Archives

A regularly updated collection of historical records and  from the Africa Federation archives.

Daring and Adventurous Journey to East Africa – A brief Profile of Alhaj Remtulla Kassam Gulamali from Cutch Mundra, India


  

Remtulla Kassam Gulamali Bhagat was born in 1864 in Mundra, Cutch, India. In 1879, he and his brother Haji travelled to Pangani by dhow. The two brothers operated a partnership for two years. Remtulla decided to travel to Mogadishu, Somalia where he operated a business for five years. Finding no success in business, he moved to Merca, Somalia in 1886. At Merca, the business flourished very well and in a short period his concern became famous throughout the coast of East Africa.

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A HISTORICAL CHRONICLE

THE FIRST EVER KHOJA SHIA ITHNA-ASHERI CONFERENCE HELD IN CUTCH MUNDRA IN INDIA IN 1933


Since severing the umbilical cord with the mainstream Aga Khani Khojas which propounded Nizari Ismaili faith, the new splinter group of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheris in India were busily engaged in several fronts to identify, consolidate, and strengthen the infant community. The rivalry and confrontation between original and splinter group was rampant, occasionally violent and very often showed its ugly head in social mercantile activities of both the communities. The first pressing task of the leader of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri community was to establish and widen network of Jamaats and with it Mosques, Imambarghas, and Madrassahs had to be acquired or built. To an acceptable degree this was achieved between 1880 and 1933. Under this climate the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri community labored with a dream: to establish a federation that would unite the community. This was the vision of Seth Dawood Haji Nasser who created the Cutch Federation but due to the War, it was still-born and picked up its root in Africa where it flourished progressively. 

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OUR COMMUNITY IN JINJA, UGANDA

After a long sea journey from India, Nasserbhai Pardhan arrived in Zanzibar in 1900. He lived there for four years followed by 18 months in Pemba and 18 months in Tanganyika before opening a shop at Changamwe, a suburb of Mombasa. After spending four months at Changamwe, he travelled to Kisumu by train and onwards to Jinja by boat.
 
In 1908 Jinja was a very small town. The houses were of two types, those made of iron sheets and those made of mud with thatched roofs. Our community members who had shops in Jinja were Walji Bhanji, Haji Merali, Abdulla Nathoo and Juma Muman. Nasser Pardhan joined in the employment of Haji Merali. Another employee was Suleman Esmail. Mohamed Manek was an employee of a famous entrepreneur Alidina Visram. Our community consisted of 7 families. 
 
Abdulla Nathoo had constructed a special room made of iron sheets in the compound of his house to be used for majlis. A famous Sunni Aalim Molvi Abdulla Shah used to recite majlis. Haji Tamachi Turk, a famous Sunni brother who had very friendly and cordial relations with our members used to sponsor nyaz and majlis. The Nyaz on 12th Muharram was regularly sponsored by him. His departure from Jinja in 1958 resulted in changes in our regular programme. There were four Bohra families who were close to our community. The nyaz on 9th Muharram was regularly sponsored by a Bohra community member Abdulhussein Kadarbhai. After 1958, the Bohra community started having their own programmes due to increase in their population.

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MARHUM JANAB GULAMHUSSEIN MOHAMED VALLI DHARSI (JANAB SALSABIL) REMEMBERED


The late Gulamhusein Mohamed Valli Dharsi who later became famous by the use of the pen-name of “SALSABIL” was the eldest son of Mohamed Valli Dharsi and was born in Zanzibar in 1887. He was brought up by Janab Saleh Hassan, his maternal grandfather. After finishing his studies, he joined his father’s booming textile business, together with his two younger brothers Habib and Kassamali.

Mohamedbhai Valli Dharsi passed away in Zanzibar in 1923 after returning to Zanzibar from Ziyarat in Iraq, Gulamhuseinbhai and his two younger brothers managed their father’s business until 1930 when it was wound up.

Gulamhuseinbhai received his early education at Sir Euan Smith Madressa, (a famous Gujarati and English educational institution in Zanzibar, renamed Haile Selassie School after the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964). With his vast studies he could speak Urdu, English, Farsi, Gujarati, Arabic and Kiswahili. His fondness for reading and writing was remarkable. He soon built up his own private library which, at the time of his demise consisted of some 2000 (two thousand) books which included some rare and valuable collections in English, Gujarati, Urdu, and Arabic. His private Library also contained several important literary and classical works which he had won as prizes in school competitions.

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WELCOMING THE YOUTH TO THE AFED ARCHIVES SECTION

The Archives section under the Africa Federation Secretariat has resumed working on the digitization of documents, books and files in possession in the Archives section.  It is expected that once this exercise is completed, a directory of all such documents will be prepared for ease of reference.
 
The Africa Federation Secretariat is pleased to introduce and welcome the following three youths who have wholeheartedly come forward to provide the much needed voluntary services to the Archives section. This will also provide them with unique opportunity to learn and grasp history of our Community. They are the future torch-bearers of our Community and AFED is making all efforts to encourage the youths through Afed Youth Network (AYN) to develop in them sense of leadership leading to progress, productivity and prosperity.
 
In his remarks, Alhaj Murtaza Jivraj (Kerbala), the Sectional Secretary of Archives said - “I am very pleased to state that the work undertaken by these three dedicated hardworking Volunteers is progressing well. I applaud them for contributing their valuable time, and the commitment and enthusiasm they have shown in helping to sort out and record the historical documents in our possession. I look forward to the success of this assignment in the next 2 years which will make it convenient for all interested Community members to access the information”.

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THE ADVENTUROUS FOOTMARK OF HAJI SIWJI SOMJI

Siwjibhai Somji was born on 21st December 1882 in India. At the age of 18, he travelled from India to Zanzibar in a dhow. He joined in employment of Gulamhussein Somji Lilani in Zanzibar at a salary of 100 rupees a year.
 
After one year he joined at Remtulla Allarakhia Tejani for 4 months. Siwjibhai left this job and travelled to Kilwa by ship named ‘Governor”. He then travelled from Kilwa to Songea on foot taking with him tents, laborers and food. He used to walk 6 hours every day. It took them 24 days to reach Songea – a distance of 320 miles. He started working at his brother Jaffer Somji’s shop in Songea. After a year he went back to India for marriage.

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An Account of the Brave Journey of Late Dawood Nasser Haji Mowjee from Aden in Yemen to Kutch in India

(By Roshanali Haji Dawood Nasser)

This is the story of how my father Dawood Nasser Haji Mowjee who was born on 12th March 1889 in Mukalla in Quaiti State which was in Eastern Aden British Protectorate (now Yemen) was brought to Mandvi Port in India by dhow.
 
My dearest grandmother Sakinabai died at Mukalla on 25th March 1889 when my father was about 13 days old.  My grandfather Haji Nasser Haji Mowjee was very much saddened by her death and the fact that he now had to leave Mukalla forever.   
 
As there was no steam-ship service in those days, my grandfather decided to leave with my father by a small sailing boat (dhow) of about 200 tons’ capacity which was sailing for Mandvi Port in India.

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HAJI MOHAMEDBHAI MANJI WALLI – HIS ILLUSTRIOUS WORK IN KSI JAMAAT OF DODOMA 

Haji Mohamedbhai Manji Walli was born in 1910 in Kutch, Mundra in India.  Mohamedbhai came to East Africa in 1928. He first landed in Tanga and worked for Suleiman Khimji.

In 1933 he migrated to Dodoma. In Dodoma he worked for Remtulla Pirbhai.  While in Dodoma, he served Dodoma Jamaat as its Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Mukhi. He also looked after the Supreme Council properties in Dodoma and Kondoa.

In order to enliven and continue the mission of Imam Hussein (AS) in the town of Dodoma, Mohamedbhai initiated the construction of Dodoma Imambargha.

He sacrificed his time to supervise the project and worked heartily in collaboration with Haji Gulamabbas Pirbhai of Arusha and Haji Abdulrasul bhai Molu Chatoo of Dar es Salaam to collect funds from Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi, Singida, Bukoba and Kigoma.

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The Archives Section of the Africa Federation marks the 17th year of the passing away of Mulla Asgharali M. M. Jaffer with this special issue of the Archives News Bulletin.



17 years ago, on 21st March, 2000, Mulla Asgharali was sitting in the London Office of the World Federation of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities talking to Maulana Kalbe Abbas, resident Aalim of the London Jamaat at that time, sadly Mulla suffered a massive heart attack and passed away while still sitting in his chair.

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MULLA HAJI JANMOHAMED KERMALLI MURJI RAWJI - MADAGASCAR

 
Mulla Haji Janmohamed Kermalli Murji Rawji was born in Hadiyana, Gujarat in 1893. He completed Gujarati medium primary education upto Class 7. He abandoned his studies in English language after one month due to some difficult circumstances.
 
An incident in 1904 led Janmohamedbhai and his family an opportunity to accept the Shia Ithnaasheri faith. Murabbi Bahadurali Mawji (formerly Bhanji) of Mombasa was known to have changed his name after converting to Ithnaasheri faith. He had arrived at Hadiyana on the occasion of wedding of his son Kassamali to the daughter of Murji Rawji who was an Ismaili.

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HAJI HASSIM RAJPAR HAJI – FROM CUTCH TO ZANZIBAR, EAST AFRICA

 
Hassim Rajpar Haji was born in Nangalpur, Cutch, India in 1862. At a young age, he travelled to Zanzibar by dhow and joined in the employment of Nasser Noormohamed. In 1881, he moved to Nosibe, where there was a branch office of Nasser Noormohamed in Madagascar.
 
At that time Madagascar was ruled by a Queen. There was a tradition among the Sakalava tribe of Madagascar that upon the death of the Panjaka (King), his close friend would be buried alive with him to give him company in death.  
 

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