June 2014 \ Diaspora News \ Diaspora in East Africa
After India, Jhaveri Fought For Freedom In Tanzania

To pay tribute to an outstanding freedom fighter, Kantilal Zhaveri, his widow, Urmila, returns to Tanzania from India this week to donate his papers and documents to the national archives and also launch her memoirs of the women's struggle in this East African country, report Kul Bhushan and Sultan Jessa

 After fighting against the British rule in India and Tanzania, a distinguished lawyer Kantilal Jhaveri, made his mark as an elected member of parliament in Tanzania and returned to India. At the end of a long and illustrious career of public service, Kantilal Jhaveri who was born in Rajkot, Gujarat in 1921, died early this year in Delhi aged 93.

As a young, daring student Jhaveri joined the Quit India Movement started by Mahatma Gandhi to rid India of the British rule. He organized a strike in his college. He was arrested and jailed in Rajkot in 1942. After his release, he proceeded to obtain his law degree from Poona Law College.

"As a young lawyer, he was always interested in human rights issues and freedom," said Urmila Jhaveri, his widow who worked as a women's community leader in Tanzania. "After arriving in Tanganyika to begin a new life, he got involved in the political struggle wholeheartedly."

Her parents, Labhuben and Tarachand Gandhi, migrated to Zanzibar Island in early 1920s where her father joined the Sultan of Zanzibar's government as a customs officer. She was born on the nearby Island of Pemba in 1931, grew up in Dar-es-Salaam, the capital of Tanganyika in the harsh Colonial era.

During World War II, she sailed from Dar-es-Salaam to Jamnagar in a traditional Indian boat called a dhow, avoiding German warships and surviving a severe storm. "We survived the long treacherous journey and did well in spite of the colonial masters, and many physical and financial constraints," she recalls. Urmila has just published her memoirs in a fascinating book, Dancing with Destiny, in which the chapter of this voyage by dhow makes for exciting reading. In Rajkot, she was engaged to Kantibhai, got married in 1948 and returned with her husband after the war was over.