Hadji Ojer Ally
Hadji Ojer Ally (1853 - 1921)
During the early years of Mohandas Gandhi’s stay in South Africa there was always one man to be seen at his side. It was this dapper and politically astute man, dressed in a well tailored, yet modest suit, with a Turkish style fez with tassel, worn slightly cocked upon his head, and a signature cigar in hand, who was Gandhi’s right hand man. He was confidante, advisor, organiser, community liaison and financier and paved the way for Gandhi’s early political path in South Africa.
This man was a leading and pioneering political figure in his own right and someone that Gandhi relied upon for advice. It was he who introduced Gandhi to South Africa’s industrial capital, Johannesburg and, he who accompanied Gandhi to petition the Crown in England. Over time his name was overshadowed and forgotten but he made an indelible mark on a number of South African political formations in their founding years; particularly the various ‘congress’ movements which cut across the Indian and indigene African communities. South Africa at the time knew him simply as Mr Ally, or Hadji Ojer Ally.