27 September 2005

I am an African!

Macbeth- never really knew what the story was about- in fact, even having seen a contemporary take on the play, I’m still not certain! But what I do still feel that Shakespeare (or as some have said in the past, for his somewhat ‘Islamic’ ideas: Sheikh Speare!) was a brilliant man- to have come up with such wonderful ways of expressing himself and even, I believe, getting a message out, subtly at times and even blatantly as well! Is there space, or rather need, nay benefit, for us to be exploring the dynamic field of theatre- not necessarily the way conventional (if there is such a thing as ‘conventional theatre’!) theatre has played out, but rather aimed at a beneficial form of ‘entertainment’ to educate, even subtly at first, and filter a message through?

The students have really outdone themselves- collected quite a few tons (I have no idea so wont speculate, but know it was literally tons!) of groceries and packed them into hampers for Ramadaan. Was good to see the active involvement of many, as well as the good impression it may have had on others who witnessed the mass packaging of these hampers on the Wits lawns last week. Some even had to brave the elements and sleep over Thursday night to guard the goods that were not packed yet!
And I suppose it’s the ‘getting involved’ that’s most important- no matter how much we collect and distribute, someone will still go to bed hungry at times; so to get as many as possible to assist packing and distributing, so we see for ourselves the suffering in our own back yards, this should make us appreciate what we have and make more concerted efforts to change the lots of the oppressed… May the Almighty reward all those who contributed and assisted! Ameen…

Always good to go back home- spent yet another weekend in the peaceful, tranquil environs of Newcastle; with just enough noise being relentlessly generated by my younger siblings! Time flies, things change, friends grow up and become distant, bushes grow big, trees we played on have since been felled, the paths we walked on have been outgrown, the river I had to swim across to get to school every morning has been polluted! Just joking bout the river part, but time really does fly and things really do change…

Had the great pleasure of attending a dinner last night with President Thabo Mbeki for his ‘Timbuktu Manuscripts’ project! Ok, I didn’t sit at his table but I was close enough! Truly admirable to have our President involved in such an important initiative and it’s great of the Muslim community to be so actively supporting it. I don’t know much about the project yet, but will now need to look into in closely.
While it’s all well and good that our community is supporting the preservation of these invaluable manuscripts that are decades old, whether these manuscripts will be translated and utilised firstly in trying to revive the spirit of true Islamic scholarship, and also to ultimately benefit from these priceless artefacts!
We need to also seize this great opportunity to dispel the myths and media-fed notions of Islam that exist both here and elsewhere- the President, in his speech, spoke about the great Islamic civilisation and it’s brilliant scholarship and systems being ‘African’ as well, having benefited and contributed so much to modern day civilisation and yet being almost totally forgotten! The dictionary explains ‘Timbuktu’ to be a place that is unreachable, while this very place was a major commercial and academic hub of the world at one time…
We should be studying our great heritage, not just as academic exercises, but rather so that we can revive the true spirit of Islam and through doing this solve the problems the world is facing today and make it a better place to live!

Here’s an extract from ‘I am an African’ :
I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom.
My mind and my knowledge of myself is formed by the victories that are the jewels in our African crown, the victories we earned from Isandlwana to Khartoum, as Ethiopians and as the Ashanti of Ghana, as the Berbers of the desert.

20 September 2005

Laziness is often mistaken for patience.

The month of Ramadaan is here soon- managed to make arrangements for Taraweeh in an area with easy access to homes with food! But I can imagine it being extremely tough this year with work and stuff- the past few years I had studied the whole night and slept the whole day…

Attended the Black Accountants convention in Gallagher Estate last week- a bit strange that there is such an organisation and I somehow ended up on the JHB exec so I had to show face at the function. One of the speakers, a Willie Madisha from Cosatu, made an interesting point- during Apartheid; a certain group of people were allowed to amass wealth at the expense of the masses. Apartheid was then replaced by Capitalism which meant that people with wealth could keep and benefit from this wealth and ultimately the previously disadvantaged groups would largely still be economically oppressed with little hope of making a better life for themselves! And all it took was to make some previously disadvantaged people wealthy and things could go on with not much opposition. The ironic thing is that the group that could make the necessary changes, the black accountants there, stand in line to loose the most if the economic system changes- for a redistribution of wealth to occur, the middle class will be more affected than the upper class…

Sony Ericsson had a launch at Kayalami on Thurs night for some of their new phones- a real waste of money if you ask me! They had some idiotic drama dude and his bunch of untalented goons acting out a commercial and a fashion show. Picture this- a fashion show with models modelling phones! The phones are real cool but Sony needs to jack up their marketing and advertising department if they want me as a customer…

ABASA had a Gala Dinner to finish off the convention of Friday night- the theme was ‘Quest for an African identity!’ There was nothing African about the function at all- the new black elite culture is a fusion of western, secular, individualistic materialism all rolled into one! Tim Modise spoke, along with a few black CEO’s from major multinational corporations- he has always been my favourite radio presenter, and once again I enjoyed how he stated the blatantly obvious- black professionals need to start paying more attention to their social responsibility and start making plans for long term change in this country…

Got to RAU a bit late for the concert- Zain Bhika and chorus going all out in a fundraising initiative for the MSA Ramadaan collection- a think the MC put it quite well when he congratulated the guy who won a cellphone- “At least it was worth your while coming!” Alternative events like this are great- very professional and well organised, so I think we can now move on to hosting international celebrities and maybe even academics…

3 Continents Film Festival on Human Rights was on here for the past two weeks- think its coming to Cape Town now and would really encourage all of you don’t there to try and catch a few of them. Watched one on Saturday night- a personal account of Norwegian UN soldiers about the Israeli rocket attack on a village in South Lebanon in 1996. Really gruesome and tragic footage that honestly sends shivers down your spine! Is the world really just gone mad! What the hell is going on? Are we not living in the 21st century? Also saw actual footage from Chechnya taken by a guy who was recently killed in Iraq- its just unbelievable what’s going on over there! But then again, is anyone willing or even able to do anything?

Drive south of Johannesburg and take the second Vanderbilj Park off ramp, few more rights and lefts and you can find a nice bit of the Vaal River. A wonderfully serene refuge of nature from the rat-race of city life, really relaxing and calming- spent the day unwinding there on Sunday. Something necessary, I think, to ensure sanity in this frantic world of ours!

Talking about the rat-race; last night being a ‘Big Night’, a few got together to reflect and introspect- the past year has seen the trials on the rat-race take its toll on many of the newly employed! The inevitable realisation being, across the board, that even if you win the rat-race you are STILL A RAT!

Useless facts (Once again, courtesy of Ismail Sader)
Taxable income: 270,000 +

Tax: 78,070 + 40% of each R 270,000
- Well it’s a useless fact for me, don’t no bout u.

- 727 - the number of airports in SA, only 143 of which have paved runways.
- Stratus: Uniform low grey cloud with a surface of about 460m.
- Your taste buds are replaced every 10 days.

Another new edition this week: look out for ‘pics of the week’ posted on the blog along with this email…

14 September 2005

Hates any man the thing he would not kill?

Interesting stat I have come across- 9 out of 10 people don’t care! They don’t care about what’s going on in the world, they don’t care about the suffering of others, they don’t care about happiness or sadness, they don’t care much about anything- so that begs the question: are you ‘the one’ or just ‘one of the nine’?... Do you care about anything else besides money, career, comfort, etc?
Oh well, who cares!

We did a big slide show presentation to the Fri Nite crew and I think it went pretty well- but I guess to ascertain the effectiveness of our presentation we need to wait and see what effect, if any, it would now have on the audience there…

Have you read Merchant of Venice? The movie is blind interesting and has a brilliant script- I was having a discussion about interest and usury with a colleague at work earlier that day; told him how usury was forbidden for both Christians and Jews as well. And I had remembered from the book that Jews had started giving loans on interest to non-Jews but because it was forbidden, didn’t charge fellow Jews interest- apparently some still do this up to today…

It also shows how the Jews were oppressed- they had to live in a certain part of the city, the ghettos, and had to wear red hats when they wandered into other parts of the city. I agree, they do have a long history of being oppressed but they have today become the oppressors! There is a scene in the movie where the Jewish moneylender, Shylock, questions why his people are oppressed and mistreated- and today I would like to hear a Palestinian question in a similar vein:
‘Why? Is it because I am an Arab? Hath not an Arab eyes? Hath not an Arab hands, senses, affections, passions, organs, dimensions?
Are we not fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that!
If an Arab wrong a Jew, what is his humility? Revenge! If a Jew wrong an Arab, what should his sufferance be by Jewish example? Why, revenge! The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction!’

Oh well- get the picture, don’t you?

I have no intention of linking everything to Palestine- but the feeling I got when I saw this show really made me want to question them- how can you forget what you’ve been through and now make others go through the same and worse!

The other tale that I found interesting in the story was about a lady whose father had left three chests that would decide on who can marry her- only by choosing the right chest could you have her hand in marriage! The chests were gold, silver and copper- I thought it seemed pretty obvious which was the chest to choose- but isn’t it necessary to have a similar system today: not three chests but rather a software program that requires answers to many questions to be inputted and at the end it spits out a comprehensive report on the person being interviewed:) Any budding programmers interested in working on such a program? I assure you that you will be adequately compensated!

And back to Palestine- I just got word from our Palestinians friends; they are planning an ‘Eyewitness Israeli Occupation Campaign’ that will run from the 8 – 29 November and include the Olive harvest and Palestinian Independence Day events… Details to be released later this month- watch this àspace!ß

Ashfaaq Carim’s grandmother passed away in Potch this Sunday- please remember her and all marhooms in your duas…

This week sees a slight change to the regular format of email that you have probably become accustomed to:
Useless facts (courtesy of Ismail Sader)

- 40 million, the population of Lagos (Nigeria). Yeah that’s right the population of RSA is about that much.
- 1700, the no. of Olympic swimming pools you could fill with the beer that SAB sells in one year. - 96, the no. of South Africans who died of congenital syphilis in 1997.
- The Venus flytrap is capable of eating an entire hamburger.

A new methodology for auditing was recently rolled out at work- at first I was horrified as this presumably meant a greater volume of more difficult work, but I’ve subsequently been pleasantly surprised! The old methodology was substantially different, so the less you knew and understood it, like me, the better off you are right now:) Just sat through a meeting where the usual smart-alecky geeks were squirming all over and ludicrously struggling to elicit some approval from the partner! So my theory has just been proved: The less you work, the better it is for you!

08 September 2005

...living a life cluttered with mundane tribulations...

Time flies- two weeks already since we got back! And I sadly feel myself re-adjusting to the normal pitiful drone of day-to-day existence… But happily feeling more revived and energetic so that I can fulfil the responsibilities that now lay upon my shoulders after being given the wonderful opportunity of living and feeling with the Palestinians

But wait- what the hell am I supposed to do? I am an accountant! As much as I hate to admit it- my life from now on (till I can somehow get more leave and escape again!) revolves around big multi-national capitalistic corporations! And while I may have previously come up with a brilliant way of consoling myself on that regard (refer to previous emails detailing the long-term plan of Muslim professional in the economic field), I am now confined by this revolting mania called ‘work’!

But wait again- even if I had more time on my hands, what do I do? Will speaking on a few radio shows and showing of my pics really achieve anything? I’m pretty sure that if I figure this out I will be able to find the time to do whatever then needs to be done! (I have a pretty good track record to prove my ability to avoid work!)

In the past two weeks, we have done:
2 Radio shows on an (hehe) international satellite radio station,
2 shows on different Cape Town radio stations,
2 slide show presentations to audiences in the (hehe) City of Newcastle.

And what has changed? What did I expect to change? What did we hope to achieve?
- Education and Awareness! Make people more aware of what’s actually going on. (But human nature is such that most, being really touched and concerned while watching or listening, soon afterwards totally forget everything…)

So that has brought me to the following conclusion:
While it helps to actually see and if possible experience suffering for yourself, it is not entirely necessary. What is necessary is an understanding of what Islam and humanity at large, requires of you- if we understood that, and were really committed to it, then we would naturally be struggling in every legitimate struggle that we could!

Talk is cheap- here I am, in the lap of luxury, total freedom, virtually worry-free, and all I’m currently concerned about is the blinking battery light on my laptop! There’s no electricity (sitting in the dark- this never happened to me in Newcastle or even Palestine for that matter!) and this thing is going to shut down any second nowwwww