Prominent Masvingo businessman Ali Lambert of Ali&Co has died.
He died at 3am at Masvingo 24 Hour Medical Center on Wednesday after succumbing to pneumonia.
Lambat owned Ali and Company with his son Zubair, Zimbabweans of Indian origin. The family is one of the oldest Indian families in the city.
Soon after the start of the 20th century, Ali’s grandfather, Ebrahim Lambat, left his village of Chasa in Gujarat, some 230 km north of Bombay (the present-day Mumbai), in search of new opportunities in Africa.
Ebrahim landed in Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) and then trekked inland, making his way to the British territories of Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi).
Like most Indians in these parts of Africa, the Lambat family initially made a living as merchants in rural communities, the larger towns and cities being effectively off-limits to non-White business owners.
Masvingo, Zimbabwe’s oldest town, was founded (as Fort Victoria) in 1890. From its early years, Hindu and Muslim Indians have been a small, but economically significant, presence; like the Lambat family, most members of the community were Gujaratis. It was here where Ebrahim’s son, Ismail, opened a general store. Ismail died in 1968 and in the same year Ali started up Ali & Co.