Birth Date: In The Year 1916
Haji Merali Kassam was born in 1916 in Mariya. After acquiring the basic education he left for Dar-es-Salaam at a young age of 14. He worked for one and a half year in Dar-es-Salaam and Kondoa Irangi. He went to Kampala and resided there for a year where three of his elder brothers lived with their families. He then roamed for six years in the jungle of Toro (Fort Portal) and its surroundings in Uganda and the thicket of Congo.He lived alone without a family. Within this period, he sincerely tried hard to teach the natives about religion and quite a number of them embraced Islam.He was Hafiz-e-Qura'an and taught children and elders Qura'an recitation fora long time and earned himself a title of Sheikh Merali.
After six years of lonely life when he involved himself in total devotion to his Creator he was beckoned by some divine power to move out of the jungle. He then left for Mwanza where his sister and his cousin lived. After a few month she took off again travelled around Dodoma, Kondoa, Morogoro and then off to a small place called Boma on the way to Mombasa from Tanga, it was the year 1939, First World War time. He planted a sisal estate there single handedly, as the sisal was growing the price of sisal shot up so the friend with whom he worked changes his stand to "a friend for whom he worked" Haji Merali being a man of principle left overnight and headed to Pangani and got involved in farming with a contact from whom he then bought the farm. He planted coconut, beetle nut, banana and sugarcane plantations and fruits such as pineapple, oranges and tangerines. Later he started a twine business using the coconut husks utilizing the coconut in its totality. He made copra and sold to Pangani Industries and a buyer in Madagascar for making soap. He used the shell for fire and other cultural artifacts and the husks for making the twine. Unfortunately after a very short period of starting the new venture he passed away.
Due to his selflessness and generosity he earned implicit trust and respect within the Khoja community as well as the Pangani community at large. The workers he employed on his four farms, along the Banks of Pangani River namely Mahuwiya, Kigaerwa, Jasini and Pungwe cried in grief on his demise for a long time and lamenting that we have lost our godfather.
Haji Merali Kassam served as a secretary and an active member of Pangani Jamaat. Marhum was a person the whole community of Pangani depended on for all sorts of assistance and guidance be it in sickness, defending in case of any major disaster, financially or a shoulder to cry on. He hosted elaborate Hussein Day Programmes for many years on his premises in Pangani where it is estimated that more than 2000 people converged from Tanga, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Moshi, and Arusha. Prominent speakers from Zanzibar and Mombasa were invited to give inspiring lectures everyone loved to listen. Marhum and his family hosted the Resident Aaalims for many years even after the death of Marhum. He married Aminabai Abdrasul Rashid of Mwera in 1952. He passed away at the age of 44, six months after he had an encounter with a cheetah as he tried to save a friend who was brutally attacked by the cheetah. (His selflessness made him get out of his car to help despite the apparent risk to his own life; the companion of his friend locked himself in the land rover they were travelling in, due to fear of the inevitable)
He highly respected Marhum Ebrahim Shariff Dewji and the cause Marhum Ebrahim championed for the Federation of African Jamaats. Marhum Merali was a far sighted and a visionary individual who believed in education for all regardless of gender and status. He believed in progress and unity and supported the Africa Federation and believed in its success. He trusted the leaders and their sincerity and conviction. He was a regular contributor towards the Federation and donated handsomely when the respected seniors travelled around Africa to raise funds. He hosted the visitors when they visited the region Tanga and Pangani. On his death he bequeathed one fifth (20%) of his property to the Federation. The WILL of Marhum clearly stipulated that 20% of his estate be gifted to the cause of the Federation, which his wife complied with and handed over the funds to the Federation without hesitating despite the fact that she was widowed at the age of 33 with four young daughters to raise.
- Let us remember him with Sura-e-Fateha.
Africa Federation Archives