WITH great pomp and ceremony, Uganda celebrated the 52nd Independence Anniversary of the country that was attended by the Ugandan establishment and several African heads of state.
The country’s highest civilian award, the Gold Medal, was awarded to 21people who had contributed to the development of the country during the past 50 years. It was witnessed by some 10,000 people who had assembled at the Kololo Airstrip in Kampala, the venue of celebrations. The celebrations were relayed live on the Ugandan TV channels.
Among the recipients of the Gold Medal were five Asians. Three of them were the late Muljibhai Madhvani, Nitin Madhvani and Jayant Madhvani (industrialists). Mayur Maddhvani, who is married to actress Mumtaz, collected the medal for his father Muljibhai Madhvani.
Another recipient was Sardar Sarnagat Singh Gupta popularly known as SS Gupta, a very prominent businessman in Mbarara, Uganda. He was the only Sikh in Uganda to receive the “Coronation Medal” from the Queen and was honored and shook hands with the Queen and the Queen Mother.
He was also affectionately referred to as “Father of Ankole” (the Ankole District of Uganda) for his philanthropic activities. He was always very keen to help the local Africans in whatever way he could. It seems he always had the welfare of local African people at heart. He not only helped in providing free education to the young people who came to him but also gave interest free loans to African farmers in Ankole. They felt that he was like a father to them.
One of his sons, Amarjit Singh Gupta, a businessman, has lived in the Lower Mainland since the expulsion of Uganda Asians by Idi Amin in 1972.
The fifth Sikh recipient of the Gold Medal was Sardar Tarlok Singh Chowdhary, a former civil servant and the father of Justice Anup Singh Choudry, a former High Court judge in Uganda. Justice Choudry collected the medal for his late father TS Chowdhary. [Justice Choudry changed the spelling of his name from Chowdhary.]
The medals were awarded by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, as the heads of states and the public watched. The ceremony of the award of medals concluded with a group photograph with the President.