Monday, 18 November 2013

Times of India article on Gujeratis bringing glory to East Africa and comments

Edited on 18th Nov 2013 10:42h

I made up a new word, I think:  "residuality".  It denotes the quality and composition of the (human) residue of those left over after society has lived and produced.  (G  M  Jiwa November 17th, 2013);
I produced a new definition of 'rich':  conferred with generosity and humanity for your fellows in a manner committed to their uplift in socio-economic terms;


Times of India has regional sections.  In the 'City/Vadodara' section there is an article entitled,

Gujeratis brought glory to E Africa.

Turn to the Times and read it.

The only comment I found therein added to the article's information base with a great punch.  But it was thought-provoking, too.  I attempted to add my comment and tweet the thing but the mechanism failed.

Here is the comment by one Farouk Jamal who shares his ancestral lineage and antecedents with the reader, too, which is fascinating.

Farouk's comment:

Farouk S. Jamal (Vancouver, Canada) 1 day ago
The earliest Indian settlers in East Africa were Khojas, Dawoodi Bohoras and Bhatias from Kathiawar and Kutchh, in today's Gujarat State. They built financial Empires in the19th Century. In mid 19th Century, Sir Tharia Topan, a Khoja (the first Indian knighted by the British Crown in Africa) was the right hand man to the Sultan of Zanzibar, before the British Imperial East Africa Company had achieved a stronghold in that part of the world. I myself am the great grand son of Jamal Suleiman Virji, son of the Indian pioneer of 1872, Suleiman Virji, who hailed from the Junagadh region of Saurashtra, Gujarat, the son of one Shivjibhai Haji. Suleiman Virji with Alidina Visram, the latter known as the Uncrowned King of Uganda, along with A M Jivanjee that you mention in your article, were the wealthiest people in East Africa at the time, in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Today's Lord Verjee, my blood relation, in the British upper house of Parliament, is also a descendant of Suleiman Verji. Whilst we made (and often lost) fortunes in the those lands in trade and commerce, the Africans have very little idea and knowledge of the difficulties endured and sacrifices made by our forefathers in developing today's Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, putting East Africa on the map. The British sahebs ("Bwana" in Swahili) meanwhile had occupied the position of rulers and Administrators of those lands under whom we suffered discrimination and the apartheid system, particularly in Colonial Kenya. Farouk Jamal Vancouver, Canada

Here is how I respond to the above comment (remembering that both Farouk and I are Ismaili Khojas while he is a Canadian and I a Kenyan - with no dual citizenship):

"Accurate and something to feel proud about, indeed. 
Perhaps they brought glory, yes, but not to E Africa which (having been robbed of its unadulterated natural evolution) is, was and promises to remain for some time: poor (if you would be willing to define rich in terms of being conferred with generosity and humanity for your fellows in a manner committed to their uplift in socio-economic terms
Glory was to the empire and still is, for even Lords are bound to be imperialists. 
There were no strong loyalties, as such, to Africa from the late 19th century up till today with exceptions where a few thinking people and groups idealise the notion of Kenya, or Uganda, for example.  But these are countries that are scarred by their artificial geographical national boundaries.   In most cases, life and culture developed on the templates of survival in an exciting and wild environment where there was room for obtaining success mostly because one was protected under the British imperial umbrella.   
The loyalty, on the part of everyone, including the black Africans who claim lordship over the land against a historical backdrop and in an environment which have reduced agents of self-centred growth including Gujus, to corrupt people who are ruthlessly exploiting the situation, today, amounting to loyalty to their own glory and not E Africa's, to their own protection, raj and self-aggrandisement, in face of Western neo-colonialist, imperialist incursions through agencies like Africa Command.   
90% of human beings in Africa are poor and vulnerable and I doubt whether even 99% of the people who have connections to this piece of real estate care enough to search for lasting solutions.   
We as Indians, like all other colonised and once oppressed races, languish in the memory of lost glories and our nostalgia for unrequited imperial ambitions, making up for them with life-styles that compensate for such losses.  We celebrate our gujerati or Englishness by creating and adding to what we perceive as the most important values in life, wealth, power and affluence to dress our dignity.  Therefore, whilst we stumble through the age on chauvinistic crutches and the need for glory (a colonial hangover) the world turns and leaves the marks of our neglect on peoples who have no clue how to rise from the swamp of residuality."

Mohamed Jiwa
18th November, 2013