Sheni Haji

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Sheni Haji

Born in

Fidahussain and Mohamed went instead and were the first of the Hajis to go to Pakistan in 1948. The Hajis already had business contacts in Pakistan with the Gokal and Habib families who encouraged them to make the move. The Hajis had been sending cotton to 'Habib & Sons' in India.

The Hajis went into partnership with The Habibs and together, in 1948, they set up a cotton-ginning factory in Dhoronaru called Hyderi Cotton which was managed by Fidahussain and Yusuf Habib.

Further Businesses Ventures in Sindh

In 1960 the Hajis partnered with the Habibs to put up a Vegetable Ghee Plant, Hyderi Vanaspati, in Hyderabad; the plant was managed by Sheni.

Four years later in 1964 the Hajis in 50% partnership with the Rawji-Alibhai Group put up The Al-Murtaza Textile Mills, also in Hyderabad. Habib, recently arrived from Dar with his family, lookedafterthesalesofthespunyarn. In 1966 the guar gum factory PGI (Pakistan Gum Industries) was put up in the Site Area in Karachi with Swiss collaboration. It is still a joint family business managed by Shokat Haji and his nephew Shams. The Al MurtazaSpinning Millswere sold in '74-'75.

The 5 Ebrahim Haji brothers also acquired a Tin Container Factory called 'Asiatic' which was managed by 2 sons of Fidahussain, Maqbool and Nazim. The family even now had joint businesses, but they had a good accounting system devised by Juma, based on the need of each family and those who required more funds were debited accordingly. The younger generations gradually started businesses of their own.

Nationalization in Tanzania, Nationalization in Pakistan

Tanzania got its independence in 1962. Nyerere, the new President/Prime Minister had socialist tendencies and the writing was on the wall.

In 1965-66 all the Haji properties in Dar-es-Salaam were nationalized; these included 10-12 buildings downtown with garages and warehouses, all rented out; and also the beautiful bungalow in the resort of Oyster Bay, in which no one ever lived, a few miles outside Dar town centre.

Fazal Haji had built a 3-storeyed building in Muisho Street in which Nazarali and Juma lived; and Shokat Haji lived in Haji Mansions opposite the Mehfil-e- Abbas.

One year later in 1967, 5000 acres of sisal plantations were nationalized. All the remaining Haji families moved to Karachi except Shokat and Pyarali, the son of Nazarali, who stayed behind in Africa for a few years to look after the family¬trading operations that still continued. In 2008 partial compensation was received.

In 1974, the Hajis suffered another blow. Hyderi Vanaspati, the ghee factory, was nationalized by Prime Minister Zulfiqarali Bhutto's regime.

Confidence in Pakistan was undermined and some of the younger families migrated to Canada taking advantage of the opportunity extended to migrants by the Canadian Government. Canada being a vast country with insufficient man-power and skilled workers welcomed these enterprising people to its shores.

Sheni and Farida Haji, Pyarali and Fatma Haji, and many others families from Karachi, East Africa and the Congo migrated to Canada at this time. Some of these families returned to their businesses in Karachi a few years later after obtaining Canadian citizenship. Among them were Habib and Sheni

Community work

Sheni returned to Karachi from Canada in 1984 and started ship-breaking activities. In this period of his life Sheni got very actively involved with social work within the Community and along with Hussain Alibhai they personally supervised the housingand welfare of hundreds of needy Shia families. Soliciting funds from many wealthy families of the community, they built apartment buildings and schools and undertook other community projects.

The full extent of his charitable work only became evident at his sudden death in 1998, aged sixty-one. Hundreds of people, till then unknown to the family, came to mourn and relate how he had helped to turn their lives around.