Maryam Mkwanda | 26 April 2019
The crowd was abuzz as they joined Soweto-based nasheed group, Ubuntu Islam during their performance at the first annual South African Black Muslim Conference (SABMC) gala dinner.“Allah uzos’ nik’ i-Jannah” translating to “Allah will give us Jannah”, was the song that got people on their feet at the inaugural event which took place on the 19th to the 21st April 2019 at the Palm Continental Hotel in Mayfair Johannesburg.
The panel of speakers included Alims (Islamic scholars), professors, doctors, lawyers, researchers and more. The conference motto was: “Shaping Mzansi Muslim discourse” and saw delegates from all corners of the country attending the auspicious event. Among the invited guests were representatives and Presidents of the Muslim Judicial Council, the United Ulema Council of South Africa, Awqaf SA, SANZAF, the MEC for Transport in Gauteng, Ismaill Vadi and Sheikh Salim Banda of World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY).
Giving a background about the need for the conference, Chairman of MLR Group of companies, Aslam Tawana said: “The SABMC is not something that started four months back. It had been a dream. We were looking for ways to bring together Islam from townships and rural areas. The aim was to discuss black African Muslim experience and to ensure that the message is spread throughout the country.”
The event raised eyebrows and caused quite a stir as some people suggested that it was racist and divisive. Justifying the reasons for such a conference, one of the speakers Thandile Kona said: “The affairs of the Muslim community is that it should be held by the Muslim community as a collective and not by a specific race group. We are not dividing the Ummah, but we’re fixing the house.” Meanwhile, Dr. Taheer Sitoto said that delegates should not waste time and energy justifying why they attended the conference.
As a personal reflection as a journalist and presenter of the Maryam Mkwanda show on Salaamedia and An Nur The Light, I was there to capture the moments, share the laughter, tears and joys of all those present. This conference had to happen. It was just a matter of time, but I am glad it happened. I’m mostly glad that it was fully funded by the black Muslim communities which shows that it can be done. The talks and discussions were necessary and it all resonated with what we’re going through as black Muslims.
Now that the conference is over, the real work begins and as Mamohale Fatima-Zahra Moloi said: “It is time to rewrite our history as it ought to be written.”