Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 81

Thursday, May 17, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Mr. Sherali Bandali Jaffer

Congratulations on Receiving Uganda’s National Independence Medal

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to honour my father, Sherali Bandali Jaffer, who was recently decorated with Uganda’s National Independence Medal, one of the highest awards granted by the government of Uganda. This medal, known as the Hero’s Award, was first awarded by Queen Elizabeth II in 1962, at the time of Uganda’s independence. It is an honour awarded to those individuals who have contributed significantly to Uganda’s struggle to obtain independence, as well as to those who continue to work diligently to protect its independence.

My father has devoted his life to creating a strong, independent Uganda and is extremely proud to have represented his Ugandan brothers and sisters as a city councillor and as a member of parliament under President Obote’s government.

In 1972, under the rein of Idi Amin, my father and our entire family were exiled and forced to leave Uganda, our country of birth, with nothing but the clothes on our backs. After seeking refuge in Vancouver and establishing successful businesses in Canada, my father chooses to continue to return to Uganda from time to time, as it is his place of birth.

Although my father contributed to the social, economic and political advancement of Uganda, his main focus has always been on the importance of education. Having personally sponsored over 1,000 Ugandan students and built a number of schools, including the Kibuli Mosque and School, now one of the best educational institutions in Uganda, my father has always firmly believed that investing in the education of young people would transform the lives of the most marginalized boys and girls and in turn help entire communities and countries to proper. During my travels, I have often crossed paths with individuals whom my father helped to educate, and I am truly humbled by the impact that he had on their lives. The importance my father placed on education also helped me to get to where I am today. Fifty years ago, when girls often did not receive higher education, my father sent me to England to study. It is because of his constant support, advice and guidance that I am able to rise before all of you today, in the Senate of Canada, and represent my province of British Columbia.

My father’s love for Uganda comes second only to the love he has for his family. He is a proud father of one son, five daughters, four sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, 13 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. We all consider ourselves exceptionally fortunate to be able to call such an amazing man our papa. Even in the darkest of times, he has always managed to bring light into our lives. Last night, I was incredibly touched to hear my grandson, Ayaan, say to my dad, “Papa, please return to Vancouver. I need you to sparkle my life. I miss you.” I agree with my grandson. My father has indeed put a sparkle not only in our lives but also in the lives of many Ugandans.