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


When our forefathers landed on the Eastern shores of Africa, they settled in the towns like Lamu, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Dar Es Salaam, Bagamoyo and Kilwa, among others, some of them ventured into the interior and decided to live in small settlements and villages. At that time, we did not have Mulyanis or Zakiras from India or Pakistan to cater for the needs of the women of our Community. Many of our own ladies came forward to cater for the women folk by reciting the Majalis and carry out functions necessary for the spiritual needs of the women of the Community.

The dedicated Mulyanis did great work of reading and studying the Majlis books in Urdu and delivering in simple language to our women folk. They also translated the Majlis and delivered them in Kutchi and Gujarati. They performed these religious duties on honorary basis. Through generations, these Mulyanis trained the younger among them and to date we continue to benefit from these highly dedicated Mulyanis, who continue in the service of our Aimma A.S. and the Community.

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Hussein Day – Prominent Observance Event Fading Away

The tradition of holding Hussein Day started in 1940’s in Zanzibar, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. The aim was to propagate the message of Tragedy of Karbala and the mission of Imam Hussein (A.S.) to the general masses. The venues selected were always outside our Imambarghas where maximum participation of the general public is achieved.

In Zanzibar the first Hussein Day was held in Victoria Garden under an ad-hoc committee appointed by the Jamaat. The Hussein Day was attended by high government officials, diplomats, non-Muslims and Muslims of all denominations. The speakers were mostly outsiders who presented their views about the Kerbela tragedy. This was a unique way of propagating the message of Imam Hussein (A.S.) outside the community. In Zanzibar the chief guest was always the Sultan of Zanzibar. The popular venue was Portuguese Fort at Forodhani which exists till today.

In Mombasa the venue was Ithna Asheri Sports Club, organized by Ithna Asheri Young Mens` Union. In 1952, the Governor of Kenya, Sir Phillip Hitchell was the chief guest. Many dignitaries attended the program. Hussein Day used to be a very important annual event.

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Mister President, Councillors and Delegates,

My Jamaat is grateful to the Supreme Council for having convened the 6th Conference Meeting of the Federation of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaats of Africa, on its invitation, in Dar-es-Salaam, as the Conference under the hospitality of my Jamaat.
Therefore, with a feeling of great indebtedness, I on behalf of my Jamaat welcome you, Mr. President, Councillors and Delegates to Dar-es-Salaam, a haven of Peace, and I assure you the name this town bears is far from being a misnomer.
While the cool sea-breeze here is plenty and beyond exhaustion, it is only fair that I should caution you at the mischievous trick the breeze might play in lullabying even an anxious and forceful prospective speaker to a sound sleep complaint at gusts of cool sea-breeze in the hot climate will not be entertained.

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Haji Mohammed Jaffer Boarding House – United Nations Road, Dar Es Salaam

In the year 1960 Dar es Salaam Jamaat hosted the Africa Federation Supreme Council meeting. The president of the reception committee Murrabi N. M. Nasser delivered the speech to welcome the President, Councilors and Delegates for the Supreme Council Session. To honor the Councilors, Delegates and community members, boarding house organized a drama. The drama was in three in episodes of which the 1st episode was poetries, 2nd was Drama named Sikandar-e-Azam - ”Alexander the great” and 3rd episode was about Akhlaq.

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Dharamsi Khatau: A Pioneer and Merchant Prince

From interviews with Akberali A. Khatau

Dharamsi Khatau
(from A.A. Khatau)

My grandfather Dharamsi Khatau was born in Nagalpur, Kutch in 1865. He had four brothers Jivraj Khatau, Manji Khatau, Kassim Khatau and Killu Khatau. Yes it’s the same “shaheed” Killu Khatau, the student of Mulla Qader Husayn Saheb who was martyred in Bombay. After the death of Killu in 1878, my grandfather left Bombay in 1880 with his father and mother along with the wife of Killu Khatau and Killu’s daughters. The journey to Mombasa by dhow took about a month. On the way Khatau Nanjani, my great-grandfather saddened by the death of Killu passed away. He was lowered into the sea with full honours.

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Part one of four parts 

Author’s Note:
A chance meeting outside Fort Jesus, Mombasa, with Cynthia Salvadori, author of the remarkable three volumes We Came in Dhows, was what first inspired me to record stories and anecdotes about Ithna-Asheri pioneers at the turn of the century. Cynthia was fortunate enough to interview late Hussein Abdalla Jaffer and late Gulamali G.A. Datoo; scions of two pioneer Ithna-Asheri families of Mombasa. I decided to carry on where she left off and began to interview as many old members of the community as I could. Of course I never intended to nor indeed was it possible to record every story. The few I did are published here along with historical notes, photographs and newspaper clippings.

Ramadan 1429/September 2008

 Mombasa, Kenya

Lamu- In about 1870, Dewji Jamal, a rich Ithna-Asheri merchant of Bombay and Zanzibar established a branch of his company Dewji Jamal & Co in Lamu which was then the chief port of Kenya. Besides this solitary venture there is no record of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheris on the island until 1880. The period 1880-1890 witnessed a large number of Ithna-asheri arrivals in Lamu. Most of the new arrivals came from Kutch or Kathiawad but some also came from older Khoja settlements along the East African coast like Bagamoyo, Zanzibar and Kilwa.
When they arrived most were already “Ithna-Asheri” and it is likely that only a very small number of Khojas actually seceded in Lamu. Late Hussein Abdalla Jaffer, a great-grandson of Dewji Jamal remembers that while his grandfather Jaffer Dewji was in Lamu he often used to help Ismaili Khojas and invite them for religious majlises (discourses). After sometime a number of them left the Jamatkhana and joined the Ithna-Asheris. (From an interview with Hassan Ali M. Jaffer.)




Jamaat Group Photograph in first mosque built in Tulear - Year 1920

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Mohammadali bhai was born in Ujiji-Kigoma in the year 1915. After his primary education he went to Zanzibar for his secondary education. In Zanzibar he stayed with his uncle Jaffer Ladak Mullani, he also learnt Quran and Dinyat from Maaalim Raza Rashid Nathani. Zanzibar was well known for its high standard in religious and secular education.

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Anjuman - e- Khuddamul Qur’an – 1937
(Great Emphasis in Reciting and Understanding the Holy Qur’an)

In the year 1937 the Anjuman-e-Khuddamul Qur’an was started in Mumbai, India with the aim of teaching Quran in proper recitation and with the translation. Selected Aya’ts from the Holy Qur’an were being translated in three languages English, Urdu and Gujarati.  A special department was created to translate the Holy Qur’an according to guidance and hadith of Ayma-e-Tahereen (A.S.). Every Friday the translation bulletins were being circulated in all the mosques. The title of the bulletin was “Back to Qur’an”. The bulletin became so popular that they had to increase the number. The distribution was solely being handled by Habib Esmail Benevolent Trust. The distribution department was being handled by Haji Dawoodbhai Habib, Haji Mohmmedali Habib, Haji Rajabali P. Ebrahim, Haji Dawood Haji Nasser, Haji A.U. Botawalla and Haji Abdul Hussein Thariyani.

Trustees of Benevolent Trust were Haji Ahmed Habib, Haji Dawood Habib, Haji Mohmmedali Habib, Haji Gulamali Habib and Abdulhussein Thariyani.

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It is believed that our community started settling in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) around 1875 when there were two Indian families at Mji Mwema, outside Dar es Salaam.  In 1900, an Imambara was constructed from corrugated iron sheets at the plot which is currently occupied by Pirbhai Jiwa Bharwani building on Mosque Street. Majalis were held at this place but due to inconveniences and upon advice from the German authorities, it was transferred behind Telephone House (Kaluta Street).
The German Governor knew that our community was facing problems and that it needed a place of worship. Once in 1904, when he was passing by our current masjid plot (Makunganya Street, presently Indira Gandhi Street), he found Marhum Sachoo Peera and Suleman bin Nasser Lemky standing on the plot. The Governor asked Marhum Sachoo Peera whether he needed the plot on which he was standing. Marhum replied positively and was asked to visit him in Government House the next day when the plot was given to him which he donated to Dar es Salaam Jamaat.

The foundation stone for the mosque was laid in 1904 by Marhum Sachoo Peera.  He started construction of the mosque under his personal supervision. However, in 1907, he passed away and his sons, Noormohamed and Abdulrasul continued supervising the construction work. During those days, the practice was to hold the roof with wooden poles called Boriti in Kiswahili. However, Noormohamed Sachoo imported steel structure to use for the mosque. Due to their intense efforts, the mosque was ready in 1908 and the opening ceremony was conducted by the cousin of the Aga Khan, Shah Kuchak.  At that time there were 9 families in Dar es Salaam. They were: Haji Sachoo Peera, Haji Nasser Mawji, Haji Nasser Rattansi, Haji Molu Kanji, Nasser Bhalloo, Merali Muraj, Pirbhai Rattansi, Dhalla Nanji and Alibhai Walli. The earliest community workers were a trio - Sachoo Peera, Versi Advani and Nasser Mawji.
The population of our community in Dar es Salaam was very small compared to Zanzibar which at the time had the largest population of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheries in Africa.

The Imambara was renovated in 1944, commemorating the 1300th anniversary of the Tragedy of Karbala which fell in 1942 (1361 AH).


The First Africa Federation Sports Festival was held in Dar-es-Salaam from 22nd to 26th December 1984 introduced during the tenure of Alhaj Mohamed bhai Dhirani’s Chairmanship of the Africa Federation. Alhaj Gulamabbas Janmohamed was then the President of Dar-es-Salaam Jamaat. This inaugural AFED Sports Festival truly made a Dream Debut leaving cherished memories with all the participants, officials and organizers.
The Festival was organized under the auspices of Ithna-Asheri Union headed by Alhaj Hussein H. Peera and Union Sports Club Chairman was the late Alhaj Ibrahim A. Jivraj. The present Vice Chairman of Africa Federation, Alhaj Aunali Khalfan was a member of the Organizing Committee of this first AFED Sports Festival.

The holding of “All Africa Sports Festival is a milestone in this respect as it will gather sportsmen from all over Africa at one place.  It will not only arouse greater interest in sports but will lead to strengthening the bonds between youths of different Jamaats.

(Extract of the Message of AFED Chairman Mohamed Dhirani – Sports Festival Souvenir Booklet) 


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