A Popular Face
Shamshad Khan’s family came to the South Africa border town of Botswana called Zeerust and completed his primary schooling at Zeerust and high school at Johannesburg. His father Mahmood Khan was born in 1930 and mother was born in Surat in 1943 and came to South Africa when she was just two years old. Shamshad’s great grandfather arrived in Africa in 1880 and way back in 1895, his grandfather Mehrab Khan settled in the country.
Shamshad with his two brothers and a sister had the roots of business in them as their father was as a small trader in general goods. In the year 1966 the family moved to Gaborone city, capital of Botswana, just one month before independence. The country gained independence on 30th September 1966. So the family was one of the earliest to settle in Gaborone
From a small cloth business, the family expanded in 1970 to a large business as ‘Trans African wholesalers’ and sold the business to a Hindu family from Gujarat in 1980.
Shamshad has served as Deputy mayor of Gaborone City from 1969 to 1974.
And between 1966 to 1980, he was very involved in politics, social, religious and sporting activities. He was chairman and executive of Botswana Muslim Association, Islamic Council of Botswana and Muslim Educational Society. He was the founder member of the Gaborone chamber of Commerce which later was named as Botswana Employers federation.
Shamshad is a popular choice for Botswana T.V for debates, interviews on the Palestine issue and other current national and international issues. He has given several talks on religious, current affairs and other various topics on Botswana Radio and other radio Stations. Shamshad also plays host to many international speakers and has also organised cultural programmes. He turns writer and has even .penned a brief history of the Muslims in Botswana. Total population of Muslims is around 10,000 and in Gaborone, there are around 5000 from different nationalities- Africans, Pakistanis and Indians. Upto independence, 95 per cent of the Muslims were of Indian origin and mainly from Gujarat.
His grand father, Mehrab khan has strived to get special permits from Pretoria, South Africa to send the Botswana children for studies. He was a prominent Urdu poet of South Africa. Shamshad’s father also had a taste for poetry.