By Sultan Jessa
Editor’s Note: Retired journalist Sultan Jessa, originally from Arusha, is a regular contributor to Ismailimail.
CALGARY: Alberta – It was a reunion that will be remembered for many years to come and extremely hard to match.
I say this from experience having been heavily involved with the initial planning and staging the first full scale Arusha Ismaili Reunion held in the Toronto area in 2006.
Organizers of the three-day Calgary event which started July 29 went out of their way to make their event an amazing success.
And now there is already some talk the next event, whenever that is, be held in Arusha, Northern Tanzania’s rapidly mushrooming expanding tourist Mecca.
More than 350 people, some from as far afield as Tanzania, Kenya and around Europe, attended the reunion to keep the Arusha spirit alive.
Nurdeen Gillani thanked the committee for an “incredible and outstanding efforts of the whole team.”
“It was surely worth travelling all the way from Tanzania for an amazing weekend,” added Karim Jamal.
He suggested the next reunion be held in Arusha.
Zulekha Ahmed said it was a fantastic threeday journey.
“It was heartwarming to connect with Arushawallas after 40 and 50 years.”
Immi Hirani and Abdul Ebrahim Janmohamed agreed the reunion was an unforgettable event.
The reunion started with the welcome reception and buffet dinner at the Coast Plaza Hotel.
This was followed by a barbeque picnic at the Priddis Community Centre where there were outdoor and indoor which included old and favorite games, music and entertainment.
On the final day, a brunch and music party was hosted by Gulzar and Afzal Rajan at the Holiday Inn in red Deer.
This was in memory of Sakina and Gulamhussein Rajan of Continental Hotel in Arusha.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, whose parents once lived in Arusha before migrating to Canada in the early 1970s, was the guest speaker at the gala banquet also held at the Coast Plaza.
The buffet dinner was followed by live band and dancing.
The highlight of the evening was an impromptu performance by Sameer Dewji who played the role of Shamshu Mollel, a Masai warrior, dressed in the traditional garb and carrying a spear.
He came all the way from Dubai bringing with him a gold medal his team won in soccer at the Ismaili Jubilee Games in Dubai.
Towards the end of the banquet congratulatory messages received from Canada’s GovernorGeneral David Johnston, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alberta’s Premier Rachel Notley, Opposition Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, Thomas Mulcair, leader of the national New Democratic Party and even a message from Tanzania’s President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli were read.