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.

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