The 28th of May 2011 will be remembered as a memorable day in the history of Pan-African Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK when 120 members including men, women and children from London and the Midlands met at the holiday resort of Whitwell, Oakham, in the county of Leicestershire for a picnic. Agenda on the day included boat-riding, barbeque, refreshment with African dishes, congregational prayer and address by distinguished members of PAAMA UK.
The journey from London started at Baitul Futuh at 10:00 am, one and a half hours behind schedule, however the mood was good and the weather was fine. The women and girls travelled in a separate coach as did the men and boys.
Soon after leaving the mosque the women’s coach went rocking with chorus of Laa ilaaha illallah. With one song after the other and in different languages the women tirelessly sang continuously in praise of Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophet (saw) and reaffirming that the Messiah and Mahdi has come. The men’s coach was not as lively as that of the women. Inspired by the women they too began to sing but after a couple of songs some fell asleep and others started talking about football.
On arrival at the Whitwell harbour the brothers and sisters from the Midlands and others who had travelled by car from London were already there to welcome the others. The traditional greeting of embracing each other was being displayed, there were smiling faces everywhere. The spirit of brother and sisterhood could really be felt.
The boat-riding was fun especially for our young ones. As the riders came back various African dishes that had been prepared by the ladies had already been placed on tables for people to enjoy.
Along the shore of the lake were open spaces covered with grass where the members sat to enjoy their meals in the comfort of sunshine and breeze. It also provided space for the children to play around.
To the relief of the organisers, the weather on the day was dry and sunny and very conducive for the occasion. Mr Ahmed Kwakye made sure that everyone had a good portion of the well spiced, tasty lamb barbeque. Different types of drinks were also in abundance.
After the party Hafiz Sulayman Dawodu led the combined Zuhr and Asr prayers. The prayers were followed with addresses by the Chairman, the vice chairman and Mr Toban Ephram from the Midlands. The Chairman, Mr Issah Wemah, thanked the congregation which comprised all the ethnic desks for sacrificing their time and resources to help make the event a success. He particularly thanked the women for the dishes. Hafiz Sulayman, the Vice Chairman advised members to try to compete with those who are working very hard in the cause of PAAMA UK. Mr Toban Ephram focussed his speech on the importance of unity among fellow brothers and sisters. After the inspirational addresses and silent prayers the groups bade farewell to each other before departing to their various destinations.
A short event it was but nevertheless it was enjoyable. It served to relieve the pressures of work, exams, the hustle and bustle of city life at least for a day as well as providing a platform for unity among participants.