Archives

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

MARHUM HAJI MOHAMEDALI JANMOHAMED KESSANI

Marhum Haji Mohamedali Janmohamed Kessani was born in Mikindani, southern Tanganyika in 1896. His father Janmohamed Kessani was born in Mundra, Kutch and had lived for many years in Mikindani where he died. After the death of his father in 1900, Mohamedalibhai’s relatives arranged for him to be sent to a boarding primary school in Mumbai. He completed Level 2 Gujarati primary education in 1902. A renowned businessman from Mogadishu, Fazalbhai Hasham, while in Mumbai, offered him a job and he travelled with him to Mogadishu in 1908. After working at Fazalbhai for 15 years, he started his own business.

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FAZAL REMTULLA VIRANI
(1892-1971) - Chiungutwa, Southern Tanzania

 In 1908, at the age 16, Fazalbhai travelled from India and landed in Tanga. After three days in Tanga he went to Pangani where he joined in the employment of Mr Mohamed Karim for 6 months. He then worked for Mr Mohamed Tharoo for 3 years. In 1912 he left Tanga with 4 labourers on a 20 day trip to Singida (300 miles away) on foot. He worked for Jaffer Khimji in Singida for 12 months.
 
Fazalbhai decided to start his own business. He bought cattle in Singida and went on a 25-day journey on foot to Korogwe where he sold the cattle. He continued this business for 3 years. The business was going on well but an incident in 1916 made him to drop the business. While traveling to Korogwe, he reached Kondoa-Irangi where British rule was already established after the defeat of the Germans.

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Brief Information of Pemba Island 

Pemba known as 'Al Jazeera Al Khadra' (the green island, in Arabic) is an island forming part of the Zanzibar archipelago, lying off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. It is situated about 60 km to the north of the island of Zanzibar. It lies 50 km east of mainland Tanzania. Together with Mafia Island (south of Zanzibar), they form the Spice Islands.
 
The estimated population of Pemba Island is about 300,000, with an area of 980 km². The island of Pemba currently has 4 districts; they are Chake Chake, Mkoani, Wete and Micheweni.
 
Pemba Island is the untouched and pristine island of great beauty and fertility. The mosaic of forests, swamps, mangroves, hidden beaches and lagoons is scattered with the ruins of mosques and tombs mostly reclaimed by the forest – sites that date back to Arab domination when Pemba Island was seized by the Sultan of Muscat (Oman) in the 17th century.
 
Pemba was once the world’s major clove producer, making to almost 70%.
 

Wete Jamaat:
 
In 1910, eight families of our community lived half a mile from Mtemani which is the current commercial centre. They were Br. Habib Hasham Chatoo, Br. Karim Hasham Chatoo, Br. Khakoo Ramji, Br. Kermalli Hasham, Br. Hasham Hirji and Br. Ali Kasu.
 
During the 1914 World War, the Mtemani area became commercially active and our community members moved in gradually. Wete at the time was in the early stages of development, it was like a small village. There were no proper roads, water and electricity. Wireless telegram communications started in 1914. Bullock carts were used for movement of goods. Donkeys were used for travel purposes. Since the donkey was the only method of travel, no one felt ashamed doing so. The first motor vehicles arrived in 1926. Telephone communication for public started in 1932.  Piped water was installed in 1937 and electricity in 1958.

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KSI Community in Kaberamaido, Uganda
 
Mulla Haji Gulamhussein Ladha 1896-1964

Mulla Gulamhussein Ladha’s family was the first Ithnaasheri family in Kaberamaido. He arrived in 1938 from Soroti. He was a Zakir-e-Hussain and used to recite majlises in Kutchi and Urdu and Ismaili Community would attend as well.  All religious programs which included Thursday, Wafat, Khushali and Mahe Ramadhan majlises were held at Mulla Gulamhusein's house.
 
Members of the Ismaili Community later on requested for turns to hold majlises at their houses as well which were recited by Mulla Saheb.
 
Mulla Saheb used to recite majlises in Atuboi (a town 15 miles away) as well where all the residents were Ismailis and the majlises use to be held at the Jamatkhanas.
 

Haji Hassanali Salehmohamed 1917-1972

Another family in Kaberamaido was that of Alhaj Salehmohamed. Hassanalibhai Salehmohamed migrated from India and arrived in Mombasa at the age of 12. He then travelled to Kaberamaido where he initially worked for his maternal uncle Rashid Bata for six years. He then worked for his brother Rajabali Salehmohamed for two years, before leaving for India for marriage.
 
Upon returning from India he worked in partnership with his brother for a year, after which he started his own business.  When he first arrived at this town, there were 5-7 Turkish and about 5 Ismaili shops. There was good cooperation between Ismailis and Ithna Asheris which continued.
 
Thursday, Wafat and Wiladat majlis continued to be held in turns while Muharram Majlis were held at the residence of Hassanalibhai on sponsorship basis. The Khoja population increased gradually. 
 

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MARHUM MULLA GULAMHUSSEIN PEERA OF ARUSHA

Alhaj Mulla Gulamhussein Peera was famously known as Jomba, was born in Zanzibar on 28th August 1923.                              
 
Late Mulla Gulamhussein devoted his entire life for Tabligh activities in the community.  He started as a teacher of the Ithna-Asheri Madressah in Zanzibar famously known as School Faize and at a very young age, he took keen interest in Zakiri.  He then moved to Arusha in February 1965 where he continued to provide religious services with great zeal and sincerity.
 
He took great interest in reading newspapers and following local politics.  He was also interested in Cricket and used to visit the sports ground to watch matches and encourage youngsters.
 
He was the chief accountant with Sheriff Dewji & Sons Ltd. in Arusha for many years.  He was very particular in accounts especially cash where he would insist on accuracy to the last cent.
 
He was Zakir-e-Hussein in Zanzibar and then Arusha where he used to recite majalises, nikaahs.  He spoke English, Kiswahili, Gujarati and Urdu fluently.    He was one of the few first Khojas of East Africa to lead Namaze Jamaat and his outstanding Zakiri made him popular in East Africa and Madagascar. He also used to give Haaj Masaels whenever called upon; he was liked for his humble and affable nature.
 

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HAJI ABDULLA DATOO PARDHAN – MERCA, SOMALIA


Haji Abdulla Datoo Pardhan was born in Mundra, Kutch, India in 1880. He studied up to Level 2 Gujarati at Haji Lalji School which had about 150-175 pupils. There was no established Jamat and Thursday and Wafat majalis were held at this school. Master (Teacher) Noormohamed Hasham, an uncle (masa) of Abdullabhai was trained in Mumbai and was providing primary-level education to children at this school. Every morning, he would teach the children Quran for 1-2 hours. The school had also employed Br. Gulamhussein for teaching and for reciting majalis. Whenever there was death in the community, Master (Teacher) Noormohamed would go to the home of the deceased with some boys and recite Quran and perform Ziyarat rituals.

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MIGRATION OF KHALFAN FAMILY FROM INDIA IN 1835



Migration History Opens with Tragedy

 
Khalfan was a young man, newly married, when his family in Gujarat, India, allowed him at his insistence, to board a dhow for the port of Lamu in Kenya like the others of his age who had proceeded. He intended to return and collect his wife the following year. That sadly did not happen. The sea at the Lamu harbour was extremely rough when the dhow anchored. The roving boat taking him with his baggage to the land capsized. He died of drowning and the body was buried in Lamu.  That was about the year 1835.

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Albertville (Kalemie), Congo

The Pioneers of our Community – Brief History


 

Haji Suleman Walji

Haji Suleman Walji - Kilwa - Born in Jamwali, Jamnagar, India moved to Kilwa in 1900 and lived in Kilwa, Dar es Salaam, Kigoma and Albertville (Kalemie), Congo. He died in Albertville (Kalemie) in Congo in 1930. (Photo source: book Kilwana Sawal Jawab by Edalji Dhanji Kaba)

The following information was provided by Br Rajabali Mohamedali Suleman in 1960.

My grandfather Marhum Haji Suleman Walji was originally from Jamwadi, Jamnagar, India. He arrived in Kilwa around 1900 from India. My father Mohamedali Suleman was born in Kilwa in 1901. At Kilwa, my grandfather converted from Ismail to Ithnaasheri. He, together with some colleagues, held a question-answer session with His Highness the Aga Khan III and a book was published with the title “Questions and Answers at Kilwa.” (This incident happened in Kilwa in 1905 in a ship off Kilwa harbour. His colleagues were Sheriff Nurmohamed Manekia and Suleman Bhimji).

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ALHAJ MULLA ABDULRASUL KHAKI – THE LIVING LEGEND


For the past one and half century, we (Khoja Shia Ishna-asheri) have survived and progressed as a community, thanks to many individuals in different walks of life who have quietly dedicated their lives in the service of the community without seeking any position or public recognition.
 
To the community members settled in the West, when they observe middle aged individuals originating from Mombasa actively participating in religious activities and in other social services, invariably they will notice one common bonding force amongst them, i.e. they were taught by Alhaj Mulla Abdulrasul Mulla Hassanali Khaki at the Huseini Madrassah in Mombasa and the inspiration they drew from him.
 
Mulla Abdulrasul is a self taught individual, businessman by profession.  He was born in Mombasa in 1926.  A voracious reader with special interest in Islamic History and Fiqh, from a very young age, Mulla Abdulrasul sought the company of Ulama to further his knowledge.

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LATE HAJI MUHAMMADHUSSEIN SACHOO LALJI

Alhaj Muhammadhussein Sachoo Lalji (Mzee Lalji as popularly known in Arusha) passed away peacefully on 18th July 1989 in Arusha, Tanzania.

 He was a dedicated social worker who devoted his entire life imparting religious knowledge to our children.
 
Born in Zanzibar in 1925, Marhum Mzee Lalji actively participated as a Maalim of Faize Ithnaasheri Night School (Madressa) and also held the post of Headmaster for one full term. He was methodical and passionate in teaching, and had vast knowledge in Islamic history and Fiqh.
 
His other services in Zanzibar include Ithnaasheri Volunteer Corps, Sabil-e-Hussein management and organization of Hussein Day.

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Nakuru Jamaat in Perspective



The first Khoja settlers arrived in Nakuru, Kenya in 1936. Marhum Anverali Datoo while travelling with his family to Mombasa from Kampala was very much impressed upon reaching Nakuru. He got attracted to the place and decided to settle. The family continued to live there comfortably and established themselves and our community in the local society.

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