June 2015 \ World News \ DIASPORA IN U.K.
Kanji in Weymouth Council

By Sultan Jessa
  • Firoz (Oz) Kanji with his wife Jane during a reunion function in Canada

Being persistent has finally brought success for an Ismaili who had been elected to the borough council of Weymouth in Britain. Firoz Ismail Kanji (Oz Kanji) ran for Liberal Democrats in the just concluded elections.

“I am excited and over the moon,” Kanji told me. “This is a massive victory for me. It feels great to be part of this community.”

Weymouth is in the county of Dorset. It is a small, seaside town in the south coast of England. The population of this tourist resort is 65,000. The population mushrooms to between 150,000 and 200,000 during the peak tourist summer season.

Weymouth, on the Jurassic coast, played host to the 2012 sailing Olympics which elevated this small town to limelight throughout the sailing world. The first time Kanji ran for elections was five years ago when he lost by 15 votes. He contested local elections three times and came second every time.

This time Kanji won an absolute majority. The council has 36 elected officials made up of all political groups like the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Labour, Independents etc. Born and brought up in Tanzania, Kanji has lived in Weymouth since 1966. After qualifying as a radio and television engineer, he worked for various companies until he took an early retirement in 2001. I have known personally Kanji for a very long time. We were childhood buddies, growing up and studying in northern Tanzania’s tourist resort of Arusha and later moving to Tanzania’s capital of Dar es Salaam to complete high school.

“I was welcome to Weymouth from day one,” he said. “I have been very happy here.”

He got married to Jane in 1971 and the couple has two daughters. Kanji got into politics in 2010 after petitioning local council against introduction of street meter parking. He has always advocated free one hour parking on the harbor front.

“I strongly believe this is essential for the survival of town’s business people,” he emphasized. Kanji has also raised questions about reasonable bus service, flooding issues in South hill and an urgent need for safer crossing for the elderly and the disabled. This time around Kanji was not sure about contesting council elections. But, his close friend, David Harris, persuaded him to give it another try. Kanji was scheduled to go to hospital for a heart procedure.