67. Kassim Ali R. Paroo, Honorary Missionary - page 261
In 1852, Haji Paroo and Jaffer Paroo, two brothers emigrated from Bhuj, Kutchh and settled in Zanzibar. The son of Jaffer Paroo was Hasham Paroo, whose son was Rajab Ali. The son of Rajab Ali was Count Kassim Ali R. Paroo.
Count Kassim Ali Paroo was born on October 31, 1906 in Bagomoyo, Tanganyika. His whole family migrated to Mombasa, Kenya in 1913. He joined Government School in Mombasa (1911-1916). There weren't any facilities for higher education in Mombasa till November, 1918, therefore, he joined Gharashia College (1917-1920). He also was admitted in Torfield School, Eastborn, England (1920-1922), and in Gondoal, Kathiawar in India, and finally in Saint Paul School (1922-1924).
His father, Rajab Ali worked several years as a General Manager in the firm of Alidina Visram. Later on, he established his own business in 1922. Upon completion of his education, Count Paroo returned to Mombasa and joined his father's business in 1924. Besides being associated as the Director with his own business concerns namely R.H. Paroo & Sons Ltd. and Jubilee Hardware Ltd., he also became the Managing Director of Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust Ltd., and the Jubilee Insurance Co. Ltd. He also managed a Company in 1962 under the name of Coastal Bottlers Ltd. and acquired the franchise of Coca-Cola products for the Coastal Region in Kenya.
His first contact with a public institution was with the Social Service League, Mombasa (1927-1946) as a member and he was four times as its Chairman (1932, 1936, 1940 and 1946) and again (1982-1998). He rendered his valuable services as an Honorary Secretary of Indian Sports Club (1929-1931) in Mombasa, and eventually became its President (1932-1936). He was one of the founder members of the Rotary Club of Mombasa in 1944, and its Honorary member again in 1980.
Kassim Ali Paroo was the Chairman of Indian Merchants' Chamber, Mombasa (1937-1945), the member of Indian Merchants Chamber Federation (1940-1945), the member of the Hindi Association for Mombasa (1928-1947), and the member of Kenya Legislative Council (1942-1945). He also represented the Indian National Congress of East African every year in India. He was also the member of East African Muslim Society in 1945, the trustee and treasurer of Pandya Memorial Clinic Society in 1944 and the Chairman of Muslim Electors Advisory Board in 1952.
He also served Kenya Government on various responsible posts between 1942 and 1945. At one time he held as many as 25 important posts in the various Government departments and committees. Kassim Ali Paroo was also the member of East African Production & Supply Council. He was Copra and Coconut Oil Controller and one of the delegates of East African Governments Trade Delegation to India in 1944. He was also one of the members of Daudi Bohra Education Society.
He was the member of H.H. The Aga Khan Provincial Education Board (1933-1936), Chairman of H.H. The Aga Khan Central Education Board for Kenya (1937-1945), the member of the Ismailia Provincial Council (1943-1946), the President of Ismailia Provincial Council (1943-1946), the member of H.H. The Aga Khan Federal Council in 1954, the Managing Director of Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust Ltd., and Jubilee Insurance Co., etc. Kassim Ali Paroo also served the Supreme Council from 1954. He was also a General Inspector of the Ismaili Corporation and Cooperative Building Society. He was also the President of the Ismaili Council for Mombasa.
Kassim Ali Paroo travelled between 1917 to 1992 to Pakistan, India (11 times), Nepal, Cairo, Hong Kong, Japan, Burma, South Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius, England and Europe (14 times), Belgium Congo, Middle East and Syria, Canada and United States, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania (many times).
Kassim Ali Paroo was a literary person and studied different religions. He also started a separate Study Group of 17 young members at his residence in July, 1953 with the approval of the Ismailia Association. He was a good speaker and became one of the renowned missionaries in East Africa. In appreciation of his incomparable services, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah conferred upon him the title of Honorary Missionary in 1953.
In appreciation of his meritorious services, he was invested the title of Alijah in 1943, Rai in 1948 and Wazir in 1953. In recognition of his outstanding services in religious field, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah bestowed on him the title of Count and cabled its message on September 8, 1954 that, 'I have much pleasure in giving you the title of Count for your devoted services with best blessings, but the highest title you have is that of Honorary Missionary.' He is reported to have lectured in 70 Jamatkhanas in East Africa and 44 Jamatkhanas in other countries.
In July, 1952, the Imam summoned the Avian Conference in Europe for making necessary amendments in the Constitution of the African Councils. Count Kassim Ali R. Paroo attended it as the President of the Ismaili Council for Mombasa. Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah's health was not good and he confined to bed. Even in this state of health, he spared five complete days to hear the verbal and written reports and had a total sitting of 18 hours with the delegates. At the end of the Conference, the Imam sent following cable message:-
Very glad to hear various excellent resolutions Evian Conference carried out in spirit and letter. All those who help receive double blessings. Very glad ladies intend when new clothes ordered have western fashion economic material clothes made as Burma for all unity with new western African ideals. For economic reasons old fashioned clothes should be worn till used up by time and age when new clothes ordered new fashion should become general
It is said that once Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah held a conference in London, where he found Count Paroo absent. The Imam asked, 'Why is Count Paroo not present in the conference. It will be postponed if he does not participate.' He was summoned immediately from Africa by a telegram, and then the conference started in his presence.
The Imam performed an opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi on September 10, 1958 in presence of Sir Evelyn Baring, the governor of Kenya. The Imam noticed an absence of Count Paroo He was called on telephone to participate in the ceremony.
Count Kassim Ali Paroo had been in Karachi on March 13, 1959 and in Bombay on March 23, 1959, where he was accorded a befitting welcome by the Ismailia Associations to appreciate his valuable services. He emphasized upon the young missionaries to deliver waez on scientific method, based on new interpretations.
The Imam arrived in Beirut on July 25, 1959 and proceeded to Damascus on July 26, 1959 after staying for three days. The Imam visited Salamia on July 29, 1959, Khwabi on July 31, 1959 and returned to Beirut on August 1, 1959. During the visit, the Imam worked out a plan to establish a bank with an investment of 35,00,000 shillings. The Imam deputed Count Paroo to Syria to open an Ismaili Council of 11 members, the Educational Board of 7 members and a Welfare Society of 40 members. He was also told to make a survey for an opening of a bank in Salamia for the benefit of the Ismailis. He left Mombasa on August 9, 1959 and returned on August 27, 1959. During his visit, he also handed over the cheques of the donations, which the Imam had made donations to. For instance, 2,00,000 shillings for Damascus University, 1,10,000 shillings for Municipal Corporation of Salamia, 20,000 shillings for Damascus Museum, 54,000 shillings for Syrian Police Department, 7000 shillings for Beirut Police Department, 1,25,000/- shillings for T.B. Hospital of Beirut, etc.
In the meantime, the Syrian government passed a resolution in September, 1959, claiming that any one who opened a bank in Syria, would have to invest a minimum amount of 60,00,000/- shillings, whose 70 percent shares should belong to the citizen of United Arab Republic. This new rule became a hindrance in the opening of a new bank. The Imam sent Count Paroo once again to make further investigation. He arrived in Beirut on November 21, 1959 and held meetings with the officers of Arab Bank Ltd., Istra Bank and Banku al-Ahlina Bank and discussed that when a new bank was opened in Salamia, whether they would open their branches. He came to Damascus on November 23, 1959 and then proceeded to Salamia on November 25, 1959. He returned to Beirut on November 27, 1959 and resumed his discussion with the bankers. He prepared a final report and left Beirut for Adis Ababa on December 1, 1959 and came to Mombasa on December 4, 1959. He submitted his report to the Imam along with his suggestions.
Count Kassim Ali Paroo married in 1929 and when his wife expired in 1944, his second marriage took place in 1947. He had five daughters and one son. His second wife died in 1997.
Only three days before his death, Count Kassim Ali Paroo performed a cake cutting ceremony at the Rotary Club in Mombasa. He died on Saturday, June 10, 1998 at the age of 92 years. His final advice was:-
'I shall pass through this world but once, any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to human being let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.'
Count Kassim Ali R. Paroo served Kenya and its people in different fields and also to the Ismaili jamat with remarkable integrity and devotion, courage, zest and zeal. He had been for many years a leading and pleasing personality in Mombasa. He was a resourceful person with robust, realism, wealth of experience and wisdom, sense of judgement, cheerful attitude. His legacy to all of us was the spirit of love and service and the fruitful work he left behind.