On Eid Mubarak today my family and I want to extend our very warm wishes to all those observing this auspicious occasion. I have a selected a special song for all my comrades, friends and family members. This song in the Tamil language has really raised goose pimples in me.
Where I grew up in the little village of Ottawa on the North Coast there were a number of Muslim families who we considered to be part of our extended families. They included the Latiff, Hans, Dhooma, Bob Khan, Sayed and Ebrahim Khan families. One of the oldest residents, Ismail Hans, who was born in Ottawa and spent his entire life in the village, passed on only recently at the age of 87.
On Eid and other religious festival days, we all celebrated and enjoyed the delicious food together. There was no rigidity like we have in some circles today.
While most of the Muslim families in Ottawa and the rest of the country had their roots in north India, especially Gujerat and Madhya Pradesh, at least one Muslim family in our village had their roots in Tamil Nadu.
Of course, the most well-known and charitable Muslim family in Durban, Mr M L Sultan, also had their roots in the south. The M L Sultan Technical College was not only initiated by Mr Sultan but also built largely from a generous donation made by his family.
Most of the Muslim families from the south integrated with mainly Urdu-speaking people in KwaZulu-Natal after their ancestors completed their grimmit on the sugar estates.
The early days really makes one emotional. One hopes that we could return to the days when we all lived like “one big family”.