Musa Kanji

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(Redirected from Musa Mzuri Kanji)

Musa Kanji
Honorary Titles
  • Musa Mzuri
Town of birth
  • Surat
Country of birth
  • India
Place of Death
  • Tabora
Place of longest stay
  • Tabora
Profession or occupation carriedout for the longest period in life
  • Merchant Prince
Where-City or Country
  • Tanzania

Born in Surat

Khoja oral traditions confirm that one Musa Kanji and his brother Sayyan (Sajan?) Kanji, originally from Surat and working through Zanzibar had already set-up their business on the mainland, sometimes before 1820.

“According to Rai Shamsuddïn Tejpar, there is some evidence that the "Müsa Mzuri', who helped Burton and Speke at Tabora (in 1857 ed.), was surnamed 'Kanji'. At Mombasa, an old and reliable Ismaili gentleman told Aziz lsmail (in 1965) that Müsa Mzuri had come from Surat about 1820 to join a business already established in East Africa by his brother: the two then penetrated inland” King, Noel - Towards A History Of The Ismailis In East Africa - edited by Ismail Raji al Faruq (

"Tabora was founded in the 1820s as a trading company of two Indian merchants, Musa Mzuri and his older brother. per Wikipedia citing Richard F. Burton, The Lake Regions of Central Africa, 2nd vol., Vol. I, p. 326, Vol. II; Pp. 223-226

Musa Mzuri is also mentioned by Capt. James Grant of having “an establishment of 300 native men and women round him. His abode had, three years ago, taken two months to build and it was surrounded by a circular wall which enclosed his houses, fruit and vegetable trees and a stock of cattle”. ' Grant, James Augustus. A walk across Africa: or, domestic scenes from my Nile journal. Whitefish, MT.: Kessinger, 2007.

It was also Musa who told the explorer Jack Speke about the great river flowing north out of Lake Nyanza. Jeal, Tim. Explorers of the Nile: the triumph and tragedy of a great Victorian adventure. London: Faber, 2012. 102-103

It appears that the controversy about the source of the Nile River was superfluous; Musa clearly was the one of the first “outsiders” to see it although Speke may have been the first European to write about it.