An Appeal to Sobriety – Part One

By Murtaza Somji,

(Nairobi, Kenya)

(Reposted from March 19th, 2010)

I begin in the name of the most glorified and the most sublime, the Absolute All- Mighty and the Infinite.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”          –        Martin Luther King Jr.

As the events unfold, I feel obliged to pen my thoughts as it has become obvious to many of us around the World that serving the Community is becoming more of an anathema rather than a blessing.  These thoughts have sprung about because of the torrid development(s) at World Federation level, the glimpses of which were recently noticed on the Africa Federation stage.  Gone are the days when there used to be respectful pride in serving the Community, when speaking against our brethren was considered the real ‘Ghibaat’ and when contentious issues were dealt with wisdom rather than them being laden with contest.  Morality seems banal, archaic and inadequate – totally overwhelmed by the profane egoism demonstrated by a cluster of men with experience in Community affairs.  The educated and the unlettered have taken center-stage in depicting Community Leaders as demonic and without agendas.    The pearly Qur’anic verses, despite repeated calls by the Creator to reflect and ponder over the contents therein, have been destined to the shelves of our book-cases.

I read with enthusiasm the report presented by Alhaj Ramzanbhai Nanji and observed the mammoth strides taken during his tenure in ensuring that the Federation becomes self-sufficient in its entirety.  The phenomenal increase in the number of students proceeding for higher education, the huge sum of funds on hand, the stream-lining of various Boards & the administrative portfolios, and much much more.  I saw the progress graph leap in linear and lateral direction with confidence.  I saw the cogs of governance churning through and around the inner sanctum of power.  I saw the administration taking soft and tough stances as and when required, depicting superb statesmanship and foresight.  An armchair analysis would undoubtedly infer an immaculate underlying micro-management – fully practiced, rehearsed and achieved by the person (or people) in control.    

As soon as the report was out, we started!!! No measuring instruments in hand, novice entrepreneurs, experience-less, we embarked on measuring up the person and his Office Bearers. We wrote derogatory remarks, passed judgements and castigated, perhaps even cursed the individuals.  Remarks and reviews started flying around, assumptions (the biggest and the worst vice of them all) gained momentum and started flourishing.  Suddenly the renowned became the hounded, inadequate to lead and absurd.  Gone were the niceties and the pleasantries.  Did the individual(s) change or was all this pent-up in our minds as we were laying verbal flowery pathways when they were in office.   

I now stand at a precipice of uncertainty.  Serving the Community has always been and still is my passion, yet the subtle but damning immaturities and the quest of  out-performing one against the other at the cost of vilifying the person, surface as a harsh reality before me.  I wish to pose some questions.  Why do such episodes happen in OUR Community?  Can we afford such disuniting traits?  Why have our tolerance levels depleted?  It is my firm belief that there are individuals who share these sentiments.  These individuals then decide not to venture into this great service for the fear of being hounded and castigated at a later stage.  They instead relegate themselves to the periphery which leaves a huge amount of untapped talent  in the Community.

Gentlemen, we need to dig deep and reflect. We cannot stagnate in the quagmire of plague and pestilence. We need to identify the  dissonance between reality and rhetoric and reach sound conclusions. We have to rise above the mediocre to that which is sublime. We need to introspect our values, our declining moral standards and the elasticity of our behaviour – and all this has to be done with missionary zeal.

So, where do we start??

About the author

Born in Tanga in 1959 in a humble family background, Alhaj Murtaza Somji studied at the Minto Ophthalmic Hospital in Bangalore, India to qualify as an Ophthalmic Optician. He then worked in Dubai as a senior optometrist for three years and finally settled in Kenya in 1989. He established his optical practice in Westlands –an upmarket suburb of Nairobi and has been operating as Eyestyle Opticians Limited since then.

Community service had been ingrained in his life from childhood as he regularly volunteered for Tanga Jamaat during his young age. After migrating to Nairobi and studying the Nairobi Jamaat dynamics, he assumed Governorship of the Golden Crescent Group in 1996. This led to bigger opportunities and he rose to the position of assistant Hon. Secretary of the Jamaat and then on to the post of the Hon. Secretary and finally served as the Chairman of SAAJ from 2004 to 2008. Prior to that he had taken up posts in the AF Sports Festival organizing committee, Africa Federation Education Board, Hon. Secretary - Nairobi Jaffery Education Board and more recently as a Board Member of a local NGO CHEPs. He has also had the honor of serving as the Hon. Trustee of Nairobi Jamaat, committee member of Housing Project Committee Nairobi and finally as the Chairman of the Nairobi Jaffery Education Board.

Murtaza Somji has also had the prestigious honor of serving the Ahlulbayt through his renditions of Manqabat, Naath and Merthiyas and continues to contribute to the general good of the Community at large.

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