Abraham and Ishmael


Que Que’s Mosque.

Abraham  and Ishmael

Ishmael was the first son of  Mr. Bahadur.  Mr. Bahadur wanted his sixteen year old son to be a success.  He pleaded with Mr. Menashe to take Ishmael on at his Haberdashery store and teach him the business.

 Abraham and Ishmael

In the beginning the Menaches lived behind the store on First Avenue, near Old Man Naran’s Shoe Shop.  Later, Aaron Menashe’s haberdashery moved to Third Street facing Que Que Park, sandwiched between Slomans main premises and Standard Bank on the corner.  The back of the store faced the yard of Anderson’s Mineral Factory.

Aaron’s shop was very busy.  He took the chance and hired Ishmael.

By 1938 the haberdashery had grown into a four shop departmental store Aaron had built encompassing the whole corner of Second Avenue and Second Street.  Ishmael had become an indispensible part of the business.

Ishmael went to India to find a wife.   Besides his wife he brought back a stuffed tortoise for Mr. Menashe’s son Abe.  He was not impressed.  He would have preferred the tin of sweets which his younger brother, Ben, received.

In due course Mr. Menashe sold Ishmael the business, but not the properties.  Ishmael expanded as his son Ebrahim and all the family members joined the business.   Ishmael purchased the long narrow slither of Andersons Minerals next to Slomans Wholesale Hardware and the corner store Hassons.  By 1959, they  were able to take over the impressive Bulawayo City Hall for a wedding of one of the daughters.  Abe Menache was given the honor of proposing a toast.

By 1967 Ishmael had rebuilt the entire corner embracing the Third Street Menashe store as well.

Aaron had passed away by then, but Abe and his wife Pauline, then mayor and mayoress of Bulawayo, arrived in the mayoral car to open the building.  The Bahadurs presented him with an engraved EPNS dinner serving dish, which he still treasures and uses.

Who knew that back in 1959 Ishmael had given Abe a hand up when he ran for council in Bulawayo?  Ishmael made three phone calls. The first two were to his Muslim friends Ishmael Khalpe and Ebrahim Esat.  The third one was to the head of the Hindu Indian community in Bulawayo and the “King” of Lobengula Street business R.D. Nail.  Between them and the Jewish ratepayers in Ward Four, Abe defeated the sitting councilor John Dover Nicholson by a majority of more than eighty percent.

With Muslim and Jew working together, Abe’s seat was never contested, until his resignation sixteen years later.

Many thanks to Linda Ihle (granddaughter of Archie and Myrtle Jenkinson) for this painting of Que Que’s Mosque by Ilona Heather and to Abe Menashe for the story.



  • sue knight

    Reply Reply January 22, 2012

    I am really enjoying your blogs on the history of Que Que and finding out about people and places that I hadn’t known about.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 23, 2012

      Sue, glad you are still with me. Do send me some stories and pictures to share.

  • betty

    Reply Reply January 22, 2012

    Que-Que was such a thriving, bustling town, filled with so many different races and life styles. What a wonderful lesson in helping and cooperation, trusting and innovation! I love all these stories…I am thinking these stories are very similar to early America. You were part of the pioneering days of South Africa and it is fascinating to hear about your personal stories first hand!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 23, 2012

      Yes, you are right. We were just a century or so later in settling the West. We just did the Oregon trail this fall, Americas largest migration. A wonderful history and what rugged territory they covered in their wagons.

  • ebrahim bahadur

    Reply Reply June 4, 2013

    dear diana – i found the bahadur story very interesting – history should be maintained and not forgotten – your parents were well respected in queque and are still remembered – there wasn’t a doc like hirsch – will keep in touch – regards ebrahim

    • Diana

      Reply Reply June 4, 2013

      Ebrahim, Lovely to connect with you. As a child a visit with my mother to Bahadur’s Haberdashery was such a visual feast, with all the exotic materials and colours…and a lot more to boot. My mother, with Mrs. Agenew (?sp) and Mrs. Katie Bosman took a group of Indian and Coloured Guides to Lorenzo Marques to see the sea after the rail line opened up from Somabula to LM. in the late 50’s and the memory of this camp in particular remained dear to her always. I remember well your parents attended my wedding in 1967 which was held at our house in Hillandale. How is the Guide Camp ground at Dutchmans Pool with its Lodge these days? Glad to see you are organizing bike rides out there. It is such a lovely area. My younger son, Jonathan, bicycles 100 miles three times a week along the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica and up into the Malibu Hills, a circle route. It is quite a strenuous ride…lots of ups and downs.
      I hope you have a good set of Dr’s at Stanley House. All the Old Guard of Dr. Hirsch and Partners have passed on. L’chaim!

  • ebrahim bahadur

    Reply Reply June 6, 2013

    dear diana – greetings : let me give you my family history : i am the eldest of seven children – abe is a jewish name so i was named ebrahim an arabic name same as abe – my mon passed away in 2001 aged 88 and my dad 2006 aged 95 – my wife aysha passed away in 2001 and we have three daughters and a son – i went to india for a visit and found a suitable lady in my family village and married jamila – my children and grandchilldren accept and love her for which i am happy and fortunate and she has fitted in nicely to the kwekwe community – one eldest daughter rashida is married in in uk , two daughters married in south africa and my son married and also lives in south africa – we have six granddaughters and one grandson who is 22 – i am 75 years old and my wife jamila is 42 and we are resident in kwekwe – will communicate more later – regards ebrahim

    • Diana

      Reply Reply June 10, 2013

      Ebrahim, QQ seems to have been good for your parents going on to 88 and 95 respectively. My father died suddenly in a swimming event at the All Canada Senior Games in 1999 (active to the last!) at the age of 84 and my Mom passed at 87 in 2006 after a short illness.
      I am so happy for you that you have found a life partner since your wife died, especially that your children are all scattered about the world…like us. I wonder if you are still running Bahadur and Sons… My younger brother David is in Johannesburg and my older brother Brian and his family are in Canada. We retired out here to the Oregon Coast in 2004. I have two sons, Andrew is married and lives in Boston and my younger son, Jonathan, lives in Los Angeles and is not married. We have no grandchildren. I hope you get to visit yours and enjoy them. They grow up too soon.
      I expect Que Que has grown enormously. I hear Stanley House is still there but the G and P Mine has closed. I wonder if all the old QQ Indian community is still there…the Tajadins, Mulla the Butcher, Naran and Moosa…are some that come to mind immediately…I expect the lovely big mosque build near the Gatooma round about is still standing also.
      Stay well and in contact.

  • vijay vithal

    Reply Reply September 13, 2013

    Old Man Naran’s Shoe Shop we are interested in the history of this shop and family can you enlighten us eg. when first established ,what part of india did they arrive from or any other historic info including pics of there family or shop.

    Also a contact that we can talk to now….


    • Diana

      Reply Reply September 13, 2013


      I don’t know much about the shop. It was on First Avenue, passed the shops and close to the Globe and Phoenix Mine dumps. He got a lot of his business there, owing to the proximity to the mine.
      Later his son, Prag, owned a very successful haberdashery store on 3rd Avenue and became a councilman. I do have a picture of the council members which includes him…(late 60’s or early 70’s I think).

      The only member of the Indian community there I am in touch with the Ishmael Bahadur. I can put you in touch with him.

      • Vijay

        Reply Reply February 17, 2016

        Hi Diana,

        can you forward my details to Ishmael Bahadur.


        • Diana Polisensky

          Reply Reply February 20, 2016

          Vijay, Yes I will forward your contact details to Ishmael. Did you know that sadly Abe Menashe passed away in Jhb late last year? Get a copy of my novel, Whitewashed Jacarandas for a comprehensive look at small town Southern Rhodesia in the context of world events. Better yet ask your local library to add it to their stacks and spread the word yourself. That is the very best recommendation I can get–from readers themselves. See my “praise” page

        • Diana Polisensky

          Reply Reply February 20, 2016

          Vijay, the only contact I have is for Ebrahim and it ‘failed permanently’ Perhaps one of my readers with come up with a Bahadur contact. Stay tuned.

  • Michael Rolfe

    Reply Reply January 3, 2015

    I’m wondering where you got a picture of Auntie Ilona’s painting of the mosque that she gave to my dad, who was the structural engineer of the project. My mom was godmother to Ilona’s son, Michael.

    The onion-dome of the mosque is structurally unique: the sticking-out bits of onion-dome mosques are generally cantilevered from domes that do not themselves go out-and-in, but, if you go inside the Que Que Mosque, you can see that the dome is a membrane that itself does go out and in.

    And it’s made of brick and reinforcing-wire — it’ a very ingenious design.

    The painting is now in New Zealand, where my sister took it after my dad died.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply January 5, 2015


      Thanks for the interesting facts to add to the mosque. Vic Jenkinson as architect certainly made his mark at the north and south entrances to Kwe Kwe. I got the copy of the painting from Linda Ihle (nee Campbell) (granddaughter of Archie and Myrtle Jenkinson). The Heathers were special friends of my parents and Ilona had a great talent for painting.

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