Kholvad 100 years marked
THE foresight in prioritising education by the first Indian South African settlers from the district of Kholvad, in the state of Gujarat in India, was marked with centenary celebrations in Johannesburg on Sunday.
The Madressa Anjuman Islamia of Kholvad (MAIK) was started by those who came to South Africa in search of a better life to ensure religious ethos in education. A primary school established in 1914 has since mushroomed into a massive educational system catering for students at all levels, fully funded even today by MAIK.
To start off the project then, members rallied and raised £100 which they invested in buying property.
This seed capital has grown to an asset base of R36 million today in various parts of South Africa.
MAIK chairman, Moosa Jeena, said although the initial focus was on education in their ancestral village in India, the pioneers of MAIK also turned their attention to the local education system by awarding scholarships and bursaries to attend educational institutions in South Africa.
“More than 3 000 local students have been assisted in the past 50 years,” said Jeena, who himself was a recipient of a bursary from MAIK many years ago.
MAIK also established hostel facilities in Johannesburg for children from country towns where there were no high school facilities for them in the apartheid era.
Although there are no accurate figures available, the Kholvad community in South Africa is estimated to be between 20 000 and 30 000. This is the largest outside India.
Most are professionals in diverse fields and in business.
Due to capacity constraints of the venue for the centenary celebrations, only 2 500 people could attend. This included guests from several overseas countries, while other sister organisations abroad delivered live messages of goodwill, via video conferencing.
But the Kholvad community was not only about supporting education, several guest speakers emphasised. Kholvad House in central Johannesburg had also served as a focal point for veterans of the freedom struggle such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Ahmed Kathrada, with meetings being held there often.
Members of the Kholvad community such as Babla Saloojee and Ahmed Timol, who were murdered by security forces while fighting apartheid, were acknowledged alongside many others.
Madressa Anjuman Islamia of Kholvad chairman, Moosa Jeena, and his executive team members handed out roses and gifts to all the women, among them Roxanna Cajee and Farida Saloojee.