The Lord Mohamed Altaf Sheikh!

The Lord Mohamed Altaf Sheikh

In 2022, we had the honour of launching the inaugural World Kiswahili Day at the prestigious House of Lords in London, United Kingdom. It was a fitting choice to celebrate this beautiful language at the heart of democracy, symbolizing the global reach and significance of Kiswahili.

Our journey to the House of Lords was tied to a fortunate connection. A decade prior, our founder Q had encountered the esteemed Lord Sheikh at the House of Lords while covering an event for a Bristol community in 2010. This initial meeting revealed a remarkable coincidence as both Q and Lord Sheikh shared roots in Uganda and Kenya.

Driven by this connection, Q wasted no time in reconnecting with Lord Sheikh, who graciously invited him to India House for the launch of his book. Lord Sheikh’s endorsement of World Kiswahili Day and his subsequent sponsorship as our host at the House of Lords underscored his commitment to fostering cultural understanding and linguistic diversity.

However, just before the launch evening, Lord Sheikh fell ill, prompting Lord Boateng to arrange for Baroness Sandy Verma to host the event in his stead. Despite this change, the spirit of World Kiswahili Day remained strong, and we dedicated our gathering in the iconic River Room to the late Lord Sheikh, honouring his legacy and contributions.

Lord Mohamed Sheikh, Baron Sheikh of Cornhill, embodied a remarkable blend of entrepreneurship, philanthropy, academia, and literary prowess. Born in Kenya and raised in Uganda, with ancestral roots in India, he was a distinguished Conservative Member of the House of Lords.

His active involvement in parliamentary affairs, including co-chairing All-Party Parliamentary Groups and advocating for inter-faith dialogue and humanitarian causes, left an indelible mark on British politics and society.

I had the privilege of attending Lord Sheikh’s book launch, “An Indian in the House,” at India House in London. It marked a poignant moment, as it was our first and final meeting after a decade of mutual admiration and collaboration. His passing later in the year left a void in our hearts, but his spirit continues to inspire our endeavours, especially as we commemorate World Kiswahili Day in the hallowed halls of the House of Lords.