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Lindi Notes - Family - Settlement Stories of Early Migrants



Abdulhussein Jusab Sachedina - lived in Lindi for about 13 to 14 years - between 1935 and 1948. It is reported that he was the first Secretary of Lindi KSI Jamat.

There was no electricity or running water in Lindi during those days. His house was one of the few Indian households that had a radio. The radio, a Short Wave, was powered by a six-cell battery (the kind you will find in your car). There were two batteries - one in use and the other one sent out to a charging station. The time (1940s) was particularly eventful for the Indian community as it was the war-time and there was an active independence movement in India where Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, Abulkalam Azad, Vallabhbhai Patel were all aggressively pursuing the independence struggle.

So under that climate, the evening news (9:00 p.m.) from the BBC was a critical source of the events that were shaping the future of India, day by day. Come broadcast time, his home used to be full of people from the neighbourhood. Most of them spoke no English. Abdulhussein would listen to the 10 or so minutes of broadcast and then his guests would all wait until it was over and he would relate the news in Kutchi or Gujarati to the rest. Then there would be questions and answers and more explanations and discussions ensued.

Being a writer he had taken the pen-name of 'Azad' and so although his name was Abdulhussein he was popularly known by his pen-name. He was the first person who floated the idea for the creation of the federation of all KSI Jamaats in Africa and so he is referred to "father" of Federation of Africa Jamaats.

In his book on Khoja History, Marhum Mulla Asgherali writes the following regarding Marhum Azad Sachedina:

Among the first thinkers who wrote about the need of a common platform was Marhum Abdulhussein Sachedina "AZAD", editor of the Gujarati monthly, "MUNADEE". "MUNADEE" means 'a herald'. In 1932, this reticent but profound thinker wrote an editorial in his monthly, appealing to leaders of major Jamaats to awaken and rise to the changing times. He can be safely called the first visionary who saw the ailing society, and suggested a remedy with clarity. His powerful pen heralded a new era.

Marhum Azad had a style which was quite appealing. With almost complete command over his subject, he wrote poetically, gracefully and with enviable coherence. In this editorial which he penned in 1932, he says: "lthna-Asheri Society today is overwhelmed by layers of backwardness and retrogression. These layers have been building up for the last several years, and continue even today. The horizon is bleak and dark, and nowhere is a ray of light to be seen. The ship of our community is drifting aimlessly and helplessly in a vast ocean, and none can predict when it will perish against the rocks. This is not a figment of imagination by a poet, or empty, fictional verbiage by a writer. Those who care to spare a moment or two to make an appraisal will agree that our words portray an exact and accurate picture of the prevailing situation."

And then he proceeded to enumerate the ills of our society, condemning the time worn, sometimes outlandish, traditions and social norms which he believed must be shunned. He described how the community was scattered in the remote parts of East Africa, gradually becoming disorganized, losing contact with the mainstream of the Ithna-Asheri society. Mincing no words, he held the leaders of the major Jamaats responsible for the pathetic state of affairs, "Progress without reform and organization is difficult. We need a strong, fortified set of laws which should bring about order and discipline in all our Jamaats, big and small, and should open up the stifled path of progress and advancement. This has got to be our goal, and the easiest way to achieve this is to form a Central Council of the Shia Ithna-Asheri Community in East Africa", he wrote.

In response to this editorial, Marhum Abdulhusein Nurmohamed wrote a letter which was published in "MUNADEE" in January 1933. He supported the editorial, and gave a detailed programme for such a Central Council, should it ever be established. The letter shows that he clearly saw the use of such an organized, central body, and that he was gifted with a sense of direction to which, he thought, the community could be led. No wonder he was elected the first President of the Central Council when it was finally formed twelve years later.

Abdulhusein Sachedina passed away at a young age of 46 in 1957 in Dar es Salaam where he remains buried. He was survived by his wife Hamida and children Zarina, Gulshan, Salim, Abdulmajid, Abdulaziz, Zainab (Jenny) and Raziya.

Trade Directory, Salim Sachedina, Mulla Asgherali M M Jaffer -
(An outline history of the Khoja Shia-ithna-asheri community in eastern Africa)



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