Ref: AF/PR/011/2020 Date: 19th August 2020
The ‘UNGUJA YETU’ live and breathtaking talkshow was hosted by Africa Federation on Friday, 26th June 2020 in order to capture the epic life stories of the elders, our grandparents, family members and to learn from their experiences in community building, migration, survival and the challenges they faced and literally overcame. The concept was derived from every old timer Zanzibari, wherever he or she may be, yearns for those good old days of Zanzibar, famously called the golden era! We Khoja Ithnashries in particular tend to recall several memorable occasions of the past. In order to pass on the legacy of the rich culture and their fascinating stories of how they lived in Zanzibar, a number of the elders today gather their grandchildren around relate to them their tells of their lovely home called Unguja, the mesmerizing and captivating era of serene life styles in the early 1900s to about mid-1960s, the period our community played pivotal roles in several aeras such as; in religious and secular education, sports, academics, civil service and commerce.
The talkshow started off with the verses from the holy Qur’an recitation by the melodious voice of Maalim Murtaza Abdulrasul Bandali – The pride of the community of Zanzibar and the captivating voice of “Sauti Ya Unguja”. The only radio station on the island which was located in an area known as Raha-Leo nearby the then KSI Kuwwatul Islam Jamaat (Juni Misid) Kabrastan. The Kabrastan which was razed to ground zero by the Zanzibar Government for the development of a highway, one of the several reminiscences of the bleak consequence that followed the 1964 revolution.
The talkshow commenced with a brief message from the Host, the Vice Chairman of Africa Federation Alhaj Aunali Khalfan, who read a message on behalf of AFED Chairman, Alhaj Shabir Najafi and also introduced the team involved in the organization of Unguja Yetu Talkshow – they are: Alhaj Murtaza Jivraj – Kerbala (Archives Section), Br. Alihassan Kassam (Moderator) and Br. Fadhil Alishan (Social Media Lead).
Professor Abdul Sheriff, the first speaker who still resides in Zanzibar provided an insight as to the arrival of Khojas in Zanzibar in the early 19th century and life before the revolution. He also focused on the Social life, how multi cultural Zanzibar contributed to the heritages, cultures, architectures and the general development in the Island.
Some of the areas that Professor Sheriff focused on:
- How did the Khoja community come to be established in Zanzibar?
- How was the Shia Ithnasheri Jamaat established in Zanzibar?
- Relations between Khojas and other Shia Ithnashries in Zanzibar (Bahrainis, Baloch and Iranians), multi-cultural diversity intertwined and peaceful co-existence.
- Juni & Nai Misid – when and why they split? Relations between their members.
- What was the community like by the 1950s: important personalities: – religious & secular education: School Faiz and the standard of education.
- Cosmopolitan: Why did Jangbaria Ithnashries become primarily Swahili- speaking?
Dr. Mohamedraza Dungersi, currently a
resident of New York, USA took over from Professor Sheriff and talked about the
Zanzibar Revolution in January 1964, the overthrow of the islands’ first
postcolonial regime, barely a month after gaining independence from British
rule; and its immediate aftermath. Dr. Dungersi shared his personal experience
on how the revolution had an effect on himself and the Asian community as a
Some of the areas that Dr. Dungersi focused on:
- What transpired during the revolution?
- The Phycological effects of the revolution
- The downside effects of the revolution towards the day to day functions, Azadari etc. at the Mosque, Imambarghas and Mehfils.
- The shooting at Taziakhana where five of our community members were killed during the religious ceremony in cold blood.
- The migration of the community to Mainland Tanzania and other parts of the world.
- The introduction of Zanzibari traditions and rich culture in places of migration.
Alhaj Mohamed Akber Takim presently
residing in Dar es Salaam then covered the final part of the Talkshow
discussing how the community from Zanzibar dispersed after the revolution which
uprooted families who had settled there for many decades, a grueling and tough
errand for many. There is a famous Kiswahili saying: “Ba’ada
ya dhiki, faraja” (After hardship, relief). Mohamed bhai later
covered on the positive impact Zanzibaris made in our Khoja communities
Some of the areas that Alhaj Mohamed focused on:
- The impact the Zanzibaris has had on the Jamaats around the world.
- The introduction of new community Centers and leadership around the world.
- Their involvement in day to day activities in the Jamaats, including in the secular education and madrassah sectors.
- Their involvement in Sports especially cricket and volleyball.
- The role of our Community Women in Zanzibar.
We have tried our best to obtain the photographs of the past elders and leaders who played important roles and gave selfless services in various sectors in the development of our community in Zanzibar, going as far as we could lay our hands on the photographs, unfortunately we could not obtain all of them in time, however we shall continue with our efforts and hope that we can collect the photographs for our Archives for the future records.
As a tribute to the pioneers of Zanzibar, the program ended with a Marsia in melodious voice of one of the Legends from Zanzibar Alhaj Mulla Mohammed Walji (famously known by the name of Mohamed Biremi). The event has so far received 6,900 views and the team is now working on the next initiative of covering history of our community in other cities.
Those who wish to view this program can log on the YouTube: