What is Khoja Wiki
Preserving the Remarkable History of the Khojas: A Community Undertaking
We are a not-for-profit collaboration, dedicated to documenting the living experiences and recollections of our people, including stories passed down from parents and other ancestors. Our mission is to use the power of the Internet to ensure that the 700-year migratory history of the Khojas from Western Gujarat, India, to all corners of the globe, is not lost with the passing of our elders.
The Khojas are recognized as a unique socio-cultural group with their own written script (called Khojki); a history of preserving their spoken languages of Kutchi and Gujarati; a fierce determination to hold on to a rich cultural heritage including poetry/songs (Geets), literature(Kahanis) and dance (Raas) that they have proudly cherished for centuries, as well as continuing an unbroken naming-tradition that reinforces their syncretic sub-continental identity.
Dating back from the 14th century, the Khojas have always had a pacifist history of mercantilism and migration. Initially, they were farmers and petty traders in Multan and Sindh, but with the conquest of Kutch and Kathiawar by their Hindu rulers in the late 1600s, the Khojas became shopkeepers and retailers. As Gujarat became a major exporter of cotton and the British Empire expanded, many Khojas ventured out as traders and merchants and later, others evolved as manufacturers and industrialists. This laid the foundation for their current diaspora, where they now thrive globally as successful businesspeople and professionals.
Within this long history of migration lies hundreds of personal stories filled with courage, sacrifice, and strong family values, all interwoven with a fine tradition of public service or "sewa." These family biographies and generational histories collectively form The Khoja Story- a people's history of the Khoja as an Indic community or 'jat'. This treasure trove not only holds immense value for future generations of our families but also for society, as it is part of the history of the ancient Indian Ocean trading world, spanning thousands of years.
Sadly, multiple migrations have caused many families to lose their traditional methods of passing down ancestral information, resulting in 'broken' collective memories. As our elders pass away, they take with them crucial links to our complex identity, leaving important questions unanswered for our children and friends: Who are we? How did we get here? The Khojas often humorously claim that business is in their blood, but how did this legacy come to be? These questions demand answers, and the urgency to preserve irretrievable family stories and collective Khoja history grows stronger as time passes.
Inspired by the words of Dutch historian Gijsbert G. Oonk, who highlighted the need to write the history of “a people without a history”, our volunteers have embarked on this noble mission since 2016. Through the Khoja Oral Family History Documentation Project and the Khojawiki.org web portal, we are committed to permanently recording and memorializing the rich history of our ancestors - the Khojas of Western India. By doing so, we hope to celebrate our vibrant heritage and ensure that our unique journey is cherished by generations to come.
Iqbal I. Dewji, Founder/Editor
Some interesting 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 60,000 plus database. Register as a User and add your family histories!
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!
Azim Muhammed Hashim Premji "India's IT Czar"
Mohamedali Rahemtulla "Mbale's renaissance man"
Mohamed Hamir "Iringa JK builder"
Badrudin Karmali Sayany "Barrister Sayani"
Hasham Jamal Pradhan "Bwana Mzuri-Kisumu Pioneer"
ABDUL AZIZ "Sri Lanka's conscience"
Mohamed-Jaffer Habib Dewji Bhayani "20th c. Khoja entreprenuer & migrant"
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"
Hassanali Nanji Giga "Zanzibar horses importer"
Dhanji Jadavji Bhatia "East African Entrepreneur"
Husseinali Nurmohamed Jiwa "Deputy Mayor, Masaka, Uganda"
Gulamali JIna Madhavji "Tanga Dukawalla"
Rahimtullah Muhammad Sayani "Prominent Bombay Citizen"
Amir Ali Fancy "Mwanza's Mr. 'Fancy'"
Sultanali Hasham Lalji Noorani "Tales from the Congo'"
Maherali Gokal Versi "Tanganyika Dukawalla'"
Moledina Visram "Mpwapwa Merchant'"
Volunteers and Supporters
- Aly Sunderji of Vancouver for his research into many family histories.
- Karim Jivraj of London for research into UK colonial archives.
- Riyaz Adat of Sharon for helping with review & editing.
- Naren Valabh Kanji Varambhia of London, UK for his generous help with Gujarati;
- Dr. Hasnain Walji of MARC for his encouragement;
- Sultan Somjee of Vancouver for his constant encouragement.
- Mohammed Rahimtoola of Karachi for his continued support;
- Raza Kara of Toronto for his support with East African Cricket Fraternity.
- Zahir Dhalla of Toronto for writing biographies and conducting seminars on Writing Biographies.
- Shamshtabrez Dhirani of Edmonton for his help in circulating our emails;
- Nazir Hirji of Calgary for his support with East African Cricket Fraternity.
- Mohamed Mullani of Toronto with his donation;
- Zeenat Shariff of Toronto for her effort as a coordinator;
Write Your Story – Make Our History
Please check various spelling etc. to avoid duplication.
Some Remarkable Women
ગુજરાતીમાં અનુવાદિત - તેથી તમે વડીલો સાથે શેર કરો
Now translated into Gujarati so you can share with your elders!
Zera Hassam Mohamed Dhanji"a modern businesswoman"
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"
Kulsumbai Abdulla Hasham "a desi Healer "
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
Mr. Iqbal I. Dewji was invited to make a Zoom presentation on the above subject on Sunday, January 30, 2022.
We are pleased to provide a video of his talk:
FESPACO - Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso - "the Oumarou Ganda award for best first or second feature film."
MASHARIKI AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL, Kigali, Rwanda - “For the great achievement in a film adaptation of a historical novel that features little-known African heroes. For the particular artistic level through the mastery of all the components of cinematographic language: image, music, costumes, sets and acting.”
VUTA N’KUVUTE ZANZIBAR PREMIERE, A HOMECOMING - "The ripples of silence, laughter and joy throughout the night were an outcome of the efforts of a community that collectively contributed to giving back a piece of their own literature, forgotten history; in the hopes of giving new generations a glimpse into their past"
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 the main search engine in the left column
Mr. Iqbal 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.
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