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.