The Darkhana building dates back to July 1936, when the foundation stone was laid in an area of Kampala where a large number of Ismailis from South Asia had begun to settle, seeking economic opportunity in East Africa. Upon Hazar Imam’s ascension to the Imamat in 1957, Ismailis around the world commemorated his installation as the Imam (Takht Nashini) in various countries, including Uganda. In October 1957, a Takht Nashini ceremony was held on the grounds of Darkhana, Kampala; the memory of which has remained in the hearts of all who attended.
The Diamond Jubilee Hall, a multi-purpose facility serving as an extension, was donated and opened soon after. Built to commemorate Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah’s Diamond Jubilee, the hall still stands today, echoing the continuity of Imamat, as we celebrate Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee.
The exodus of Asians in the 1970s led to the building being unused for many years, until the Ugandan Jamat re-entered Darkhana in 1990. Shortly thereafter, Hazar Imam graced a steadily growing Ugandan Jamat with Deedar in 1992 — the first since the 1970’s — once again held inside the Jamatkhana at Darkhana, which stood as an emblem of the Jamat’s heritage and resilience. The Imam’s Golden Jubilee Darbar in 2007, and subsequent Deedar in 2011 were also held there.
The Darkhana Kampala is symbolic of the Jamat’s long history in East Africa, a history characterised by enterprise, continuity, turbulence, and resilience. Today, at Darkhana, the Ugandan Jamat will be graced with the first Darbar of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee year, where a new set of memories will be made and cherished for years to come.