Amir H. Jamal

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Amir H. Jamal
આમિર જમાલ
Amir Jamal.jpg
Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the United Nations Office at Geneva
In office
Appointed by Ali Hassan Mwinyi
2nd Minister of Finance
In office
Preceded by Edwin Mtei
Succeeded by Kighoma Malima
In office
Preceded by Cleopa Msuya
Succeeded by Edwin Mtei
In office
Preceded by Paul Bomani
Succeeded by Cleopa Msuya
Member of Parliament
for Morogoro
In office
Succeeded by Shamim Khan
Personal details
Born (1922-01-26)26 January 1922
Dar es salaam, Tanganyika
Died 21 March 1995(1995-03-21) (aged 73)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Nationality Tanzanian
Political party CCM
TANU (1962–1977)
Spouse(s) Zainy Kheraj
Shahsultan Cassam
Children 4
Alma mater University of Calcutta (BCom)
Ethnicity Indian (Khoja)

Amir Habib Jamal (26 January 1922 – 21 March 1995) was a Tanzanian politician and diplomat who served as a Minister under various portfolios in the Julius Nyerere administration.[1][2] He represented the parliamentary constituency of Morogoro from 1960 to 1985,[3] and was Tanzania's longest-serving Finance Minister and led the ministry for about 12 years.

Early life

Jamal was born in British administered Tanganyika, which was at the time a League of Nations mandate. He was born to Gujarati parents of Indian ancestry.[4] He was the son of Kulsum Thawer and Habib Jamal, a founding member of the Asian Association. He was educated in his hometown of Mwanza and pursued his secondary education in Dar es Salaam. He graduated from the University of Calcutta in India with a BCom in economics.[1]

He had intended to train as a doctor at the University of Bombay but despite his high marks, he didn't get into the medical faculty.[5] In 1942, he attended a meeting of the Indian National Congress where Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the British from India.[6] Upon graduation, he returned to Dar es Salaam and joined the family business.[5]

He first met Julius Nyerere in 1952 at a reception hosted by the British Council in honour of the latter's return as a graduate of Edinburgh University.[7] He was a veteran of Tanganyika's independence movement and in 1955, "helped to pay for Nyerere's visit to the United Nations" in New York City, USA.[8]

At first, Jamal had "leanings towards Fabian Society"; but thereafter joined the Asian Association.[9] In 1958, he was elected to the Legislative Council.[1] In 1962, Jamal joined the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) as its first non-African member.[10]



In 1965, Jamal was appointed as Minister of Finance.[1] Two years later, the Arusha Declaration was proclaimed and the nation adopted a socialist path. Between 1972 and 1975, he was appointed as Minister for Commerce and Industries; and in this capacity he initiated a number of industrial projects in Morogoro Region.[11] He led the Finance Ministry once again between 1975 and 1977. Following the dissolution of the former East African Community in 1977, he was transferred to the Communication and Transport docket which he led for about two years. He had an arduous task of creating new national corporations and agencies.[12] He led the Finance Ministry for a third time between 1979 and 1983.[1]

In 1980, he served as Chairman of the 35th Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group. Upon his arrival in Washington, D.C., he was surprised when IMF staff presented him with a draft for his opening speech. He politely declined saying that he had brought his own.[13] As Chairman, his instruction to invite the Palestine Liberation Organization as an observer to the annual meeting was refused by the World Bank President.[14] He denounced the IMF as a relic of World War II designed to protect the West.[15]

Between 1983 and 1984, Jamal served as Minister without Portfolio and as Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs from 1984 to 1985.[1]


In 1985, he was appointed as Head of the country's Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva.[1]

He served as Chair of both the InterPress Service and Governing Council of the Sokoine University of Agriculture. He was also the Honorary Executive Director of the South Centre and a trustee of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation from 1978 to 1993.[1]

Personal life

He married twice and had three sons and one daughter.[1] He was a member of the Khoja community and an adherent of Nizari Isma'ilism.[16]

Jamal died on 21 March 1995 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada at the age of 73.[17] According to Sophia Mustafa, Nyerere's efforts to have Jamal's remains repatriated to Tanzania were in vain.[18] Nyerere in his tribute called him a "person of absolute integrity.. never a Yes man" and was "privileged to count him a friend".[3] Tanzanian scholar and writer Godfrey Mwakikagile described him as "more of a technocrat than a politician".[19]

In another one of his books, The People of Ghana: Ethnic Diversity and National Unity, in which he has also written about Nyerere's and Nkrumah's shared Pan-African commitment and uncompromising stand against racism, Godfrey Mwakikagile also states the following about Amir H. Jamal:

"Amir H. Jamal was the most intellectual cabinet member in the first independence cabinet besides Nyerere and the longest-serving minister of finance in the country's history. He held other high-profile ministerial posts and was one of the most respected and most knowledgeable cabinet members....He was a close friend of Nyerere.

A technocrat of high intellectual calibre, he was independent-minded and the best adviser Nyerere had. He had sharp political instincts but as a public servant never did anything for political expediency. His integrity was unimpeachable. I knew him when I was a news reporter."

Honors and awards


Year Country Order
2014  Tanzania The Order of Union – First Class (posthumous)[20]

Honorary degrees

Year University Country Award
1973 Uppsala University  Sweden Doctor of Science (economics)[21]
1980 University of Dar es Salaam  Tanzania Honoris causa[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Europa Publications (2003). The International Who's Who 2004. Psychology Press. pp. 804–. ISBN 978-1-85743-217-6. 
  2. ^ "Biography: Amir H. Jamal". Centre for Global Negotiations. Archived from the original on 2015-07-25. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Amir Habib Jamal: A Tribute from Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere" (PDF). Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation. 1995. p. 95. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-07-25. Retrieved 25 July 2015. 
  4. ^ Godfrey Mwakikagile (2006). Life Under Nyerere. Intercontinental Books. pp. 95–. ISBN 978-0-9802587-2-1. 
  5. ^ a b Judith Márffy-Mantuano Hare Countess of Listowel (1965). The Making of Tanganyika. Chatto & Windus. 
  6. ^ Vassanji 2014, p. 327
  7. ^ Colin Legum; G. R. V. Mmari (1 January 1995). Mwalimu: The Influence of Nyerere. James Currey Publishers. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-0-85255-386-2. 
  8. ^ Ronald Aminzade (31 October 2013). Race, Nation, and Citizenship in Post-Colonial Africa: The Case of Tanzania. Cambridge University Press. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-1-107-04438-8. 
  9. ^ K. L. Jhaveri (1 January 1999). Marching with Nyerere: Africanisation of Asians. B.R. Publishing Corporation. ISBN 978-81-7646-091-0. 
  10. ^ James R. Brennan (29 May 2012). Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania. Ohio University Press. pp. 186–. ISBN 978-0-8214-4417-7. 
  11. ^ Mtei 2008, p. 143
  12. ^ Mtei 2008, p. 137
  13. ^ Godfrey Mwakikagile (2006). Tanzania Under Mwalimu Nyerere: Reflections on an African Statesman. Intercontinental Books. pp. 201–. ISBN 978-0-9802534-9-8. 
  14. ^ Henry G. Schermers; Niels M. Blokker (11 August 2011). International Institutional Law: Unity Within Diversity, Fifth Revised Edition. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 589–. ISBN 90-04-18798-7. 
  15. ^ "Coping with world inflation". Chicago Tribune. 2 October 1980. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  16. ^ Hirji, Karim F. (20 July 2014). Growing Up With Tanzania: Memories, Musings and Maths. Mkuki na Nyota Publishers. pp. 24–. ISBN 978-9987-08-223-0. 
  17. ^ "Amir Jamal passes away". 23 March 1995. Archived from the original on 2015-07-25. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  18. ^ Vassanji 2014, p. 328
  19. ^ Godfrey Mwakikagile (2007). Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era. Intercontinental Books. pp. 664–. ISBN 978-0-9802534-1-2. 
  20. ^ "President honours 86 for selfless service". Daily News. Dar es Salaam. 27 April 2014. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  21. ^ "Honorary Doctors: Jamal, Amir". Retrieved 5 August 2015. 
  • Mtei, Edwin (31 December 2008). From Goatherd to Governor: The Autobiography of Edwin Mtei. African Books Collective. ISBN 978-9987-08-030-4. 
  • Vassanji, M.G. (14 October 2014). And Home Was Kariakoo: A Memoir of East Africa. Doubleday Canada. ISBN 978-0-385-67144-6. 

External links

  • Jamal with Andy Chande, 1964 (image)
  • Amir Jamal and Y B Chavan sign a friendship and co-operation agreement (video)
  • Opening address by Amir Jamal, Chairman of the 35th Annual IMF and WBG Meetings, p. 4
  • Exposing the IMF and World Bank, an Address by Amir Jamal, Finance Minister of Tanzania
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