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4. Abdul Rasul Alidina Visram, Varas - page 9

He was born in Bagamoyo, Uganda. He was a trader and became known as the 'uncrowned king' in Uganda until 1922. The High School of Mombasa stands out as one of the shining examples of his many large-hearted charities. According to the report of the Times of India (June 8, 1919), the British bestowed him the title of M.B.E. (Member of British Empire) in appreciation of his invaluable services and loyalty to the British government.His appearance in the arena of community services began with the establishment of the Ismaili Council on November 5, 1905 when he was appointed as one of its member.

To fulfil the will of his father Varas Alidina Visram (1851-1916), he spent a colossal amount to settle the Indian Ismailis in Kenya and in Uganda. One of his initiatives was to build a musafarkhana for them. He also established a library opened to all Ismailis and presented it to the Imam on June 30, 1916. The Ismaili Council donated 40,000/- shillings for the erection of an Ismaili Boarding in Kampala, to which he financially contributed. In his letter of July 24, 1918, the Imam approved the scheme and declared to give a plot for it in Kampala.

He followed the tradition of his illustrious father by consolidating a school in Mombasa, Varas Alidina Visram High School, specially dedicated to the loving memory of his father. Its foundation stone was laid by the then British East African acting governor, C.C. Boringan on January 20, 1919. This institution provided adequate education to the Indian children, hence justifying the colossal amount of 250,000/- shillings spent on its creation. Khaki Shivji, a famous Ismaili architect from Karachi designed the building. Manohar Dass personally visited the school in 1937 and comments in his book, 'The Land of the Beauteous Black' (Bombay, 1937, p. 71) that, 'His Highness Aga Khan's High School at Mombasa, houses in a well-equipped and well-attended institution, which makes the pride of that town.'

He visited India in 1920, where he pledged donations with an open-hand to assist the destitute class. He visited Kathiawar on August 14, 1920, where he was greeted at Junagadh station by Varas Habib and Kul Kamadia Ghulam Hussain and the jamat. Mukhi Walji Dossa, Kamadia Mithabhai Ratansi (d. 1928), N.M. Budhwani (d. 1944) went to Junagadh and brought him by car in Dhoraji on August 19, 1920.

On November 8, 1920, he arrived in Nairobi, where Abdullah Suleman Damji accorded him a lunch party at the residence of M/S Valibhai Hashim & Co. The members of the Council and the Panjibhai Club were also invited to a meeting that he presided, and which discussed the welfare of the community. It lasted for two days and one night in the Jamatkhana. This particular jamat raised an amount of 297921 shillings, which was dedicated to The Khoja Sports Club.

In appreciation of his exceptional and remarkable services, the Imam bestowed upon him the title of Varas. He died on September 27, 1923.

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Abdul Rasul Alidina Visram, Varas

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