The Indian Firm G. M. Mohamedally & Co in Ethiopia (1886- 1937)

Author : Dominique Harre

Year : 2015

EH Contributor : Meftuh Shash

The Indian presence in Ethiopia has attracted little attention in Ethiopian historiography. Yet Indian
businessmen were as instrumental to Ethiopia’s early 20th century economy as they were in
British East Africa at the same period. As part of a broader research project aimed at addressing
this gap, this article explores the life and achievements of Mohamedally Shaikh Sharafaly, the best
known of these Indian businessmen, who set up one of the largest commercial and industrial
businesses in Ethiopia. The account follows the narrative of an un-published letter the merchant
wrote in 1940 about his business trajectory. From his arrival in Harar in the late 19th century to the
eventual expulsion of his company in 1937, his story is highly revealing of the political context in
which large foreign businesses would emerge, involving both friendship with the Ethiopian
emperors and diplomatic protection, in the case of Indians as British subjects……