The Pakistan Welfare Association (PWA)
The Pakistan Welfare Association (PWA) comprises local business people in Tooting who emigrated to the UK in the 1960s. Coming to London with little more than a few pounds in their pockets but with big ambitions to make something of themselves; such is the dream of many Pakistanis even to this day, travelling to the colonial powerhouse that once controlled every aspect of their day-to-day lives before 1947.
Immigration and Its Impact
Immigration is currently a topic of tension for the UK Government; with the unrest across African and Asian continents where people aspire to find work and security in an environment where they no longer need to worry about their next meal or waking up the next day. Colonialism not only impacted these nations when in power but also developed power vacuums once it left. Furthermore those colonial powers did not leave empty-handed; they extracted the labor, resources, and know-how which have transformed the Western world into what it is today.
Preserving Culture and Roots
As a British-born Pakistani son, my parents have always ensured I have a close connection with my culture and roots. I speak Urdu, have visited Pakistan more times than I can count, and am well entrenched in the South London Pakistani community, particularly in Tooting, where I worked from a young age in my father's business - King's Travel.
How does this relate to Pakistani Independence? Simple; I am my father’s legacy.
My father's own journey navigating a new world, with few resources, is a common story for many who migrate to the UK for a better life. The PWA is made up of these very same individuals who have built a life for themselves while ensuring that the next generations know their roots and the heritage of their community of origin.
The event I attended in August was full of Pakistani families coming together in a family-friendly environment. This is significant as many events nowadays are inappropriate for those keen to observe the Islamic values they follow in their daily lives.
Traditional Qawwali music resonated through the room the entire evening; reminding me of the long evening drives with my father with a nostalgic, heartwarming, and somewhat homely feeling, even though we were in a public restaurant on Tooting Broadway. Traditional food was served as the Committee of the PWA spoke to the importance of celebrating together, leaving a legacy for the generations to come - we are Pakistani and Proud.
The Significance of Tooting
The location of Tooting was important, an area where many who emigrated all those years ago came to congregate, and build an ecosystem of not just Pakistani but a mixing pot of Asian culture, business, and family values. Rightly so, our now honorable Mayor of London was formerly the MP for Tooting. It surprised many that evening when an impromptu visit from Sadiq Khan filled the room with energy. Taking interviews and pictures at the event, he eventually joined the Committee at the center of the room, enjoying the traditional music we had all grown up listening to, breaking bread and conversing with those he had represented as an MP and now as Mayor of London.
As a Pakistani man growing up in the heart of South London, I can only be in awe of a Mayor who has, to this day, not forgotten his roots and those who supported his rise to power.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and observing Sadiq reconnect with the elders of the community that have supported him was testament to that principle and a sight I feel privileged to have witnessed.
So you may be thinking, did I speak to Sadiq? Yes, of course! Just enough time to share the work I have been doing with Centric and quickly exchange contact details for future dialogue when we can hopefully get into more detail.
The Mayor spent almost half the night greeting and taking pictures with a continuous stream of people, but with a constant smile on his face which spoke to his to pride in the progression of his community who in turn showed their pride in seeing the man he has become.
Our motto at Centric is 'delivered to you, by people like you,' I wonder whether Sadiq would agree with such a saying...
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