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Seyada Bee
http://www.caribbeanmuslims.com/articles/1156/1/Seyada-Bee/Page1.html
Mohamed Shyam Mirza

 
By Mohamed Shyam Mirza
Published on 07/15/2009
 
On Sunday, 5th July 2009 the Kamall – Mirza Family held a Reunion at the International Muslims Organization Centre in Toronto, Canada. The feature address presented here was delivered by her grandson Mohamed Shyam Mirza.  The speech writer lovingly pays tribute to Seyada Bee while painting a portrait of her struggles in the context her of time.  May Allah SWT bless her and all her progeny.

Sayeda Bee - Her story
“Bismillah hir Rahman nir Raheem.”

Glory be to Thee, O Allah,
And Thine is the Praise,
And blessed is Thy Name,
And exalted is Thy Majesty,
And none is worthy of worship Besides Thee.

Honored Guests, respected Elders, Brothers & Sisters, Friends & Well wishers.

AsSalaam AlaikumNamaste;  Good afternoon.

What I stand before you to talk about will define: (1) who we are; (2) who are here; and (3) what we are up to. But let me start out with a poetic quote:

Do you see the seed you sow! Who is the Grower of the plant?
Do you see the spark you kindle! Who is the Producer of the fire?
Do you see the water you drink! Who is the Provider of the rain?
Do you see the air you breathe! Who is the Filterer of the wind?
Do you see the sperm drop you emit!  Who is the Creator of the life?
Behold the flowers of the field, how they grow! They toil not nor do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If God so care for the lilies of the valley how much would He not love you, O ye of little faith!

Today is the 5th of July.  Significantly, it’s Independence weekend here in Canada as well as in the U. S. A.  What a wonderful day, today is! A "sun"ny, "sun"shine, "Sun"day.  Even nature is exhibiting its full splendor, granting us this glorious afternoon for our celebration.  Take it as God’s contribution, free of cost, to our Family Reunion. For His generosity, let’s give "Him" praise and glory, and let "us" rejoice for being alive and present in this company, a sanctuary where we can delight at ease, in comfort.

In this Assembly, only a handful, very few, are our guests.  Besides them, each and everyone else is a shareholder. And every shareholder is here to receive and enjoy a share of dividend. Receive and enjoy, and when you go home share your bonus with those whom you represent, those who have rights equally, but are absent.

Allah could not have afforded us a better "day", "a better time,"  nor a better "place" for the hosting of the “Kamall – Mirza Reunion 2009 in association with the Khan Family and Leguan Special Friends.  The celebration of today’s occasion happens to be the 1st ever such event in an existence spanning 100 years in time and six generations in outcome. Today is, therefore, a historic day in time and in memory for you and me as well as for those whom we represent in their absence.

The family 100th year relationship bond is dated back to the 2nd Sunday, to be exact, the 17th January, 1909.  This is the date when grandma Seyada Bee was married to grandpa Wali Beig Mirza.  Grandma was a widow with five children for her deceased husband Papa Mohamed Kamall.  Their eldest girl was Hassiban (Bubu) Habib; then their two sons Kassim Kamall and Abbass Kamall; plus their two younger daughters, Kassidan (Afrose) Baksh and Bibi Jaitoon Bakridan.

By grandpa Mirza, grandma got another daughter Nasibun (Sibbi) Ali; God then blessed her with twin sons, Ahmad Mirza and Shamad Mirza.  Their call names by which you know them are John and Sam. And finally, her last daughter Zabida (Rosa) Jabbar was born.  A total of nine children, four boys and five girls.  From her nine children, grandma Seyada Bee got 99 grandchildren.  An average of 11 children per child! Extraordinary in terms of today’s culture. Grandma and the two grandpas died and thus passed away the 1st generation.  All 9 children and their spouses also passed away except Cha Chee Halima.  At age 92, she is the sole survivor of the 2nd generation. What a pleasant joy for her to be present among us in this company.  Cha Chee, can you stand up so that you can be seen?  From 9 to 99, the count is lost. A random reckoning is totaling 999.

Whatever that number is, and whoever is represented by it, and wherever in the world we live, we are the offspring, all of us, of one woman. Grandma Seyada Bee. She is our Eve. Bibi Howa.  Was she from Garden of Eden? No!!  Grandma was a native of  Calcutta, India.  Back in the days of British Rule, British Raj, when "Rule Britania, Britania ruled the waves’", the then world super power, grandma, a 15 years’ old girl with her two sisters were abducted, snatched away from their parents by British Colonists trafficking in human beings, tricked into believing that they were being taken to the newly found South American world where honey and milk, satin and silk abound.

Instead they were bounded animal like fashion aboard the "The Bruce”, (picture is an example of a similar ship to The Bruce)  and shipped as cattle  cargo to British Guiana to work as indentured laborers on sugar plantations of white owners. Her two sisters, unable to bear the shame, deceit, humiliation, tortures and suffering succumbed. When they died, their bodies were dumped overboard. Grandma endured her hardships. In Guiana, she labored on plantation after plantation and she survived.

Eventually, when her years of indentureship, what they called ‘bound piece’,  her servitude expired, she was released. Released like a prisoner let loose. She was kicked off the estate on which she was serving penniless, a destitute, no food, no shelter, no family, no friend, no sympathizer. . Grandma, nevertheless gave praise and thanks to the Almighty for her deliverance, for breathing the free air of liberty once again never mind the uncertain fate that loomed awaiting her ahead.  After destinations, hither/thither, to and fro, at age 23 she ended up on the island of Leguan (one of the 365 Islands in the Essequibo River, Guyana).  And from here, at this point in her life, the story of Seyada Bee became known and can be accurately accounted for.

It was then in time, Papa Mohamed Kamall,of old, a Kashmeri Afghan Pathan who was living at Louisiana Village, Leguan  who was tracing her whereabouts for years, found her, and before long married her. That was in the year 1892.  Grandpa Kamall then bought Plantation Amsterdam, an abandoned sugar estate of 500 acres of land that was once under Dutch ownership.  And there the new family settled; our homeland.

A word about Amsterdam Estate.  The grandeur and beauty of Amsterdam, its landscape, its beaches, its fertile sand/clay reefs and its cultivation soil richness can be judged by how highly the Dutch prized this patch of land when they were the owners that they named it after Holland’s capital city Amsterdam!

As their livelihood prospered, the Kamall family became prominent citizen of Leguan, ranking with the other island Muslim elites, the Bagh Khan, Abdool Rayman Khan, Bhoora Jaan Khan and Tees Khan. And that fellowship accounts for how a masjid was built at Success, another at Maryville, one at Enterprise and the last at Amsterdam for around these muslim  estate owners were drawn muslim settlers who began populating the island of Leguan. For 100 years, these 4 masjids are still there and none else built.

Prosperity can be like a visitor to some. To bid you ‘hi’ and ‘bye’. ‘Welcome’! and ‘Goodbye’. And that, unfortunately was the story that befell the Kamall family. Grandma was the one who got the worst hit. Tragedy struck.  Grandpa Kamall suffered a sudden heart attack. He was rushed to Public Hospital, Georgetown, and while in there, within days, he died. His remains  lie buried in Georgetown Le Repentier cemetery.

That was in 1907. He was 57 years old. Owner of Amsterdam for less than 5 years. Grandma was left a widow, with 2 boys Kassim and Abbass; 2 girls Bubu and Afrose. And large in pregnancy with Auntie Jaitoon. With an estate to manage heavily mortgaged, a grocery shop, workers, cattle and cultivation crops.  She was 37 years old at the time.  Imagine her plight!

And this is the story of how, in point of time, grandpa Mirza Wali Beig became involved in her life and thus created the union of two families by fatherhood and one by motherhood – Kamall/Mirza.

One hundred years ago, to date, that was in the year 1909, grandma Seyada Bee got married for a second time. To Wali Beig Mirza. (Show the clipping of B.G. Sunday Chronicle) Grandpa Mirza was a traveling businessman from today’s diamond mining city of Surat, in Gujrat, India. He was a wholesale merchant operating at 13 A Water Street, Georgetown where later in time Abdool Majeed & Sons operated and made famous their name. Mirza’s marriage to Seyada was only a ‘nikka’ relationship. He was already a married man with his wife and children back home in Bombay, he sojourning temporarily in British Guiana. Today, members of his Indian side family have joined us.  I’ll ask a few to stand so you can say ‘hello’ to them.

The relationship of grandma and grandpa Mirza lasted for under 5 years. 1909 to 1914. Then he bid farewell and departed. Grandma got 3 kids by him. Auntie Sibbi Ali and the twins John Mirza and Sam Mirza. She was yet pregnant with the twins when he left. They, lifelong, did not see their Dad, nor did he ever set eyes on them.  (I did, Sam was my dad, he hugged, kissed and played me). Grandma was 43 years when Mirza of old said ‘goodbye’ to Guiana and his Guiana family with promises to return one day but never did.  Grandma lived on from her 43 years then, onward to 72 years, when in 1943 she died. A widow again for 30 years to the end of her days.

Today is the 100th year of the Kamall – Mirza unionship. February 1909 to now July 2009.  Our celebration is to mark the centenary. A family relationship span of 36,525 days of growth, achievement and prosperity. Today’s occasion, call it silver or golden jubilee, diamond or platinum, whatever, but consider it a privilege to be a participant of today’s fellowship.

To the Kamall and Mirza brethren, today’s forum affords you the chance to pause and look back at your past, your history, your heritage and as well to look around and take account of who and who make up the family into which you belong, you only a fraction of the whole.

Do you know what was the batch number of your grandma Seyada Bee aboard "The Bruce"?  Her indentureship steamship number was 2060. And her inmate number was 41. Together her I.D. was 206041. Think not of 206041 as a birth mark scar! It was a man made label band strapped around her arm akin to how slaves were branded by their masters and how animals are branded by their owners.

All of us who are the offspring of grandma Seyada Bee bear the insult of that D.N.A. imprint which colonialist masters stigmatized her. But like her, all of us were created by the power of Almighty Allah and made in His Image. This world is God’s world and the life of every human – the most precious property of its Creator – is watched over by Him  and He takes into account every act that afflicts or transgresses the rights of His creation. May your soul rest in peace grandma. As we join hearts to salute you today, whether it can be seen, heard or known, we are the reflection of your presence and  evidence of the fruits of the tree you planted in your lifetime here on earth.

Participating with us here today are (a) the Khan family and (b) our Leguan Special Friends.  You are an integral part of the Kamall – Mirza dynasty from days gone by and now more inseperable.  And what a joy for all of us to be beneath one roof after all. My mother Betty is the last daughter in the Khan’s family. Her marriage to my father Sam is the link that unites Khan and Mirza.  I am Kamall by my grandma. I am Mirza by my grandpa; I am Khan by my mother and I am Leguan by my place of birth. The four groupings that make up this assembly..

To all the brothers and sisters who make up the fraternity of our Leguan friends by neighborhood, here with us today, we interpret your presence as testimony of your ‘love’ for us as is our ‘love’ for you.  Jesus on whom be peace added to God’s Ten Commandments the precept: “Love thy neighbor as thyself’.  When our family members began migrating abroad, you were the people who stood up to our support and protection.  At school, at work, at play, at wedding, at funeral, at local festivals; you were with whom we lived and dwelt.  Your faces we saw when day breaks and sun sets.

I want our children to see and meet in person the people who help shaped our character, outlook and vision, who were with us in joy and in sorrow, in good times and in bad times and who up to today are still there for us.

Please enjoy with us the celebration of today.

Leguan Law Enforcement in our days was just one rural constable for four neighborhoods.  Served as such for Canefield, Amsterdam, Endeavour, and Blenheim was firstly Gershan Beete, after him was John Dublin, then Eric Brooms – Bob Sankar’s next door neighbor. They were not paid. They were just given a Baton and a Cap denoting their authority.

On this note I close off, wishing to emphasize the point, that from the beginning of time, it was not policing but the ethics of society based on culture were the elements that have disciplined us into being law abiding citizens, yet standing up for our rights, nevertheless respecting as well the rights others have over us.

And so wherever in the globe Leguan people and their children happen to be, at school, at work, at play, at home, they are proving themselves worthy, because they live by the precept of : not what the world can do for me, but what I can do for the world.

On this basis, those of you who have been singled out for appreciation and recognition, your merit was determined.

In the 100 years span, 1909 to 2009, imagine the folks who make up the four units of today’s forum?  We number into thousands! Thus you who qualify for an award, you are one in a thousand! Let me say this:

A University’s credential certifies a man’s ability
Agency or Academy verifies his capability
Corporation testifies to his reliability
Financial Bank quantifies his credit ability

But you know what?  Real honor and glory of a man is when families of your home, neighbors from your place of origin, those among whom you belong, those who love you, those who care for you, those whose interest you are, those who watch with longing, anxiety and hope over your doings; when they congratulate you, when they salute you when they honor you, that is honor indeed.  That is when God Himself recognizes  that you are no longer a li ability. You are an asset ability to society.

May Allah bless all of you! And may His blessings be on today’s Family Reunion 2009.

Khoda Hafiz;  Was Salaam