Kanji Hansraj

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Kanji Hansraj
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Place of longest stay
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  • Trader-Wares
Where-City or Country

Born in Mundra

The German Colonial Handbook Supplement 1904 mentions the firm of "Kanji Hansraj" as being wares merchants in Bagamoyo in 1904.

Among the prominent Indians of the (Khoja ed.) Ismaili community, I remember a number by names, and I shall enumerate some of them. Bandali Remtullah as Mukhi was their representative. Others were Alidina Visram, Ibrahim Lila, Kanji Hansraj, the heir of Jan Hansraj, Dhalla Bhimji, Daramsi Haschem, and Jaffer Dossa Thawer, Jaffer Remtullah, Pardan Mohamed, Abdullah Allarakia, Merali Remtullah, Jaffer Somji, Ali Siwji, Ismail Jiwani, Ali Somji, Ibrahim Hasim, Saleh Siwji, and many others. In 1899, there were 401 brick houses in the town of Bagamoyo, belonging almost entirely to members of the (Khoja ed.) Ismaili community. In addition, there were 2431 native houses with makuti roofs, built along streets which were already comparatively straight in those times. Besides, there were two large and magnificent houses which had been given as a present to the German administrative authorities by the Indian Sewa Hadji.

By Otto Mahnke, German Colonial Official- reprinted from Simerge.

Evidence of local bonds and attachments can be witnessed on the first day of the uprising: the local rebels neither looted nor damaged a single property with the exception of one belonging to a DOAG agent.68 Salim bin Abdallah, the jumbe, initially blamed for leading the uprising at Bagamoyo and retrospectively labeled its ‘‘soul,’’69 and Kisoka, the oldest and most venerable of the majumbe, led groups of men into the town center to requisition more firearms and ammunition. The group made its way to the house and store of the most prominent South Asian merchant in town, Kanji, shouting his name out repeatedly from the street. Kanji appeared and said, ‘‘here I am, what do you want? If you want to kill me, here I am.’’ Abdallah told him that he wanted to make shauri,or consultation. Kanji refused to do so unless Abdallah called off his armed men. This he agreed to and Kanji invited Abdallah into his home. The latter demanded that Kanji hand over his stocks of weapons and gunpowder. Kanji refused. The outcome of their shauri was terminated abruptly when the German warship, the Leipzig, began firing shells into the town, prompting Abdallah to flee.70 While we will never know what would have happened between these two town leaders, this episode still suggests that, in the aftermath of the Bagamoyo uprising, the jumbe foresaw the retention of the Asian trading community in Bagamoyo, instead of their expulsion as agents of the Sultan. Abdallah held back the crowd to avoid the risk of alienating key figures so vital to the town’s economic prosperity.

Steven Fabian (2013): Locating the local in the Coastal Rebellion of 1888–1890, Journal of Eastern African Studies, DOI: 10. 1080/ 17531055. 2013. 770680.Kindle Location 264-274

Kanji Hansraj was also an agent for Tharia Topan in recruiting porters for interior caravans. Per W.H.Whitley. Nairobi(1966) p.3