Sikh Cover story in Uganda

By AS Khalsa
On 28th May 2014, Monitor a national newspaper in Uganda , produced a cover story about the Sikhs in Uganda.

‘You could have seen them but may not know them. Yet they are an integral part of the country’s history. The Sikhs have been part of Uganda’s society from as far back as the colonial era, writes ‘
Abdulaziizi K. Tumusiime.

To read the article please click the following link :

Sikhs have been in Uganda for over 100 years but the local people know very little about them and mistake them for being Muslims. The Sikh Centenary Celebrations in Uganda at the end of last year was meant to bring awareness of the Sikhs and educate the indigenous people about the historical role the Sikhs played in the building of the country. Four postage stamps were issued showing Sikh symbols to bring our awareness and the centenary magazine published was welcome by everyone and educated many local people about our identity. .It was surprising to note that even the editors of newspapers knew little about the Sikhs. Any person with a brown skin in Uganda is known as an Indian whether it is Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi.

Unfortunately this sad state about our unknown identity is the same in other countries where Sikhs have lived for over hundred years. The examples are in the USA , Philippines, Thailand, Australia and some African countries. The writer recalls a Philippino air hostess describing that there were lots of people in Philippines who looked like him and that they had the same head gear. She did not know that these people were called Sikhs; that it was their religious obligation to wear the turban which she did not know what it was called.
I note that there is a move in the USA to hire the former Public relations person of Hillary Clinton to improve our image and bring awareness about us to the American public. This is a wonderful step forward and money well spent.

I think it is the duty of every Sikh to advertise and promote the image of our community. The so called leaders of the temples who claim to be Sikh leaders will have a nasty shock if they go outside their gurudwara , travel 200 yards and ask someone where is the Sikh temple ? The answer will invariably be : I don’t know. Such is the ignorance about us.
Would it be proper if all the gurudwarass contributed 10 percent of the Guru’s fund towards preaching about our Gurus and bring awareness of our community to their neibhours. The USA Sikhs seem to have woken up after paying heavy price for their isolation and continuous embarrassment.

Unless people, know our identity and what we stand for our neibhours will not respect us or appreciate our precious and valuable heritage as a community. A few Sikh in Uganda had made the efforts to bring this awareness. Now the Sikhs in USA are doing it professionally and aggressively. That is what we need to do in all countries in the world including India where the Sikhs live to bring awareness of a community with its glorious past and whose present is filled with various enterprises and achievements in all spheres of life.

‘You may have seen them but not know them’ . What an apt comment about the knowledge of our community from the Ugandan newspaper. Let us make sure that everyone, wherever in the world, knows about us and our identity..But we will need to work hard towards that aim; and come out of the four walls of the gurudwara.