- Sherali Pirbhai 1926–2006
Shabbir left school in Darat 16 and headed for the Congo. The journey took the better part of ten days—60 hours by train to Kigoma, followed by a boat journey to Kalemie, a train ride to Kindu and finally a very uncomfortable plane ride to Stanleyville. The train stopped for hours sometimes to collect firewood for the boilers, and a day or two was spent at each stop to catch the next connection. A regular plane journey was inconceivably expensive!
In Stanleyville, he joined Rawji fils and worked as a cashier, handling huge volumes of congolaise francs which had become seriously devalued against the dollar. Four months later the mutiny occurred and he lived through the 110 days of horror along with other family members, witnessing Belgians being slaughtered, their corpses strewn on the roads in the hundreds.
They were finally rescued by the military paratroopers and taken to Leopoldville. Shaken by the experience, Shabbir spent the next 2 years in Dar where he worked and took a course in photography. Finally in 1967 he came back to Leopoldville and worked at Alukivu in Limete, managing the warehouse, receiving and dispatching goods. In 1973 he married Masuma Sharif in Karachi and returned to join the main office at Beltexco as Sales Manager under his brother Sherali.
He was joined here by Mushtaque who began his training in the warehouse, and recalls the time when the two of them had to unload trucks carrying bales of 'Wax Kitenge' secretly at night to avoid fights among the locals because of the scarcity of these coveted goods.
He now stayed in one of the apartments next to the warehouses at Avenue Renkin. Like many others he decided to leave the Congo after the 1991 rebellion and went to Karachi to await his Canadian immigration. In 1997 he settled in Montreal, where his 3 children obtained a good University education and now have successful careers.