Haji Saber (Edgbaston)






Haji Mohammed Sabir was farmer from the Rajpot Dhamiyaal caste, who was married before coming to the UK in 1962 on a work voucher. He travelled from Gujarkhan village in Kingrhi to Karachi where he had to wait for 3 months until his documents were prepared for his entry and flight to the UK. After getting his passport Haji flew from Karachi to London Heathrow. On his arrival he found the weather to be cold, and a further commute by train landed him in Bradford to look for work, that journey cost him £1.25. Haji was shocked and surprised at the differences in culture from Pakistan but overtime adapted to the differences, which allowed him to interact with all the people.

In Bradford Haji worked in a local mill as a machine operator, but found the wages to be very low; his first wage being £4.50, although it did rise to £6.00 before he left. Heeding friends advice he decided to move to Birmingham in 1964 looking for better wages. He managed to get a job working in a foundry but it very hard due to the combination of heavy protective clothing and heat, but stayed there as he was  earning  about £12.00 for a 6 day week. Haji then worked for a company that made brass pipes before finally working at Motor Midlands where he earned £25 a week, retiring in 1982.

When Haji came to Birmingham he stayed on Ladypool Road before moving to West Bromwich where he shared a house with seven other men, where he used to cook for himself after finishing a hard shift. Eventually he formed a group with three other men who shared the cost of food and took turns at cooking, at that time it was hard to find halal meat so they used to go to the slaughterhouse in Lozells to get their supplies. They also bought live chickens from the farm and slaughtered them at home.

Times were hard in the early days, but Haji managed to save money for a deposit on a house, enabling him to buy his first home at a cost of £1,000. Having bought the house he called his family over from Pakistan to join him, recollecting that “It was difficult for them at first. At first we could not afford to furnish his house as we would like, having to make do with wooden chairs and no carpet on the floor”. But as he became more prosperous he was able to equip his house with quality furnishing, carpets and household appliances which made life for him and his family more comfortable. When Haji bought his first television set he watched the news and little else, preferring to take his family to the local cinema at the weekend where they would watch films such as Maula Jatt and Chooriyan. Haji liked to look smart and favoured suits rather than traditional dress, having three suits made for him by Burtons a major UK tailor which cost him £8.00, £10.00 and £12.00 respectively.  Haji bought his first car in 1964  which he drove for 7 years with L plates before eventually passing his driving test. Haji remembers that in those days he could fill up his tank for 10 shillings (50 pence) a big saving on today’s price. Haji used to keep in touch with his family in Pakistan by letter, but later would use a tape recorder to record messages which would be sent by registered post; if it was an emergency he would use telegrams. Haji recollects that before the setting up of death committees, the body would be sent back to Pakistan for burial, with the community helping with the cost of repatriation to Pakistan.

Haji states that his ancestors originally came from Iraq before arriving in Pakistan via Sham and Afghanistan and now travelling to the UK .He goes on to say that people have moved from country to country throughout the ages and believes that this was not due to the will of the people but to the  creator Allah. He goes on to say that “we came here to earn a living and intended on going back to Pakistan but we never did, the fruit is grown in that country and who gets to eat it nobody has a right over nothing we believe in Islam