By Fazal Amin Beg (based on an interview in 2014)
Ahmad Jami Sakhi son of Bashran Ali, belonging to the Sakhi lineage group within the Quli clan, was born in village Passu, Gojal, Hunza in 1954. He has five children (three sons and two daughters) who live in Gilgit city, GB Headquarter on permanent basis, for the past 30 years since 1984.
Ahmad Jami Sakhi got his primary level education from his native village in Diamond Jubilee school, Passu, then, managed and supervised under the former Hunza State. At that time, the entire upper Hunza valley lacked Middle and High level educational facilities. Therefore, only three options were available to parents: either to send their children to central Hunza in the only middle school of entire Hunza; or to Gilgit in the High school No.1; or to cease their education. Jami Sakhi was one of the lucky students of his area that his elder brother was serving with Northern Scouts (NS). Availing this opportunity, his father, being a clergy, advised his elder son and sent Jami to Gilgit for further education. He got admission in class 6 in the High School No. 1, Gilgit. Jami thus, acquired his middle and secondary level education from FG. High School No.1 from 1967-1972 and qualified his matriculation examination from the Board of Secondary Education, Lahore in 1972.
The 1971 War between Pakistan and India influenced the emotional youths of the time including Jami, who opted to join the Pakistan military forces with the aim to fight against the Indian forces and release their countrymen, captured in Bengal, then, East Pakistan and imprisoned in India. He served with Signal Corps of Pak Army for a couple of years and then resigned as the prisoners of war (PoW) were released as a result of political dialogue and Shimla Accord (agreement) between the two nations in 1973. He then, proceeded to Karachi in pursuance of his higher secondary level education from government city college, Nazimabad, Karachi. He got admission in Karachi University and got his BA (Hons), and MA in Sociology with distinction by obtaining Grade “A” and stood first in his class in 1982.
After earning his Master’s degree, Jami Sakhi also got an opportunity of availing an award of international scholarship by the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), London in 1983. He had completed the first year of his two years Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) from the Institute of Education (IoE) University of London. He was on summer vacations in his native village Passu, Hunza in 1984, when he was offered a position with the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP), Gilgit (established in December 1982). At that time, there was dearth of human resources at local level to serve and sustain the organizations.
Jami thus served AKRSP for over 12 years (September 1984-June 1995), especially, in the fields of social organization, training, documentation, publication and dissemination.
Afterwards, Ahmad Jami Sakhi opted for and acquired experience in teaching in the Al-Azhar Model School and College, Gilgit for three years. Then, he joined International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1999 and served as Environment Education Officer in KVO Conservancy of Gilgit Region for more than two years. Since January 2002, Jami has been serving the Professional Development Center, North (PDCN), an affiliate outreach organization of the Aga Khan University-Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) in various capacities; such as, Research Associate-cum-Executive Assistant in 2002; then, he was promoted to the post of Academic Admin Officer in January 2007 and his position was enhanced as “Associate, Academic Administration” on 1st November 2013 that he continues till date.
The history of literary activities and contributions of Jami goes back to the second half of 1970s when, he was serving voluntarily as Honorary Secretary and then, followed by as Magazine Secretary of the Gojal Ismaili Students Association, Karachi (GISAK). For the first time in the history of upper Hunza, GISAK published an Urdu magazine entitled “وخ – وسط ایشیا میں (The Wakhi in Central Asia) including primary information on Wakhi ethnic group, their language and culture. This Magazine also included some folk tales and Wakhi poems narrated and compiled by different Wakhi students residing in Karachi to draw their attention towards creativity.
Jami entered his professional life, as a Social Organizer followed by Training Officer with AKRSP, Gilgit, utilized his time and resources meaningfully by producing several articles, personal profiles and village profiles that were published in “UJALA”. He also compiled and published more than 60 proceedings of the Presidents’ and Managers’ Conferences in booklet form during his attachment to AKRSP.
Keeping in view the negative aspects of globalization on the smaller languages of Gilgit-Baltistan in general; and Wakhi language in particular in the 1990s, Jami Sakhi initiated a Wakhi Primer offering dual transcription/writing system (Perso-Arabic & Latino-Greek based Alphabets) to his stakeholders and got it published in 2002.
After the establishment of the Wakhi Tajik Cultural Association (WTCA), Hunza, in 1991 and its robust struggle, for the first time, representation to Wakhi language was given on 1st November, 1996 on the radio media (PBC) by the Ministry of Information. Jami Sakhi was the first voice in Wakhi Barnama-Sado e Bom e Dunyo and one of the founding artists of the Radio Pakistan Gilgit. He served the Wakhi Barnama to the best of his ability and capacity as compere and news reader for almost 18 years (1996-2014) as part-time artist. He introduced several voices and part-time artists in Wakhi Barnama and received high appreciation from the PBC, Gilgit Officials. He is also one of the recipients of “Award for best performance” from PBC, Gilgit.
In the field of poetry, Jami Sakhi got inspiration and stimulation from his Wakhi colleagues, who were either part of Wakhi Barnama or attended different thematic poetic sessions in Gilgit city. Jami is of the opinion that poetry plays a vital role in preservation, sensitization and promotion of any language. It is good that the Wakhi people, especially the youth, are more attracted towards this field. Jami has also composed some poems around devotional and some lyrical genres.
Jami has also rendered voluntary services in several community organizations in leading positions and has received appreciation for his honest and dedicated services.