The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Australia celebrated the 160th Anniversary of the arrival of the Afghan Cameleers in Australia in South Australia, on March 11 and 12th, 2021. After its inauguration in June 2020, the 160th Anniversary events postponed for 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Ambassador of Afghanistan, HE Wahidullah Waissi, hosted and chaired number of events in both cities. The events were attended by many Australian and Afghan community members who resided in South Australia, including descendants from the Afghan Cameleers, as well as representatives of local authorities in the city of Port Augusta where and when the disembarkation of the first group of Afghan cameleers had taken place on 12 March 1860.
In the sessions held in Adelaide and Port Augusta, the Afghan Cameleers descendants participated from different corners of Australia. Couples and individuals travelled from West Australia, Northern Territory, New South Wales and Victoria were among the participants. They met an Afghan Ambassador for the first time. In both events, the attended descendants were keen to hear about Afghanistan and their ancestor’s origin, history and culture of Afghanistan and its current affairs. They shared fond memories of their parents and grandparents from Afghanistan, their life after arrival in Australia and their legacies.
In a historic message, HE President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, reflected on the outstanding contribution of Afghan cameleers to Australian outback and people to people bonds between Australia and Afghanistan so that the legacy of Afghan cameleers to be kept alive across generations.
The ceremony also eventuated an academic session jointly chaired by Ambassador Waissi and Afghan Cameleers researcher and writer Dr. Pamela Rajkowsky. Academics, notably professors and experts of history, anthropology and art and many descendants of cameleers discussed the significant role of Afghan Cameleers to Australia’s intercontinental economic connectivity and cultural diversity as the first Moslems to Australia. The academic session also explored ideas and suggestions for future opportunities in people-to-people links between two friendly countries.
The Embassy of Afghanistan organised two wreath-laying ceremonies in Adelaide and Port Augusta in commemoration of the Afghan Cameleers by Ambassador of Afghanistan, Mayor of Port Augusta and representative of Afghan cameleers’ descendants.
In Adelaide, Ambassador Waissi also visited the “Adelaide Mosque” one the key icons that represent Afghan Cameleers’ contribution to the faith of Islam. It is also the oldest permanent mosque in Australia built in 1888. The tour of the mosque was organised by Sheik Helmi Bakhour, Imam of the mosque. Ambassador Waissi presented a praying matt as a gift of the Embassy to the Imam.
As part of his 3-day official visit, Ambassador Waissi met with high-ranking officials of South Australia, including Assistant Minister to the Premier Ms Jing Lee, the Leader of the Opposition at the Parliament of the South Australia, Mr Peter Malinauskas, and Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Ms Jayne Verschoor. All discussions focused on further strengthening bilateral ties between Australia and Afghanistan in various spheres.
For more information and background, click here.
To watch President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani's message to the Afghan Cameleers descendants, click here.
To watch interviews and history of the Afghan Cameleers, visit our YouTube Channel.