Unlike in the past events, Muslim cabinet ministers were conspicuously absent during the official opening of the 2012 Ijitima on Friday, October 5.
Former President of the republic of Tanzania Al-hajj Hassan Ali Mwinyi officially opened the event, which ends of Sunday, October 7.
Malawi has five Muslims who are cabinet ministers in the current administration namely, Honourable Sidik Mia (Transport and Public Infrastructure), Honourable Atupele Muluzi (Economic Planning and Development), Honourable Dr Cassim Chilumpha (Energy and Mining) and Ibrahim Matola (Deputy Minister -Environment Management).
Apart from these prominent figures, Muslim legislators were nowhere to be seen at the auspicious event apart from Yusuf Matumula.
The unavailability of these high profile figures has raised eyebrows since they have been attending the function in the recent past. It is rare to see some of them missing in important religious events like this one.
But speaking in a telephone interview Deputy Minister of Environmental Management Honourable Ibrahim Matola said he was not officially invited to attend the opening function.
“I just heard on Radio that the event is today (Friday) but the committee never invited me to attend. They only asked me to contribute towards the event,” he said.
Matola nevertheless said he will attend the function tomorrow (Saturday).
Another surprisng thing at this year’s ijtmah is the presence of women at the function which is supposed to be for men only. But Director of Protocol Wilfred Ali said this is so because the vistors from Tanzania came with their wives so it left them with no option but to let women attend.
“Yes, it is supposed to be for men only but with the situation now we dont have any option. In fact, we have invited our sisters here in Malawi also to come and join their friends from Tanzania. But this is only on opening and closing of the event,” he told journalists in Blantyre yesterday.
However, despite the committee’s calling for more Malawian women to come and attend the function, the turn up was low – leaving the visitors swimming in the ocean of loneliness, yes, having nobody to share their experiences with.
The three-day event which is taking place at Kamuzu Stadium continues tomorrow with sermons by different renowned sheikhs in Malawi as well as Tanzania.
Some of the notable Muslims who attended the official opening today include Sheikh Dinala Chabulika, Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad, William Mpanda, Sheikh Dr Imran Shareef, Sheikh Dr Salmin Omar, Sheikh Muhammad Uthman and among others.
Reporting by Ali Blessings Idi and Marshall Dyton at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre