An Ode to the Indian Dukawala of East Africa by Kersi Rustomji

This work is a small tribute to the unsung intrepid pioneering Indian traders and very often their families, who braved the unknown hazards of the “Dark Continent”, carried on regardless of disease, lack of comforts, privations, ill-health, and even death, which they knew was their constant and real possibility.

“While the tribute is aimed at all the Indian, later termed Asians traders and shop keepers, we should bear in mind that these intrepid early trading pioneers also included Ismailis, who became prominent merchants and developers in all economic fields in East Africa. The Ismailis left behind an admirable record of their contribution, and this work touches them too.” — Kersi Rustomji

Hitherto the dukawala remain unrecognised nor given a deservedly appropriate place in the annals of these nations. Without record of these traders and other Indians who also played a very prominent and important part in the economic and the political growth of these nations, the histories of these three East African countries would be incomplete.

PLEASE CLICK: Ode to the Indian Dukawala on East African Plains

The image depicts on the rich red soil, a typical Indian duka, a small trading store, in small towns and remote country areas of East Africa. The signage is also typically hand painted work of the duka owners. These put up with any paint at hand, included some spelling errors. The man behind the counter is my paternal uncle Jehangirji Rustomji, who first opened a small watch repair duka in the old Indian Bazaar, now Biashara Street, in early 1906 in Nairobi, Kenya. He later moved to the then Government Road,  now Moi Avenue, in the corner of a chemist shop, Chemitex,  next to the old Alibhai Sherrif hardware shop, going towards the Ismaili jamatkhana, on the corner of Government Road and River Road. Later his youngest son Rati joined him, and after Jehangirji’s death, Rati carried on the little business until 2009, when he retired and closed the little duka after 103 years of its existence. Rati still lives in Nairobi. Copyright> Kersi Rustomji.

The image depicts on the rich red soil, a typical Indian duka, a small trading store, in small towns and remote country areas of East Africa. The signage is also typically hand painted work of the duka owners. These put up with any paint at hand, included some spelling errors. The man behind the counter is my paternal uncle Jehangirji Rustomji, who first opened a small watch repair duka in the old Indian Bazaar, now Biashara Street, in early 1906 in Nairobi, Kenya. He later moved to the then Government Road, now Moi Avenue, in the corner of a chemist shop, Chemitex, next to the old Alibhai Sherrif hardware shop, going towards the Ismaili jamatkhana, on the corner of Government Road and River Road. Later his youngest son Rati joined him, and after Jehangirji’s death, Rati carried on the little business until 2009, when he retired and closed the little duka after 103 years of its existence. Rati still lives in Nairobi. Copyright: Kersi Rustomji, Australia.

 

 

His Highness the Aga Khan III: Historic First Landings in East Africa in 1899 and the USA in 1906

The Old Boma where His Highness the Aga Khan was received with great honours by the Chief of the District, Surgeon-Major Gaertner, and all the Europeans, among them the author of the article. Please click on image to read both the East Africa and USA accounts.

The Old Boma where His Highness the Aga Khan was received with great honours by the Chief of the District, Surgeon-Major Gaertner, and all the Europeans, among them the author of the article. Please click on image to read accounts of both the East Africa and USA visits.

“….The enthusiasm and veneration for His Highness at his arrival [in Bagamoyo] as well as during his whole stay was tremendous and will linger in the memories of all who, like me, had the honour to be present” — Otto Mahnke…Read More

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Clip of page from the Washington Herald dated January 27, 1907 containing article on His Highness the Aga Khan. Please click on image to read accounts of both USA and East Africa visits.

Clip of page from the Washington Herald dated January 27, 1907 containing article on His Highness the Aga Khan. Please click on image to read accounts of both USA and East Africa visits.

“The Pope and the Dalai Lama of Tibet are great spiritual chiefs, but in them the principle of inheritance is absent” — The Washington Herald, 1907…Read More