young, daring student Jhaveri joined the Quit India
Movement started by Mahatma Gandhi to rid India of
the British rule.
He organized a strike in his
He was arrested and jailed in Rajkot in 1942.
After his release, he proceeded to obtain his law
degree from Poona Law College.
"As a young lawyer, he was always interested in
human rights issues and freedom," said Urmila
Jhaveri, his widow who worked as a women’s community
leader in Tanzania.
"After arriving in Tanganyika to begin a new
life, he got involved in the political struggle
Her parents, Labhuben and Tarachand Gandhi,
migrated to Zanzibar Island in early 1920s where her
father joined the Sultan of Zanzibar’s government as
a customs officer.
She was born on the nearby Island of Pemba in
1931, grew up in Dar-es-Salaam, the capital of
Tanganyika in the harsh Colonial era.
During World War II, she sailed from Dar-es-Salaam
to Jamnagar in a traditional Indian boat called a
dhow, avoiding German warships and submarines and
surviving a severe storm.
"We survived the long treacherous journey and did
well in spite of the colonial masters, and many
physical and financial constraints," she recalls.
Urmila has just published her memoirs in a
fascinating book, 'Dancing with Destiny', in
which the chapter of this voyage by dhow makes for
In Rajkot, she was engaged to Kantibhai, got
married in 1948 and returned with her husband after
the war was over.
When Jhaveri arrived in Tanganyika, the country
was starting its freedom struggle and he wasted no
time in getting deeply involved in this campaign.
"This opened up a whole new window for me as
well," said Urmila.
"After our marriage, we took part together in
rallies and meetings in heady pre-independence days
Urmila was also deeply committed to social work
under the National Women’s Organization.
"My best moments came when I visited remote
villages, shared problems, meals and songs, dancing
with women, holding hands of almost aked mad men or
listening to the witches’ call at night.
I went to these villages with my fellow African
women’s leaders and we stayed overnight in many of
these villages to know their problems and issues and
"It was scary sometimes as the dancing stopped
and loud voices of witches were heard late in the
night," she said, "My other problem was vegetarian
food which they made especially for me," she said.
After working closely with the most prominent
leader, Julius Nyerere, Jhaveri contested and easily
won a seat in the country’s Parliament from Dar-es-Salaam
He served as an MP before and after the country
won its independence.
Jhaveri also served as the President of
Tanganyika Law Society for 15 years and chaired many
important committees, commissions and social welfare
Jhaveri was a member of the team of lawyers who
defended Nyerere in the libel case of 1958.