On July 7th, 2019, the Ismaili Volunteer Corps of Tanzania and Zambia celebrated 100 years of volunteerism in the Ismaili Community. The event coincided with the 62nd Imamat Day Celebrations of Mawlana Hazar Imam, at the Diamond Jubilee Complex in Dar es Salaam.  The celebratory day commenced with the flag hoisting of the “My Flag” and a March past by the Aga Khan Scouts and Guides, and past and present Ismaili Volunteer Majors that have served in the Ismaili Volunteer Corps.

The President of the National Council for Tanzania Amin Lakhani welcomed the Jamat and spoke on the spirit of volunteerism that permeates through our institutions. During his speech, the President quoted the words of Mawlana Sultan Mohamed Shah from 1954 when the IVC motto of “work no words” was established: “Labor for the welfare of others is the best of improving ourselves because results are sure and certain. If you work for yourselves, you are never happy. This is not a new idea. But this is the outcome of the experience of thousands of years of history.” The President also thanked all volunteers for their continuous service.

Both the Ismaili and Tanzania flags were raised as the respective anthems were played. This kicked off the launch of the 100th anniversary of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps, which is being celebrated globally.

The spirit of volunteerism is embedded within the Ismaili Tariqah, and one that resonates with each Murid. It is a tradition that Mawlana Hazar Imam speaks of as a major aspect within the community:

 “In whatever we do, at whatever level, we have always been reliant upon volunteers … especially in today’s difficult circumstances, we must never lose sight of nor undervalue the secret of our Aga Khan Network’s success, the element which underpins its professionalism…The heart and lifeblood of our network [are] the voluntary workers; the Boards, the Committees, the volunteers – young and old – who contribute their time and efforts.” –Mawlana Hazar Imam speaking at the unveiling of plaque launching the Aga Khan Hospital expansion programme at Diamond Jubilee Hall in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on November 25th, 1982

The flag hoisting represented the identity of the Ismaili Volunteers in Dar es Salaam, and symbolized the importance of volunteerism within the community. The identity of the Ismaili Volunteers in Tanzania is seen through the various acts of service provided by the community. This may include support to other non-Ismaili communities through the Crisis Response Team (CRT), as well as community service events such as the recent Uhuru walk in March 2019, where the IVC supported the initiative of educating underprivileged and sick children.

The identity of the IVC in Tanzania is evident through the red and green colors that are seen on the ties of the respective volunteers. The flag hoisting and march past proudly confirmed our position as a community in Tanzania that is proud to serve the Jamat, the AKDN Institutions, and the community at large.

During the event, a volunteer from Darkhana Jamatkhana expressed her gratitude for being part of IVC for more than 20 years. She said, “Volunteering is important for me because it is our tradition and it makes me feel proud to continue and partake in such a wonderful tradition. It is also one of the ways to serve the Imam... when the Jamat is happy with our service, so is the Imam.”

As a collective entity, the IVC is the fabric that provides the identity of the Ismaili Community in Tanzania. It is the strength of the Jamat that enables young and old volunteers to serve.

The history of the Ismaili community in Tanzania stands at more than 150 years, and the spirit of service to the community at large is evident through the event. Many leaders within the Jamat have also served in government positions, being former Ministers and MPs.

The celebrations then continued with energetic and colorful dances by members of each Jamatkhana with each Khane’s Mukhi/Kamadia while Jamati members cheered on the performers. The remainder of the day included lunch, live music, rasura and a photo booth.