Dewji Kanji Asani
Born in Jamkhambalia
In 1883, seven sons of Kanji Asani left Jamkhambalia (near Jamnagar) in Kathiawad and arrived in Lamu after a forty day journey by dhow. Of the seven, five, Dewji Kanji, Daya Kanji, Panju Kanji, Samji Kanji, Ramji Kanji became Ithna-asheris. Each of the brothers established shops in Lamu town from where they carried out a flourishing import export business.
A great grandson of Dewji Kanji, Jafferali Merali, who was born in Lamu in 1919, describes the family business:
“At that time Lamu did a great deal of trade, with Mombasa, Somalia and direct to India. The dhows anchored off Lamu town, and the steamers anchored off Shela. One of our main exports was the doum palm mat bags that were used in Zanzibar for packing cloves. Another was mangrove poles which went to the Gulf countries. We imported mainly rice, sugar, wheat and spices.”
KHOJA SHIA ITHNA-ASHERIS IN LAMU AND MOMBASA, 1870-1930:BY ZAHIR BHALLOO