Jinja’s Sheikh narrates how he fled Uganda, returns to complete the unfinished business

(Last Updated On: 22 August 2023)

Jinja I It was deeply an emotional moment for Zahid Sheikh to once again re-enter a shop that more than 50 years ago was the centre of his family’s source of livelihood before fate turned against them.

The shop is located on Plot 30 Main Street in Jinja City where Abdul Rashid Sheikh and his wife, Anwar Begum (both deceased), not only earned themselves a decent living but popularity for being the best tailor in the then industrial hub of East Africa.

As fate would have it, on 4 August 1972, then Uganda’s President Iddi Amin Dada ordered the expulsion of all non-citizen Asian population giving them an ultimatum of only 90 days.

Zahid Sheikh, 60, now a powerful entrepreneur was only 10 years old and did not quite grasp the meaning of leaving his country Uganda for another destination, the UK to start a new life.

His other siblings are Munawar, Khalid, Tahir, Zahid and Shahid (the youngest at only three years old when they were plucked out of Jinja and Uganda.

“…of course as a child, I was excited to have a new experience of boarding an aircraft, because the furthest place from home(Jinja) we ever went using a taxi was Kampala…,” he reminisces.

The shop, known as Anwar House, derived its name from the mother Anwar Begum who died in 1971 and was buried at the Muslim Cemetery opposite Jinja Regional Referral Hospital.

The bittersweet memory was revived this week with a face-lift to become the Digital Hub, dubbed ‘The TEAMS Digital Hub’ where young people will be equipped with skills to add value to the various Ugandan products for both local and exports.

Zahid, who signed a working Memorandum of Understanding with Jinja City Council is optimistic that with support and collaboration from key stakeholders, they will be able to deliver on President Yoweri Museveni’s persistent and consistent calls of value addition to African products.

Also read: Jinja vows to demolish TotalEnergies’ walls blocking road construction works 

“…we are going to add value to our coffee, groundnut paste(peanut), corn, banana, potato, jackfruit and others by ensuring they meet international standards…,” he stressed.

Already in talks with Uganda’s envoy to the UAE and others, Zahid is sure to equip hawkers in Jinja City with skills and decency in dressing and packaging, among others so that their quality of doing business is improved.

He also plans to buy quality organic produce from Lango where he is in touch with former Uganda’s ambassador to the United Kingdom Amb. Julius Peter Moto, whom he described as a colleague and nice fellow.

As a way of giving back, Zahid has already started doing some activities at Magwa Primary School where he was a pupil to ensure there is a decent sanitary facility, kitchen, gate and a functional water system.

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