Haji Merali Kassam was born in 1916 in Mariya. After acquiring the basiceducation he left for Dar-es-Salaam at a young age of 14. He worked for oneand a half year in Dar-es-Salaam and Kondoa Irangi.

He went to Kampala and resided there for a year where three of his elderbrothers lived with their families. He then roamed for six years in the jungleof Toro (Fort Portal) and its surroundings in Uganda and the thicket of Congo.He lived alone without a family. Within this period, he sincerely tried hard toteach the natives about religion and quite a number of them embraced Islam.He was Hafiz-e-Qura'an and taught children and elders Qura'an recitation fora long time and earned himself a title of Sheikh Merali.


Brief History

After six years of lonely life when he involved himself in total devotion to hisCreator he was beckoned by some divine power to move out of the jungle. Hethen left for Mwanza where his sister and his cousin lived. After a few monthshe took off again travelled around Dodoma, Kondoa, Morogoro and then offto a small place called Boma on the way to Mombasa from Tanga, it was theyear 1939, First World War time. He planted a sisal estate there singlehandedly, as the sisal was growing the price of sisal shot up so the friend withwhom he worked changes his stand to "a friend for whom he worked" HajiMerali being a man of principle left overnight and headed to Pangani and gotinvolved in farming with a contact from whom he then bought the farm. Heplanted coconut, beetle nut, banana and sugarcane plantations and fruits suchas pineapple, oranges and tangerines. Later he started a twine business usingthe coconut husks utilizing the coconut in its totality. He made copra and soldto Pangani Industries and a buyer in Madagascar for making soap. He used theshell for fire and other cultural artifacts and the husks for making the twine.Unfortunately after a very short period of starting the new venture he passed away.

Due to his selflessness and generosity he earned implicit trust and respect within the Khoja community as well as the Pangani community at large. Theworkers he employed on his four farms, along the Banks of Pangani Rivernamely Mahuwiya, Kigaerwa, Jasini and Pungwe cried in grief on his demisefor a long time and lamenting that we have lost our godfather.

Haji Merali Kassam served as a secretary and an active member of Pangani Jamaat. Marhum was a person the whole community of Pangani depended onfor all sorts of assistance and guidance be it in sickness, defending in case ofany major disaster, financially or a shoulder to cry on. He hosted elaborateHussein Day Programmes for many years on his premises in Pangani where itis estimated that more than 2000 people converged from Tanga, Mombasa,Zanzibar Moshi, and Arusha. Prominent speakers from Zanzibar and Mombasawere invited to give inspiring lectures everyone loved to listen. Marhum andhis family hosted the Resident Aaalims for many years even after the death ofMarhum. He married Aminabai Abdrasul Rashid of Mwera in 1952. He passedaway at the age of 44, six months after he had an encounter with a cheetah ashe tried to save a friend who was brutally attacked by the cheetah. (Hisselflessness made him get out of his car to help despite the apparent risk tohis own life; the companion of his friend locked himself in the land rover theywere travelling in, due to fear of the inevitable)

He highly respected Marhum Ebrahim Shariff Dewji and the cause Marhum Ebrahim championed for the Federation of African Jamaats. Marhum Meraliwas a far sighted and a visionary individual who believed in education for allregardless of gender and status. He believed in progress and unity andsupported the Africa Federation and believed in its success. He trusted theleaders and their sincerity and conviction. He was a regular contributortowards the Federation and donated handsomely when the respected seniorstravelled around Africa to raise funds. He hosted the visitors when they visitedthe region Tanga and Pangani. On his death he bequeathed one fifth (20%) ofhis property to the Federation. The WILL of Marhum clearly stipulated that20% of his estate be gifted to the cause of the Federation, which his wifecomplied with and handed over the funds to the Federation withouthesitating despite the fact that she was widowed at the age of 33 with fouryoung daughters to raise.

Let us remember him with Sura-e-Fateha.

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