A GREAT FRIEND OF ETHIOPIA
The late Mr. Mohammedali was an Indian business tycoon owning a company in the name of G.H. Mohammedali & Co., and having offices allover Ethiopia and also in the neighboring countries like Yemen, Somalia and Djibouti.
His import included textiles and all essential commodity items from different countries including India. He enjoyed very cordial relation with the then royal families in Ethiopia. He was given monopoly for dealing in sales of salt in Ethiopia, and first to have imported a car.
When air traveling started in Ethiopia, in the first flight from Addis to Gore, one of his partners was the first passenger to have traveled there, and was warmly welcomed by Government officials and the Indian community. For the services rendered to this country, he and his partners were given the honor of "Star of Ethiopia". First Indians to have received such consideration in Ethiopia.
Initially his head-office was situated in Harar, but later it was moved to Addis Ababa during its establishment as the capital city of Ethiopia nearly 130 years ago. His residence and main business offices were in the premises at Piazza where the first post office was and now G.P.O.'s branch and other government offices are located. He opened branches of his businesses in all other main cities in Ethiopia especially Dire Dawa, Harar, Jinuna, Gore Lekemt and other towns.
The Mohammedail Building
During that period, transportation was difficult and all merchandise was transported on mules and horses guarded by armed security. It took days to reach from one place to another. Thus he had built rest houses at different points where travelers can stay safely and freely.
He maintained business and personal relations with citizens of all nationalities living in Ethiopia. He had big number of Indian employees looking after managements, accounts and sales in his enterprise. Very few Ethiopians were engaged in business during that time, and he encouraged them, other Indians and even his employees to open business in the remote parts of Ethiopia by giving them goods on credit. Mohammedali helped all Indians in Ethiopia in their social and religious activities, and used his influence with the ruler in achieving these goals: advised them to give brotherly relations with the friendly and hospitable people of Ethiopia and encouraged them to take more interest in business activities.
He was very popular in Harar where he spent most of his career as a businessman. As a result he and his family along with their dependents even now bear the family name Hararwala, means from Harar, as a mark of his attachment to Harar. Later Fitawrari Hajji Badaso, a well-known Harari and a childhood mend of His Majesty Haile Selassie 1st was of a trusted person of Mohammedali.
Hararwala family is well known in Gujarat, India, birthplace of Mohammedali where a museum of his belongings and Ethiopian souvenirs etc., are kept in his residential building. A big tower entrance to his city built by him still stands as his memory. Some of his buildings in Mumbai bear the name "Hararwala Building".
From the beginning of the 19thcentury, Mohammedali's contribution towards economical growth in Ethiopia cannot be forgotten. His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1st, Emperor of Ethiopia, has mentioned with illustration of a photograph taken with Mohammedali and Hajji Badaso in his autography.
Mohammedali was given due respect by the government of the United Kingdom for his services to Ethiopia. Dr. Richard Pankhurst, the reputed historian in Ethiopia has also written about Mohammedali and his company's activities.
Mohammedali winded up his business activities in Ethiopia dining the occupation by Italians, who considered him as a supporter of his Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1st and also because Mohammedali did not, agree to the Italian rulers that Ethiopians and Indians be given a separate trading place now called "Mercato", while Piazza to be reserved for whites. Such discriminative attitude of the Italian rulers was unacceptable to Mohammedali.
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