World Memon Foundation (2000)
It has been said pity ‘the land without history, so woe be the people without historians’.
Little over a hundred years ago, the Memons were virtually unknown to the wider world. Hardly anything seemed to distinguish them from the various communities that make up the Indian sub-continent. Today they are one of the most powerful business communities in the region.
The Memons are people with a rich, colourful past but without any historians to record it, let alone analyse or laud the achievements of their ancestors. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so historians abhor a historical vacuum and tend to fill it with myths and prejudices. Until now the Memons have taken a view of history not dissimilar to the one Napoleon took. Asked by one of his generals about the impact one of his battle plans would have on history, Napoleon is believed to have said: ‘Let us make history first then let historians write it.’
The Memons have been making history for generations but now find themselves subject to other people’s interpretations of their history. Mohamed Aly Rangoonwala, the wise and kindly man who headed the World Memon Foundation until his death in 1998 and who decided to commission this history, set a simple task: ‘Tell us and tell others who the Memons are. We are not just a rapacious business community. Nor are we to be confused with the Mormons of America. We need to know, our children and grandchildren need to know where their ancestors came from and what they did. We would also like to share this information and knowledge with others’.
This is the task of this book: addressed as much to Memons themselves as to non-Memons.