We strongly believe, as many of you also do that the remarkable 700-year entrepreneurial migratory history of the Khojas should not be allowed to be lost just because our elders are passing away. Our response is Khojawiki.org – a not-for-profit collaborative effort 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.
The Khoja Diaspora
The Khojas are recognized and written upon by historians and other scholars, as a distinct socio-cultural group with their own written script-Khojki, with a tradition of preserving spoken and written Kutchi and Gujarati, of preserving their own literature, poetry/song and dance as well as proudly retaining, over centuries, a unique personal naming tradition that recognizes their syncretic Subcontinental identity. They have had a long history of mercantilism and migration – progressing from peasant-farmers to petty traders in Multan and Sind in the 14th & 15th centuries and after migrating with their ruler's conquest of Kutch and Kathiawar in the late 1600s, as artisans and vendors and still later as itinerant traders, transcontinental merchants and industrialists into the rest of India, Asia, and Africa under British imperial domain. That in turn, has to lead to an on-going diaspora to the West where they thrive as businesspersons and professionals.
This long history is made up of thousands of very rich personal stories of courage, sacrifice, strongly-held family values and a fine tradition of public service or "sewa". And these stories - of each person and family and the collective peoples history – is a treasure not only for future generations of that family but also for the general society.
Due to multiple migrations, the traditional way of passing down ancestral information, from parent to child, has been lost and unfortunately, our collective memory stands broken. As more of our elders pass away, they take with them important links to our complex identity - the very answers that our children and friends demand – who are we and how did we get here. (We say we have vepar business in our blood-how did that happen?) and we all know that feeling – that time is taking away something that is 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 unintended but gravely offensive words have spurred us onto this mission.
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 = 1543 AD
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!Read More
IN THE NEWS
KHOJAWIKI SECURES A TREASURE – TROVE OF GERMAN COLONIAL RECORDS OF KHOJAS IN TANZANIA.
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 MAIN SEARCH ENGINE ABOVE
Bagamoyo Khoja Merchants 1903
Dar es salaam Indian Merchants 1903
Dar es salaam Indian Merchants 1904
German Colonial Handbook 1908 pg1
Indian Traders 1903
Indian Traders Arusha 1908
Indian Traders Bukoba 1908
Indian Traders Dar es Salaam 1908
Indian Traders Iringa 1908
Indian Traders KIlwa, Kilosa 1908
Indian Traders Lindi 1903
Indian Traders Lindi 1908
Indian Traders Lushoto 1903
Indian Traders Mafia 1908
Indian Traders Mahenge 1903
Indian Traders Morogoro 1908
Indian Traders Mpwapwa 1908
Indian Traders Ngerengere 1908
Indian Traders Pangani 1903
Indian Traders Pangani 1908
Indian Traders Saadani 1903
Indian Traders Sadani 1908
Indian Traders Shirati1908
Indian Traders Tabora and Tanga 1903
Indian Traders Tanga and Tabora1908
Indian Traders Tanga1908
Indian traders In Bagamoyo1904
Kilosa Indian Traders 1903
Mukhi Kamadia Dar
Mukhi-Kamadia plaque - Tanga 1905-1932
Mukhi-Kamadia plaque - Tanga 1933-1968
KHOJAWIKI at the SECOND KHOJA STUDIES CONFERENCE, MUMBAI UNIVERSITY, Jan 2019.
Mr. I. 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:
"KHOJAWIKI.org TEAMS UP TO BRING YOU A USEFUL SERVICE."
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.
I.I.Dewji Director, Khojawiki.org
"DIASPORIC DISTRACTIONS" LAUNCHED IN NORTH AMERICA"
Mr. Iqbal I. Dewji, Dr Mohamed Keshavjee and Mr. Ali Velshi. Photo credit: Aly Zahur Ramji
Khojawiki.org was the venue for the launch in Canada of a new book on short stories “Diasporic Distractions” marking the Indian diaspora in Africa with a particular focus on the end of the colonial era.
The book was launched by Iqbal I. Dewji, Director of Khojawiki.org at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto on Sunday 6th May 2018.
Mr. Dewji formally launching "Daisporic Distractions". Photo credit: Aly Zahur Ramji
TORONTO DROP-IN CENTRE:
Sadly, we wish to let you know that the Khojawiki Drop-In Centre was closed due to the Pandemic athough we continue to receive mail. Please send your written materials at the following address
Our complete contact:
KHOJAWIKI, 6 Garamond Court, Suite 240, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3C 1Z5
2. PARENTS NOTE: HIGH SCHOOL COMMUNITY SERVICE HOURS
In Canada, high school students must volunteer 40 hours to the community service and as a registered charity, we are qualified to provide the necessary certification. Please contact us if you can get a student in your family to build your family tree and at the same time qualify for these hours. This way, they would likely never forget their ancestral lineage!Contact