Vali IV Jamal, PhD, has often been featured on our pages for the book he has been writing on Uganda Asians since mid-2007. He brings us up-to-date on it.
Vali Jamal’s remarks:
The book’s done at 2,100 pages and 10,000 images – bar the printing and publishing. It should launch in Uganda in March 2017, the year of HH Aga Khan’s (secular, as the book is for the general public) Diamond Jubilee, something relevant to note as the book started as a magazine for His Highness’s Golden Jubilee. A launch in 2017 is also fortuous since the book has referenced the Aga Khan and Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (as head of UNHCR) as “heroes” of the book for their roles in resettling Uganda Asians in Canada and all over the world at the expulsion (1972).
At the receiving end Canada is accorded that status for their role and President Museveni and people of Uganda for bringing us back. These roles are recorded through archives less seen. Community souvenirs were used to record aspects of community history. The headlines of the 90 day expulsion deadline are posted from the Uganda Argus. Statistics on incomes and poverty for my dissertation at Stanford (Role of Cotton and Coffee in Uganda’s Economic Development) and research at the UN-ILO are incorporated to explain the expulsion and subsequent progress of the economy: It was the economy, stupid! We had arrogant ways to go with that. It is the economy and we better behave, except now we have 10x more newcomer Indians come (30K) as compared to us “oliginos” (3K).
Through relentless efforts, I managed to ensure the book has tripartite support, not just Uganda Asians. I call it the “tripod”: One leg Uganda Asians, second leg Government of Uganda, third leg academia. The Uganda Asians leg is strengthening as more and more people see the book is coming to an end. Many have made donations for its publication. The book is after all about them – >600 stories of how they coped through the expulsion, how the ones who never left Uganda survived, what was life like in UNHCR refugee centres, how was the great Uganda childhood, and how is it in Uganda for those who have returned.
The government of Uganda leg has been mahogany-solid since a long time. Just two weeks ago I met Rt Hon Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda in his office (photo). Rt Hon said he continues to support the book. HE President of Uganda has endorsed the book twice (attached) – at March 2012 and March 2016. In the second message he extols Ismailis’ role as pioneers in East Africa under the leadership of the “Aga Khan family”. It was under Aga Khan I (46th Imam Hassanali Shah) that Allidina Visram came to East Africa. My own grandfather and an elder brother came as agents of the great Sheth. I extract from my grandfather’s diary about that.
On the academic leg the book has been blessed with endorsement messages from: (late and much lamented) Professor Ali AM Mazrui; Professor Dharam Ghai; Professor Mondo Kagonyera (ex-Chancellor of Makerere); and Professor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile (as Governor of Bank of Uganda). Professor Mazrui’s message was given as long ago as 2008 when the book had no more than 211 pages, going to show how much quality the great professor saw in my book even at that stage. Quantity increased 10-fold and I dare say quality by a factor too.
Two weeks ago I showed my book to the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Uganda (#3 in Africa), Professor John Ddumba-Ssentamu. I took along my PhD dissertation for Stanford (photo attached). Of course I made some obvious comparisons:
My book: 2,100 pages (in three parts; 1.9 million words), 10,000 images, 9.4 years in the writing, 10.4kg. Already >25k hits on Google.
My dissertation: 220 pages (40,000 words), 44 tables, 3.6 years in the writing + 9 months data collection + 2 years course work. 2.5k hits on Google.
The fact that data for my dissertation was collected while I was based at Makerere in that fateful year impressed him, as also that a lot of archival research for my current book was done at Makerere’s Africana Library. Last week I received the attached endorsement message from Prof Ddumba-Ssentamu. He squarely recognizes academic merit in my book: Oral history; statistics on income inequality from my dissertation at Stanford; data collection at Makerere; and greater future ties to Makerere. Is that a PhD or what? Watch this space!
I think my book will also (compared to Makerere!) be recognized at my universities – Cambridge and Stanford – and at UNHCR for reasons evident above and at the ILO for the fact that a lot of my post-expulsion research on the Uganda economy was done while I was at the ILO (1976-2001).The book’s bound to be seen at Ottawa, London, New Delhi, and Lisbon.
On a tripod what do we need? A platform. It better be strong enough to support 10.4kg. No question of anyone taking the book to bed, not even one of the parts!.