Jenabai Sunderji Mitha

From Khoja Wiki

Jenabai Sunderji Mitha
Town of birth
  • Changa Chela
Country of birth
  • British India
Date of Birth
  • 01/01/1897
Date of Death
  • 01/01/1981
Place of Death
  • London
Place of longest stay
  • Kampala
Profession or occupation carriedout for the longest period in life
  • Housewife
Where-City or Country
  • Uganda, United Kingdom

Jenabai in London

The quote below is taken from the book "THIS IS MY LIFE - Gujarat, East Africa, Canada - A FAMILY BIOGRAPHY ", a personal biography by Naznin Hebert which is also a lively, poignant life history of both sides of Naznin's large family.

Book Cover Naznin2.png

(The book makes great reading and is available for a modest price of $10 plus shipping from Naznin

My dadima, Jenabai, was born in Changa-Chela, Gujarat, India in 1896. She married at a very early age, in India to my dadabapa. She was also a child bride like many in those days. After their wedding, she travelled to Nairobi, Kenya with my dadabapa. They had ten children, five daughters and five sons, my dad being the eldest son. Dadima was religious as was dadabapa. I only remember visiting them once in Kampala. They had a very simple home. But I do remember well dadima visiting us in Tanga. I have fond memories of her telling us stories. The language they spoke at their house was Kutchi, a distinct dialect of Gujarati. But we spoke Gujarati at home, since that was the language spoken at my mom’s house.

Dadima did not visit us often but when she did it was a real treat. They lived in Kampala, Uganda. She came one time: I must have been fifteen years old. She stayed with us for at least a month. In the evenings, we would sit outside in front of our house and listen to her stories. She was old and had red hair that she wore in a bun. She had a mole beside one of her eyes. Her stories and her facial expressions were impressive to me. When she said: “It was a looooong time ago” with her eyes closed and her mouth open to exaggerate the O, it sounded like a really long time ago! We used to sit outside and look at the sky full of stars that looked like fireflies.

Travelling in East Africa was difficult in those days. We travelled mainly by train or car and it would take days to get from one place to the other. The road conditions were not great, then we had to cross borders, and the immigration process was exceedingly long and disorganized. When dadima and dadabapa moved to London in 1972 (due to the Asian Exodus), I was already living in England. I visited them while pursuing my nursing credentials. They were living in a small government provided flat with four of their children. The others had all moved out. Dadima lived a long life and passed away at the age of 84, in 1981, five years after dadabapa, in London, England.