Reunions has often been described as an emotional roller coaster ride. The same was observed in the “Jinja Reunion 2023” organised at the Radisson Red Hotel, Heathrow on Sunday 28 May, which evoked powerful emotions among the residents and the spouses.
Jinja Ratna Awards were presented to the members of the community for their outstanding achievements in several fields, 50 years since leaving Jinja.
The High Commissioner of Uganda to the UK and Ambassador Ireland H.E. Nimisha Madhvani said, “Whatever I am today is because of my family. I am very honoured that the president trusted me in this position. I hope I will be able to serve my country intelligently, with trust and honour.
"It’s good that President Museveni has invited all Ugandans to return their property. I urge all of you to come and visit Uganda. It’s a safe destination, actually Jinja, the source of the river Nile is heaven on earth. Fresh air, water, food, fresh pineapple, and Matunda juice all are inviting you. Please come to Uganda. We will give you Visas in two days. Just a few months ago, in Uganda, we observed the largest gathering- Lohana International Business Forum. I suggest organising the next reunion in Uganda.”
CB Patel, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar said, “Bhanubhai as a cricketer and philanthropist is our role model. I want to mention here that H.E. Nimisha Madhvani is the only Indian Woman across all the overseas countries who has served as High Commissioner in India and in the UK. It is not a small achievement. Only Jinja has regular reunions, very active and very powerful, all the people who are involved in this, I bow to them. Jinja’s reunion is not a small thing. Only a few months ago there was a fantastic conference of Lohanas. We all must learn from this. Ugandan Asians played a very important role in development, wherever they live.”
Veteran Cricket player Bhanubhai Patel said, “When there is a gathering you must make an effort to see the old friends and past achievements so don’t give the excuse that I didn’t have time, car or transport. You can manage even at this age; I drove the car and came here.”
The organiser of regular Jinja events, Bharat Ghelani said, “Uganda is a very welcoming country. One of the most natural and beautiful countries in the world. Visit, revisit, go back and look at your roots and think about investing. It is a safe country. Even the political climate is very safe. At the Lohana International Business Conference, delegates from 32 countries participated. Record-breaking attendings and meetings were noted.
He further said, “All the students in Jinja who either commuted from nearby villages or small towns to study in Jinja and all those who stayed with relatives to study in Jinja or were residents of Boarding Houses who did their Schooling in Jinja were invited to this reunion.”
Professional Photographer Bhupendra Jethwa said, “I devote 50 per cent of my time to charity.”
Chandubhai Nathwani, owner of VB and Sons said, “It seems that I am in Jinja not in London. This award is the blessing of my parents. They worked very hard. Even today my whole family is with us. We are the five brothers, and we all live together with our grandchildren.”
Himat Lakhani added, “In 1974 I started a charity free service on immigration, nationality, and human rights law. Without looking at nationality, origin, or religion we helped the people. To date, we have served more than 40,000 people from all over the world.”
Founder of the Jinja reunion, Jagdish Bulsara said, “Thank you for all the nominations done in my favour. I accepted this very reluctantly in the beginning because I thought it would be a very selfish act. But my nominators said I must accept the award and that is why on behalf of all the Jinjaits I accept this award gratefully.”
Mahesh Kotecha, President and founder of Structural Credit International Corp said, “Madhvani family and mine family go back three generations. Jinja could produce such an amazing group of people. If Uganda is a pearl of Africa, Jinja is the pearl of Uganda. My mother gives me a passion for learning, my father gave me a clear direction to my succession. On the 98th birthday of my mother Lilavati Kotecha who was a teacher, she has written poetry of a devotional kind.” He recited the poem Nil Ganga Na Neer Ni Yaadi Ma.
In a very emotional speech, Olympian Malkit Singh Sondh Kita said, “I don’t know in which language I should talk, Punjabi, Gujarati or Swahili. But the real thing is I am very proud today. Nothing more can be expected of what you have given to me. I am grateful to all those elders, sports fanatics who are watching us from heaven. Because of them, we all are standing here. Jinja will always live within us. It is the Vatan award, not the Ratan award.”
Jinja Ratna Awards
The ‘Jinja Ratna Award’ was presented for outstanding achievements since leaving Jinja for business, public life, political and educational fields to 24 personalities:
- Amama Thornley
- Ashok Lakhani
- Bhanubhai Patel
- Bharat Ghelani
- Bhupendra Jethwa
- Chander Mehta
- Chandubhai Nathwani
- Deepak Khazanchi
- Deven Lakhani
- Himat Lakhani
- Jagdish Bulsara
- Jasbir Singh Gill
- Jayant Upadhyay
- Mahesh Kotecha
- Malkit Singh Sondh
- Manoj Joshi
- Mayurbhai Madhvani
- Nazim Madhavji
- Nimisha Madhvani
- Raaj Gambhir
- Ravi Govinda
- Sudhirbhai Ruparelia
- Thakrar Family
- Umesh Patel