A brief nap after Fajr and I awake to a most sweet sound. In the Palm Cafe outside, one of the workers is busy removing litter from the picnic tables, while audibly humming to himself the most beautiful saluations upon Mohammed SAW. ‘Sallalahu ala Muhammad, Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam,’ over and over again he recites. In his simplicity and gentle gait, there is certainly an exemplary contentment of heart.
Moulana Igsaan confirms to me that departure for Gaza would be early tomorrow morning. The demanding schedule of appointments in Gaza as outlined to me, will certainly afford participants a rich insight into all dimensions of this society.
I also inbox a Gazan to enquire about the availability of mobile connections in Gaza. She assures me that there is nothing to worry about and reiterated how eagerly they are waiting for the Convoy.
I make it a priority to make a stop at the room of Sheikh Abdul Gamiet Gabier for his reflections on the journey thus far. He has a special attachment to Egypt and it was here that he spent the prime of his youth and gained the bedrock of his education. When he says that he began his studies at Al Azhar in 1948, I just know that this is no ordinary story.
He has not been to Gaza before, but did visit refugee camps in Khan Yunus in 1957 whilst he still was a student. Now all these years later, he is back at a most exciting and uncertain time for the region. Egypt has embarked on an ambitious new journey and he finds this extremely gratifying. He does warn though of the sweetness of freedom, to which I add-Freedom is sweet, but without utilising it wisely it could give you diabetes!
Entering Gaza with the Convoy will be a major milestone for him and he again uses the opportunity to express his desire to enter a liberated al Quds-even if it be on a wheelchair.
Excitement of the imminent departure appears to be settling in. There are many lengthy calls back to South Africa reassuring family members that all is well and wishing them a joyous Eid. Many even give instructions to their spouses or children on how to distribute Eidie or gifts on Eid day.
On a stroll outside the hotel, a local Egyptian, Abdullah, takes me for a stroll through his Natural Oil enterprise. From flower farms to manufacturing the essence and distributing it worldwide, this business is deeply rooted in tradition and dates back centuries.
A dipping orange sun, with a backdrop of the ancient pyramids is symbolic that our stay in Egypt is nearing it end. The great people of this promising nation have hosted us well. Now we need to convey the same warmth to our hosts in Gaza.
Our legendary taxi driver, Ismail, had promised to pay us a visit prior to departure. And at 11pm he is waiting outside with a special gift. He hands over two large Papyrus rolls printed with Surah Ikhlaas and Surah Falaq. He hugs me tightly and asks me to promise that I’ll keep in touch. He has to go but not without first reminding me: ‘Don’t forget, you’ll always have a father in Egypt.”