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This essay and others like it on Khojawiki are written to provide context for the life and migration stories of individual Khoja families. We would like to add more such family histories of those who lived here, so our collective history is more complete. Please Click Here To Add Your Family And More Information To Our History

Arusha was first settled in the 1830s by the agro-pastoral Arusha Maasai, who traded grains, honey, beer, and tobacco with the pastoral Kisongo Maasai in exchange for livestock, milk, meat, and skins.

Demand for Arusha's foodstuffs increased substantially during the 1860s when the Pangani Valley Arab trade route was extended through Old Moshi, Arusha, and ultimately to western Kenya.

Arusha was conquered by the Germans in 1896 and in 1900, they established a permanent presence with a military fort (boma) and garrisoned soldiers. A gruesome account of the German administration of the time:

"In 1899 the Germans began construction of a strong fortification, a boma, which they forced the Arusha to build. Maasai in Arusha still remembers the humiliation of this task: the new colonists took pleasure in riding around on the backs of the Arusha and Maasai men, egging them on with whips. One Maasai recorded the growing resentment at this form of transport in his memoirs. He was particularly enraged by an unusually heavy cargo; passing the river with his charge set heavily across his back, his patience snapped and he tossed his 'master' into the water. Fearing the consequences, many Maasai went into hiding in the bush, until a Maasai chief was sent to find them. The chief explained to the mutinous group that he was acting as a mediator and that if the group returned to work all would be forgiven. The runaways marched back into the new town in a column of about 400 men; as they strode down Boma Road, the entire troop was gunned down in the street - one of history's many warnings never to trust a 'safe conduct'. It is said that the 'mediator' was promptly promoted. The bloodstained fort was completed in 1900 and became a barracks for 150 Nubian soldiers, later being made the regional government offices until 1934. when it was turned into the Arusha Museum of Natural History." [1]

Subsequently, The Germans persuaded the Indian traders from the coast to open businesses near the new bomas.

Sajan and Sher travelled to Zanzibar from Bombay via Oman. From Zanzibar they first went to Pangani and then to Arusha on foot with a party of 25 people. They had to carry food stuff and gifts to tribal leaders for permission to march ahead. The gifts which they gave out include items like beads, cigarettes, matches, candles, etc.

When they reached Arusha they were impressed by its beauty and cool weather. They decided to set up their tents near the Themi River to rest for a few days before continuing their journey to Nairobi. The German officials who met them at Arusha convinced them to abandon their trip to Nairobi and instead start business in Arusha. As an incentive, they were asked to choose any plot near the Boma and construct their houses there. They would also be given official permission to start any business related to food, a large variety of strategic products and import and export of most goods. After a long thought, Sajan and Sher agreed to the offer. The German official started calling Sher as Shermohamed after noticing the name on the passport and after being told that it meant the Lion of Mohamed.

Shermohamed chose a piece of land of roughly 20 acres about 200 meters south of the Boma. They built a large six-bedroom house with plenty of space at the back for vegetable farm and living quarters of their workers. The construction of the house was completed in 1902/03 and the family moved into that house in 1903. Thus started the settlement of the first family in Arusha, Tanganyika.

Shermohamed started going to Tanga to buy food and other products. They also started importing stuff from India, and exported some agro and other products, including hides and skins to India, UK and Germany.[2]

A steady influx of traders and farmers into Arusha in the 19th century, notably Indian traders, private German farmers and immigrant Africans, stimulated economic growth, prompting the German administration to conceive an 'idealistic' vision of a vast white settlement of their own construction. The Germans came up with several schemes to import settlers-from bizarre backgrounds.[3]

Subsequently, in 1916, the British captured Arusha during the European War and German officials fled the area whilst the British deported the remaining German missionaries and settlers leaving only a skeletal military administration of the town.

During the 1920s', civilian administration was implemented and Europeans in the form of missionaries from the United States, British businessmen and Greek farmers were invited to settle.

It was not uncommon to see Greek hoteliers in those days, the success of their hotels founded on their position at the hub of local Greek social life. The Greeks had been farming in Tanganyika for some time but after the First World War, when the existing farms and estates were taken off the Germans, many Greeks and Cypriots bought them at an extremely good price. Once settled, their families came over and a substantial Greek community grew up, with their own churches and schools. In modern Tanzania, most large towns have an Orthodox Greek Church and Hellenic schools and there is one town in Central Tanzania, Kimamba, that has such a Greek influence that it is known as "Ulaya Ugiriki" (Greek Europe) by the Tanzanians.[4]

The new settlers reoccupied the former German farms and the town grew. British Indians subjects were barred by law until much later from acquiring these farms. But more Khoja traders established themselves at this time.

In 1928-29,the extension of the railroad from Moshi to Arusha greatly increased commerce. The prominent Natha Hirji family set up in Arusha during this period. See Mohamedali Natha Hirji

The Great Depression thereafter however squelched commerce and Arusha in 1940 had less than 2,000 residents. Growth resumed during World War II and by 1948 the population had increased to more than 5,000.

In the 1960s', parts of the movie Hatari! with John Wayne were filmed at Momella Game Lodge, later owned by the famed businessman, Akber Mohamedali Rajpar, also known as 'Lord Rajpar'

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References & Notes

  1. Skinner, Annabel Tanzania & Zanzibar Notes- Page Number: 135c
  2. Khojapedia. Sajan Somji and his son, Shermohamed were the first Khoja dukawallas in Arusha
  3. Skinner, Annabel Tanzania & Zanzibar Notes, Page Number: 135c
  4. Read, David. Beating about the Bush. Page Number: 045

Photo Gallery of Colonial Arusha

Photo Gallery of Khoja Arusha

Personal Histories of Arusha residents in Khojawiki (2024)

Please click the names to read their individuals stories. Saradji Lakha

Husein Khimani

Nasser Pardhan

Sajan Somji

Ibrahim ISMAIL

Amir Hassam Kassam Ishani

Jiwa Ali Tharani

Abdul Jaffer

Mehreen Nazerali-Versi

Ameratbai Chagan

Habib Muradali

Gulbanu A Walji

Hasam Rajan

Dharamsi Noormohamed

Ismail Virji

Doulatkhanu D Keshavji

Kankubai Alladin

Jafferali Maheralli

Mohammed S. Mamdani

Nizar Jiwa Ali Tharani

Merbanu Janmohamed

Hassanali Mohamed Jiwan

Malek Manek

Shirin Haider

Dilshad Hassanali Natha

Abdul Mohamedaii Merali

Bahadur Abdallah Alimohamed

Anand Master

Gulshan Abdallah Alimohamed

Malek Rajabali Hirji

Abdallah Hassam Jivraj

Zaitoon Hassam Kassam Ishani

Nurbanu Abdul Tharani

Gulzar Kassamali Bhanji

Pirbhai Ibrahim

Habib Hirji

Gulshan Hassanali Datoo

Ali Karmali Jiwa

Hassanali Mohan Lakhani

Gulamhusein Hasam Rajan

Jamal Mawji Walji

Gulshan Madataly Hirani

Hirbai Hasam Jivraj

Gulamhusein Kurji Kanji

Abdul Manji Kanji

Gulshan Shahbudin Alibhai

Karmali Remtulla Dewji

Jenabai Alimohamed Punja

Abdul Shivji Jivraj

Fatma Jafferali Maherali

Gulamhusein Mohamed Dhanani

Habib Meghji Premji

Amirali Husein Khimani

Ismail Haji Ratani

Fatmabai Amersi Manji

Jethibai Mohamed Jiwani

Bachibai Hirji Jivraj

Fatmabai Gulamhusein Merali

Fatmabai merali Mohamed

Gulbanu Alibhai Ismail

Kamrudin Maherali Lalji

Hassanali Ghelabhai Walji

Dolatkhanu Jamal Kanji

Kamrudin Mohamed

Hassanali Gulamhussein Velji

Gulsakar Abdul Jaffer

Kanjibhai Mohamed

Ahmed Gulamhusein Maherali

Jafferali Jamal Mitha

Abdul Husein Nasser Pardhan

Gulshan Badrudin Sunderji

Hassanali Meghji Premji

Mawji Walji

Abdul Husein Rajan

Merali Mohamed

Amersi Manji

Jena Ismaili Habib Harji

Jafferali Maherali

Maherali Lalji

Fatma Ibrahim Nurmohamed Dossa

Meghji Premji

[[Hassam Jessa

Gulamhussein Velji

Mohamed Jiwani

Ghelabhai Walji

Alimohamed Mohamed

Shahbudin Alibhai

Ismail Kanji

Alimohamed Punja

Madataly Hirani

Fatmabai Kamrudin Hasham Jessa

Gulbanu Habib Kara

Jiwa Murji

Alibhai Ismail

Haji Ratani

Mohamed Dhanani

Sadru Hassam Kassam Ishani

Esmail jivraj Mawji Charania

Ismaili Habib Harji

Umedali Gokalbhai

Abdulali Ebrahim Hajee

Abdulla Alimohamed Mohamed

Kanji Ratansi

Saker Suleman Jivraj

Hassam Ismail Lalani

Noormohamed Velsi Gillani

Gulbanu Hirji

Mohamedali Ladak Kanji

Sajan Ladak

Gulamhusein Kanji

Kamrudin Hasham Jessa

Nurbanu Kamrudin Suleman

Aly Shariff

Jethibai Mandan

Kanji Mohamed Jivan

Rehmat Rawji Walji

Gulbanu Gulamali Kanji

Nazarali Karim


Gulam Ladak

Remtulla Ladak

Hasam Jivraj

Suleman Ramji Kanji

Gulamhusein Maherali

Mohan Lakhani

Ismail Jiwa Murji

Fatehali Mohamed Suleman

Isaack George Moon

Azim Hajee

Hasnu Suleman Jivraj

Ismail Habib Hirji

Yasmin Mohammed Ishani

Gulamhusein ALibhai Ramji

Dolibai Habib Meghji

Karmali Dhanji Lakhani

Abdulali Remtulla Dhanani

Kamrudin Hassam Jessa

Abdul Jaffer Kassam Bharmal

Nazleen Madatali Jiwa

Fatmabai Kassamali Jamal

Parvez Pyarali Jivraj

Dilshad Kassamali "Dilly" Bhanji

Karmali Jiwa

Sabbir S. Jaffer

Abdulsultan maherali

Jeraj Pirbhai Ibrahim

Gulzar Kassamali "Guli" Bhanji

Issa Ismail Janmohamed

Abdulla Bhaloo Khaki

Fatehali Hassanal H Datoo

Rehmat Somji Chaggan

Ibrahim Nurmohamed Dossa

Mohammedabbas Gulam Nanji

Hassanali Husein Datoo

Abdulmohamed Alibhai Haji

Subzali Sajan

Kayam Jessa

Hussein Nasser Pardhan

Roshan Kanji Suleiman

Zulekha Gulamali Kanji

Khatun Gulamali Kanji

Fateh Gulamali Kanji

Gulamali A. Kanji

Kamruddin Merali

Nuru Kanji Rayani

Fatma Gulamali Kanji

Abdul Gulamali Kanji

Abdul Shivji Jivraj Bharmal

Ebrahim Mohamed

Mohammed Hassam Kassam Ishani

Amirali Kanji

Kassamali Pirbhai Ebrahim

Aleem Feroz Kassam

Somji Chaggan

Dilshad Navroz Moolji Nazarali

Gulbanu Kanji Mohamed

Mohamed Suleman

Dhalla Walji

Jamal Mohamed Jivan

Datoo Bhoja Bharmal

Merali Remtulla

Bhoja Bharmal Rana

Dossa Thawer

Shivji Jivraj Bharmal

Kamrudin Kurbanali Suleman

Abdulla Jetha

Walji Manji

Ramzan Damji Keshavjee

Shelina Goa

Alykhan Goa

Akberali Natha Hirji

Farzana Goa

Jamal Goa

Ismail Hassanali Walli Dharsee

Rishma Goa

Abdulsultan Damji Keshavjee

Altaf Goa

Walji Kassam

Nimet Goa

Azmina Goa

Karim Goa

Riyaz Goa

Diamond Goa

Shamshu Damji Keshavjee

Amir Goa

Nizar Goa

Malek Manji

Gulamhusein Jamal Goa

[Bhanibai Damji Keshavjee]]

Saku Jaffer Mohamed Rahim

Sachedina Sajan Somji

Nasser Virji

Ibrahim Lila

Jaffer Thawer

Jaffer Remtalla

Fatma Bhanji Jiwa

Karim N. Hirji

Dharamsi Khatau

Mohamedali Natha Hirji

Natha Hirji

Ahmed Natha Hirji

Firoz Natha Hirji

Merali Hirji

Kanji Hansraj

Alibhai Gulamhusein Jiwani

Samji Gulamhusein Jiwani

Akber Nasser Thawer

Mohamedhussein G. Visram

Sultan Kamrudin Hasham Jessa.