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What is KhojaWiki

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KhojaWiki.org is a not-for-profit collaborative effort - a systematic collection of living people's stories about their own experiences and their recollection of the stories of their parents and other ancestors, in their own words, using the power of the internet.

The Khojas of Western India are recognized by historians and other scholars as a distinct socio-cultural group, with their own written language-Khojki and a tradition of preserving spoken and written Kutchi and Gujarati, of literature, song and dance and finally, a very unique naming tradition that preserves their identity. The Khojas have had an amazing journey of migration through the centuries - from small traders and farmers in Multan and Sind into laborers and street vendors after moving with their ruler's conquest of Kutch and Kathiawar in the 1500's and later,as traders, merchants, industrialists into the the rest of India, Asia, Africa under British imperial dominion. That has been followed by the current diaspora to the West where they continue to thrive, often as businessmen and professionals.

This long history is made up of thousands incredibly rich personal stories of courage, sacrifice, strongly-held family values and a fine tradition of public service or "sewa". And these stories - of each Khoja person and family - is a unique treasure, not only for future generations of that family but also of the whole community.

Unfortunately,in these multiple transitions, the traditional way of passing down information from parent to child has been lost and sadly, our collective memory sits broken. And as more of our elders die, they take with them important links in our complex identity - the very answers that our children and friends demand - as who we are and how we got here. And we all know that feeling-that time is taking away something that is being lost forever.

In fact, recently a Dutch history student, Gisbert Oonk, explaining how his professor persuaded him 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’.."*

Those, unintended but offensive words, have spurred us into this mission.

What Is the Khoja Oral Family History Project?

It is a late but urgent response to this dilemma - KhojaWiki.org codifies these family stories, connects them with other peoples stories, provides relevant information on places and highlights historically events at that time, using live links, just like Wikipedia - a searchable wikipedia of Khoja families stories. Finally, it creates a printable Family Tree of unlimited generations and a handy feature to find links between individuals. For privacy and safety, no contact information is publicly provided.

So, computer-literate contributors create their own family history pages for each person and upload photos, documents,as well as audio/video materials etc. The user-creator only can change or add information etc. at any time. For elders, volunteer journalists (interviewers) help the seniors recall names,dates,events, etc. which are then uploaded onto khojaWiki.org. Other registered users help write essays, do research on families and also monitor the site. To help build our collective knowledge, such essays can be amended or added to by any registered user but will only be uploaded after review by other users.

The whole collection, including the family stories, the essays, as well as photographs, documents and audio/video material will be freely available on the KhojaWiki.org for the use of those families and their future generations, as well as everyone else, including scholars of history.

"Oral history as narrated by the subjects themselves is a powerful instrument for a ‘history from below’" *

Please help us in this timely cause by adding your own family history. Add a story here

*"Gijsbert Oonk- Settled Strangers - Asian Business Elites in East Africa (1800-2000) - Acknowledgements"