An interview with Sheik Walid el-Saadi, the head of the Africa to Gaza Aid Convoy, from Zambia
'Gaza or bust for Africa to Gaza convoy'
Mon Jul 4, 2011
The Africa to Gaza Aid convoy is continuing on its way to the besieged Palestinian territory, despite all the difficulties, the head of the convoy says.
Sheik Walid el-Saadi made the remarks in an interview with Press TV.
Africa's first overland aid convoy to the Gaza Strip started its journey in Durban, South Africa in late June and is expected to reach the Palestinian territory by the end of July.
The 21 activists of the convoy are riding a dozen vehicles carrying essentials such as medical supplies, milk powder, generators, and construction materials.
Following is the text of the interview with Sheik Walid el-Saadi:
Press TV: Mr. el-Saadi, if you could kindly first tell us the stages that the first Africa aid convoy to Gaza has been through and is set to go through now before reaching Gaza.
El-Saadi: Thank you very much for having me on your program. As you all know, we left the city of Durban last Sunday [June 26] and we moved to Botswana.
We had two programs in Botswana, one in Gaborone and the other one in Francistown, where we had a rally and we approached the people and spoke to them about the difficulties of the Palestinian people and the atrocities that are happening to them.
After that we proceeded to Zambia. We started in Zambia, we went to Lusaka. We spent two nights in Lusaka, and we had two awareness programs on Palestine and what is happening in Palestine.
We also delivered some food aid for the people in the villages because our path is not only to reach the people of Gaza but to pass by the people of Africa. We are also giving to the people in Africa on our way. We put them in our program also. We distributed some books, some holy Qurans to the people.
And after Lusaka, we went to Serenje last night. We spent one night there, and we had one Palestinian awareness program, and we also met the community, where we delivered some groceries, some aid, and we also distributed some books, Islamic books, Islamic literature, and the Holy Quran translation.
We left Serenje for Mpika this afternoon. And from Mpika we are on our way to Mbeya, which is at the border of Tanzania.
Press TV: Mr. el-Saadi, we are hearing that the main concern now for the Africa aid convoy is the announcement from the Egyptian authorities that they will not allow this convoy onto Egyptian thoroughfares. Is there any plan being made by this aid convoy and how will things develop if Egypt does not allow them to move forward?
Of course, you have heard and may suspect of the threats that are being made by Israel, as well, against the Freedom Flotilla II. So what are you planning if you are not allowed into Gaza?
El-Saadi: It is a possibility because, you know, we cannot predict [whether] the Israelis will put pressure on the Egyptians to allow us [in] or not. But we have done all that we can.
We have informed the Egyptian government. For six months I've been preparing for this convoy. I've been to the Egyptian Embassy, we've sent them letters, and we've explained to them exactly what we're doing.
I myself went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo and I explained to them exactly what we are doing, how many trucks, how many people are coming… and hopefully, they will give us the go ahead.
It's possible to stop us. We are talking about a journey of 10,000 kilometers with the most difficult roads in the world. This morning we are traveling about 20 to 30 kilometers an hour because of narrow roads and huge potholes in the road, which the whole tire would go in and won't come out.
It is a very difficult journey and I [hope] that the Egyptian government won't stop us because it is going to be a disaster if they do that. A lot of people and organizations are involved with us in this.
We have got the support of our government. The South African government supported our mission.
Let's pray that from now and until we reach them, the Egyptian government will change their mind and will understand that they should allow us [in]. They gave visas to all the 21 members and they know that these members are going on this convoy in that mission.
So that is annoying for me and for all the people to understand that this is trouble for our convoy to go to Gaza.
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