Lord Rumi’s family: Treasure Trove of Historical Photographs and details from Ameer Janmohamed

Lord Rumi’s family: Treasure Trove of Historical Photographs and details from Ameer Janmohamed

Rumi of course is the scion of a distinguished family, going back several generations. If such a thing were possible his ancestors would be so very proud of him, for he has brought even greater honour to the family name.. Remembering his father and grandfather, and his father Kassam Suleman Verjee is a way of paying tribute to him and his distinguished forebears. (Incidentally, my grandfather’s grandfather is the same Verjee who is Rumi’s grandfather’s great grandfather).

1952 picture above shows the Aga Khan Supreme Council for Africa. Fourth from left is Rumi’s father Jimmy Verjee. He was the youngest member on the Council. On his right (third from left) is my mother Rabhiabai Kassam Janmohamed. My mother was pleased to have Jimmy sitting next to her. Not only was he always polite and courteous, he knew that his mother Jenabai and my mother had been close friends since 1938 when we were neighbours on 2nd Parklands Avenue in Nairobi. My mother also knew his father Rajabali and other Verjee boys when they were students in the UK when my father was the Mukhi.
1952 picture above shows the Aga Khan Supreme Council for Africa. Fourth from left is Rumi’s father Jimmy Verjee. He was the youngest member on the Council. On his right (third from left) is my mother Rabhiabai Kassam Janmohamed. My mother was pleased to have Jimmy sitting next to her. Not only was he always polite and courteous, he knew that his mother Jenabai and my mother had been close friends since 1938 when we were neighbours on 2nd Parklands Avenue in Nairobi. My mother also knew his father Rajabali and other Verjee boys when they were students in the UK when my father was the Mukhi.
Studio photo shows some of the Verjee boys who were studying in the UK in the 1930s. Standing from left: Rumi’s grandfather Rajabali Kassam Suleman Verjee, Hassanali Hussein Suleman Verjee and Gulamali Madatali Suleman Verjee. Seated John Hussein Suleman Verjee and my father Kassam Janmohamed Hasham Verjee.
Studio photo shows some of the Verjee boys who were studying in the UK in the 1930s.
Standing from left: Rumi’s grandfather Rajabali Kassam Suleman Verjee, Hassanali Hussein Suleman Verjee and Gulamali Madatali Suleman Verjee. Seated John Hussein Suleman Verjee and my father Kassam Janmohamed Hasham Verjee.

Rumi’s grandfather’s grandfather Suleman Verjee was the first Mukhi of Mombasa Jamat Khana 1888-1892. Rumi’s great grandfather Kassam Suleman Verjee was amongst the earliest members of Verjee family to set foot in Mozambique and then Kenya. He also built the very first double storied stone building on Bazaar Street, also referred to as Indian Bazaar in Nairobi (later knows as Biashara Street).

Kassam Suleman Verjee, as Chairman of the Indian Community and Ismaili Jamat hosted
a magnificent garden party in Mombasa in 1904 in honour of the Duke of Connaught when he arrived in Mombasa to celebrate the completion of railway line to the Ugandan border. Ill health forced Kassam Suleman Verjee to return to India in 1917 and he soon died.

His son Rajabali (Rumi’s grandfather) took over the reins of the family business. For me his most memorable achievement was creating the first Aga Khan High School in Mombasa, funded by members of the Suleman Verjee family. The school was so successful that new larger premises were needed. Picture below shows the official opening the new Aga Khan High School (behind the Naaz Cinema) on 26th September 1930.

Governor of Kenya Sir Edward William Grigg performed the official opening of the school.  Picture shows him and his wife Lady Joan Alice Katherine Grigg being received by President of Aga Khan Council Janmohamed Hasham Verjee(my grandfather) on right. Facing camera on left are Abdulrasul Somji and Alibhai Kassim-Lakha.
Governor of Kenya Sir Edward William Grigg performed the official opening of the school. Picture shows him and his wife Lady Joan Alice Katherine Grigg being received by President of Aga Khan Council Janmohamed Hasham Verjee (my grandfather) on right. Facing camera on left are Abdulrasul Somji and Alibhai Kassim-Lakha. Photograph courtesy of Najma Shivji nee Shamsudin Husein Janmohamed

Rajabali Kassam Suleman Verjee in his speech on the occasion gave a history of Aga Khan Schools in Mombasa. He traced it to the first school on Old Kilindini Road which had been funded by members of his family. Realising the need for a purpose built new school he had petitioned Mowlana Sultan Mohamed Shah who had graciously approved a grant of £5000 towards the cost of building a new school. Rajabali KS Verjee explained however that to keep alive the name of his family with the school, he had undertaken to pay for the construction of the school personally.

This piece of information is especially interesting for me because the only formal education I have ever had was at this school in Mombasa between 1939 and 1945! I remember that there was a large wooden plaque in the centre of the school, on the ground floor, opposite the Scouts office which gave some names and dates.. But I never remember ever having stopped to study what it said!! Also I cannot recall a single occasion when any teacher ever mentioned all this to the boys.

-ameer janmohamed-

Earlier related: Remembering Ameer Janmohamed’s Regal Cinema, Jeevraj Air Services, Fatehali Dhala

Constitutional Review Committee, Group Photo 1961 – by Ameer Janmohamed

I Wish I’d Been There: Ameer Janmohamed

Book Launch of “A REGAL ROMANCE” and Other Memories by Ameer Janmohamed

New Website: Compendium of Cynical Wisdom by Ameer Janmohammed

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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