Welcome to Khoja Wiki
WHAT IS KHOJAWIKI?
A not-for-profit collaborative effort to systematically record living peoples' own experiences and their recollection of the stories of their parents and other ancestors in their own words using the reach of the Internet.
We strongly believe, as many of you also do, that the remarkable 700-year entrepreneurial migratory history of the Khojas of Western Gujarat should not be allowed to be lost just because our elders are passing away.
The Khoja are recognized by historians and other scholars as a distinct socio-cultural group with its their own written script- Khojki; with a tradition of preserving spoken and written Kutchi and Gujarati, with strong ability to preserve its own literature, poetry/song(ginans & geets) and dance (Raas) as well as proudly retaining, over centuries, a unique personal naming tradition that recognizes their syncretic subcontinental identity. They have had a long history of mercantilism and migration – progressing from petty traders in Multan and Sind in the 14th & 15th centuries and then as artisans and vendors after migrating with their ruler's in the conquest of Kutch and Kathiawar in the late 1600s;still later as itinerant traders, continental and transcontinental merchants and industrialists into the rest of India, Asia and Africa under the aegis of British imperial domain. That, in turn has to lead to the on-going diaspora to the rest of the world where they thrive as businesspersons and professionals.
This long history of transition is made up of thousands of very rich personal stories of courage, sacrifice, strongly-held family values and a fine tradition of public service or "sewa". And these stories – of each person and each family and the collective peoples history – is a treasure not only for future generations of those families but also for the Khoja as a community but also for general society.
Due to multiple migrations, the traditional way of passing down ancestral information from parent to child has been lost and unfortunately our collective memory currently stands broken. As more of our elders pass away, they take with them important links to our complex identity – the very answers that our children and friends demand – who are we and how did we get here. (we say we have vepar business "in our blood" - how did that happen?). At same time, we all know that feeling &ndash - that time is taking away something that is being lost forever.
Recently a well-known Dutch historian Gijsbert G. Oonk, in explaining how his professor persuaded him to write about Indians in East Africa said:
"He encouraged me to write a history from below or, more specifically, a history of people without history."
These unintended but gravely offensive words have spurred us onto this mission.
Iqbal I. Dewji, Editor
Some brilliant stories created by our contributors and carefully picked by our editors.
Volunteers and Supporters
We Wish to Honour Some of Our Dedicated Volunteers & Supporters Every Week. You make Khoja Wiki possible!
Write Your Story – Make Our History
Check your family member name in our 25,000 plus database. Register as a User and add your family histories!
Some Remarkable Women in our History
Read their life stories of these strong women! Now translated into Gujarati so you can share with your elders!
ગુજરાતીમાં અનુવાદિત - તેથી તમે વડીલો સાથે શેર કરો
Sir Currimbhoy Ibrahim, 1st Baronet
Among those who contributed to India's present position as a formidable industrial power were the business titans of the nineteenth century, who despite the constraints of British colonial rule, managed to create huge commercial and industrial conglomerates that outdid those of their masters.
These days, we are familiar with the Tatas and Birlas but it was the early textile magnets with their 136 mills between 1856 and 1900, who gave India its export economy. There were at least seven Khoja mill owners among them, of whom the most successful entrepreneur and renowned philanthropist was Sir Currimbhoy Ebrahim, who went on to be made the first and only Khoja Baron (Lord) from India, (the only other being Lord Amir Bhatia of Hampton) with a grant of lands recognized by the British Crown and a hereditary title that has remained in his family since..
Earliest Portuguese Historical Reference To Khoja Merchants
The Quedagh Merchant
17th Century ships built by Indians in Surat"
A wealthy Khoja merchant from Surat, whose ship, the "Quedagh Merchant" was captured by Captain William Kidd, the notorious British pirate and for which Capt. Kidd was hanged 300 years ago!
Mohamed Hamir "Iringa JK builder"
Badrudin Karmali Sayany "Barrister Sayani"
Hasham Jamal Pradhan "Bwana Mzuri-Kisumu Pioneer"
ABDUL AZIZ "Sri Lanka's conscience"
Mehdi Bawa "his story, told his way."
Mehboob Madhavjee Jessani "...and that, too, is life."
FakirMohamed Hussein Karim Gaidher "Calgary's Bapa"
Mohamed H. Ahamed Sumar "The Sumars of Lindi"
Firoze Madatally Manji "Author-Activist"
Dhanji Jadavji Bhatia "East African Entrepreneur"
Husseinali Nurmohamed Jiwa "Deputy Mayor, Masaka, Uganda"
Gulamali JIna Madhavji "Tanga Dukawalla"
Rahimtullah Muhammad Sayani "Prominent Bombay Citizen"
Volunteers and Supporters
1. Farida Giga for being a Khojawiki Centre volunteer for the last 15 months;
2. Shamshtabrez Dhirani of Edmonton for his help in circulating our emails;
3. Naren Valabh Kanji VARAMBHIA of London, UK for his generous help with Gujarati;
4. Zakir Kassam of Mississauga for his help in entering family trees;
5. Mohammed Rahimtoola of Karachi for his continued support;
6. Ali Amlani of Toronto for putting his photographic skills to our use for our events;
7. Zeenat Shariff of Toronto for her effort as a coordinator;
8. Dr. Hasnain Walji of MARC for his encouragement;
9. Dr. Alnoor Abdulla of Vancouver for his hospitality & words of encouragement;
10. Mohamed Mullani of Toronto with his donations of office equipment & generous support;
Write Your Story – Make Our History
Please check various spelling etc. to avoid duplication.
ગુજરાતીમાં અનુવાદિત - તેથી તમે વડીલો સાથે શેર કરો
Now translated into Gujarati so you can share with your elders!
Sakarkhanu Hassanali Bandali "a formidable force"
Amina Sadruddin Virani "Against the odds"
Gulsaker Dewji "a memorial to a fighter"
Nurbanu Gulamhussein Moledina "Ontario Centenarian"
Razia Nathani Suleman "The Gujarat Project"
Yasmin Ratansi "Canadian Trailblazer"
Dolatkhanu Alibhai Gulamhusein Jiwani "a family matriarch"
Naaz Bandali "Dar's lonely female cricket fan"
Fatmabai Kassamali Kanji Bhatia "a Strong Mother"
Zubeida Sultan Chinoy "A titan among the Titans"
Daulatkhanu Hassanali Suleman Bhanji "her life, her way"
Noor Nagji "true to my word"
Remti Hassanali Nasser Welji "Pioneering Teacher"
In the News
Recently, the Swahili film, "Vuta Nkuvute" or " Tug of War" by renowned Director, Amil Shivji had its Premiere Gala at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Theatre in Toronto. This full length production is the first Tanzanian film selected for screening at the prestigious TIFF.
Amil's passion for the story of forbidden love between a young African revolutionary and a runaway Khoja bride, as well the art of filmmaking is evident in every frame. Please ask your family and friends to view this sensitive and beautiful film, shot on location in Zanzibar and Dar es salaam.
Khojawiki is a proud Associate Producer of this film - our support arises from our mission to highlight the heritage of the Swahili language, with many Indian loan-words, themselves largely of Kutchi origin. (Read more about Khoja history inZanzibar here.)
During a recent visit to the German National Archives in Koblenz, we discovered some recently digitized records from Tanzania - a couple of very detailed German Colonial Handbooks dated 1903-1904-and 1908.
From those, our volunteers have painstakingly extracted all recorded Khoja family names & details and added them on to the Khojawiki website database.
This is a valuable find- thousands of Khojas from Tanzania can now find confirmation of their family oral history...of their great-grandparents and trace them to various towns and villages of their first settlement, including the Dukas and other businesses they established. We have names and business details from centers like Morogoro, Kilosa, Bagamoyo, Dar es Salaam, Pangani, etc. and also from small “bush” settlements like Magalla, etc.
All the towns and names are listed underneath and the detailed information for each ancestor is up-loaded on the Khojawiki database. Please check your family name on the general search engine above to see if your ancestor has been recorded.
Once again, we at Khojawiki are very proud of our volunteers who are trying to preserve our family heritage so our grandchildren can know their real past.
SEARCH HERE, AND THEN INSERT NAME IN MAIN SEARCH ENGINE ABOVE
Mr. I. I. Dewji, Director of the Khoja Oral Family History Documentation Project was invited to speak to a conference at Mumbai University that included, amongst many other scholars, the Directors of the two very prestigious academic institutions engaged in Khoja Studies-The School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) of the University of Paris and the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.
Mr. Dewji's presentation was on the subject of "Crowd-sourcing and Wiki initiatives in history preservation."
We are pleased to provide a video of his talk:
A constant complaint in the West is that children do not understand grandparents when they speak Kutchi language. Valuable opportunities for transmitting knowledge, history or just family interaction are lost.
Whilst it may be hard to learn a whole new language, Alykhan Kaba has a solution - a web-based translator app that will help you with over several thousand words. It's free and run by a not-for-profit organization.
http://www.kutchilanguageonline.org is an open website where you can translate almost all words that we commonly encounter in Kutchi. It provides English to Kutchi and reverse.
Try it. Surprise Nanimaa. It will be fun and it will heartwarming.
Khojawiki.org was the venue for the launch in Canada of a new book on short stories “Diasporic Distractions” marking the Indian diaspora in Africa with a particular focus on the end of the colonial era.
The book was launched by Iqbal I. Dewji, Director of Khojawiki at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto on Sunday 6th May 2018.
Sadly, we wish to let you know that the Khojawiki Drop-In Centre is currently closed in order to reduce the risk to our seniors - we continue to receive mail. Please send your written materials at the following address:
Our complete contact:
KHOJAWIKI, c/o 6 Garamond Court, Suite 254, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3C 1Z5
In Canada, high school students must volunteer 40 hours to the community service and as a registered charity, we are qualified to provide the necessary certification. Please contact us if you can get a student in your family to build your family tree and at the same time qualify for these hours. This way, they would likely never forget their ancestral lineage!Contact Us Here