Posted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:31 pm Post subject: Sherali Bandali Jaffer of Fairway Hotel of Kampala
News of the passing away of Vazier Hon Sheralli Bandalli Jaffer, MP, Uganda People's Party, in Vancouver, Canada, father of Senator for British Columbia Hon Mobina Jaffer, has been received with much sorrow in Uganda, his beloved birth country. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
Vazier Sheralli was a Member of Parliament for the Uganda People's Congress in the immediate post-independence government. He held several high positions in the Ismailia jamat of Uganda, perhaps none so than as Hon Secretary of the Uganda Provincial Council at the time of the present Imam's takhtnashini (coronation). I attach the iconic photo from my book. Vazier Sheralli was very proud of that photo when I showed him the page at his home in West Vancouver this May. He served even more the Muslim ummaa as the Hon Secretary of the East African Muslim Welfare Society in the construction of the Kibuli and Wandegeya mosques and in the building of several schools for the ummaa.
By his very specific and publicly-known wish burial will be done in Kampala.
May Allah grant him the choicest place in paradise and his family the fortitude to overcome this loss.
With deep sorrow we regret to inform the demise of Mr Sherali Bandali Jaffer of Fairway Hotel of Kampala in Canada.
Last edited by Admin on Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total
Obituary: Sherali Bandali Jaffer remembered for rescuing people expelled by Idi Amin regime
By Bill Inglee and Joanne Lee-Young, Vancouver Sun December 28, 2014
A former Ugandan politician who helped to resettle 55,000 people, including many Ismailis who were expelled from that African nation by dictator Idi Amin in 1972, has died.
Sherali Bandali Jaffer, who was living in West Vancouver when he passed away on Dec. 27, fled Kampala in 1972, landing in London with few assests as tens of thousands of other Asians expelled from Uganda were left stateless and in refugee camps.
For two years, he worked “with other politicians. He had many contacts and found resources and ways to help people settle,” said his daughter, B.C. Liberal senator Mobina Jaffer in a phone interview.
In this way, he convinced many nations, including Canada, to take thousands of refugees. The Canadian government housed many of the new arrivals in hotels in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto and Ismaili communities now thrive in each.
Since his passing, “we have had so many calls. One woman from Miami called to say she remembers being with other refugees in the London airport and my father gave her $200. She had nothing and it was a lot of money that gave her the courage to go on,” said Sen. Jaffer.
She said her father could have chosen to live in many different countries, “New Zealand, Australia, many countries in Europe, but he chose here because he always said his dream was for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to grow up in a country where they would not be thrown out.”
After moving from London to Vancouver, Jaffer started an egg farm in Abbotsford and, over a decade, expanded his business.
In his late 50s, he kept a promise to his wife by buying a plot on Chartwell Drive in West Vancouver and building “a beautiful home. It was like the home on a hill they had in Kampala, one of the most beautiful ones there,” said Sen. Jaffer.
After raising his family and sending his six children to university, he spent some time building boarding schools in cities in Gujarat, India, including ones for girls “before it was popular to do so,” said Sen. Jaffer.
Twenty years ago, when he was finally able to return to Kampala, he traveled there from Vancouver on a regular basis. “He always loved it. He had a small hotel, a three-star one, and he was able to get it back. My brother operated it.”
“My Dad achieved a lot, but never had a big sense of who he was. Anybody who needed help. No job was too small. He would still be taking ten bags of clothing on his trips and we would tell him, ‘you have got to stop doing this,’ but we all learned from him.”
“People have been telling us they remember our house (in Kampala) and the image they have is the lines and lines of people. My father was a wealthy man and he helped people with everything from powdered milk to school fees. He always found a way to help.”
The founder of Fairway Hotel and former Member of Parliament in Obote I government Sherali Bandali Jaffer will be buried on Tuesday next week.
It emerged Saturday that the family and the leadership of the Ismaili community in Uganda had finally agreed that burial takes place on Tuesday.
Contrary to earlier reports that the body would arrive in the country on Saturday, close family associates confirmed that the body will arrive on Monday night.
“The body arrives at 9:50pm and burial will be the next day,” Rose Birungi a close family friend said on Saturday.
The family of the deceased, which includes Mobina Sherali Bandali Jaffer QC, a senator in the Canadian parliament, was expected to jet into the country on Saturday night aboard a KLM flight, ahead of the burial.
The Bandali family has been living in Vancouver, Canada where they moved to following the 1972 expulsion of Asians by the then President Idd Amin.
Bandali Jaffer, 90, died on December 27 in Vancouver after along illness. Bandali Jaffer had expressed desire to be buried in Uganda. He will be buried at the Kololo cemetery.
Revisiting the life of Fairway hotel owner Bandali Jaffer
Friday, 09 January 2015 00:22
Written by Richard M. Kavuma
RIP: Sherali Bandali Jaffer
On December 27, 2014, Fairway hotel owner Sherali Bandali Jaffer died in Canada, aged 90. Jaffer, a former member of Uganda’s Parliament, was one of 80,000 Asians expelled by Idi Amin on August 4, 1972.
In an interview for a special report published in The Observer on August 4, 2005, Jaffer told Richard M Kavuma of his wish to die in Uganda. Jaffer’s wish may not have come true, but the fact that he was buried in Uganda this week shows how close the country was to his heart.
In this flashback, we revisit the life and times of Jaffer.
From behind his neat desk, Mr Sherali Bandali Jaffer, 81, labours to explain why he is in Uganda. Even some of his six children don’t understand him. It cannot be money, for they will ask how much it is that he can’t find in the West.
The Fairway hotel chairman will tell them: “I was born there; I have my friends there, my African friends, all attachment to Uganda.
“And I like to be in Uganda and I might wish one day that I die in Uganda. I have got a very good business in Canada. I am one of the biggest poultry farmers in Canada. So, money is not the problem. My poultry farm in Canada makes more money and gives me less headache.”
Sherali’s is the story of the Ugandan Asians, or “the Indians”. Many – or their parents – came here as simple traders, worked their heads off and within 70 years controlled Uganda’s business sector.
“My father [Bandali Jaffer] came from India about 110 years ago,” says Sherali. “He was not a rich man. He rode a bicycle from Kampala to Luweero, bought cotton and sold it in Kampala.”
Bandali Jaffer went on to build a ginnery in Kampala and others in Luweero, Wobulenzi... By the time he died in 1941, his youngest son, Sherali, was 17, born at Nsambya hospital in April 1924. Sherali Jaffer’s three brothers and two sisters have since died, but the turning point for him came that cold, scary night in 1972 as he waited to flee Uganda.
He had studied at Aga Khan primary and secondary schools, finished A-level in India and returned to the family business in Uganda. The businesses had prospered and the Bandali Jaffer name lived on. Along came six children – five girls and one boy. Mr Jaffer, as Sherali came to be known, became a member of Kampala City Council, before being elected MP for Kampala West in 1962.
In 1953, Nubians around Bombo asked Jaffer to help them build a school in their area. His contribution to that cause won him many Nubian friends, who became more significant after Idi Amin rose to power. Nearly 20 years later, at 6am a friend in government sent a message: Jaffer would be killed if he did not leave Uganda by that night.
Jaffer did not ask questions. As he sat on the British Airways flight out of Entebbe, he could not wait to return home.
“I went to London thinking Amin would not last long. But we were wrong.”
Five months later, dozens, then hundreds, thousands and eventually tens of thousands of Ugandan Asians followed Jaffer – to Britain, Canada and America.
Amin had expelled them. It had started as a joke. Amin told his soldiers in Tororo that God had instructed him in a ‘dream’ to take action against Asians of British nationality.
He then announced on radio that he would ask Britain to remove its citizens from Uganda. But in the following weeks, it became clear that he wanted all Asians out of Uganda, eventually giving them just 90 days to leave or end up in concentration camps.
In a telegraph to Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere the following month, Amin said the “British Asians” not only dominated trade and commerce but siphoned away the profits to Britain. He said Britain should take the Asians because she was the one who brought them to build the Uganda Railway – which was now complete!
In London, Jaffer first heard it on BBC.
“We were all surprised. We thought it was a temporary thing. Even the British government thought it was temporary,” he reminisces.
He called Kampala and spoke to his brother-in-law, Lalji, who also thought it was a joke. Then came the November 8 deadline. Jaffer does not recall any prior serious tensions between Asians and Africans except that “some businesspeople” wanted to grab the Asians’ businesses. But he agrees that the Asians’ economic domination was a concern for policymakers. Under Obote I, Parliament had been considering removing Asians from the villages to the towns and leaving the dhukas (shops) to indigenous Ugandans.
But Amin decided to do it all overnight!
According to researcher Fred Guweddeko, the campaign against the Asians did not start with Amin. Local activists like Augustine Kamya, a cobbler, had organised boycotts against Asian shops in 1954 and 1959.
Guweddeko, who works with the Makerere Institute of Social Research, says indigenous Ugandans also suffered racial segregation. Buganda road was reportedly a kind of boundary beyond which Africans could not roam into the residential quarters of Nakasero.
“For an African to be found in Nakasero, for instance, you would be arrested unless you had an ID showing that you were an Indian’s houseboy...,” he said.
Speaking to the BBC in 2002, London-based Ugandan-Asian columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown suggested the money-siphoning Asians were partly to blame.
“Most Asians were deeply racist, unable to imagine marrying Africans and living with them as equals,” Alibhai-Brown said.
As Amin left for a tour of eastern Uganda, Kamya reportedly handed him a written petition to put the economy in the hands of indigenous Ugandans. Amin reacted by declaring his ‘economic war’, earning the praise of many locals. Musicians like Christopher Ssebadduka composed songs praising Amin and, portraying the Asians as humiliating slave drivers.
London lawyer Balu Radia, whose father had lived in Uganda since 1906, agrees that racially- segregated Africans welcomed the expulsion: “When he was commander of the Ugandan army, Amin got on all right with Asians of influence. I don’t think he had anything personal against Asians, but to get rid of them was a popular step. It’s difficult to say whether it was also insanity – there was method in his madness,” Radia told the website www.asiansfromuganda.org in 1997.
Life in exile
When the refugees started arriving in London, Jaffer tried to assist them, visiting the camps and offering encouragement. His own family was more relaxed, although each person had been allowed to carry only $50. He rented a house in Ilford, Essex. Two daughters Mobina and Zenobia were studying law and pharmacy in England and they helped the family to settle in.
The Jaffers had kept about $50,000 in England for education costs, money that came in very handy. But in Kampala, all assets were seized, including Fairway hotel, opened six months earlier by the Aga Khan.
“We felt so bad. We counted this as our own country. We were all citizens of Uganda.”
In the beginning, Amin said he wanted only non-Ugandan citizens to go. Then all Indians had to go. But India rejected them. Kenya also closed its borders, with vice president Daniel arap Moi saying that Kenya was no dumping ground. Britain set up 16 reception centres for the expellees, while the United Nations set up another three camps in Europe.
The British government gave about 20 pounds per person per week, but exile was still a painful experience for people used to largely affluent life in Uganda. Jaffer recalls how his wife cried on the underground train as she went shopping for underwear, having left hers in Uganda.
In camps he visited, some of the refugees broke down in the lunch queues as they carried food trays. In Uganda, they were being served by servants, now here they were, lining up for food like beggars.
Amin the benefactor
The suffering has not stopped Ugandan Asians from prospering. In fact, Amin’s madness appears to have become a blessing in disguise for many. In Leicester, whose city council warned the expelled Asians in 1972 that they were not welcome, Asian businesses are reported to have created more than 30,000 jobs.
“Or take my case; I was in Uganda as a Member of Parliament, all right: but would my daughter [Mobina Jaffer] have been in that position as a senator in Canada?”
But the greatest beneficiary was the muyindi who owned a small dhuka in Bugerere. He would never have afforded to fly to Britain, let alone have his children educated there. Pushed out of Uganda, their children received quality Western education for which they did not have to pay much. Today, says Jaffer, some of them earn up to a million dollars in annual salary.
In 1975, the Jaffers moved to British Columbia in Canada which they found more like Uganda – with mountains and rivers. Depositing $45,000, they got a 25-year loan and bought a chicken farm.
Only a month later, the first major hurdle came. A family lunch outing turned sour as all 200,000 chickens died due to power failure. Their fortunes were resuscitated by kind neighbours who unconditionally loaned them chickens in hundreds.
“But I had to work very hard,” says Jaffer, with a satisfied smile. “Here I had 500 people working for me. There I had to pick up eggs myself for 10 years.”
Many Asians expelled by Amin have never returned to Uganda, mostly because they started new lives altogether. Jaffer made a sceptical return in 1981 – just to see Uganda, and another in 1983. Obote would give back a house on Wilson road, but not Fairway hotel. That came in the early 1990s.
Jaffer has since invested an estimated $3m to $4m and brought the hotel from the 50 operational rooms when he got it back, to 120 currently. Looking back at the expulsion, Jaffer is happy that dual citizenship is about to become a reality. He says this will enable many Ugandans abroad to feel safe to invest here, without losing their acquired citizenship.
On the day we met, Daily Monitor newspaper reported that businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba had evicted 200 traders in Kampala.
Jaffer remarked: “If that had been done by an Asian, it would have been political. But because it was done by an African, nobody talks about it” – an indication of lingering racial undercurrents.
And can we be confident that what happened to the Asian community in 1972 can never happen again?
Jaffer: “Not yet. I don’t know when that will be, but not yet.”
How Indian traders conquered Uganda
While Sherali Jaffer rightly says that Asians like Allidina Visram were in East Africa earlier, various records show that many railway workers stayed in East Africa after the completion of the railway.
Whatever the case, the Asians quickly and amazingly took over trade in Uganda. One explanation that has been given was that Asians benefited from the racist colonial structure that rated Africans behind Asians and Europeans. Because they were a minority group that had got a head start in commerce, they supported one another, while the Africans found it hard just getting started.
Jaffer, however, says 85 per cent of the Asians here sat in their small shops from dusk to dawn. For him, the difference is that the Asian personally manages and does not leave the business as the African is wont to do.
While many Africans are good businessmen, once they have made some money, they want to own big cars, marry more women, leaving the business to employees. That is why he regards women as the best businesspeople in Africa – because they stick to their businesses.
“To make money, you have to work hard, you have to sit in your business and manage it. If you don’t manage it, don’t expect others to manage it for you,” he said.
So, where did Asians learn this?
According to Jaffer, when they came here, the Asians had to worry about food, school fees, medical care and how to survive old age. The Ugandan meanwhile “had a banana plantation, muwogo (cassava); he did not need to worry much about food.”
Hence, not only did the Asians work longer, they also saved more and were able to expand their businesses.
“But Africans did not have to worry about tomorrow. Hospitals were nearly free. Schools were free,” says Jaffer “Today they have to worry because if they have to send their children to good schools, or to university in England and America, they have to work hard.”
Sherali Bandali Jaffer initiator of project in Kampala, Uganda. The Aga Khan lays foundation stone on Friday. Mr. Jaffer is now the owner of the Fairway Hotel in Kampala. (family of Senator Mobina Jaffer - Senator in Canada)
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