Friday, Jan. 19, 2018
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some memories
By Ameer Janmohamed
Anybody who makes it to a ripe old age obviously gets to see many Foundation Stone Ceremonies and witness numerous Inaugurations of buildings and institutions. I certainly did. I cannot recall all of them, but some stand out more than others.

One of my earliest was the formal opening of the Oceanic Hotel in the mid-1950s in Mombasa by Sir Evelyn Baring. (It would have been Sir Evelyn Baring II. His ancestor the first Sir Evelyn Baring had been the Military Governor of Egypt when it was part of the British Empire.)
Another memorable occasion was the official opening of the Ismaili Centre in London by Mrs Thatcher in 1985. I can still visualise the glittering occasion, with speeches by President Anil Ishani, Mrs Thatcher and HH Aga Khan in the Social Hall. The Ismaili Community formally announced its presence as an integral part of the United Kingdom.
The inauguration of the Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi in November 1985 is another such occasion. The Chief Guest was General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I especially remember one part of Shamsh Kassim-Lakha’s speech on the subject of standards of cleanliness and hygiene. I think he said “chewing paan and spitting anywhere in the hospital would not be tolerated and culprits would be required to clean up their mess personally if they were caught doing so”. Perfectly correct sentiments, except that this was the President of a University addressing the crème de la crème of Pakistan society! Audacious though entirely appropriate. Nobody appeared to mind! Picture below with fellow guests Hakim and Fizza Adamjee on the University Grounds.
Another feature of that occasion was a large circular canvas which had been constructed for artist Gulgee. He had been commissioned to artistically express his sentiments on the canvas as the ceremony progressed. This is a picture I took whilst the work was in progress. Those were carefree days when invited guests did not have to go through security and were allowed to carry cameras.
Another very special occasion was the Official Opening of the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa in December 2003 by Kenyan President Mr Mwai Kibaki.
And four years later, in Aug 2007 the Foundation Stone laying ceremony for the Aga Khan Academy Residential Campus by Education Minister Saitoti.

Below: Baobab tree at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa, surrounded by concrete amphi-theatre where both above ceremonies were held.
…………and an artist’s impression of the Academy………..
Three Foundation Stone Laying ceremonies of special personal and family interest.
First is the laying of the FOUNDATION STONE OF EASTLEIGH JAMAT KHANA IN NAIROBI IN FEB. 1957.. Land for new Jamat Khana was donated by Aladdin Lalji family. Construction costs were underwritten by Count Manji Janmohamed. Picture below shows, from left: Bhani Fai, Motima Santokbai Manji Janmohamed, Prince Aly Khan and Manji Motabapa. Standing behind him is Rai Akberali Gulamhusein Nanji, married to my cousin Gulbanu, daughter of Hussein Janmohamed.
Manji Motabapa’s daughter Shirin had been given the honour of accompanying Prince Aly Khan.. Picture below shows Prince Aly Khan in a jovial mood. “You see I have now become a mason!” He told her after he actually cemented the Foundation Stone to the plinth.
Next was when Prince Aly Khan further honoured us by coming to Mombasa during the same year 1957 to perform the FOUNDATION STONE LAYING CEREMONY OF THE NEW CITY HOUSE.. Pictures show his evident pleasure and sense of humour on such occasions……….
Lastly a poignant personal experience when the Kampala Rotary Club gave me the honour to lay the FOUNDATION STONE OF THE MENGO HOSPITAL CEREBRAL PALSY HOSTEL IN 1970.
We were next able to visit Kampala thirty-four years later, in 2004, accompanied by Shariffa and Yusuf Keshavjee and managed to locate the Foundation Stone in the Mengo Hospital. Picture shows me with the Matron of the Hostel. She just could not get over the fact that she was actually meeting alive the person who had laid the Foundation Stone thirty-four years ago. She said she had always assumed that people with their names engraved on stones must have died a long time ago !!!!
-ameer janmohamed-
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    This web-site is in, place of the long anticipated (!) Volume IV of "AKJ Collection of Cynical Wisdom". Volume I was published in 2004, Volume II in 2006 and Volume III in 2009.Some three thousand printed copies...
    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.
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