The phrase “triumphing in the face of adversity” could have been especially created for Jamilla Govani. Few people can have a more inspiring story to tell—a tale that involves starting all over again after her life was shattered, almost literally overnight.
At the tender age of ten, Jamilla suddenly found herself being spirited out of her beloved Uganda, her native country. Cowering in the back of a lorry, she and other members of her family endured a hazardous and terrifying journey to the airport with gunfire in the near distance. Her father and a couple of uncles and an aunt were left behind. Idi Amin had declared the remaining Asians stateless. Prince Sadruddin Agakhan, the commissioner to the UN, negotiated a safe haven for these Asians who were then evacuated to UN camps over countries in Europe.
She was one of the lucky ones who made it—many didn’t—and then the challenge of a lifetime awaited her. She was one of the 80,000 Asians expelled from Uganda by President Idi Amin, at the height of his brutal, despotic rule that represented one of the most shameful chapters in the history of mankind. Not only he expelled the Asians but had five hundred thousand Ugandans killed by his soldiers at no fault of their own.
Jamilla and her family were among 30,000 Ugandan Asians who resettled in England, arriving in that country virtually penniless and with little more than the clothes they were standing up in.
They had to start all over again. Forty years later, Jamilla can reflect on a life of great achievement on many fronts with the grace of the Almighty, clearing constant hurdles along the way that would have defeated many a weaker personality. Today she is an accomplished businesswoman and the mother of three beautiful children who are integrated into the British society with great pride.
The scars have healed, but the memories always remain. Last year, Jamilla visited Uganda, the village where she grew up, and as she stood on the banks of Lake Kyogi, the world stood still, and the memories of her childhood flooded through.
Despite seemingly every conceivable provocation, she has never lost her faith. Now, as she fights yet another great battle, she has taken time out to write her autobiography. For anyone seeking inspiration and evidence that life’s challenges are there to be met head-on, they need look no further than Jamilla as their role model. When one door closes, another always opens.
About Jamie Govani
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Published September 28, 2012
Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences.