Bhimjee R Naik

Bhimjee R Naik


Bhimjee Ranchhodjee Naik (b.1879) was the first Indian to establish a trading licence at Umtali in 1898. The licence was only obtained through the intervention of the High Commissioner, Sir Alfred Milner, after European traders fiercely opposed an Indian being granted a licence. The matter, with the assistance of Mahatma Ghandi, ended up in the House of Commons where Indians were declared British subjects and allowed to have a licence.

On January 3rd, 1899, European traders broke open the doors of Naik’s store and demanded he leave immediately for Macequece in Portuguese East Africa. The military eventually was called and the Administrator was wired. The Administrator declared the actions of the Europeans illegal. The outcome was the beginning of Indian trade in Southern Rhodesia.

Naik went on to open branches in Gwelo, Seluwke and Salisbury. However, in 1908 the Southern Rhodesia Government drafted a bill stopping further immigration of Indians into Southern Rhodesia, and registration of all Indians currently in the country. Naik attempted to influence changes to the bill as the President of the British Indian Association but this was overturned by the High Commissioner in South Africa.

Naik left Rhodesia in 1912 but never returned. His businesses continued to be run by his managers.