Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: “We are here. We are one. We are ready!”
On the evening of May 14th, 2016, the entire Jamat of Dar es Salaam was transported in time – on a spiritual journey back to the Fatimid era. To recreate the bold welcome the murids gave to Imam Al-Muizz during his historical arrival to the city of Al-Qahira, the Jamat used the Fanous and the light held thererin, to represent the Noor that transcends time and binds us all. The plan for how to bring this commemoration to life had been developing and evolving in the few days leading up to the event, becoming more ambitious with each meeting of the planning team. There was magic in the air.
The Jamat had been informed three days prior that a ceremony would be taking place for Dar es Salaam as part of the Fanous Roadshow for Tanzania. They were asked to come dressed in a white top, to assemble immediately after Jamati ceremonies, and to come in large numbers. There was no way, however, for the organizing team to predict how many people would actually come and participate. Despite this, the plan was carried forward on the strength that the Jamat would be there, together and ready.
At the rehearsal which took place earlier on the event day, there were not nearly enough people to realize each element of the production, much less to allow for a full run through. Nevertheless, with the support of the 100 people, including children, the planning continued and the ideas began to transform into a concrete plan. Everyone’s spirits were energetic and enthusiastic throughout the course of the two hours during a very hot Dar es Salaam day. Despite the difficulty she faced standing and climbing stairs, one elderly Jamati member was so determined to participate in the show that she made it clear to the team that as long as someone gave her a helping hand at the moment she needed it, she was ready to stay for as long as necessary. The dedication from so many individuals witnessed on that afternoon gave the team the hope they needed to believe that the Jamat would be up to the challenge.
Preparations for that night consisted of setting up chairs for spectators, preparing food, and making candles for the ceremony. Not knowing what the attendance would be, the team planned for extras. Not one person could have predicted the turnout. 300 chairs, all full. 750 candles, all used. 1000 meals, all savoured. The Jamat had responded to the announcement to participate. They declared: We are here.
Every member of the Jamat came dressed in white that evening, regardless of their age, gender, ability, or portfolio, whether they intended to participate or watch the show. Entire families came together to take part. Many visitors from overseas came to support the Jamat as they passed through the city on this day. There was a resounding message from the Jamat: We are one.
By 7:30pm, as requested, Jamati members from as young as 1 year to as old as 80 years started pouring into the main hall awaiting instructions. The kids anxiously anticipated the fireworks and the arrival of the Fanous. The Jamat had been asked for 45 minutes of their time, but because of the sheer number of participants, many had been standing for two hours. More than half of the participants were not able to see what was happening on stage. They could only feel the palpable energy passing through as the Fanous was ushered in. The Jamat confirmed: We are ready!
Only the team who orchestrated the event knew the formations that the Jamat was creating. Neither the spectators nor the participants had any idea what was being captured by the six video cameras and a drone strategically stationed at the venue. This night was nothing short of a spiritual experience. An experience that has been expressively captured by the Jamat in a video that is certain to touch the hearts of all fellow Ismailis around the world.
It was a journey that they embarked on together. And the magic of that night lives on. The energy was infectious and has been traveling throughout the country to centres big and small. Regardless of the size of the Jamat, they are making a statement. Everywhere the Fanous has reached, it has left behind a spark that is growing with each passing day. As the athletes push their limits and as the games draw nearer, the Jamat is making a statement: Tanzania is here. Tanzania is one. Tanzania is ready! And the journey continues.
Join in to this experience by viewing the Jamat’s video below. We look forward to seeing you follow along in our journey at Team Tanzania’s Facebook page [Hyperlink: https://www.facebook.com/JG2016TeamTanzania/]. Karibuni sana!