History is of paramount importance in all nations, tribes and families so that generations after can take lessons from the past and remedy the future. To present the past of the Varachia clan down memory lane we can turn back the clock to the end of the 19th century.
A short bearded man with an ujkin or a familiar turncoat and pants arrived by boat from Italva village in India via Bombay to a lion infested country called South Africa, either on the SS Koranja or SS Kampala most probably on deck class .He docked in Durban in 1895 with other “passenger Indians” to discover the new utopia.
If my memory serves me right and from what I recall from my elders Ahmed Suliman Varachia embarked at Durban docks and made headway towards Transvaal (Gauteng).From Johannesburg he made his way to Krugersdorp. There is also talk that he was destined for Kimberley. In Krugersdorp he worked at Dadoos or Cajees or Saloojees. Gujerati and Urdu was the only language he spoke in this foreign land at that time.
With Determination and foresight he found his way to a farm in Hekpoort and traded as a hawker on foot, then on horse and cart and bicycle. He was later joined by his wife Ujee from Italva.
From humble beginnings ,Ujee and Ahmed Suliman Varachia had a family of seven, six boys and a girl. They were as follows: Mohamed Said, Abdulhay, Fatima, Yusuf, Suliman, Abdulhaq and Abdul Samad. When I was in India with Mohammed Molvi, we dug into the old trunk that came from South Africa and found Fatima’s wedding card ( when Fooi married Fawjee patel)
They resided in Hekpoort, Ujee did all the housework and sold pap and curry to the locals. Whilst Ahmed went hawking or “smous” as it was then called to the various white farmers. During this time the barter system was operational whereby he traded groceries in return for fruit, vegetables, eggs, chicken which he brought to the market on Fridays by horse and cart and sold them at the local market.
Ahmed’s only brother Hassan Varachia was in Balfour and married in the Tadia family. The family resides in Leandra trading in spares and hardware in Delmas.
Ujee’s one brother was Moulana Suliman who was the Imaam of Newtown Masjid and her other brother was Moulana Ahmed (fondly known as nana) who lived in Surat, he was well known in South Africa to treat people with jadoo and used to write on plates with saffron.
From Hekpoort , retail shops flourished by the Varachia sons within the West Rand and Johannesburg,:Amod and Sons, and Lucky Bazaar in Krugersdorp West; Lalloo Brothers, Isaac Stores , Bargain bazaar & Eatons in Krugersdorp ; Eatons in Westonaria; American Outfitters & McGregor Outfitters in Randfontein; Mcgregor Outfitters in Kagiso (which burnt down); Venterspost Bazaar in Bekkersdal ; Amod Agencies an, Nu Shop and Kort Wholesalers Johannesburg. One shortcoming is that they did not invest in properties at that time.
Ujee was a strong and brave woman who strived for a close knit family so much so that she ensured that inter family marriage was the order of the day. Today however, we have a more diversified Varachia clan. Alhamdulillah, the clan has grown from strength to strength and if you want long life and halaal sustenance then it is imperative to keep close family ties and it is only through these reunions that can we reconnect with each other and strengthen our family bonds
Aboobakr Mohamed Said Varachia