By Anees Teladia
A Capetonian family has undertaken an exciting journey recently, travelling across Africa by car, with the niyaat (intention) to perform their Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage). Marwaan Jabaar, his wife and two children, left Cape Town on 13 June and have just recently arrived in Jordan. The journey has been a long but fruitful one, successfully debunking many myths about the African continent for the family.
“The intention was initially to drive across most of East Africa, with the objective of getting as close as possible to the Baitullah (Kaaba / House of God) in order to apply for a Hajj Visa directly from the Saudi Arabian border,” Jabaar told VOC.
“That, of course, was dependent on whether Allah opens the Baitullah for us or not…and as you know, despite all the plans we make, Allah’s plans are greater.”
Jabaar explained that much of the trip was also done with the intention of exposing the family to the diversity in Africa, contributing to their holistic growth and understanding of the world.
“Part of our niyaat was to spend more quality time with our two younger children. Our aim was to expose them to African culture and languages and to introduce them to diverse people.”
“When we left Cape Town, there was this cloud of negativity about Africa. Everybody feared for our safety…” said Jabaar.
“One of the highlights of this trip was the demystification of Africa. My wife found Africa to be the complete opposite of what she expected…people were helpful, humble, honourable and welcoming. The people are poor, but they all try to make an honourable living.”
The family has now moved through countries including Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. From Kenya, they took a flight to Jordan where they are currently based.
Jabaar found the experience amusing in a sense, considering the extensive preparation his entire family went through.
Anticipating a lack of food and petrol, the family stocked up on these supplies – only to find there to be no shortage of either.
“I often feared the petrol factor. I bought five jerry cans and the petrol is still inside those cans. There’s no need to use them – there are petrol stations all over. As for food – we packed in thousands of Rands of food, but there’s no need – there’s so much!”
While the African experience was refreshing, Jabaar admitted that navigating through Zambia proved to be particularly difficult.
“Zambia was horrific. Many times, I thought the car would leave the road because of the conditions of the roads. On the road through Zambia, toward Tanzania, the tracks on the road from overloaded trucks were cast into the tar. If a truck managed to move off the road you could just follow it [because of the dents]. Whoever tries this journey should rather go through Zimbabwe.”
Jabaar also had advice for struggling Capetonian youth wanting to explore the world and build their lives.
“To the South African youth out there: don’t give up hope. We must look beyond our borders for opportunities. We have to look beyond the limited job opportunities available in Cape Town and look toward the bigger African continent.”