nick in Tanzania was far greater than the Secretary-General’s, so he be returned to Tanzania.
In 1970, Mwalimu asked him to go first to the diamond mine in Mwadui as Deputy General Manager where he instituted significant changes in management in favour of Tanzania. Then, in 1972 he was sent to Arusha as the East African Community (EAC) Minister of Finance and Administration, where he was instrumental in developing the mandate, rules and regulations for the EAC, as well as overseeing the building of the new EAC headquarters.
In 1977, he returned to Dar es Salaam and was appointed the Minister of Water, Energy and Minerals, a position he held for many years.
In 1985, he received the Order of the United Republic of Tanzania conferred on him by Mwalimu. Following his retirement as cabinet minister, Mr Kassum was appointed Chairman of the National Development Corporation (NDC) of Tanzania in 1991. In 1993, he was appointed Chancellor of the Morogoro-based Sokoine University for Agriculture (Sua).
Nick’s adherence to the Shia Ismaili community also played a significant role during his lifetime, both in Tanzania and in England. In 1951, the late Aga Khan appointed Nick President of the Ismailia Council in the United Kingdom.
In 1954, he was appointed by His Highness the Aga Khan as Education Administrator for Tanzania. During that time, his efforts improved the quality of Tanzanian education and he also insisted on the accessibility of higher education abroad by sending students to universities in Europe and North America.
Nick’s ongoing dedication and value to the Shia Ismaili community was recognised by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan who appointed him his personal representative in Tanzania in 1991, which position he held up to the year-2002.
His autobiography - titled “Africa’s Winds of Change” - details his life as well as some interesting aspects of Tanzanian politics.
‘Nick’ Al Noor Kassum Sunderji will be remembered for his diplomacy, charm, charisma and humour, as well as for his deep love and pride for his family. He will be missed beyond measure.
He was pre-deceased by his second wife Yasmin, and is survived by his first wife Shirin; three sons: Saleem, Diamond, and Jamil; two daughters-in-law: Nasim and April; five grandchildren: Azali, Tasleem, Shamina, Alysha and Arif, and five great-grandchildren.
Topan: Celebrating the life of a top Tanzanian academic
The place was a mixture of solemn, casual and joy.
As you ambled in you could hear clinking of glasses, alongside the oohs and ahas of chatting and the positive tension of waiting. For what?
For the ceremony.
You were checked in by eager attendants, Covid-19 masks on, friendly expressions. If you had a bag and coat (October is autumn and the cold already said hello), a room upstairs was available safely, for your items.
Followed other indoor attendants equally civil, solemn, casual. This mixed tone decorated the whole Friday evening. It was October 15, and we were invited to celebrate the life of Tanzanian academic maestro, Dr Farouk Topan.
If you do not know him, first wonder why such a respectful vibe?
Please keep on reading.
“Dr Topan is a household name in Tanzania,” said one of the speakers, an hour later, the zealous Dr Ida Hadjivayanis. She cited Dr Topan’s 1970 classic play, Aliyeonja Pepo ( A Taste of Heaven), which she briefly explained and summarised (with screen pictures) amidst laughter and cheers. Fifty years ago the play was huge.
That’s why Dr Hadjivayanis told her audience Dr Topan was popular. Ida (currently translating Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah’s Paradise novel into Kiswahili) teaches at SOAS – London’s School of Oriental African Studies.
SOAS has coughed some of the top 20th and 21st century thinkers. Among them Prof Walter Rodney, assassinated in Guyana (1980), legendary author of that historical masterpiece How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.
Dr Hadjivayanis: “I used to be Topan’s student, now I occupy the same office he used to be in. He was very supportive...”
There were several other speakers from the UK, Middle East, ad infinitum.
So as you ambled into the venue, you noted, wow! How so immaculate! Toilets as clean as the stairs , as well as the buffet area just like the hall where we would sit and listen to testimonies and “attestations” of this wonderful Tanzanian man-child.
Most-times we have to grieve before we can applaud great deeds of fellow humans. In death, we enjoy praise, choking tears of sorrow, narrating the glories of departed individuals. It is one of the biggest errors (and a misdemeanour ) to only celebrate those we love as they lie serenely in their coffins.
But not this Friday night.
London’s Aga Khan Centre (a facility for education, knowledge, culture and insight into Muslim civilisations) hosted a moment to appreciate the life of our retired scholar, Dr Farouk Topan.
While still alive, available and present!
As you sat with another dignified writer, the brilliant journalist, Ahmed Rajab, you rewinded to the mid-1970s.
Those days the late Kiswahili novelist (and another esteemed Tanzanian scholar), Prof Euphrase Kezilahabi, had released his collection of Kiswahili poems.
Kichomi was controversial and arguably the first free verse book in Tanzania. Dr Topan wrote an excellent introduction to the publication. It was daring as those days witnessed a fierce struggle and debate between free verse poets (washairi guni) and traditional metre verse poets (washairi wa mapokeo).
Now you relaxed listening to testimonies of the man, currently in his 80s , with his family, friends, fans and colleagues.
When Mzee Farouk finally stood to speak, we had already heard fantastic descriptions and episodes. That he was very well informed. A wonderful teacher , academic, storyteller and writer. That he is calm, soft spoken, relaxed, supportive, etc.
And to cement this magic he offered seven tales of his life. From 1968 at the University of Dar es Salaam, through Nairobi, the Middle East, Europe and London.
A journey told gently with humour and worth accompanying. A man who lived doing what he loved. Teaching and promoting Kiswahili, writing Kiswahili and English books, publicising the Tanzanian (and his native Zanzibar ) brand, while raising a beautiful family.
A life purposefully, attained.
Later as we all jostled and mingled, biting samosas and fried fish while infusing it with fruit juices and wine, it was what was expected. We were hugging a retired captain, here with us, smiling and listening and chatting.
This has a double lesson.
Praising the unsung champions of our lives as they witness the accolade. Two. Reminding readers home of the unknown, hard-working patriots overseas.
Twenty five years ago, there was another solemn event in Holborn, central London. A celebration of former Cabinet member, Honourable Mohamed Abdurahman Babu, who had just passed on, aged 70.
It was shocking, bewildering and lovely, listening to people from all over the world chanting praises of the late Mr Babu. Babu was exiled in London. Almost forgotten at home. But the life of the man had been pretty historic and many overseas acknowledged the Zanzibari son.
How much do we know and honour the real achievers of our communities?
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