Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ismaili Authors - Meet Ameer Janmohamed

Zee's Notes: I know this book came out last year but I just finished reading it and for those who want to connect with some history or want to know about our community in Kenya 2 generations ago this is a must must read - I absolutely loved it. If you want to buy a copy email me and i'll connect you with someone in Toronto who may a few copies left.

Article from Coastweek in Mombasa

A Regal Romance byAmeer Janmohamed

'This book is a gold mine for those who were born and brought up in Mombasa'

Coastweek - - FORMER Mombasa resident, Ameer Janmohamed has written a book about his life and events revolving around it, writes ANJUM ASODIA.
Aptly titled, "A Regal Romance and Other Memories", this book is a fascinating journey of a well-known and respected individual, who spent a major part of his life in Mombasa, finally settling in London in 1972.
Ameer, or ‘Bhurio’ as he was affectionately known as, begins his book tracing back his family tree as far back as possible, noting actual events that occurred and were recorded in family letters to the late 1800s.
From his forefathers, grandfather, and father and down to his own birth, every event is documented with times and excerpts from diaries and letters.
The story then picks up speed through to the family business, family affairs, deaths in the family and how it affected his immediately family and, of course Ameer himself. His youth, adulthood and final retirement is chronicled in detail.
But this is not just a story about the man himself.
Even as he speaks (this book seems to come from the heart), Ameer gives the reader an insight into society of that time, why things happened the way they did and other people’s influence on him and the events that took place.
You can feel the awe and bond that he had with his parents, grandparents and forefathers as he carefully tracks down his lineage.
The writer has kept his language simple and clear, making you feel that you are watching a black and white film as you go through the pages.
Each character that he talks about vividly takes shape in your mind, the numerous photographs in the book aiding this.
The book ends with a glossary of Gujerati words that will be useful to non-Gujerati readers and an in-depth chronology dating back to 3000BC to date.
This book is a gold mine for those who were born and brought up in Mombasa from the 1930s to the seventies, as they will definitely remember many events and people from that time.
For those, like me, who have an interest in history and past events, this book will open a chapter in Mombasa life in that era that will not only be interesting but educational too.
Ameer Janmohamed came from a very well-to-do family and thus was involved more with people in that class of society.
Thus there is little mention of those that did not reach that level, which is the only drawback in the book.
However, had he written about every little detail in his life, this would be a much thicker version and would, perhaps lose the reader’s interest span which the current book has.

World Partnership Walk - Ismailis making a difference

A-Channel reporter Meribeth Burton embarked on a journey to East Africa to see how the funds raised in Canada through the World Partnership Walk are benefiting impoverished communities.

If you want to see all 7 videos as part of the series :


Zee's Notes: As the WPW celebrates it's 25th anniversary it's also time to reflect on our 30 plus years in Canada.

It's now been over 30 years since that fateful day in October, 1972 when then President for Life Idi Amin Dada dreamt of a homogeneous Uganda. That dream led to the greatest upheavel of Asians from a country they had called home only to be forced to leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Thirty years later, ex-Ugandan Ismailis are looked upon by Western countries as remarkable examples of fortitude and as hard working citizens who are solid contributors to their new homelands. I have first hand knowledge of this as my family, though from Tanzania, arrived in Vancouver, Canada on September 1972 just a month before the Ugandans started their journey. That period was special in that families pulled together to survive and make a new life in a strange country - imagine jumping into a land where there was so much opportunity.

Working menial jobs - the most popular at that time was the local parking lots run by Imperial Parking (see history here) - a company that took a chance on the new immigrants and at one time probably had literally hundreds of Ismailis employed in their various city lots. A side story is a gentleman who hired many of the Ismailis - Paul Clough started with the company in 1968 worked his way up to eventually becoming President and CEO. Today Imperial Parking, started with one lot by Arne Olsen, is Canada's largest and North America's fourth largest parking lot operator.

The same story probably applies in other Canadian cities as well in the UK. The Ismaili immigrants were the beneficiares of the efforts of MHI who through his friendship with then Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau was able to secure a new life for the displaced Ugandan Ismailis. In the context of modern Ismaili History there will no greater inflection point for our community than this event or period albeit it may compare to the migration of the Ismailis into the US from the Indian Sub Continent. Every day I think of my parents I see 30 years of sacrifice and hard work and the singular goal of making it a better quality of life for their children.

I dwell on the above for the simple reason that there lies an incredible opportunity for those of us who live in the Western World to make a difference in the lives of millions in other parts of the world in uplifting their quality of life. I mentioned in my blog yesterday that during tough times Allah taps us on one shoulder to find ourself to see whether we use the unique skills each one of us have in order to make a difference - the reason we are all here. I have to mention as well Allah has his other hand on our other shoulder and successful people tell me he never takes that hand away.

So the message today is that even though times are tough and will be tough for a few more years do not, do not miss this opportunity which may only come once in a lifetime. This opportunity is to make a difference in the lives of people you may have not met or may never meet and whether you contribute your time or your means remember one thing and one thing only - what if Idi Amin had allowed the Asians to stay and then decided to take out his wrath while they carried on with their lives in Uganda - we would have never had this chance of a lifetime to give what is so precious at this time - aaaahhh Allah brings his gifts in many different ways !!!