Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:35 pm Post subject: Hussein Dharamsi Gangji - Early settlement in Zanzibar
Fw: Amongst The Early Arrivals in Zanzibar
Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:26 am (PST) . Posted by:
"Raza Kara" raza_kara
> DHARAMSI GANGJI 1882 - 1956
> Al Hajj Dharamsi Gangji was born in 1882 in Nanglepur,
> Cutch, India. He was the eldest of six male sons of Gangji
> Sivji, a Khoja subsistence farmer. The family practiced the
> Shia Ismaili sect of Islam.
> The summer monsoon rainfall is the major prerequisite of
> agricultural productivity in Cutch, and when the monsoon
> failed in 1896 and again in 1899, there was a severe drought
> followed by famine.
> The famines of 1896–97 and 1899–1900 in India
> affected almost the entire subcontinent, causing severe
> distress, debility, and mortality, killing over four million
> people. The effect on the Gangji farm was devastating. Life
> was very hard for the family and in 1899; Gangji Sivji
> decided to send his eldest son, Dharamsi, to East Africa.
> Dharamsi arrived in Zanzibar not knowing a soul
> and faced with a totally alien environment. It shows the 17
> year old’s character that in no time he managed to
> secure employment with a trader, agreeing to work for two
> years at a salary the equivalent of $20 per year. His
> employer allowed him to sleep in the store house on bags of
> cloves and he also provided him with one meal a
> Dharamsi spent the two years working hard, learning about
> the local economy and business practices, while also picking
> up the local language, Kiswahili. He took every opportunity
> to talk to the customers to find out about the countryside
> from where all the produce was coming.
> In 1901, when his agreement came to an end, with $40 dollars
> in his pocket, he decided to go to Pemba. This is where he
> felt his future lay.
> Pemba is a magical island. Gentle, undulating hills and deep
> verdant valleys are all covered with a dense cover of
> vegetation. A more fertile land it is difficult to imagine
> then Pemba. But it is not just the landscape that gives
> Pemba its magical reputation. For centuries Pemba has held a
> reputation as a centre for the juju traditions of medicine
> and magic.
> Dharamsi bought a donkey and spent a further two years
> transporting farm produce from the countryside to the town
> of Chake Chake and bringing tea, rice, kerosene and other
> necessities to the farmers.
> In 1903, having earned and saved enough, Dharamsi opened a
> shop in Chake Chake successfully running it for three
> In 1906, Dharamsi decided to return to Cutch and started
> working on the Nanglepur family farm once more. He discussed
> with his younger brothers, Hashim, Datoo and Peera,
> opportunities in Africa and encouraged them to emigrate,
> which they did.
> His father arranged his marriage with Sikinabai Kassem who
> was 15 years old at the time and in 1907, Dharamsi, with his
> young wife, returned to Pemba where they started a shop in
> the countryside. It was here living on farm land that
> Dharamsi felt at ease and where he envisioned opportunities
> for him and his family.
> With the profits from the shop, Dharamsi answered his
> ancestral calling and bought a piece of land. He spent a
> long time singlehandedly clearing the wild vegetation and
> replacing them with clove seedlings, fruit trees and
> vegetables. It takes five years from planting to harvesting
> the first clove crop. During this time Dharamsi and
> Sikinabai continued to run the shop and living off the
> Once the cloves from the small plantation began bringing in
> profits, Dharamsi started purchasing more land in Pemba and
> continued his passion of clearing the wild countryside into
> clove plantations.
> These plantations were at Kipapo, Gagadu, Ndibo,
> Limani, Mtondoni, Ghombani, Cheche and others. Over time
> Dharamsi was regarded as an expert on farm demarcation as
> none of the plantations were fenced.
> Many a time he was called in by the government to arbitrate
> in boundary disputes.
> Besides being a successful farmer, Dharamsi was also an
> astute businessman, investing in property in Pemba and
> Zanzibar. One of his acquisitions was a sizable sea front
> building in Stone Town, Zanzibar on 20th March 1940.
> After leaving Cutch, Dharamsi started to practice the Shia
> Ithnaasheri sect of Islam and raised his family to do the
> same. He took a hands on interest in the affairs of the
> Khoja Shia Ithnaasheri Community of Chake Chake, serving as
> its President, Treasurer and Trustee for many years. In 1926
> he supervised and contributed handsomely towards the
> building of the Chake Chake Mosque. At the same time he set
> up a trust whereby the income from his plantation at
> Ghombani (about 7km north of Chake Chake) was utilised for
> the upkeep of the mosque expenses.
> Dharamsi also took active interest in the affairs of the
> wider community and was renowned for his charitable
> donations including the building and running of the much
> needed Medical Clinic on his plantation at Kipapo, 10km
> south of Chake Chake. He encouraged the good workers from amongst
the seasonal clove pickers to build a house on his plantations and allotted
> them land to grow cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas and other vegetables.
> Dharamsi and Sikinabai Gangji had four children. The eldest
> was a son, Hussein, followed by another son who died in
> infancy, followed by a girl, Zainab and finally a girl, Kulsum.
> In 1930, Dharamsi’s son, Hussein, married
> a locally born girl of Cutch parentage, Zainab, daughter of
> Mulyani Kulsumbai (Nanima) Khimji. In 1936 they were blessed
> with a daughter, Rubab. Five sons (Mohamedali, Abbas,
> Muhsin, Jaffer and Ali Akber) and four daughters (Fatma,
> Banu, Raziya and Sikinabai) followed.
> In 1945, seeing the need to educate his grandchildren,
> Dharamsi moved his family to Zanzibar. To manage the day to
> day affairs on the plantations in Pemba Dharamsi appointed
> Hamadi Omari as the overseer. Over the years he became very
> close to Hamadi, treating him as his own son.
> In 1952, Dharamsi’s daughter, Kulsum, was married to
> Hassanali Jaffer Somji of Kilwa, Tanganyika (presently
> Tanzania). They were blessed with a daughter, Fatima.
> In Zanzibar Dharamsi bought land at Mfenesini, about 15km
> north of Stone Town and oversaw the clearing of the under
> growth and the planting of cloves, coconuts, fruit and
> vegetables. He transferred the ownership of Mfenesini to his
> five grandsons. In 1948, Dharamsi’s wife Sikinabai
> passed away and on 15th March 1956, Al Hajj
> Dharamsi Gangji also passed away.
> In 1957, Hussein Dharamsi supervised the renovation of the
> property on the seafront of Stone Town, before the family
> was able to take up residence at the family house on the sea
> front in Stone Town.
> The building (photograph seen above) was nationalized after
> the 1964 revolution and today houses a Government Ministry.
> Upon the death of Al Hajj Dharamsi Gangji, his son, Al Hajj
> Hussein Dharamsi Gangji (Bapa), embarked on the construction
> of The DHARAMSI GANGJI Shia Ithnaasheri School. The school
> is located in Zanzibar stone town on Kiponda Road behind The
> Khoja Shia Ithnaasheri Mosque. Upon completion of the
> building construction, the school was opened in February
> 1959 to provide much needed extra classes for secondary
> education, bringing teachers from India. In the afternoon
> the school was used to run spoken English and vocational
> classes for girls and in 1960 the School Faize evening
> religious classes moved to the school.
> After the 1964 revolution in Zanzibar, the running of the
> school was taken over by the Zanzibar Ministry of Education,
> who changed its name to The Kiponda Secondary School.
> Members of the Dharamsi Gangji family continue to support
> the school in the way of much needed maintenance and upgrade
> to facilities.
> In January 1964 with the overthrowing of the elected
> government of Zanzibar, all properties in Zanzibar and Pemba
> and all farm lands were nationalized by the Zanzibar
> Revolutionary Government. The family residence was converted
> to Government offices and that is how it is till today.
> Before the revolution there were about 72 mostly Arab land
> owners in Pemba and Zanzibar, with 743 plantations. Between
> 1964 after the revolution and 1974 land was expropriated and
> distributed on the basis of three acres per person. The
> majority of those who received three-acre plots in Zanzibar
> and Pemba Island were mainly indigenous Zanzibaris.
> Above article contributed by Br. Jaffer H. Dharamsi (London, UK).
> The sacrifices and the various support accorded to the
> community in Zanzibar and Pemba by Al Hajj Dharamsi Gangji
> and his son Al Hajj Hussein Dharamsi Gangji is highly
> commendable, the KSIJ community are deeply indebted to such
> people, they and several others who played pivotal roles
> towards the development of our community in the early years
> of the settlement in Africa should be remembered for their
> farsightedness and kindness, they remain role models and
> inspiration to us all.
> Let us remember Al Hajj Dharamsi Gangji, all the Marhumeens
> of Dharamsi Gangji family and all Marhumeens with
> Sura-e-Fateha for their maghferat.
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