Jaffer Dewji

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Jaffer Dewji
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In 1896, Jaffer Dewji followed his brother Nazerali Dewji to Mombasa.

Mombasa Public Library - the oldest non-racial cultural institution in East Africa

"Founded in 1903 as the Mombasa Public Library, it has been described as not only "oldest library” but also the oldest “inter-racial cultural institution" in East Africa. From the beginning it was open to peoples of all races and creeds. Endowed chiefly by two influential Asians, Jaffer Dewji and Allidina Visram, the library was administered during its first ten years by Cowasjee Manekji Dalal."

The Rise And Fall of Philanthropy in East Africa- The Asian Connection by Robert G. Gregory (pg. 104)


I remember late Kassamali Jivraj Meghji telling me that when the Rao of Kutch visited Mombasa in 1930 the elders of the Asian community wanted to hold a celebration of some sort in his honour. They approached Jaffer Dewji to host a tea party at his house. In those days Jaffer Dewji was one of the senior-most Asian businessmen in Mombasa. Jaffer Dewji suggested that it would not be appropriate to only invite the Rao of Kutch for tea; after all he was the King of Kutch and had to be treated with respect in keeping with his status. He suggested that he would get the official boat of the Liwali Sir Ali bin Salim.

Jaffer Dewji asked the Liwali for his boat with the request that there should be two flags on the boat, the Union Jack and the red flag of the Sultan of Zanzibar. A number of prominent Ithna-asheris and non-Ithna-asheris were invited to accompany the Rao of Kutch and his chief minister as they were taken round the island on the boat and then to Jaffer Dewji’s house for tea.''

The Rao of Kutch’s Visit to Mombasa" - From interviews with Hassan A.M.Jaffer