career begins in Daressalaam which
has been my home after we left Zanzibar. Firstly
I became a teacher at
the Tambaza Secondary School (formerly Agakhan Boys Secondary
a couple of months. However noble the teaching
profession may be careerwise it is ill favoured. Ironically I landed a job as a
Bank Accountant with NBC (National Bank of Commerce) where the post of Economist
for which I had applied was occupied. I was initially designated Management Trainee and it was with
the assurance of receiving severe training in accounts that I consented to the
owe a great deal to National Bank of Commerce for grooming me into a caliber
personnel. I was put on a vigorous training in accounts, on the job as well as
at the Bank's Training Wing and the Institute of Finance Management where I
attended several courses and seminars. Some of those who conducted the seminars
were none other than President Nyerere's economic advisers like Dr.David Green
and Dr.John Loxley.
ethnic Indian the treatment accorded
to us citizens at government and
parastatal offices was worthy of praise. Tanzania is a beautiful country. I
found the wildness of Ngorongoro, Manyara and Serengeti more attractive than
the artificiality of Egypt's Pyramids. For that matter the whole of Africa is
and its people too. It is rightly stated that black is beautiful. I always associate
black with goodness. My favourites in sports are
Blacks, West Indies in
cricket and Brazil in football.
fellow Zanzibaris, the indigenous ones, were just super. They were so humble,
modest and hospitable. It is sad that Africans throughout Africa are subjected
to exploitation while the politicians keep amassing fortunes. I still recall
attending those Saturday night rallies by Hizbu or ZNP (Zanzibar Nationalist
Party) at Darajani. ZNP had jogo(cock)
as its symbol and the crowd agog for the occasion chanting 'voti
umpeni jogo'. I would even attend the ASP(Afro Shirazi Party) rallies on
Sunday evenings at Kiswandui. ASP had kisima(well)
as their symbol and their supporters aplenty. That might have been political
awareness but there is this pretentiousness also on the part of African
politicians that has cheated and deprived Africans of their expectations.
vividly recall attending the Tanganyika independence celebrations on the night
of 9th December, 1961 at the National Stadium in Daressalaam and also the
Zanzibar one on the night of 10th December, 1963 at the Coopers ground. That
Zanzibar Government lasted just a month and was toppled by the Zanzibar
Revolution of 12th January, 1964. On 26th April, 1964
Zanzibar united with Tanganyika and the UNION was named
TANZANIA. There were
high hopes but the post independence era has flopped miserably.
The wildness of Africa- Our landrover surrounded by monkeys at Ngorongoro
President Nyerere nationalized houses in 1971 his intentions might have been
good for his socialist policy demanded cheaper house and lower rent so that it
would be within the means of the poor. It backfired severely. Contrarily today
only the filthy rich can own property and its exorbitant rent makes it
inaccessible to the commoner. What an irony!
whole of Africa, east to west as well as north to south, is burning. The
political unrest, coups, genocides, corruption, tribalism and economic chaos
coupled with natural calamities like draught or fatal diseases like aids
inflicted on Africa is beyond imagination. The future of Africa and its
inhabitants is foreseen as entirely bleak.
not that colonialists were good but they were definitely better administrators
and knew how to deliver goods. South Africa may be basking in the glory of
Nelson Mandella but it is a fact that its government cannot keep up the pace of
the former apartheid regime. The relinquishing of political hold on South Africa
seems a blessing in disguise for the Whites (Kaburus) as economically they have
most of Africa under their clutch. The penetration of South Africans into
Tanzania has changed Tanzania's economic scenario. They have snatched even the
good old NBC.
of NBC's policies since my time were detrimental to the economy of the country.
The ujama(socialist) policy implied
lending in millions to unviable projects. Also its’ phasing out of non
citizens who had been earning just as much as us citizens and replacing them
with expatriates at exorbitant cost was highly uncalled for. I went on to become
NBC's Accountant at branch level, Zonal Controller at Zone level and eventually
Economist with its Directorate of Research & Planning at the Head Office
level. I was even appointed on the bank's Planning Committee and would consult
on the affairs of banking and finance with the likes of Dr. Rwemamu who was
Personal Adviser to President Nyerere.
of my good pals at NBC was former Tanzanian cricket captain Praful Mehta who opted
not to come back to Tanzania after playing in England for East Africa in the 1975
World Cup. On the local cricket scene the dominance of Upanga to which Praful
belonged was under threat from USC(Union Sports Club) whose championship reign
was setting in. Praful would hate being teased about Upanga's decline. I could
easily associate myself with members of the other communities who I found more
accessible than members of my own community. Even then I was always handy with
support for USC or its players with letters in the dailies siding their cause in
the disputes with DCA (Daressalaam Cricket Association) or TCA (Tanzania Cricket
do feel odd to be associated with cricket when I am a non sports person. Many
whom I meet on the way indulge me in cricketing talk. Instinctively I desire all
sorts of sports activities but find myself a non performer. My wishes thus
remain unfulfilled and can never be furthered. Even then I have had my share as
a spectator at a few international meets. Summer in England is great for sports
fans. It provides real bonanza with its cricket test matches, Wimbledon tennis
and Derby and Royal Escot races. It is lush green everywhere and the Daressalaam
cricket grounds like Gymkhana, Kinondoni and Burhani pale in comparison to the
scenic English County grounds with their picturesque pavilions and cathedrals.
The picturesque county ground in England
is vast and almost a village. Wimbledon prides in its environment that befits
the affluent who flock there not only to experience the excitement of tennis but
also make purchases of its precious mementos besides entertaining themselves to
costly strawberries and cream. The atmosphere at the Centre Court is electric.
or soccer as the British call it is the real craze in the UK. Its season
stretches from autumn through winter right up to spring but gets over by summer.
The English Premium league gets followed all over the world. In fact football is
popular everywhere including Africa where the Africans are mad about it. East
Africa's most prestigious tournament used to be 'Gossage'
and Zanzibar formed its underdog. Zanzibar’s most popular footballers were
Hija Saleh(Malim Hija) and Shioni Mze. Once sometime in 1959 when I was at my
aunt's place I had the privilege of accompanying her brother in law, the late
Roshan Master, who was the editor of the weekly 'Samachar'
to a Gossage match between Zanzibar
and Kenya at the Khalifa ground. He
held a special pass and we were made to sit in the VIP section just behind the
British Resident and the Sultan's family members. Zanzibar's Majham and Boti
displayed thrilling football but eventually Kenya prevailed. Elijah Lidonde,
Kenya’s star footballer, scored twice to beat Zanzibar 2-1.
Zanzibar we had several football teams but Malindi
used to be my favourite for it was the team of our locality. The entrance to the
stadium cost ten cents and the encounter between Malindi and Vikokotoni, a
la Simba and Yanga, would be the talk of the town. Whenever Malindi won, the shop of one by the name of Ashur in a corner of Malindi
would distribute freely a glass of mixed fruit or fresh orange juice. I
remember once as a child to have followed my maternal cousin,
the late Mohamedraza (Golo)
who was a member of Malindi club
to its party at Sheriff Musa. Malindi that season had won all the trophies that were displayed
there and its supporters danced to the tune of tarab as the celebrations continued
right through the night.
it is cricket that has been my passion
(refer 'Cricket Mania' under 'Features').
The teams in East Africa were communal
based which despite cricket's low standard made the competition fierce and
enthralling. As a child I followed my brother Husain to the local matches and
even made efforts to grasp the cricket commentary and 'Sports Round Up' that he
would attentively listen to. He also used to receive the Indian magazine 'Sports
& Pastime' that I found very much fascinating. Thus began my love or
association with cricket.
home I would bang a rubber or tennis ball against the wall. At times it even hit
the crockery displayed on the adjacent wall and broke it into pieces for which
my mother would rebuke me. My maternals were the Khamis Damjis whom we paid
regular visits at their Hurumzi
residence. Eventually my younger sister got married into their family and I also
ended up with one of theirs. The Hurumzi
gully and stores provided the spot for our tennis ball cricket matches. Sadly
the childhood cricket mats Zafar Manji and Iqbal Damji met with tragic ends.
it was mere statistics of the game that seemed to interest me but gradually I
absorbed its finer points such as technique, footwork, wicket and its rules and
regulations. All these would monopolize my conversation with my cricket fanatic
friends or acquaintances. The Jamali brothers are amazing. Their tempers flared
during tense moments in the local matches. They are fanatical Pakistan
supporters and would ring even after midnight contemplating the following day's
play. During the initial stages of the 1992 World Cup in Australia there was no
television station in Tanzania and only those with satellite dishes could view
live matches. We would gather at three at night to watch live matches at the
residence of Mohamed Jaffri, another of those cricket maniacs.
the early 1980s I was suffering from depressive disorder. It was going to the
cricket grounds that gave solace and provided a bit of relief to me. At that
time spotlight was on AK Club’s Shiraz Sumar on the local cricket scene. I
wanted to occupy myself doing something and indulged in a profile of Shiraz for
an Ismaili friend. That feature became the talk of the cricket circle. I was
merely being impartial but USC might have felt otherwise. Also around that time
USC had come out with a souvenir that gave no mention to Zanzibar cricket and
lacked material content. I expressed my view point but was met with rebuttal and
taunt implying that I knew peanuts. I took up the challenge and the rest is
history. Never had USC received so much publicity.
local dailies and weeklies vied for my cricket columns. My column with the
Express had become really popular. It gave me that secret thrill of being liked
and recognized. Once when seated at our Elise Corner baraza a group of youngsters from Tanga were brought there to be introduced
to their cricket correspondent. They could not believe their eyes as I
blushed with shyness. My columns entailed me to reach the British Council every
Saturday by 8.30 in the morning when their parcel of English dailies arrived. I
would be the first one to grab the papers, scribble my notes and collect as much
material as possible.
was our enthusiasm in the enthralling local competition that we would not return
home during lunch. We had formed our own group comprising all Bohoras
except myself and would arrange lunch at the ground itself or visit different
restaurant on every Sunday. There have been sad moments too! My companions to
the ground were the three Adamji brothers
Hatim and Sajjad
-Nariarwala) who remain no more.
death was a horrifying experience for me. On one Saturday
afternoon as I was waiting down the road along with him for a friend
to go to Burhani ground for a cricket match, Amir all of a sudden groaned and passed away. The public
gathered there and in panic I rushed to call the nearby doctor who on arrival
declared him dead.
Adamji brothers were also members of the 'baraza'
group. It was at the baraza where
we would idle our time. My association with the Bohoras had a positive effect and the aloofness in me somewhat
abated. We would arrange barbeque program on the balcony of one of our
acquaintances or go for picnic. During Ramadhan
we would sit late into the night and relish the biting, kahawa, fresh juice and ice cream that was served at the baraza.
At one time the baraza group consisted
of as many as 25 members. Today we hardly gather and remain just a few. Most of
them have passed away.
of my favorites at the baraza was
Sadiq Mithaiwala. He was a hilarious character and would relate his funny
adventures. Once he was tempted into a boxing bout against a huge African at
Arnatauglo Hall to earn some quick bucks. The Asians received his entry into the
ring with great applause. Then began the fight and with his opponent's very
first blow Sadiq got knocked out of the ring. He had passed out, only to regain
consciousness the following morning when he woke up in his bed.
I regret to state that I hold sour feelings for USC for not being responsive to my contributions. In that respect hats off to Agakhan Sports Club for their courtesy, and acknowledging whatever few write ups I did for them with letters of thanks or invitations to their functions. What really infuriates me is that all Tom, Dick and Harry insert their names over my original write ups to grab credit for themselves.
is not that I am exceptional but rather a mediocre writer who merely builds up
articles with emotion and sensation that excite or incite a section of the
public. As a matter of fact in my younger days I was more attuned to the Indian
language Gujarati and would read all
sorts of Gujarati periodicals and
language was never my cup of tea. Even in school I fared badly at it and my
English teachers showed disregard for my essay writing. I was reasonably good at
other subjects but English language deprived me of a first grade in my Cambridge
School Certificate examination. It gave me complex and I vowed to overcome this
weakness of mine. I became a voracious reader and marvelled at the writings of
Somerset Maugham and VS Naipaul. In Bombay I would sit for hours at the Asiatic
restaurant at Churchgate sipping tea,
munching khara biscuits and reading
through the columns of the afternoon dailies. However the consistency of my
writing began with the papers on the research work and feasibility studies that
I had to prepare while at NBC's 'Research and Planning' department where at
least a paper a week had to be presented to the Directorate.
furthered my career joining in 1976 the Commercial Bank of Dubai which was an
associate bank of Chase Manhattan in Dubai. As its inspector I travelled
throughout the Emirates staying at luxurious hotels in places like Abudhabi and
dining at posh restaurants. Having stayed in India the greed and money
mindedness of the Indians in Dubai therefore did not surprise me at all. Behind
the facade of prosperity and modernity lies his insincerity and insecurity.
The residence around Fish Market at Dubai
My employers in Dubai- CBD, The Associate Bank of Chasemanhattan
its East African background my own community seems going astray. The nauveau
riche is the product of unfair means of dealings. Strangely he is looked
upon with rave admiration and respect. He is being sought to lead the various
committees. It is really confusing and I fail to reason out good from bad when
viewing it from religious point. Outsiders regard with detestation such displays
like 'live like Ali and die like Husain'
and mock us for in reality the community projects a different picture
altogether. In the good old Zanzibar there were no people with extreme riches
but mere 'well to do' ones who were pious and knew where to draw the line.
father was a brilliant student and refused the lucrative government job offered
to him. He was in cloth business, especially fine fabrics. His marginal profit
did not have to exceed two percent. He also dealt in kafan(shroud) for which his clientele was classified into two, the
'haves' and 'have nots'. While the 'have' paid its mere cost price the 'have
not' paid nothing. In emergency the
indigenous African could knock the door even late at night and would be served
readily and without reluctance.
Today it seems religion is sanctioned by wealth. The so called 'ziarat group' in reality is 'shopping spree in disguise'. Those with abundance throw away their donations in the form of carpets or chandeliers to show off their status and relieve themselves of their excess or burden. The holy month of Ramadhan is conspicuous not by its sanctity but the 'Korean Hall' that takes the centre stage. It is where the social congregation assumes control and chit chat and sports tournaments thrive. The 'ittefaq' observance is marked with children taking in 'nintendo', 'carrom' and such games in the mosque. We should learn from our Sunni brother for whom 'ittefaq' is renouncing everything except 'ibadat' that he engrosses himself in and feeds on sour and simple 'iftar' and 'sahri'. Who are we trying to stupefy?
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