This valiant daughter of Mother India, was born on September 24, 1861, in an affluent Parsee family in Bombay. Her father was Sorabji Framji Patel, a prosperous businessman, her mother Jijibai.
Madame Bhikhaiji was born into a community which was progressive and forward looking and in which women’s education and emancipation were encouraged. Young Bhikhaiji was entrusted into the caring hands of our founder, Manockjee Cursetjee, who had started The Alexandra Native Girls’ English Institution in 1863. The main aim of this school was to impart an all round education including learning of European languages. Bhikhaiji had her education both primary and secondary here and later devoted herself to the study of European languages and became proficient in them.
She was wedded to the upliftment of her country men, both social and political. She became a woman with a mission, with a vision of an independent India free from the foreign yoke.
Nearly a thousand delegates from different countries had gathered at Stuggart, Germany, for the 2nd International Socialist Congress. Madame Cama held them spellbound by the logic, sincerity and emotion of her fiery, eloquent speech, as she pointed out the atrocities of British imperialism, described the sufferings, the agony of her countrymen. At the end of the brilliant speech, in a dramatic gesture, she unfurled a tricolour flag of green, saffron and red, passionately claiming :
“This flag is of Indian independence. Behold it is born! It has been made sacred by the blood of young Indians who sacrificed their lives. I call upon you, gentlemen to rise and salute this flag of Indian independence. In the name of this flag, I appeal to the lovers of freedom all over the world to co-operate with this flag in freeing one-fifth of the human race.”
As if by magic, the whole assembly stood up and honoured the flag!
She was an Alexandrian!