Friday, 26 August 2011


I am not an expert on the holy Quran.
 However, words from Sura 2- The Cow (the oldest of the Medina Chapters said to have been revealed in April 622) may illuminate today’s topic about Ramadan.
 “Oh believers! A fast is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may fear God.”

"Sala" or prayers during the Futari at the Embassy last week. Pic by Urban Pulse

Fear of God is one of the most revered words in all religions. And this fright was better elaborated by Sheikh Mohammed Nassor (of East London mosque) when closing a Futari dinner at the Tanzanian High Commission last Saturday.
 Insisting on unity and love the esteemed Sheikh explained: “You should not fear God but rather stay closer to Him.”
Such a sermon might sound vague to some; immortal to others, yet if you were in attendance that warm evening you felt comfortable and refreshed being Tanzanian. I was seated with someone on the carefully laid, colourful, kaleidoscopic mats when he muttered: “We have to be thankful to Mwalimu Nyerere. He taught us to respect all religions and live together peacefully. During Nyerere’s time religious strife was neither tolerated nor common.”
In these times of animosity and suspicion against Muslims (due to recurring suicide bombings and the ongoing Palestinian crisis) it is heartening to know that Islam and religion is not the problem but rather those few misusing it.

Tanzanian nationals their spouses and friends were invited to the High Commission to enjoy Futari. Although majority attendees were from London some travelled as far as Milton Keynes, Reading and other distant cities of the UK.
Deputy High Commissioner, Chabaka Kilumanga. Pic by Urban Pulse.

Thanking everyone, Deputy High Commissioner, Chabaka Kilumanga passed greetings on behalf of his chief, Ambassador Peter Kallaghe that everyone is welcome to the mission, that the said diplomats are “servants of the people.”  Speaking in his characteristic soft and gentle manner, Mr Kilumanga also gave best wishes to oncoming Idd El Fitr celebrations at the end of Ramadan.
The evening began with Minister Counsellor I. Zahrani welcoming guests on Bond Street.

Minister Counsellor I Zahrani, in a humbled gait welcoming all. Pic by Urban Pulse.

 Women on one side, men on the other, all took shoes off and sat down. MC, Ali Sungura charmed those present with a program of events. After initial prayers, water, dates and kalimati sweets were distributed.

Model and Blogger Jestina George (right) puts a colourful touch alongside Carol Chipeta, Head of Chancery at the High Commission. Pic by Urban Pulse.

 Second prayers were said with loud firm shouts of Allah Wa’akbar. For non Muslims sitting behind the believers was as curious as was respectful. Whether you believe in religion or not en masse chants have an extremely healing power.
As we all relished rice, chapatti, maandazi, lamb, boiled cassava, chicken and beef on the meticulously spread white sheets I realised how significant this was. Earlier someone had told me they were not coming to the Embassy to eat food paid for by taxpayers back home.
“How can we be feeding on the sweat of suffering peasants and workers who continue to be robbed by Fisadis?” He charged.

I swallowed the well made Futari content that here we are enjoying dinner without being suspicious of Muslims like it has grown to be worldwide.
“We should stick to unity,” Sheikh Mohammed Nassor’s words rumbled on and on.
In my younger days I recall saying Salaam Aleikoum without doubting or thinking whether I was a Muslim or not. I recall parents, political leaders and teachers in Tanzania mainland easily and equally uttering Asalaam Aleikoum during greetings.
“It means peace. It is about goodwill...” We children were reminded.
When you say Asalaam Aleikoum in London, on the contrary, you are always asked whether you are Muslim.
“In Tanzania we do not have these kinds of divisions,” you remind, proudly.

That is one way of looking at this sensitive but significant matter. Government officials in foreign countries trying to care and reach out to their people are (mock or like it) making a commendable effort.  A proverb from Ghana says: “If you try your best you come out victorious.”
In our tense and distrustful atmosphere (reflecting events in Libya, the Middle East and elsewhere) leaders who attempt forging unity, respect, good relationships and community development are worth a pat on the back.
They are few...


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