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KARACHI: Among many firsts that have recently been introduced in the country’s parliamentary politics — many of them are credited to the Pakistan Peoples Party — Tanzeela Qambrani is another soothing addition to the list for being the first Sindhi Sheedi woman to be part of the provincial legislature.

In Sindh’s society where its inhabitants with ancestry entrenched in Africa are still being discriminated against in various forms and manifestation, Tanzeela is no exception. She received her own share of prejudice from the society dominated by feudal class.

A postgraduate in computer science from the University of Sindh, Tanzeela, 39, is the first Sheedi who has returned to the Sindh Assembly on the PPP’s quota of reserved seats for women.

“This is a bold step (getting a Sheedi elected to Sindh Assembly) that required courage which no one but the son of Benazir Bhutto could do and he did it,” said Tanzeela, a mother of three, while speaking to Dawn.

It was not the first time that her party had tried to give her an elevated elected post. The PPP had nominated her to head the municipal committee in Matli in Badin district, which, “some influential people also from the PPP could not digest”.

An influential PPP member went against the party’s discipline and competed for the chairman’s post as an independent member. He got some other members on his back and got elected. The party challenged his election, but the election commission upheld it.

Tanzeela has the name which has great similarity with the country from where her great-grandparents had been brought to the southern coastline of Sindh.

“My father told us that his grandparents had been brought to Sindh now around a century ago from Tanzania,” she said.

“That’s why,” she said, “one of my sisters is married of in Tanzania”.

“Before this day,” said Tanzeela choked with emotions, “we, the Sheedi community, still were on the unending stairs of a ship. Today, it seems we have found the land after centuries of ordeal”.

With black complexion, big nose, curly hair and thick lips, Tanzeela would wear jeans and headscarf and “many of students would consider me as a Sudanese” and not many of them would pass pleasant comment about her in Sindhi.

She, however, said despite prejudices not everyone she came across outside the Sheedi community was a foe.

“Many kind souls came across me and they helped a great deal and the greatest example of it is our chairman Bilawal Bhutto,” she said.

Tanzeela’s father was a lawyer and mother got retired as a school headmistress.

“But, Mohammad Siddique Musafir, a great Sindhi Sheedi writer and teacher, was the real hero who taught many of us to live respectably.”

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2018