Rashid Khamis

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Rashid Khamis
Place of Death
Place of longest stay
Profession or occupation carriedout for the longest period in life
  • Agro-business
Where-City or Country

Born in

Khamis Illay (four generations removed from Rashid Khamis) first appears on the scene at the end of the 18th century as governor (“Gornor” in family folklore) of northern Persia on behalf of Sultan Hamud of Syria who has just conquered Persia. The Sultan grants him land in western Persia. Illay’s two sons – Mamad and Ali Mamud - get into a fight over a girl, an Ithnasheri girl at that. The girl’s brother is killed in the fight. The mother puts a curse on the male issue of the Khamis family. The murder is an unfortunate thing to happen as after all Iran is 100 percent Ithnasheri.

Illay asks the two sons, Mamad and Ali Mamd, to escape with their sister Mumtaz. They end up in Baluchistan (now in Pakistan). A son Ali Momad is born to Mamad and then Mamad Hussein to Ali Mamad.

Mamad Hussein decides to travel all the way to India, arriving in Kutch around 1820. Three children are born to Mamad Hussein– Faizal, Fakir and Gulshan. Faizal dies early (“the curse”).

Fakir has three children – Rashid, the hero of this story, Remtulla and Yasmin.

"Ugandan Asians" By Vali Jamal

Rashid was born in Bhuj in 1844. He

was brilliant at school but also showed an early inclination towards business. Allidina Visram took him in as an apprentice, as a favour to his sister, Rashid’s mother. Allidina brought him to Pemba (Tanganyika) in 1857 when Rashid was barely 13. Soon Allidina moved his headquarters to Mombasa to trade from a British colony rather than German. Rashid married Fatima from a wellknown Zanzibar Arab family. A son was born Huseni but died in infancy after a short illness (“the curse”). Fatima grieved and lost touch with reality. No cure being effective Rashid married a second wife Sakina with whom he had four boys and five girls.

Rashid concentrated on building his joint empire with Allidina. Rashid reached Entebbe from Kisumu and opened Allidina’s first shop there on May 10, 1900. From Entebbe he sailed on to Jinja and bought up land to plant with sugar, called the Kigudu Farm, after the local ruler. He found more land nearby for growing tea. At the start of World War I Rashid found himself still in Uganda, whereas Allidina was at Mombasa. The British warned Allidina not to send out any of his goods abroad for fear of attacks by German ships. Allidina was in a quandary: His godowns were chockablock. Moreover prices were plummeting fast. He decided to buy up more of the cheapening produce and started shipping them off to Britain and other destinations. The convoy was attacked not far from the shores of East Africa. Rashid rushed to Mombasa. The two partners agreed they’d compensate the families who had lost their bread-winners on the ships. The creditors now came demanding payment for the goods Allidina had so hastily purchased. The total was 200,000 shillings, equal to US$5 million in current terms. Rashid rushed back to Uganda to raise money from the stock left in the shops. Nothing! He found all the shops had been looted! There was no alternative but to start selling off the properties. The tea estate went to Mr Buchanan; the Kigudu sugar estate was mortgaged to Nanji Kalidas Mehta to add to his fledgling sugar farm. Rashid was still 10 thousand shillings short. He managed to get a loan from the colonial government authorities who were renting his home at Entebbe. So all creditors were paid off.


Rashid tried to put the Allidina empire back but just then a plague broke out and took the lives of Rashid, his wife, and four daughters. Rashid’s two children were spared as they were studying at Mombasa. They returned to Uganda. Uncle Remtulla (Rashid’s brother) was now the head of the family. “It is said [I am now quoting verbatim from an account sent by the family for this book] that six steel trunks full of silverware and one trunk full of precious goods was taken away by Remtulla. He even sold off the Kigudu estate to Nanji Kalidas Mehta. The British Government took Alidina’s wife and children to Britain as Allidina was dead and so was Rashid. Remtulla was told by the British that Rashid’s two sons would get positions in the district administration. Remtulla inserted his own son Haroon in place of Rashid’s son Hussein.”

Account submitted by Shamsh Khamis from Vancouver via Farouk Verjee, May 2009. Shams acknowledges receiving information for the article from his aunt Kulsum, the eldest daughter of Rashid Khamis. Other people he credits are: Khatija, wife of Haji Rashid Khamis; eldest son Dr Hassan; Major Deen; Sheikh Noordin Illahi; and Rashid Moleddina, a relative of Rashid Khamis.

Shamsh adds: “I was given the honour of the eldest of the Khamis family after the death of Amir.”