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Tracking the Journey of our Shree Sorathia Prajapati Community
Members to Various Parts of the World

By Mohanlal Virji Fatania, Atlanta, GA, USA

Email the writer, Mohanlal Virji Fatania, at mohanvf@yahoo.com
Click Here to View the Profile of Mohanlal Virji Fatania

In different parts of the world, our Shree Sorathia Prajapati Community has settled down. All these members of the community left India for different reasons but all to achieve one goal, success. It is necessary to understand their past history, to know the reason why they decided to leave India and settled in different countries. How difficult was this journey? What hardships were suffered? How did the present generations come forward and benefit or lose? In order to answer and even know the questions, we will have to look deeply into the past.

Kenya, East Africa
         The capital city of Kenya is Nairobi, other major cities are Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Eldoret, etc. The coastal region of East Africa was dominated by Arabs until it was seized, by Portuguese, in 16th century. In 1890 Kenya was established as a British protectorate and a Crown colony in 1920. In 1963 Kenya became independent and Jomo Kenyatta became the first president of the country.

         My grandfather, Kanji Keshav Fatania, according to his accounts, left Porbander by boat in 1901, via Sikotra and arrived in Kenya, East Africa at Mombasa Port. Kenya was a beautiful country, with fertile land, lush trees, and much vegetation. (Many trees were available like podo, cedar, pine and eucalyptus). At that time in Kenya a railroad was being built from Mombasa to Nairobi. The British Government appealed to the Indian Government to have a labour force from India come to Kenya to build the British railway. Many people traveled to work on the railway. The main reason for my grandfather to go overseas was to earn money and maintain his family in India, similar to the Hispanic immigrants in the past and present in the US. By that time in Africa the native people were uneducated and living in the jungle. Laborers were transported to a railway line by road and rail to work. The railway line was planned to be from Mombasa to Mariakani and travelling on towards the White Nile. The area where the railways were built were inhabited by lions and therefore quite a few laborers were attacked and killed. In spite of this the Indian laborers continued with courage to work on the railway line. Slowly the railway line reached from Kenya to Uganda and thus the two countries were connected by train.

         Our community members travelled to East Africa and stayed for two years and then returned to India. In such a way the journey between India and East Africa continued. In the journey by dhows (a type of sailboat) nobody knew how long they would travel by sea, since it was dependent on the wind. So many times there were storms and the boats would rock violently. When food was cooked the coal stove would move back and forth and the utensils had to be removed from the stove. Moreover there was a rationing of fresh water. The wooden toilet was always built by the side of the boat where everybody could be seen and in such a position, they had to use the toilet. Many of them suffered from seasickness and could not eat food at all; they travelled by helping each other and finished the journey. Our forefathers suffered such difficulties and travelled to their countries.

         In East Africa Gujaratis were a predominant force and there were Punjabis and Sikhs as well. At that time crossing the sea was very treacherous. Gujaratis are a fearless and industrious people and our Prajapati community brothers were not far behind. Our forefathers were so courageous that in such conditions they travelled to different countries. Today the journey is so easy that a person can eat breakfast in London, lunch in New York and dinner in Tokyo. Our forefathers mainly travelled from Porbander, Jamnagar or Mumbai Port. The embarking port is Mombasa and of Tanzania is Dar-es- Salam (Old name was Tanganyika and was under German rule). Our forefathers arrived in such force and then went further into the interior of part of the country, worked for two years, saved a small amount and returned back to India. In that time the person had to work hard, cook himself and clean the clothes and all the work of the household by himself. Only in rare situations did they used to get help from house servant, the reason to do this was so that no one used to have their wives to join them as it was a short term stay.

         After World War II the settling situation changed, and they were staying longer and needed to settle, and certain members called their wives from India to Africa. By that time our women used to wear only ?pahernu?(approx. 2 1/2 yard clothing wrapped across the hip and the upper part of the body was covered with 'kapadu' a backless blouse, very similar to the 'Rabari' dress used today by women in western Kutch). It was not convenient for them to wear a sari day after day. Everything started to settle down, in Kenya, people started to build houses and businessmen, artisans, tailors, carpenters, shoemakers, masons and jewelers etc. all followed these laborers and they made Kenya their own home. The Indian merchants went inland to the forest and opened their shops and started business catering to the local population.

         In our community, the following members travelled from India, and came to East Africa as listed below:

  1. Uka Kara Savania who settled in Karatina, Kenya and started his business, he arrived in the year 1880.
  2. Arjan Yadav who had his business for bicycle and its parts in Nakuru, Kenya. And later known as ?Seth? because of his success in business (Seth means, rich man) He also arrived in Kenya in 1880.
  3. Narshibhai Jina Pankhania travelled through Aden lived 5 years in Sudan and then two years in Somalia in Mogadishu city and arrived in Uganda, then his family settled in Kenya in Mombasa Port. He arrived in Kenya 1893.
  4. Jadavjibhai Kanji Singadia who started business in Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) he arrived there in 1895.
  5. Kanjibhai Keshav Fatania arrived in Mombasa, lived in Nairobi as a carpenter and arrived in the year 1901.
  6. Kanjibhai Naran Bharadwa worked as a carpenter and arrived in Kenya 1904.
  7. Khimjibapa Savania who lived in Rhodesia and had business there arrived 1905.
Besides these, Kanji Samji Singadia, Jerambhai Singadia, Virji Raja Devalia, who lived in Arusa, Tanzania, Virji Bechar Dhokia, Naran Raja Pankhania, etc. arrived or came to Kenya after WWI.

         WWI started on 28th July 1914 which ended on 11th Nov 1918 and once Germany was defeated the war was finished. In this war 8 million soldiers died, 21 million soldiers received injuries and 6 million people/public died. When WWI was finished the railway in East Africa was completed and there was big demand for laborers and artisans. The laborers came to build the railway and behind them business men from India followed, at the time there were no restriction from immigration. From Mombasa to Kisumu, people settled between towns and villages, not only that but Indian immigrants started to build townships and settlement in East African countries, after 1914 war, East Africa developed rapidly and many Indian people came from India to East Africa, most of them brought their wives and Indian population increased dramatically. Our SSPC brothers wanted unity in our community and decided to establish a Mandal in Kenya after this our brothers met in Nairobi on the 2nd August 1930 and established Shree Sorathia Prajapati Gnati Mandal, whose office bearers were as follows:

  • President: Shree Karsan Sura Pankhania
  • Vice President: Shree Keshavji Ravji Vadukul
  • Secretary: Shree Meraman Jutha Singadia
  • Assistant Secretary: Shree Lakhman Mulji Chavda
  • Treasurer: Shree Hirji Jesa Gohil

Click Picture to Enlarge

Besides these they elected 21 members of the committee.

In the town of Thika near capitol city of Nairobi, our two prajapati brothers Ramji Parmanand Koria and Samji Arajan Vara had established their own wood working workshops. Ramjibhai Koria was well known as "Bhagat" by our community menbers in Kenya. My father Virji Kanji Fatania worked for him in Thika. Later, Virjibhai opened his own carpentery workshop in Kitui town. Samji Arajan Vara also was a prominent member of our community. Both of these brothers employed a good number of people from our community in their workshops. Later on, Lalji Valji Vara also opened his workshop and timber yard in Thika.

After establishing the mandal in Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru established mandals too and the main motto was how we can be helpful to our brothers in India. The other objective was how to continue the unity in our community and educate our children and give them higher education so that we can rise. There was racial discrimination under the British rule in East Africa, between whites, Indians and lastly Africans and in such a way of paying wages/salary was the same. The accommodation of people under the same three categories. Everything was divided in three parts by color. After WWII in 1942, the country developed and demand was high for people in all categories and there was plenty of work and Kenya started to develop fully. In such a way, we will see how our community went to Uganda, Tanganika, Rhodesia, etc and settled down there.

Uganda, East Africa
         The capital city of Uganda, is Kampala. The other major cities are Gulu, Lira, Jinja and Mbale, etc. By 19th century, the regions around Uganda comprised of several separate kingdoms inhabited by various people. Arab traders reached Uganda in 18 40. The Kingdom of Buganda was visited by the first European explorers in 1862. Uganda gained its independence in 1962, the civilian government was overthrown by Idi Amin in 1971. The President Obote was shot in 1971 and Idi Amin took over the Government.

         Some businessmen went from Kenya to Uganda and started opening stores and some of them began in services. In Uganda Nanji Kalidas Mehta started his business and he opened a sugar factory in Lugazi. Nanji Kalidas was a very well known businessman. He travelled in jungles and on one or two occasions, he escaped from the attack of natives and he survived by the mercy of God. The life story of Nanji Kalidas is very interesting and readable from which we can learn how courageous our forefathers were and bore a lot of pain.

         On the other side Muljibhai Madhvani also established a sugar factory and tea estate etc. in Kakira, Uganda. Both of these courageous industrialists invited so many laborers to work in their sugar factories and the farms of their sugar cane, as immigration laws were not very strict the movement between India and Africa was very easy and East African countries need help from Indian laborers. Later on our prajapati brothers went to Tanganika and settled there too. In both of those sugar factories were many laborers working but some of them started to do other jobs and in business and day after day they progressed fully. Our prajapati brothers slowly settled down in all three East African countries and felt that now we did not want or need to go anywhere else other than these countries and felt these countries as their own home.

         The young generation started to do services in government departments, banks and such other services. In all these three countries the Asian population started to grow and therefore brought new tough laws of immigration they started the system of permits and they brought restriction on immigration. In Tanganika, the newcomers was Karabhai Ravat and Naranbhai Ladwa, also Virji Raja Devalia settled in Arusha and Khimji Kanji Singadia in Moshi. Same was, Parbat and Pitamber Pankhania and Mandanbhai Chitroda etc, settled in Morogoro.

         The African population also started to educate themselves and tried to be ready to take part in various societal activities. They also formed political parties too. In Kenya, there were ?Kanu? and ?Kadu? two main parties and both of them were demanding self independence of Kenya. The president of Kanu, Jomo Kenyatta was arrested by British government and put him in jail, at Maralal. Then there was an awakening in the population of Kenya and started to fight for independence. At the same time in Kenya the Mau Mau movement was started and a lot of bloodshed started. Mau Mau was the movement that opposed British rule and fought for independence in support of Jomo Kenyatta. Most of them were Kikuyu It was believed that under this movement people were asked to take an oath and whoever did not agree was killed by being cut through the throat. I was living in Thomsons Falls now Nayuhuru. A doctor in a hospital was my friend and whenever a body arrived without a head he called me to see it. At times there were heads without bodies. After the year 1960, the situation took different route. The first independence was attained by Congo, where our community members Gordhanbhai Rajshi Gadher and Harji Rana Pankhania were living and doing business. After attaining independence in Congo, his leader was murdered, after that Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya also attained their independence.

Tanzania, East Africa
         The capital city of Tanzania is Dar-es-salaam. The other major cities are Arusha, Mbeya, Mwanza, Morogoro, and Dodoma, etc. Tanzania was occupied by Arab, Indian traders and Bantu people by 10th century. Portuguese people got control of coastal line in 15th century but they were driven away by Arabs of Oman and Zanibar, in 18th century. Germans entered in 1891 and declared the region as a Protectorate German, East Africa. During World War I, British captured German holding which became Tanganika. Tanganika gained independence in 1961. In 1964, it united with Zanzibar under the name of Tanzania. In Tanganika, the newcomers was Karabhai Ravat and Naranbhai Ladwa, also Virji Raja Devalia settled in Arusha and Khimji Kanji Singadia in Moshi. Same was, Parbat and Pitamber Pankhania and Mandanbhai Chitroda etc, settled in Morogoro.

         Tanzania?s first president was Nyerere and there was a large population of our community there. President Nyerere nationalized the properties of Indians and took them in government possession; so many people lost their business and houses as well, in such a situation, after these happenings the government brought the law of work permits and due to other reasons, our brothers migrated to London, England from Tanzania. Current population of our brothers are approximately 200 out of the over a thousand before.

East Africa Summary
         In Kenya British government released Jomo Kenyatta and in December 1963 Kenya was declared independent and Jomo Kenyatta of Kanu became the president of Kenya. After independence the Kenyan government declared that any foreigner who wants to live in Kenya either get a Kenya citizenship within 2 years, if not then they will have to leave the country and go back to their country. Kenyan government started the scheme of Africanization. That means that any job done by Indians should be handed over to Africans. Our brothers as well as other Indian people all had British passports, during the time of British government in Kenya, the leader from India used to come and give advice, that the country you live in is the country you have to be loyal to and be citizen of that country too. Since 1950, majority of our Indians left Indian passports and accepted British citizenship and attained British passports. After declaration of Kenyan government very few Indians became Kenyan citizens, only few members of our community took that action. Some said that we were Indian first or Indian citizens first than we adopted British citizenship and now we don?t see the reason why we would become Kenyan citizens? So the majority of these Indians remained British citizens.

         Kenyan government gave them permits to work for 2 years and after that they were asked to quit country. In year 1965, British government also brought tough immigration laws and became very hard and difficult to go to England, by Kenyan Indians. Before the expiry date approaches Indian people from Kenya chartered planes and Indian population started to move to England. British government adopted or agreed their responsibility and many people were kept in special camps and were provided by food and clothes. Most of them went to join their friends and relatives and started to live in England.

England
         Capital of United Kingdom is London. Other major cities are Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Cardiff, Liverpool, Leicester, Coventry, Edinburgh and Belfast, etc. The Tudor became the ruling family of England from 1455 to 1485. Henry 8th established Church of England. England civil war erupted in 1642. In 1707, England and Scotland formed the kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801, Great Britain united with Ireland to create United kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

         In Kenya, our brothers were artisans, carpenters, clerks and other officials. They were educated, but when they got to England, they could not find jobs for their abilities and qualifications and therefore they had to work in factories. In England, that was the time when in every factory had vacancy board on the gate and if any friend or relative gets you a job in a certain factory he will be given an award or a small gift of cash. The situation now in some factories, the board, are seen for ?No? vacancies.

         After settling in Kenya, our brothers have given a large amount of money for education purposes, which will never be forgotten. Our brothers had a very hard time in England ; very cold weather, hardship in accommodation, too much trouble when (you rent house) and from all these circumstances after a settlement of 40 years due to their cleverness, ability and hard work they have advanced in England and they are sending funds for education or other activities with big heart. Such a way they are helping the establishments of Indian societies. Before 1960 only 2-4 persons of our community were living in England, out of them due to cold weather and other circumstances 1-2 went back to Kenya. In the past only the sons of Kings and or rich people were coming to England for education but now thousands of our brothers live in England and living a happy life. Senior citizens are getting a good (facilities) and getting a lot of help from the British government and they are not worried as to what will happen to them tomorrow.

         After getting independence in Uganda, for some time there was peace most of our people, our brothers were living in Jinja, Kakiru, Lugazi, Kampala or right over in the interior of the country. Most of our brothers were working in Kakira and Lugazi in sugar factories. Uganda itself has no port, therefore, everybody comes from India in a steamer and land at Mombasa Port. Then they travelled by train right up to Uganda. After gaining independence in Uganda, Mr. Obote became the president of the country. The head of the army was Idi Amin. President Obote and Idi Amin had a disagreement in certain cases, in year 1969, President Obote went to take part in conference out of the country, while returning Obote was shot and Idi Amin took power and became the self-proclaimed president and took charge of Uganda. After gaining the power in his hand it is said or believed that Idi Amin killed almost 2 hundred thousand people and most of them were thrown into the River Nile. Idi Amin killed almost 2 lakhs of people and finally he was driven out of Uganda. And lived in Saudi Arabia in a luxurious house with his family, yet leaders of the world could not do anything. He was enjoying luxurious happy life in Saudi Arabia until he died. Idi Amin?s goal was to take over the wealth of the Indians and he ordered and declared that the person who is not a citizen of Uganda will have to leave Uganda within 90 days and go back to their country. In the beginning people believed that this information is just a joke, but as the days passed the situation became serious. The Foreign Minister of England Mr. Collaghan, who became the Prime Minister of England and went to see Amin and tried to convince him against it, but Idi Amin had no effect in this at all. Now real time came for them as 90 days period was approaching, our brothers started to go to England and British government accepted the responsibility of these British citizens. Some joined their relatives and some lived in a camp erected by the British government with full facilities. In a short time everybody made their arrangements and tried to settle fully in England with a new life.

         Many families who had man power had good benefit for earning as in one house if three or more persons worked in factories the family earns a good amount of money and with this income they started to buy homes.

         Before our brothers went to England, there was a large population of Sikhs from Punjab, mainly they lived nearby airports in South hall or Hounslow and they worked in airports or nearby. These times England had many factories working at their full capacity and there was a big demand of labor.

         In the beginning, our brothers had hardship for living accommodations. If any guests come to visit at home, the tenant had to get permission from landlords, people cannot speak loudly. The kitchen was shared by owners and tenants. Kitchens had to be cleaned and retire to their room and such other difficulties.

         When I came to England from Kenya and went to visit my sister at her home. My sister came out and said ?wait for a moment, whilst I check with the landlord to see if I can accept your visit or not. This was the situation in England. A couple has got to work hard, sometimes the husband comes home, the wife goes to work, they greet and say ?bye?. Little children had to wake up early in the morning, had to be taken to babysitting and picked up late at night. This was happening to many people. In the beginning our brothers as well as others had to pass through all these difficulties so they suffered a lot. It was a completely different situation from Kenya, where they were living comfortably in big houses and living a peaceful life, today we can see our brothers worked hard, went through a lot of pain, focused on educating their children and people from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have settled fully and well. The people of Uganda and Tanzania had the same situation. Today our young generations are educated and are holding degrees of advocates, barristers, engineers, chemists, doctors, dentists, etc. Some youngsters left England and settled in other countries; finally our brothers come from Africa and had to suffer a lot of difficulties which are hard to explain.

         In India, some people might have the impression that there is a lot of money in England, but they do not realize how hard they have to work for this money, amongst the situation of bad weather and inconvenience.

         There were no facilities like now in those days, people had to use coal for fire or heater run by kerosene, such a way they were living a life. If the couple does not work, they cannot fulfill living expenses. Today if our brothers are happy in England then that is the result of hard work. If anyone owns a shop he had to work long hours, by the mercy of God after passing through all these hardship. They are enjoying these benefits; besides this our brothers have maintained culture, religions, and traditions of our motherland. There is a proverb that ?from far the mountain looks green and beautiful, but when you go near to it, it contains stone, in the same way bright, is not gold.? So this can be realized only when a person settles in England.

         At this time our community brothers are living in different cities like South hall, Hounslow, Leicester, Birmingham, Bolton, East London, Southeast London, Coventry, Rugby, Peterborough, Cambridge, and different parts of London, whose total population of Prajapati families according to 2008, SSPC directory are 2571 families. Some people from England are moving to America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc and settled down there. Up to now we talked about East Africa and England let us now examine America.

United States of America
         America is a very big continent and has 50 states and each state has (on average) a distance of almost 500 miles. Amongst all the states, almost 200 prajapati families are living. As having far distance from each state, it is hard to keep contact with each other and even by telephone. In America, airplanes are moving just like taxis, America is truly a land of immigrants. The indigenous population is known as Native Americans also known as Indians they have been moved to their reservation area in each state. Among the Indian population, the Gujaratis are the major subgroup. Gujaratis are always successful business men. In the states of America, there are large forests, very big rivers, beautiful, different colored mountains, deserts, lakes and natural beauty. Except for the Native Americans, everybody else are immigrants and can trace their origins to other countries. Even American Indians are in very rare communities which have been settled in reservations.

         America is very wealthy and beautiful country. Americans believe in their superiority over the rest of the world. Indian students only used to come for education to America. In the year 1960, immigration laws were softened and our Indian people started to come to the America. Amongst the first comers were: Veljibhai Kansara, Mohanlal Naran Pankhania, Ravjibhai Kukadia, Manjibhai Ladwa and many others which are unknown. As said before, almost 200 families are living in America, during the year 1960 to 1970, there was severe unemployment, jobs were scarce as the person cannot get a job according to his academic qualification, had to do ordinary service or other work. In North America, it is a very cold, snowy place in winter (depending on your location). In Chicago the wind blows almost about 40-50 mile speed, even though in such a situation according to their time, our brothers made America their home. In America you do not find evident racial discrimination (it could be felt internally but not disclosed externally). An individual can go as high up the ladder as possible based on his hard work and ability. People live in good condition but have to work hard for it and have minimum vacation time in comparison to European countries. The system is more or like ?hire or fire? nobody sits idle and everyone works hard, and therefore America became a very powerful country, for a country that is only 250 years old.

         Here in Atlanta, capital of Georgia we have the highest number in the USA of almost 26 Prajapati families. Again with the cooperation of Mohanlal Naran Pankhania, one by one, our families started to come and settle. Some of them are businessmen, i.e. jewelers, dry cleaners, and engineers. Our community established SSPGM in the year 1982. (See the history on our first global website@www.sspgm.net) and gather and dine at least once every three months for cultural activities.

The standards of salaries are higher in America, but at the same time living expenses are high (dependent on location). Even if we live in any country there are two sides to the coin. One good and the other bad, but anyway our community members here in America are living very happily and luxuriously. In America government did not provide any supportive help, everybody is responsible for their own healthcare and retirement so this is your life in America.

Canada
         Canada is in the North region of North America and is another large country. Being on the upper north region, the climate is very cold in winter. When winter falls people become depressed but as soon as summer starts everybody is in a good mood. The cold in winter continues for 24 hours and when snow falls the parked car is covered in such a way that you cannot recognize where your car is parked. During the winter the canal ways are open and people walk or slide on it to go to work. But in the summer, the canals which are located in the center of cities are open and people are travelling to go to work in a boat.

         Our community brothers are living in Alberta, British Colombia, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario states most population of our community is in Ontario and Alberta, in these two states we have approximately 70 families. Our people also are engaged in engineering, medicine and business. In Canada there are two official languages English and French. Our people started to come to Canada before 1950 some came from Africa, some from England. Amongst them are Dr. Laljibhai Ramji Gohil and his brother Kantibhai and Vrajlal Gohil, Devjibhai Kanji Chavda, Harjivan Manji Parmar, Tulsibhai Bharadwa, Mohanbhai Kanji Singadia and Babubhai Khimji Singadia etc.

         These were the original community members to come to Canada. In Canada we have approximately 60-65 families settled. The capital city of Canada is Ottawa, there are very big forests in Canada they cut trees for lumber and place it into the river, which float in water and comes to Ottawa. There is a big business of lumber in Canada, because that is the main reserve and also has water resources. The famous Niagara Falls and big lakes too. Canada?s wood industry is well known, as being a large country our people are living in different states and are happy. In spite of harsh, cold weather in Canada, yet our brothers have chosen to live there, which can be an exemplary example after the future of our children It is not known what community affiliation has been established in Canada so we will not write about it.

**Writer?s Note**
For updated statistics on our member whereabouts, visit www.sspgm.net and go to global directory to find out where our community members are settled.

         According to 2008 statistics, the member families living in UK by cities are as under: South hall: 820, Hounslow: 527, Leicester: 358, Birmingham: 303, East London: 157, Bolton: 110, South East London: 97, Coventry: 76, Rugby: 54, Peterborough: 39 and Cambridge: 30. Total numbers are 2571families, highest in the world. There are in comparison only 26 families in Atlanta.

Australia
         Now we go in another continent, Australia. Australia is a small continent. Melbourne, Sydney, Perth etc are the main cities. Our community members might have immigrated to Australia since 1950, amongst them Dr. Ghedia was the first Khumbar to Australia. Besides this, Dhanji Bhai and Meghjibhai Bhalsod Arvind and Naresh Pankhania and other Ladwa, Gohil Ghedia, Solanki, Yadav, Devalia, Savania, and Singadia have all now settled there. About 25 families of our community live in Australia. Some from Africa and some from England have settled there. Mainly they are professional or educated people or businessmen. As all they are living in different states it is not known what their activities (of our community) are in Australia.

New Zealand
         This is also a small country and its capital city is Wellington. It is surrounded by water in all sides so it is an island as well. New Zealand became a British colony in the 1840s and in 1907 it became a Dominion and then joined the Commonwealth. Well known bird Kiwi is of marsh land and moors, beautiful even if it has no wings. About 3-4 families of our community settled and live in New Zealand. Amongst them Dr. Rameshbhai Ramji Vara was the first one and then Amubhai Virji Singadia who is a chemist and has a medical store. He lives in Oakland, both of them and others are well settled in New Zealand.

Madagascar
         Madagascar is in the east part of Africa and it can be said a large island. The climate of Madagascar is beautiful it has a large population of Indian people. The first one to settle in Madagascar from our community was Harjibhai Jadav Gadher, Vajashibhai Gadher and Nathabhai Yadav. One of Savania family also settled there. And they travelled by sea from India to Madagascar a long time ago. Most of them now have emigrated from Madagascar to Australia, England or other countries. Gadher family was really well known in Ranavav, India.

Zambia
         The capital city of Zambia is Lusaka. The other major cities are Ndola, Kitwe, Kabwe, Chingola, etc. Early Humans roamed Zambia one to two million years ago. Modern people from Congo and Angola reached the country only in 17th and 18th century. British South Africa company made treaties with most of the Zambian chiefs, during 1890s and it was administered as North Rhodesia until 1924. In 1964, North Rhodesia became Republic of Zambia.

         Zambia was ruled by the British and it was called Rhodesia. Rhodesia was divided in two parts. North Rhodesia became Zambia and South Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. The capital city of Zambia is Lusaka and got independence in 1980. Premjibhai and Kurjibhai Vara went to Zambia from Kenya and started their own business. Both these brothers were well known in Zambia for their social work. They started business in Livingston. Valjibhai Dhokia settled in Shingola and after the passing away of Valjibhai, his wife settled in England. Bhimjibhai Arjan Devalia settled in Kabwe and started his own business. His son Devjibhai has a printing press and other business. Mavjibhai and Naranbhai Vara established a workshop in Ndola. Both the brothers have passed away and their families have settled in England. Besides this the brothers of Bhimjibhai, Kanjibhai and Madhavbhai Devalia also settled in Zambia. Kanjibhai has passed away and Madhavbhai has moved to England. He lives in Leicester.

Zimbabwe
         After Rhodesia being 2 parts, South Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. Its capital is Harare. The other major cities are Bulawayo, Chitungwiba, Gweru, etc. Remains of stone age cultures dating back five hundred thousand years (5 lakhs), have been found in Zimbabwe area.

         An immigration of Bantu language speakers began in 1830. In years 1889-1923 it was called Southern Rhodesia and became a self governing British colony. In 1965, it issued universal declaration of independence. The country proclaimed itself a republic in 1970 and called itself Rhodesia. In 1979, it changed the name to Zimbabwe.

         Jadavjibhai Kanjibhai Singadia came to Zimbabwe in 1895. His town in India is Vinzarana in Porbandar state. He was a teacher in Porbandar and arrived in Rhodesia as a teacher. Later he started his business in Amtali by the name of Singadia & Co. He expanded his business and established Premier Silk Bazaar Ltd. Company. He retired from the business in 1942 it is said he was the wealthiest person in our community. Jadavjibhai?s son moved to Canada. Jadavjibhai called Khimjibapa Savania in 1905 from India and he settled in Rushali town and started his business. The famous Victoria Falls is in Zimbabwe of which height is 355 feet. The sound of the water can be heard of from more than 25 miles.

Mauritius
         Mauritius is a small island and its capital is Port Louis. Our consulting civil and structural engineer Hirjibhai Jadav lives in Rosehill with his wife Dhiraj and son. Hirjibhai came to Mauritius in 1975. He is one of the partners in the engineer company and also a director. This is the only one family of our community that has settled in Mauritius. He has three daughters. Besides this, some other SSPG Members have come on temporary visa from Saurastra but they are only single men.

South Africa
         Unlike other countries, South Africa has three capitals, Pretoria (Executive), Bloefontein (Judicial), and Cape Town (Legislative). Other major cities are Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Ethekwini, Sankhoikhoi.

         People roamed Southern Africa as hunters and gathered in Stone Age. In 1652, Dutch establishes a Colony at the Cape of Good Hope. Dutch settlers were known as Afrikaans. In 1910, the British Colony of Cape Colony Transvaal, Natal and Orange River were unified into the new Union of South Africa. In 1948, South Africa formally instituted Aparthied, a policy of segregation by race. In 1994, Nelson Mandela who was kept in prison for 21 years and he became the first black president of South Africa and joined the Common Wealth.

         My grandfather (Nana) Ramji Bhoja Bhalsod of Rana Khirasara sailed from Porbandar in 1910 via Dar es Salaam and Mozambique. He sailed for one month and embarked at Durban Port of Soth Africa. According to him after anchoring the ship at port, an officer stepped up on the ship. And they met with joy, received us gladly, welcomed us and gave us presents of one handkerchief and sweets, and then we disembarked the ship. This indicates that how much was necessity of Indian laborers in South Africa. By that time in these years the British Government made a contract to provide Indian laborers to work in sugarcane farms and other places. This contract was called ?girmitia? contract between British government and Hind Sarkar, (Indian government). My grandfather did not like to work there and he returned back to India. He never went back to South Africa. By that time those Indians who went to South Africa were welcomed but later, after some time white South Africans who originally were Dutch hated Indians were. It was mixed race of Hindu and Muslims living peacefully. Mahatma Gandhi experienced such hatefulness; he was dropped from the train and insulted by the guard, even though he had his first class ticket. This was the reason for Mahatma Gandhi to fight against injustice and welfare of Indian people.

         By that time in year 1880 Karsan Lakha Bhalsod of Ranavav, of Porbandar state went to South Africa. In the year 1892 he called Kana Lakha. This Bhalsod family made South Africa their home and established their businesses in Johannesburg and Transvaal. In 1936 they established business in a town called, Louis Trichard. Next to their other families, Jerambhai, his son Jivanlal and Keshavjibhai settled in England. None of these three are alive now. Son of Kanji Bhalsod, Mavjibhai, his son Vrajlal and his grandsons Nital and Himat are all living in Louis Trichard and running their business. Mavjibhai himself has passed away recently. Besides this, Ashvinbhai Gordhan Pankhania also runs furniture stores in Louis Trichard. Only these two families are in South Africa now.

         On May 10th 1994, South Africa became independent. Nelson Mandela was released from the jail after 21 years and he became the first president of South Africa, an establishment of Indian Community in South Africa started in 1860 and by that time it was very difficult to live in Africa without safety. Yet like our Karsanbapa Bhalsod was the first person to go to South Africa. When we know such difficulties then we realize how courageous and adventurous our forefathers were. The situation and time of the 18th century was that the British or other western country nation did injustices to African nation to set their power and control. They came as foreigners, fought with natives and enforced their power and kingdom.

         When Idi Amin declared Indian people should leave Uganda and leave in 90 days, our community members those had British passports went to England, with Indian passports went to India but people without citizenship or passport had great difficulty. It was a big problem for British government as how to cope with situations and handle 80-90 thousand people at a time. But British Government accepted all those British citizens. British Government appealed to other governments of the world to accept people without citizenship and as a result of this, other countries offered to accept them and a few of our brothers were taken in western countries. In such strange countries people endured a very hard time because they were faced with unknown terrain, different languages, strange food, unfamiliar climate and different cultures. Even having such difficulty yet our brothers without citizenship went to settle in these new countries.

Norway
         Norway is situated in North of Europe. Its capital city is Oslow. When Idi Amin told Asians to exit Uganda our Kurjibhai Ramji Ladwa left for Norway in 1972 with his family. In this harsh, wintry climate Kurjibhai is retired and his son obtained a degree in agriculture as an agriculture specialist.

Sweden
         In Europe up until 1814 Norway and Sweden were one united country. But in 1905 Norway separated from Sweden. Thus Sweden became an independent country. The capital of Sweden Sweden is Stockholm. Sweden has a king and like Norway it is brutally cold. Two of our brothers went to Sweden with families. Kantilal Dhokia and Keshavji Hirji Yadav. They also moved to Sweden in 1972. Kanjibhai has now passed away and his son Nitinbhai lives in Meriastat, Vinay in Urebad, and Amit in Touenton. All have settled down in Sweden.

Holland
         Holland is a very clean country in Europe. It is well known for its cleanliness. It is a very cold country, similar to Norway and Sweden. Our brother Milan Purshotam Fatania lives in Beneleuk city. He is an engineer in wood working machinery and goes to other countries to fix and fit such machineries. This is the only family in Holland

Spain/Portugal
         Today our brothers are moving to Spain or Portugal from England. One of them is Arvindbhai Karsan Yadav who moved to Spain and runs a restaurant there successfully. One Pankhania family is also settled in Spain.

Arab Countries
         We know there are hundreds of our Sorathia Prajapati Community members in Arab countries and giving their services there in the oil fields, construction work or else live professional people but it is not possible here to mention their activities of their mandals or concern because the writer does not have full knowledge of number of members or their locations, unless someone from there gives us a true picture from there.

General
         Since we left India and settled in East, Central, and South Africa; America, England, Canada or European countries we made them as our home even having a lot of trouble. All of these our brothers have not forgotten their motherland. In fact our settlement originally started in East Africa. Since 1880 we have established our mandals, retained our culture and religion. Even living in other countries we helped our brothers in India financially for educational purposes of their children. Our brothers studied in universities and obtained degrees in engineering, medical, law, chemistry, etc and are in higher positions in foreign countries. After working hard our community brothers are happy. This is the mercy of God.

         Due to Africanization policy of East African countries, people holding degrees with qualification, experience and businessmen left those countries and due to this reason the economy of these countries went in ruin and broke down. Today countries like Uganda are calling these people back, but after suffering a lot, no one was in a rush to willingly return. Although sugar factories in Uganda have opened and people from India are invited to work. This is just based on temporary permits, so they do not get a permanent right to live there, unless being a citizen. Even to be a citizen needs a lot of money as a fee.

         The population of the Sorathia Prajapati Community in greatest number is in the United Kingdom. They left East Africa, or central and South Africa, moved to England and settled there. These people are all British and settled there. These people are all British passport holders and British subjects. They now have the right to settle even in E.U. countries of Europe. When they lived in Africa their forefathers were either carpenters, masons, or other artisans but their generations received education became contractors, engineers, lawyers, dentists and businessmen. As a result of this they are respected in the British nation. Not only that but one of our brothers Shailesh Vara is a member of British Parliament. Our present generation in India as well as in UK rising day by day and living happily.

  -   In Nakuru, Kenya our brother Mandubhai Devshi Gohil started his soap factory, developed it, and turned out to be a successful businessman. He has used his wealth in welfare of ?Kanya Kelavani? and established ?Kanya Chhatralay? on July 2nd 1991 in Rajkot. He is now awarded as ?Bhamasha" (major donor) of our community.
  -   After coming to the UK through hard work Jivan Bhura Vara became a successful businessman and he opened education trust in India with a donation of rupees one karod and fifty one lakh for education of our children.
  -   The other donor Arjunbhai Ladwa who also lived in Nakuru and settled in England also donated rupees one karod and one lakh and opened education trusts in India.
  -   Recently the Chandegra brothers in England established education trusts for Kanya Chhatralay in Junagadh with more than one karod rupees.
  -   Muljibhai Popat Pankhania operates his own education welfare trust from the UK and helps Indian students for higher education.
  -   Mandubhai also established Shri Upendrabhai Gohil charitable trust in Rajkot.
         Our brothers settled in the UK and decided to establish SSPGM (mandals) in England and as a result of this on mainly all cities had their own mandal. On May 22nd 1976 all mandals united and became a UK mandal. The office bearers were as follows in election:

  • President: Harji Rana Pankhania
  • Vice President: Madhavji Narshi Devalia
  • Secretary: Damjibhai Velji Chhaya
  • Treasurer: Mohanlal Virji Fatania
 Click Pictures to Enlarge

Besides this, 12 members of the managing committee were elected. UK mandal also established education trust UK on May 22nd 1979 and elected Mohanlal Virji Fatania as managing trustee with the help of 7 other trustees. Since then this trust helps in India to our community students.

         According to present situations and reflecting to the past, our forefathers sailed in a ship and had a hard time and difficult voyage and as a result of this our present generation is enjoying and easy and happy life in the UK. They have received education, obtained degrees, become businessmen or industrialists living in modern homes, enjoying luxurious life, but have become independent. Life is running by quickly, faith in united family disappears and western civilization is being adopted and moving from Eastern mother tongue to English, therefore losing interest in our culture. This is the present situation.

         Our community will have to look after our own interest because to educate children in England or America is not easy like before, because children do not get higher education free, or get free grants but has to get a loan and pay back. Up to now our Indian community in India gets education help. But it has got to be seen that what will happen in the future. After one or two generations it will be good if contact of people living in foreign countries remain with our Indian people. The writer left for America in Dec. 1983 and then UK mandal became SSPC UK ( Shree Sorathia Prajapati Community, UK). At the end, we pray to Almighty God that please bless our community people so they remain healthy and wealthy and happy in their adopted country and be able to serve our community by body, mind and wealth.

If anyone would like to include their or their forefathers journey. Please e-mail us for submission at shiladhiru@yahoo.com.
Hare Krishna from Mohanlal Virji Fatania
June 24th 2009

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