Educated in Tanzania and the UK, where he was called to the Bar at the Inns of Court in London, Al Noor Kassum was a prominent figure in Tanzanian politics and the Ismaili Muslim community after the country's independence. He held several ministerial positions within the Tanzanian government and was also the East African Community's Minister of Finance and Administration. He has also held senior positions in Unesco and at the UN Headquarters in New York. Currently, he is Vice-Chancellor of Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania.
Al Noor Kassum has written a fascinating personal memoir of extraordinary times in newly independent Tanzania. There is a great dearth of literature on the experience of many young African nations who were granted independence in the 1960's. This book helps in a small yet useful measure to fill the gap.
The book is lucidly written with the objectivity that can be expected of a lawyer called to the Bar at the Inns of Court in London. More importantly, Kassum presents the African side of political and economic issues, advancing his case in a careful, step by step manner. The personal style of narration makes it highly readable.
He also discusses how his Ismaili Muslim faith had a great influence on him. In a very modest line on page 3, Kassum indicates his family donated the lands in Dar es Salaam on which the Aga Khan Hospital and an Aga Khan School were built.
In 1954, Aga Khan III appointed Kassum as the Administrator of the Aga Khan schools in Tanganyika. As an alumni of one of the many Aga Khan schools in Tanzania, it was a great treat to read about and relish the strength of vision that led to the development of the schools. The quality of the schools undoubtedly aided in my becoming a lawyer in Canada.
During the tumultuous times that followed, Kassum held several ministerial positions in the Tanzanian government. He should feel a deep sense of satisfaction at the committed contribution he has made to the betterment of his country and community.
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