Every so often you get a chance to be part of something big. Life changing may be a bit dramatic but most definitely a significant milestone. Tuesday night, for me was one such event. It was the Cape Town launch of the book “Saffron – A Collection of Narratives by Muslim Women” which took place at The Book Lounge in Roeland Street. The reason I am writing this post is because Dilshad, is one of 56 contributors whose essays about life as a Muslim Women have been compiled and edited by the author Dr Zahira Jina. She could have written this post in her sleep but no doubt would have deliberately and humbly glazed over her input in this rather special book.
So what’s all the fuss about you may ask. Well let me cross the gender boundary and give you the “guy version”. Saffron is the follow up book by Dr Jina who presented the world with “Riding the Samoosa Express” a few years ago. The book is a compilation of short personal and somewhat intimate stories of Muslim Women in South Africa and their journey through married life. The essays cover everything from cooking and the importance of food to in-laws, spousal relationships, and baby making. It is a critical look at everything we hold dear and addresses some of the preconceptions people have of Muslim women. It is the kind of open no holds barred discussion of topics you would have liked to have had with that special nurturing figure in your life before you got married.
The book launch followed closely on after an early morning SABC2 interview over the weekend. The Book Lounge was the ideal setting for this event and is one of those hidden gems in Cape Town. Wall to wall dark wood book shelves with ample lighting and a wonderful array of books lent the perfect ambiance. A small stage setup in front of large windows with Cape Town’s night traffic in the back ground was the focus with seating space for around 70 people. The place was filled to capacity and then some. The audience were in the store from an hour before and were treated to light snacks and a glass of Zari sparkling grape juice which was kindly sponsored by Zari and Cook Halaal, in the cosy basement section of the Lounge. Deen TV had set up to film the proceeding and the event opened with Carmen from the Book Lounge welcoming everyone and presenting a Bio of Dilshad the contributor and of Mushra Jacobs the interviewer and Event Director for the night. Mushra, a well-known figure in the media world, recipient of the Young Black Business Achiever Award and the founder of Modest Muse, a publication from Media 24 facilitated the discussion around the book for the night.
Mushra, filming the event for Deen TV. Look out for the show in the next few weeks.
Dilshad and Mushra walked the audience through some of the relevant topics covered in Saffron and followed this with a short reading each of their favourite essays in the book. A short question session ensued. For me it was interesting to see a varied demographic with more than expected male presence and a balance of Muslim and non-muslim guests. The interaction was positive and lively and the evening ended with a book signing.
The gorgeous Rushda Behardien from the blog Rube Reloaded.
We gave away some Zari too…
So here’s my male two cents for what it’s worth. Clearly us guys have it easy and I think half the time are clueless to the complexity of our lives and in particular what our partners bear in our marriage. I felt proud that these contributors had the courage to go public and that my wife had a part to play in this and I hope that young women, like my nieces and their generation will read these stories and it will better prepare them for what life will throw at them. For me the real cherry on top was when later that night a WhatsApp message from someone close confided that she would have her sons read the book and hopefully prepare them for how they will eventually impact that special person they bring in to their lives.
Amazing friends and support.
(Could not do this without you Z.)
Let’s hope there is more communication and listening in their relationships and that they pass on this torch to future generations so that what started out here on this rainy evening in Cape Town may reverberate through time.
By Zulfikar Umar