Habib Jamal Walji
- Dar es Salaam
- Dar es Salaam
- Dar es Salaam
- Dar es Salaam
Born in 1900 Dar es Salaam
Habib Bhai was a leading member of the Tanganyika Legislative Council 1930 to 1935 and a very progressive voice in the Khoja Ismaili community.
ISMAILIS IN TANGANYIKA
HABIB JAMAL WALJI, Member of Legislative Council.
"It is about one hundred years since the first Ismailis came to this part of Africa. Immigration to any country takes place as a result of over-population, expansion of trade and commerce, adverse circumstance in one’s own country, religious persecution, better prospects and for political reasons.
The success of an immigrating community and the prosperity of a people domiciled in foreign countries, depends on its training, education and quality, and the support and hacking it receives from the Country of its Origin. In the absence of any organization to organize, promote and assist the right type of emigrant, and the inability and helplessness of a Country, in case of need, to bring diplomatic or political pressure, in order to safeguard and protect the interests of its people, and to look after its welfare, all will depend upon the people domiciled in the country, themselves, and the success and prosperity or otherwise, will depend on their own action.
When speaking about Ismailis and for the matter of that, about the Indian Community generally, not only of this Territory, but throughout the whole of East Africa, this fact should not be forgotten, at the same time bearing in mind, what a change would a united and free India, make in the status and the condition of its sons who have settled in this part and also in other parts of the Globe.
The Ismailis as well as other sections of the Indian Community came to these shores of Africa, mainly forced by circumstances but also attracted by the prospects of the unknown and undeveloped Country, for the purpose of trading. At a later stage and particularly after the Great War, the more educated and professional class of Indians came here and today one sees the Indian engaged himself in all the different walk of life. The Ismailis are mainly engaged in trade and commerce although lately education has spread in a greater degree and in our Community, education is turning out professional class of people in ever-increasing number.
The Ismailis were among the first persons to penetrate in the dark recesses of the unknown Country and open it to trade and commerce and civilization.In this, their communal organization greatly helped them. One thing peculiar regarding them was that unlike other sections of the Community they have settled permanently in this Country and look upon it as their home.
Anyone who has been observing the condition of the Ismailis and comparing it with that of the past few years, will no doubt notice a great change, which to my mind, is not for the better at any rate. To a keen observer it will appear that the Ismailis have lost a good deal of ground during the past 2 decades or so.
In this, the Great War was one of the reasons. But there are other factors too. In a time of economic depression like the present one, and with the ever-changing trade conditions, it is very essential that the Ismaili adapts himself to the altered condition and seriously engages his attention to explore new means to provide for himself and his large family which is still further increasing owing to his social habits and customs and the high birth-rate. In a country like this where the native interests predominate, it is hardly necessary for me to say that a very difficult time is ahead of us. It is especially the duty of the intelligent class of the Community to realize that, as a single, individual community, it is the greatest in the Territory and if in times of prosperity it would benefit the most, so in time of difficulty it would suffer the most. In past the interests of the Community have suffered greatly on account of its political lethargy.
I would remind the most noted statement made by our Hazer Imam on one occasion, to the effect that a Community which is politically unconscious is not likely to survive.
While the Ismaili Community on account of its splendid communal organisation and the social standard, it has attained can do a great deal to improve its present lot, if a systematic start is made by its leaders, in my view, nothing should prevent them from joining hands with other sections of the Community and whatever may be our faith and religious belief, and highly as we cherish them, we should do everything that is possible in order to make a united front and give out a strong voice for the preservation of our vast interests in the Territory, and the advancement of our status, and make a unanimous opposition to any step affecting our very existence in this Territory.
I have a great hope in the Young Ismaili. A great progress has been made in the direction of education in which he was so backward a few years ago. Given a lead he is bound to emerge successfully from his present state. His business instinct, his pluck and the diligence of his manhood have so far carried him through, I am sure, they will not fail him." Salegreh Samachar June 1933