Prior To 1963 The Baluchi Community In Mombasa Was Fragmented And Without Leader Ship

Khermohamed Ali was trying to unite the two distinct Baluchi clans, those of Omani origin and those from Gehe now Nikshar, all have roots in East Africa going back at least four centuries.

Coastweek– Baluchi Mosque after being rebuilt in 1964. MOSQUE PHOTO: COURTESY OF MOHAMED ISMAIL.

Remembering Late Khermohamed Ali (Heruu)


Coastweek– The Funeral cortege which started from the Baluchi Mosque was already lined with people of all faiths, ethnicity and colour.

It stretched from Salim Road , through to Bondeni and to the cemetery at Kikowani.

It was a moment of great grief, for a true son of Kenya had died tragically in a car accident.

I have never seen a gathering of so many people at any funeral in my life.

Heruu as he was fondly known to all of us was travelling to Tanga to attend a funeral when the vehicle he was in suddenly lost control and rolled over.

Heruu died instantly.

We all knew him as a great socialite who never missed a wedding or a funeral.

Coastweek– Khermohamed Ali (Heruu). PHOTO- SHAHMURAD KHUDABAKSH

He was a consort of princes, presidents and ministers not just in Africa, but throughout the Middle East.

He was generous to the extent of bankrupting himself to save others and those in dire poverty.

Sheikh Omar Bassadiq, recalls being in Egypt after the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference on Kenya ‘s Independence , and together with Heruu came across an elderly Egyptian woman who was begging for alms.

Heruu bent over to give her money, much against Omar’s warning not to do so.

On arriving at their hotel Heruu discovered that his wallet was missing!

He burst into laughter when someone else would have thrown a fit at being so deceived.

Heruu was born in Mombasa in the year 1926.

When the Second World War began, he saw action in Abyssinia while serving in the Kenya Regiment.

After the war he moved to Uganda and worked as the head Post Master in the town of Soroti .

Much later he came to Mombasa and married in the Shappi family.

Heruu was very resourceful and got involved in business by sending second hand cars to the then Belgian Congo .

He also set up an import and export business in Mombasa with offices near the Stavrose Restaurant and long before Stavrose came into being.

Later on he got in the airline business as a travel agent and set up offices near the New Stanley Hotel under the name of Ndege Brokers, Ltd.

It was from Nairobi that he got involved in tourism and gave business opportunities to young Mirdali Haji Madat, a young fellow Baluchi to conduct and lead safaris in the Masai Mara.

Prior to 1963 the Baluchi Community in Mombasa was fragmented and without leader-ship.

Heruu first brought an Iranian minister, Hon. Ali Mutazed to Mombasa to acquaint him with Baluchis and their origins.

He also urged the then members of the community to build a modern mosque at Makadara where the majority of Baluchis lived.

The original Baluchi mosque which was built in the 1880 was in need of major reconstruction or complete demolition.

Through his efforts and those of the late Baluchi philanthropist, Abdulrahman Miran, a new mosque was built in 1964.

The architect was Lal Din Fazal Din who then had his offices opposite the Naaz Cinema.

The mosque which stands at Makadara today is a testament to his many visionary ideas.

When Kenya started agitating for independence, Heruu, Ali Abdulla Shikely, Maalim Omar Baquly and others became the founding members of The Coast Peoples’ Party.

They rightly feared that the coast which was uniquely different in culture and its civilisation would be over-whelmed by the tide of the so-called ‘watu wa bara’ and that unique coastal identity would forever be lost.

Heruu rightly propounded and expounded on that argument.

Irrefutable historical evidence of this unique civilization is chronicled as far back in time as A.D. 100 by a Greek sailor who wrote “The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea ” and which dealt with the East African Coast .

I recall Heruu emphasizing a theory which today has come into being, namely:

“The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory.

“Destroy its books, manufacture a new culture, and invent a new history.

“Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster.”

His predictions have come to pass.

The Wa-Swahili and Wamiji of the Kenya Coast are a classic example of what has today transpired.

They have become a nonentity.

It is many years since Heruu passed away.

Before the tragic accident which claimed his life, he was trying to unite the two distinct Baluchi clans, those of Omani origin and those from Gehe now Nikshar, all have roots in East Africa going back at least four centuries.

I know he has helped many a young man get education or find employment not just here in Kenya , but also abroad.

Heruu was also on the governing board of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Secondary School in Mombasa .

His untimely passing has left a significant void not just among the Baluchis, but also among Kenyan leaders, politicians and entrepreneurs.

His individuality and charis-matic personality was rare and unique among men who are born leaders. R.I.P.

Cahil Marduff, Mombasa .

[email protected]

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