Welcome to Khoja Wiki
What is Khojawiki?
We are a not for profit collaborative, endeavoring to systematically record living peoples' own experiences and their recollection of the stories of their parents and other ancestors in their own words using the reach of the Internet.
We strongly believe, (as many Khojas do), that the remarkable 700 year migratory history of their entrepreneurial families from the Western Gujarat region of India to the rest of the world, should not be lost, due to the passing on of our elders.
The Khoja are recognised by historians and other scholars as a distinct socio-cultural group with their own written script of Khojki, and have been able to preserve spoken and written Kutchi and Gujarati.They have also managed to retain their own literature, poetry/song (Ginans and Geets) and dance (Raas). Furthermore, they have proudly maintained, over centuries, a unique personal naming tradition that reinforces their syncretic Indian sub-continental identity.
Khojas have an unbroken history of mercantilism and migration that dates back to the 14th/15th century, firstly as petty traders in Multan and Sindh, and later. with the conquest of Kutch and Kathiawar by thier Hindu rulers in the late 1600's, progressing to become shopkeepers and vendors. After this period, with the expansion of the British imperial domain within India, in Africa, and other parts of Asia, many ventured out as itinerant and product traders, continental/transcontinental merchants and industrialists. This, in turn, spawned the ongoing diaspora of the Khojas throughout the world, where they currently reside and thrive as businesspeople and professionals.
This long history of migration and transition is made up of thousands of very rich personal stories of courage, sacrifice, strongly-held family values, woven together with a fine tradition of public service or "sewa".These individual family histories and stories, combine together, to create the collective record of the Khoja story or a 'peoples history', over time. This is not only a story that is a rare treasure for future generations of Khoja families (and the Khoja as an Indic 'jat') but also, for society as a whole.
As a result of multiple migrations, in many families, the traditional method of passing down ancestral information has been lost, leading to a 'broken' collective memory. As more of our elders pass away, they take with them important links to our complex identity - the important questions posed by our children and friends such as who are we? and how did we get here? Khojas jokingly claim that business (or 'vyeapar') is in their DNA. If this is true, how did we get here? These questions demand answers. We all know that sinking feeling, of time running out and our irretrievable family stories and the collective history of the Khojas being lost forever.
Recently a well-known Dutch historian Gijsbert G. Oonk, in explaining how his professor persuaded him to 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."
These unintentional, but deeply disturbing words, have spurred our volunteers in our efforts, to record and memorialise the rich history of our ancestors-the Khojas of Western India, through the the Khoja Oral Family History Project and the Khojawiki web portal.
Iqbal I. Dewji, Founder/Editor
Some brilliant 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 25,000 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!
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'"
Volunteers and Supporters
- 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