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42. Hashim Jamal, Count - page 174

Jamal Pradhan was a famous figure in Kutiana, India. His elder son, Hashim, was born in 1880, who did his early schooling in India and helped his father in his shop in his free time. He studied upto 7th class and joined the school as a teacher. In 1901, he left the school and decided to immigrate to Africa. When he bid farewell to his schoolmates, Maneklal Nanji, the headmaster said, 'How much would you give to the school if God may bless you with Rs. 10,000/-'. To this, Hashim Jamal said, 'I will donate Rs. 500/- to the school.' The headmaster also said, 'When you try your fortune, you must come back to improve the condition of your old school. Do not forget us.' True to his promise, many years later, he donated Rs. 500/- generously to his old school.
Hashim sailed from Bombay and arrived in Zanzibar via Aden. When he came to Mombasa, he came into contact with Varas Alidina Visram (1851-1916), who employed him in his firm. His first task was to establish a business outlet for him in Port Florence (Kisumu). Soon afterwards, he came to Kisumu at the end of 1901 with the completion of Mombasa -Lake Victoria railway line.

Hashim and Varas Alidina Visram together helped new immigrant Ismailis to settle in Kisumu and its vicinity. They established small provision stores, dealing in commodities, such as sesame seeds, beans, peanuts, rice, jaggery, ghee and much later hides and skins. They settled in Homa Bay, Mumias, Sio Port and other small towns.

Hashim was all alone with no family close by and no Jamatkhana to offer prayers. In the meantime, Kisumu began to change around 1905. Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah paid a visit to this Lake town when there were hardly 70 Ismailis. The Imam inaugurated the first Jamatkhana for Kisumu and its district. This magnificent Jamatkhana was built with the generous donations from Varas Alidina Visram, other pioneers and Hashim donated 10,000/- shillings. On the recommendation of Varas Alidina Visram, the Imam appointed Hashim as the first Mukhi and the President of the Provincial Council for Kisumu. He walked to Jamatkhana daily at 4.00 a.m. until the age of 90 years.

Mukhi Hashim started his own business in Kisumu. With the guidance of the Imam, he applied for and obtained 100 acres farm in Muhoroni, about 35 miles from Kisumu. His business prospered and was in a commanding position to call for his family from India to his newly adopted homeland. His brother, Ibrahim Jamal came to Kisumu in 1913 with his parents. He was never miser, he was very generous with his wealth, and donated a handsome amount to Kisumu Girls School in 1921.

Mukhi Hashim served as the first Mukhi (1905-1919) and the President of the Kisumu Provincial Council (1905-1914). He also served as a member of the Council. He again became the President of the Council from 1920 and 1925, and continued to remain its member between 1926 and 1931. He was again appointed the President of the Council in 1932 and served till 1962.

In appreciation of his incredible services, he was bestowed the title of Alijah in 1926 and Varas in 1937 and Count in 1946. His generosity and philanthropic services earned him the name Bwana Mzuri (Noble Man) in Kisumu. A road was named after him in recognition of his meritorious services. During the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Ismailia Cooperative Building in Kisumu on November 7, 1957, Hazar Imam called upon Count Hashim Jamal to recite the ginan.

The new Jamatkhana was opened at Malkisi on November 8, 1959, which comes within the jurisdiction of Provincial Council for Kisumu. It was built at the cost of 35,000/- shillings and the opening ceremony was performed by R. S. Winser, the District Commissioner of Elgon Nyanza. On that occasion, Count Hashim Jamal had an honour to hoist the Ismaili banner, My-Flag on the new Jamatkhana.

Count Hashim Jamal was also the Vice-Patron of the East African Muslim Welfare Society, and handled the finance of the Society in Kisumu. He rendered unique services to the cause of Islam in Nyanza province. The Mumias Mosque with a school, the Arab School and Muslim Mosque in Kisumu are the results of his foresight and hard work. Count Hashim Jamal died most probably in 1970.

Mention must be made of his brother, Ibrahim who after arriving in Kisumu in 1913, received his early lessons in English from a station master. He attended the Indian Government school until 1915. In 1916, he went to India and on his return, his wife, Sakinabai, accompanied him. During his visit to India in 1923, he learnt from Major A.J. Lakhpati (1884-1947) an idea to set-up the Volunteer Corps. He made a report to the Provincial Council for Kisumu, which subsequently appointed him as a Major, which he served between 1923 and 1945.

Ibrahim served as the first Chairman of the Kisumu Education Board in 1936 and as a member of the Kenya Central Board (1936-1945). The Jubilee Insurance Co. Ltd. was set up in 1937; and he became its agent for Nyanzi Province.

It was during this period that Ibrahim, on several occasions, accompanied Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah and Prince Aly Khan either as a driver or a member of the entourage. His best memories are of a boat trip around the Lake Victoria with the Imam. In 1945, when the Imam visited Kisumu, there were comparatively fewer families. The Imam granted family audience at his residence, and graciously visited the business of Count Hashim and Ibrahim.

Ibrahim was appointed the President of the Kisumu Provincial Council between 1948 and 1954. He also attended the Avian Conference in 1952. Encouraged by the Imam, he rushed back to Kisumu to ensure the early opening of the newly built the H.H. The Aga Khan Primary School and H.H. The Aga Khan Maternity Home & Dispensary by Sir Evelyn Baring, the governor of Kenya. These two institutions continued to stand out even today as two of the finest in Kenya. In October, 1982, the expansion of this very hospital was one of the major silver jubilee projects. Hazar Imam laid the foundation stone to this extension. In view of his exceptional services, he was granted the title of Varas.

Among the children of Count Hashim Jamal, Wazir Ramzan Ali is eminent to serve as the President of Kisumu Provincial Council. His another son, Rai Amir Ali was born on September 29, 1931 and received his early education at Government High School, Kisumu and later at Aga Khan High School, Mombasa. He was an Honorary Secretary of Aga Khan Provincial Education Board in 1950 and became its Vice-Chairman in 1954. He was the member of Aga Khan Kisumu Council (1954-1962). He was awarded the title of Huzur Mukhi in 1954 and Rai in 1956. He also rendered valuable services as a member and Chairman of the Advisory Board of Government Asia Primary School, Kisumu and also Government Asian Hospital, Kisumu. He also served as the President of Nynza Muslim League, Nynza Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Kisumu and the member of Kenya Legislative Assembly. He was also an official nominee of Kenya Africa National Union.

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Hashim Jamal, Count

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