African Safari

Dandiya Raas In Kenya!

ost people would be surprised to hear of dandiya raas being staged in Kenya, and that too, after the Navratri season. This dandiya raas was held on 11 December, 2004, and was attended by a 3,000-strong crowd. Who were they? Hold your breath…these were Ismaili Muslims celebrating the 68th birth anniversary of their spiritual leader — His Holiness the Aga Khan.

Although the Aga Khan’s birthday falls on 13 December, traditionally, it is celebrated on the weekend that’s closest to this date. When invited for the function by my Ismaili friends, I expected some troupe to perform the dandiya on stage. To my absolute amazement, the function was held in exactly the same manner as it is in India during Navratri. People danced to Gujarati folk songs as well as to old, new and remixed Hindi film numbers.

The function, which was the result of generous contributions by the Ismailis, started with a buffet at 8.15 p.m., followed by dandiya raas. It was a treat to watch children, youngsters and the elderly dancing gracefully to the popular beats.

On 13 December (the actual day of celebration), the Ismailis congregated in the mosque for prayers. I felt a tinge of pride that the celebration of our culture was not restricted within the territorial boundaries of our country nor was it confined to any particular religion or community.


At The Nodal Point

Fredrick Correa, Senior Market Manager, Godrej, Kenya, has a haircut in the office of M/s. Foundries & Agricultural Machinery (Ghana) Ltd.

n 15 December, 2004, I had the privilege of visiting Accra, Ghana, to explore business possibilities for Godrej products. My contact in Ghana was Kamal Ram, Managing Director of M/s. Foundries & Agricultural Machinery (Ghana) Ltd., a prospective dealer for our various products. The first day of my four-day visit was particularly hectic because I had to work for three extra hours, Ghana being five hours behind Indian time and three hours behind Kenyan time. Along with Kamal, I made presentations about our Security Equipment products, Furniture and Interiors Group products, locks, Storage Solutions Group products and Material Handling Equipment. There was considerable interest in our Security Equipment products, locks and forklifts. The orders will follow in due course.

While scouting for a dealer for the Furniture and Interiors Group, we were surprised to find Godrej filing cabinets with M/s. Kingdom Books and Stationery Ltd. On enquiring, we were told that they got these via our Dubai office!

I am grateful to Kamal, his wife Maina, and their staff for extending their fullest cooperation during this business trip. In fact Kamal even arranged for a barber to cut my hair in his office! I also appreciate the role played by Dr. Kofi Agyukumheni, Adviser to the President of Ghana, who accompanied us to visit prospective customers of Security Equipment products and Furniture and Interiors Group products. We certainly have a bright future for our products here, as Ghana is the nodal point for neighbouring countries in West Africa.

Fredrick Correa
Godrej, Kenya

Fredrick Correa checks the weight of the porridge in Accra, Ghana. Standing with him is the porridge vendor.


Ghana Highlights

ormed by the merger of the British colony of Gold Coast and the Togoland Trust territory, Ghana, in 1957, became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain independence. A series of coups resulted in the suspension of the Constitution in 1981 and the banning of political parties. A new Constitution restoring multiparty politics was approved in 1992.

Ghana is located in Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo. The climate here is tropical; warm and comparatively dry along the south-east coast; hot and humid in the south-west; and hot and dry in the north. Natural resources such as gold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber and hydropower are found here. Ghana is also well known for its Lake Volta, the world’s largest artificial lake.

The population of Ghana is 20,757,032 (as per the July 2004 estimate). Africans form the major ethnic group here, with the Akan, the Moshi-Dagomba, the Ewe, the Ga, the Gurma and the Yoruba being the main tribes. There are also European and other settlers in Ghana. While 63 per cent of the population follows the Christian faith, 16 per cent are Muslims and 21 per cent follow indigenous beliefs. English is the official language in Ghana. Other African languages spoken here are Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe and Ga. The currency used is the Cedi (GHC), $1 = 9,100 Cedis.

On a street in Accra, I came across a woman selling porridge. I lifted the container to check its weight and found it was quite heavy! I was told that the porridge is made by crushing a local fruit by hand, which is then put in a small bowl. Other ingredients (including sugar) are added and the mixture is sold for Cedis 2,000 (approximately Rs. 10).