Welcome to F.I.E.L.D.- the First Ismaili Electronic Library and Database.

90. Rajan Lalji, Count - page 358

Rajan Lalji, Count

He was born in Jamnagar, India in 1887. In search of better prospect, he came in Zanzibar in 1900 and then went to live in Kisumu in 1903, and Nairobi in 1905.
His family concern in Nairobi was known as Jiwan Lalji & Co., dealing mostly with hardware and beads, which was after the name of his brother, Itmadi Jiwan Lalji, the first to have come in Nairobi in 1885, who managed the family concern in Zanzibar. The third partner of the Jiwan & Co. was his another brother, Merali Lalji, who looked after their Mombasa branch, and is reported to have come in Africa in 1890. In 1910, this family concern started their fourth branch in Mwanza.

Rajan Lalji arrived in India, where he married and returned to Zanzibar in 1905. He is reputed to have served the jamat in different fields. He was the Mukhi of Nairobi Jamatkhana (1920-1921). He once again became the Mukhi (1932-1933). He was appointed a member of the Ismailia Council, Nairobi and also became its Honorary Secretary in 1926, and thus served in the Ismailia Council for 18 years. He was also the Honorary Treasurer of the Aga Khan Legion in 1937, and also acted as its Chairman.

He was also a generous and contributed huge amount to the primary school. His charities and donations were mostly secret and inestimable.

He was also an honorary missionary, and an active member of the Mission Society, the fore-runner of the Ismailia Association. In appreciation of his services, the Imam conferred upon him the title of Huzur Mukhi in 1926. He was also invested the titles of Alijah, Rai, Wazir and lastly Count in 1954.

He died on Friday, March 16, 1956 unfortunately due to the car accident.

Services to the community of the family of Lalji were numerous. Itmadi Jiwan Lalji, the brother of Count Rajan Lalji was attached to the Itmadi Department in Zanzibar. He was one of the members of the Ismailia Council when it was first established in Africa in Zanzibar in 1905. Count Rajan Lalji's third brother, Mukhi Merali Lalji was the member of Mombasa Ismailia Council and once the Mukhi of that jamat. Mukhi Merali Lalji's son, Count Lutf Ali Merali towered his name in the printing business. He was on the editorial of the Kenya Daily Mail, then he started his own press, called Merali Limited, which printed the Ismaili Prakash for many years. Count Lutf Ali was the President of Ismailia Association for Kenya for one term. His outstanding services were however in the field of Building Society activities. He was first to organize and complete a project of Cooperative Building Society at Mombasa on a most economical basis in accordance with the guidance of the Imam.

Besides, Alijah Muhammad Ali, the son of Count Rajan Lalji was also a great social worker. He started his career as a school teacher. He was the first local Ismaili young man to join the Teachers' Training College after doing his matriculation in 1933. He had served in a Government School as a teacher for two years before joining his family concern. For about ten years, he was a religious teacher in the Religious Night School and for the same period, a Club Master and then a Scout Master. He was also in the Nairobi Education Board as a member and then as Honorary Secretary and Treasurer. He also served in the Nairobi Provincial Council for two terms, and also the Mukhi of Nairobi Jamatkhana for two years (1962-1963), the member of the Territorial Council for Kenya (1966-1969), the President of the Nairobi Provincial Council (1969-1971) and the President of the Executive Council.

Count Hasan Ali, the son of Count Rajan Lalji was the President of Rwanda and Burundi Council, and another son, Count Ghulam Ali was the President of the same Council. Another three sons of Count Rajan Lalji were Kassim Ali, Abdul Ali and Sultan Ali, who were the Mukhis of Nyanza, Gesenyi and Kigale, all in Rwanda respectively. Rai Hyder Ali was the eldest son of Count Rajan Lalji, who managed the family business in Nairobi, and his son Ramzan Ali was the President of the Ismailia Association for Rwanda and Burundi.

Gulbanu, the daughter of Count Rajan Lalji is also worth noting. She was also a prominent social worker, and was one of the first Ismaili trained female teachers, and served several years in the Aga Khan Girls' School, Nairobi. She was also the Honorary Secretary of the Ismailia Students' Union and was the moving spirit of the Girl Guides movement. After her marriage with Wazir Sher Ali Bandali Jaffer, M.P. (Uganda), when she went to Kampala in 1948, she became heavily engaged in the community services. She was also a senior official in the Ministry of Social Affairs of the Uganda Government. She had been twice to the U.K. and the United States on Government short training courses concerned with her ministry.

In sum, the Lalji family had made significant unconditioned gifts in the name of Jiwan Lalji & Co., the family made contribution to the Nairobi Jamatkhana Building and the Nairobi Primary School was built with a donation from Count Rajan Lalji, who also gave substantial contribution in the hospital fund.

Back to top