In the early history of the KSI Community in East Africa
Walji Bhanji (1869-1932)
Walji Bhanji, Khakoo Bhanji and Karim Bhanji lived in Mundra, India. After the death of his brother Khaku, Walji married Khaku’s widow Kesarbai. Walji, his wife and his step-son and nephew Suleman Khaku left Malia, India for Mombasa in 1898. Walji was 30 years old while Suleman was 9. After arriving at Mombasa, they stayed at Ladhabhai Kanji. In 1897, Walji’s brother Karim Bhanji had travelled to Zanzibar where he worked at Alidina Kanji.
At Mombasa, Walji started a small shop selling tobacco, match boxes and other small items. In 1899, a railway line started being built from Kilindini to Nairobi. Walji was the first Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri to move to Nairobi in 1900. He started a small shop in a tent in Nairobi. In 1902, he started a shop in Nakuru and later on opened three branches in Uganda. Business in Uganda flourished very well. When he was in Nairobi the railway line had not reached Nairobi and goods from Mombasa had to be offloaded at Makundi from where they used to be carried by donkeys to Nairobi.