– firstly working in a shoe factory and later for Maynards Sweets factory. She still smiles every time she has a Wine Gum. And so the Ismailis from East Africa came to be settled in London, a small community in the 1950s and 1960s, which grew rapidly in the decade that followed. Those who had been businessmen and entrepreneurs back home started afresh. Some began by cooking food in their kitchens at home and selling it from their car boots, and are now well-known caterers in the Indian communities in the UK; others retrained; some never worked again. My own grandparents trained as seamsters – we still find things around the house today that they made for us. In 2008, on a Golden Jubilee visit to the UK, the Aga Khan gave a speech in which he recognised the role of Ismailis in the UK: “Our story in this country is a case study in the settlement of an immigrant community – one which originated from East Africa, the Indian subcontinent and now Central Asia. Upheavals in their native lands – wars of independence, civil wars, collapsed economies and other dislocations affected the Ismailis and millions of others around them. Today almost one third of my community in this country have been born in the United Kingdom. They have maintained their religious and cultural identity and they are well integrated into their local environment. It is a community in which over 90 per cent of the university-age population participate in tertiary education. The average household income is a third higher than the national average – although I say this with some trepidation as I hope we are not being overheard contribution it has made to the fabric and society of the UK is significant: you just have to look at the Asian Rich List (or indeed the Sunday Times Rich List) to see where people have ‘made it’. But it’s not just about wealth – Ismailis are known for their strong ethic of service. In keeping with the values of the faith, many give their time, knowledge and material resources within the community as well as to wider society, on a voluntary basis to improve the lives of those less fortunate. Around by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs!” Though the Ismaili community is small, the

Concordia Winter 2023


A family photo from Uganda

Zakiy’s grandfather, Bapsi, with Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan in Naples in 1972

700 Ismailis participated as Games Makers during the London Olympics in 2012; and during Spring 2020, at the height of the pandemic, I was pleased to lead the team that launched Ismaili CIVIC in the UK, an organisation of several hundred volunteers, engaged with communities, charitable organisations and all levels of Government. Faith, rather, is a force that should deepen our concern for our worldly habitat, for embracing its challenges, and for improving the quality of human life – and it is these qualities that will continue to drive Ismailis throughout the world.

Zakiy’s mother and aunt outside their home in Islington

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