Marhum Zulfikar Haiderali Khimji was best known in the community as a philanthropist and an assiduous technocrat, orator with off the cuff remarks that made everyone laugh. He was born in Mombasa on 4th January 1950 and resided in Arusha and Moshi, Tanzania for a short time, and in 1959 joined Alibhai Panju School Mombasa where he completed his secondary education but due to financial constraints he joined his father’s business and delivered bread in Mombasa to supplement the family income. Then on he started a small canteen in Mombasa School. According to his family, he used to do delivery job while still studying at school and on completion of his secondary education, started a canteen at school).
He was the “apple of the heart” of his father whom he lost when he was only 26 and with a responsibility to look after the family of 7. His main achievement was when he took his parents for Hajj with his meager earnings and it was always a source of satisfaction for him. He tied a knot to Zainab bai in 1976 and are blessed with a son Zaheer Abbas. With all the responsibility of 11 brothers and 2 sisters, Zufikar bhai never wavered in his responsiblilty towards his family. In 1968 he migrated to Nairobi to look for greener pastures. His entrepreneurial spirit was all too evident when he started his own company MPPS dealing in automobile spares, accessories and telephones with humble beginnings only to see it grow and now has 4 branches in Nairobi and 1 in Mombasa. His amiable and trustworthy character was a focal point in him being in the forefront where he preached unity and faith in every day life.
His quest for community upliftment and a fairer community started in his very young age when he was regular participant at Husseini Madressah in Mombasa and served the Husseini Volunteer Corps with zeal. He always laid an example to others by participating himself in activities like Mountain climbing to Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro 6 times, the last being in September 2002. His involvement in youth activities had no bounds and in 1999 when he was director of Golden Crescent Group, he devoted his time to youth activities.
He was a hobbyist with several interests like travelling, swimming, jogging, scuba diving, stamp collecting, bird and fish breeding, badminton, football, mountain climbing and trekking. In 1966 he became a walking champion in Mombasa and became a Kenyan champion in 50km walking event. In 1968 he walked non-stop from Nairobi to Naivasha a distance of 90km and won a second prize and at 18 he won 6 trophies to his collection
His involvement in community affairs was a new direction for him in the later years of his life. His life’s main work was friendship, affiliation and visionary of the global community of Khoja Shias. In 1992 he was elected as a chairman of Nairobi Jamaat and it was during his tenure that he and others initiated the construction of a very elegant Lavington complex and his personal involvement in constructing the same was ever so occupying in his daily schedules – a finest legacy he left behind in the service of Allah (SWT) and Ahlulbayt (AS). In 1999 Kenya was faced with a drought and Zulfikar initiated a group of enthusiasts as “Asian community of Kenya” and solicited support for the drought stricken people thus showing the indigenous population that Asians are part of Kenyan nation. His zeal to help the less privileged was his lifetime passion.
The MATHARE hospital in Nairobi appointed him as Board member and this was due to his philanthropist activities till his untimely death – supplied foodstuff to this hospital. His youthful charisma extended to wherever he went. Him being an avid walker he organized and participated in a charity walk to raise funds for Mehfile Ali in London. The most unforgettable event was when he organized a sports jamboree in Nairobi that left memories in the community. In 2001 he took the helms of Africa Federation (AFED) from Alhaj Mohamed G. M. Dhirani] and he transformed the vision of the community with his regular visits to all Jamaats in Africa, he became even closer to everyone with his “listening” attitude. He showed a different style of leadership: more open, approachable and a pragmatist. When it came to travelling, Zulfikar bhai was a globetrotter especially after he became the Chairman. This won him many friends and wherever he went, he spoke in the community mosques and of recent with NASIMCO and World Federation.
He initiated a program for helping the adversely effected members of the community in Africa with empowerment during these changing times. His economic upliftment program for the community was his main priority and he would take many an entrepreneurs to China and advise them selflessly on business issues and style. His quest for education was paramount, and introduced more systematic education loan system; and keen emphasis on education was ever so evident in his speeches. Again in 2004, he was in the helm of the Federation brimming with zeal and dynamism after winning the election which was vigorously contested. Zulfikar bhai’s greatest virtue was his metamorphosis from “the leader” to “brother leader”. His pragmatist approach to community affairs and love for the community has no doubt left a permanent impact on all. His buzzword was always community spirit and cooperation.
That Zulfikar bhai’s life was snuffed out at this critical juncture is a sad event and no doubt his effective leadership must not be a case for historical discussion but action and implementation. Nearly 300 people from all over the world attended janaza prayers for Marhum Zulfikar in Nairobi the next day before his burial on 19th July 2004.
Please remember Marhum with a good thought, a good deed and a Sura Al Fateha
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji ‘ un.
Verily, from Allah we came and to him we return