Abdalla Ali Mohamed Khalfan

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Haji Abdalla Ali Mohamed Khalfan
Place of birth Zanzibar
Country of birth Tanzania
Date of Birth 1889
Place of Death Zanzibar
Name of Cemetery and plot no Khoja Itnasheri Kabrastan, Zanzibar
Place of longest stay Zanzibar
Where Zanzibar
Family tree List | Extended

Born in 1889 Zanzibar


In 1910, Ali Mohamed Khalfan decided to send his young sons Abdulrasul and Abdalla to Mombasa. There Abdulrasul quickly got a job as broker with Smith Mackenzie & Co, due to his fluent command of English, Kutchi, Gujarati and Kiswahili. Abdalla on the other hand went into manufacturing after he met an Ethiopian named Abdelrehaman, who told him he knew how to make soap.

Soon Abdalla had opened a small shed in Mombasa and had started manufacturing soap. Business was brisk and within a short time, ‘Khalfan Soap’, had become famous. The purchase of caustic soda from Smith Mackenzie reached such high levels that Abdalla decided it was time to build a full-scale factory. Abdalla had by then become a personal friend of Smith Mackenzie and it was this close friendship which allowed him to ask Smith Mackenzie to accept the resignation of his brother, Abdulrasul and along with him, Smith Mackenzie’s chief accountant L.F.De Mello. Land on which to build the factory was provided, by the mercantile prince and Mombasa magnate Jaffer Dewji, who was the father-in-law of both the brothers.

When the factory was built around 1920, it was the first time that a two-story factory could be seen in Mombasa. Modern machinery was imported from Krupp the giant German weapons manufacturing company during the first and second world wars. The factory had a rest room and a prayers room. A chef was imported from Bombay to do the cooking. Once the Company’s Registration Ordinace came out, Khalfan Oil Mills and Soap Factory was one of the first Ithnasheri establishments to become a Limited company. Smith Mackenzie took over the sole agency for the marketing of the soap. The factory had become so prosperous that in 1930, when the Maharao of Kutch Shree Khengarji visited Mombasa, a party was held in his honour at the factory and various dignitaries of Mombasa were in attendance.

Mombasa – 1930. The King of Kutch, Maharao Shree Kehngarji, accompanied by Prince Madansinhji visiting the Khalfan Oil Mills and Soap Factory. Sitting r-l: Late Haji Rashid Moldeina, Fazleabbas Esmailjee Jeevanjee, Late Abdulrasul Ali Mohamed Khalfan, Prince Madansinhji, Maharao Shree Khengarji, Late Haji Jaffer Dewji, Late Bandali Esmail Kalyan, Yusufali Esmailjee Jeevanjee, De Mello; standing r-l: Mohamedhusein Abdulrasul Khalfan, Late Shariff Khalfan, Late Haji Mohamed Jaffer S. Dewji (from Muhammed A. Khalfan)