Thursday, June 4, 2009

484)"MAKING THE CONNECTION": South African Family And Friends Reunion Set To Rock Toronto's The Old Mill Restaurant June 7 2009; + Post-Reunion Update

On Facebook there is a group with the title "I AM A KESHAVJEE AND MY FAMILY IS SOO BIG I DON'T KNOW HALF OF THEM!!" I must admit at first I thought this title to be long-winded and unwieldy but I stopped feeling that way a long time ago. I think the creator of the group, Nabila Kanji(aka Nabila Cullen Khan Kanji on Facebook) was spot on when she conceived that name for this group. This weekend(June 6th and 7th 2009) at least 420 Keshavjees and other families and friends will be gathering to schmooze and break bread at Toronto's classy 'The Old Mill' Restaurant and to celebrate their first reunion in the new millenium. Previous reunions have taken place in 1995, 1992 and 1980, all also at latitude 79.23 and longitude 43.39 in the fabulous city of Toronto, Canada.

The organizer of this event, Murad Velshi, in e-mail announcement number 9 sent to the participants, maintains that "since my very first email in October 2008 announcing the Reunion, I have sent and received over 5000 emails." The theme for this year's get together is "MAKING THE CONNECTION". I bet he continues to juggle things around trying to accomodate last-minute applicants who thought they might be able to buy tickets at the door. A more informal luncheon gathering has also been planned for the day before the main event at the now gargantuan 'Lahore Tikka House' on Toronto's illustrious Gerrard Street, a restaurant my brothers and I often go to and where one can have a delectable full meal at 1 o'clock in the morning served to you by very friendly and personable attendants less than 5 minutes after placing the order.

Another reason this new millenium reunion is special is explained as follows by Murad Velshi:

"Mohamed Keshavjee is writing a book on our family settlement in South Africa - from our emigration from India at the turn of the 19th century to the present. Tremendous research has gone into his yet to be published book which includes much about this settlement that many of us are not aware of. This will be the first major work on this subject since the ‘Aga Khan and Africa’ was published in 1946.

Mohamed has agreed to be the guest speaker and give us a sneak preview of his book. In his address Mohamed will navigate through the maze of long established and common ancestry connections the South African Ismailis have with families in Mozambique, Madagascar, East Africa, Pakistan, India and now internationally.

Mohamed will further enlighten us on the vital roles played by prominent families of all races in the Pretoria area during the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa including that played by Mahatma Gandhi, Mandela and some Ismailis.

The Ismaili settlement in South Africa spans seven generations over 112 years from the first landing in South Africa."

Another special treat for ticketholders to this event will be a free autographed copy of the event moderator Ali Velshi's new book "Gimme My Money Back". Ali Velshi, CNN's Chief Business Correspondent, was spotted signing his book for buyers at the Indigo store at Bay and Bloor a few days ago.

On the Facebook group "I AM A KESHAVJEE AND MY FAMILY IS SOO BIG I DON'T KNOW HALF OF THEM" its creator Nabila Kanji summed it all up nicely in an APB sent to members of the group:

"Hey everyone,

Hope everyone is doing well:) For all you attending the reunion, excited to see you and meet some of you in person for maybe the first time.

I just wanted to remind everyone to bring a business/contact card to make it easy to exchange contact information with others. Also, remember to have a few words ready in case you are asked to say something in the video. Dont forget to bring your smiles and cameras!:)

P.S - Please come introduce yourselves to me! I am looking forward to meeting all of you:) Take care."

And Yasmin Hudson, representing those not able to make it to the reunion, had this warm message to convey:

"My family and I won't be at the reunion but I do hope everybody has a great time connecting and reconnecting. Please keep us posted on how it went, developments re. family tree, book, etc. And yes, please post pictures and video! Give my love to anybody anybody meets!!
Yasmin Hudson, daughter of the late Noor Keshavjee."

I hope it is a memorable reunion for everybody. Certainly Mohamed Keshavjee's book, no doubt well-researched, scholarly and a 35-year labour of love, will further ground us in our family heritage and will be a source of pride going forward for generations to come. Two other magnificent accounts of the experiences of Ismailis in South Africa also deserve mention and I highlighted them in a Blogpost I wrote on October 5th 2008. One is written by Mahomed(Mamdoo) Ally Keshavjee(entitled "Languages in the Location") who gives us a brilliant and haunting snapshot of how people of multiple cultures and ethnicities lived together and thrived in a very small and cramped area of Pretoria, South Africa during the 20th century. The other is written by Lella Umedaly(entitled "My Life: The Keshavjee-Umedaly Family Story") who gives us a gripping and heartwarming story of the branch of the Keshavjee family she is descended from:


"MAKING THE CONNECTION had 440 people attending from 14 countries. The attendees consisted of many families , not just the Keshavjees. The event took place on Sunday June 9th 2009 at The Old Mill in Toronto.

The guest speaker Mohamed Keshavjee, Phd, has been researching for his book for about 35 years and this book ‘INTO THE FREEDOM OF HEAVEN’ will be published by July 2010.

Another major reunion of this group is being planned for next summer in Algarve, Portugal at which time Mohamed Keshavjee will be available to autograph his book.

This reunion in Algarve will be over 7 days in the form of a package tour from North America. I expect family and friends from all over the wold to be attending.

All those on my email list will be informed of this soon."

Murad Velshi
former MPP
Ontario, Canada

Index links:

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The Holy Qu'ran's encouragement to study nature and the physical world around us gave the original impetus to scientific enquiry among Muslims: Aga Khan IV(1985)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)