Mohamedhussein Raza’s childhood curiosity led him to carefully examine his cultural DNA to uncover the ideal mix of influences that shape his modern identity.
Mohamedhussein was born and bred in Tanzania as a third-generation Indian immigrant, his struggle with consolidating his native and national identities is all too familiar to many in the age of globalization. His approach to solving this question has been to trace back to his ancestors and learn from how they, as immigrants from India, first settled into Tanganyika almost 100 years ago up. Leading up to now where he tells his journey of adaptation and cultural fluidity
In a 2021 TedTalk, Mohamedhussein discusses the early ancestry that ultimately led him to expand upon his curiosities and constantly seek new challenges. At the tender age of 13, Jaffer Ali, Mohamedhussein’s great grandfather ran away from his home In India to get a job and help support his mom, dad, and many siblings. The job he managed to keep up for several years included selling day-to-day items to local villages; commuting by foot or via bicycle.
Not only did he work hard and proved his work ethic but, Jaffer brought 3 of his brothers from India to his work location in Tanganyika, Africa. Jaffer traveled throughout several locations in Africa, embracing the culture and life around him while he grew up and worked endlessly. Together Jaffer and his brothers started a business and families.
“This is the story I think of every time someone asks me: how is it that you say you are African?”
Cultural Fluid Mindset
Flash forward to today and Jaffer and his family have produced a family of over 1,000 people. All these people are connected back to his passionate journey of what ‘home’ is having such strong roots in Tanganyika (modern day Tanzania).
Furthermore, what many people fail to understand is how Jaffer grew up immersed in African culture and life. Jaffer and his decendants embraced the culture and learned the Swahili language. Mohamedhussein widens people’s perspectives when he explains how deep third and fourth generation Indian immigrants have roots in Africa. Mohamedhussein is confident in his cultural identity and he is proud to say that he comes from Tanzania. Tanzania is home.
“I do not stop and think twice when somebody asks me where I am from…but I do think twice when somebody asks me about my culture.”
-Mohamedhussein Raza’s TedTalk
In response to this careful cultural examination, Mohamedhussein confidently believes in cultural fluidity and how we must adopt this mindset to preserve our cultures for the generations to come Born and raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Mohamedhussein Raza has always asked the question “why not?”; this simple practice has led him to expand upon his curiosities and constantly seek new challenges.
Eventually, obtaining a Bachelors in Business Management, he went on to join the family business and simultaneously co-founded an accessories brand called SHONA Tanzania.
Inspired by the vibrant culture of Africa and the unique skillsets of its people, Mohamedhussein and SHONA aim to celebrate the continent’s creativity by creating meaningful accessories that give a sense of identity to those who use them.
In addition to his personal experiences, Mohamedhussein challenges his audience to answer the question of how one can discover the ideal ‘cake mix’ of their cultural identity.