Our TomTom said it would take an hour and 19 minutes to drive to the Ahmadiyya site in Hampshire where they have their annual convention, the Jalsa Solana, but with roadworks, an accident on the A3, and my unfamiliarity with the TomTom it took three hours. The event is a huge feat of organisation, with dozens of marquees and temporary roadways, catering for several thousand attendees from the Ahmadiyya Janaats all over the world. The Khalifa announced new milestones of achievement, both religious and charitable: mosques, schools, hospitals built, and continued growth in the numbers of adherents. The main guests were asked to speak, and I spent a few minutes on recent instances of persecution and harassment of the Ahmadis in Pakistan and Indonesia.
When I came to leave after the Khalifa's speech I couldn't find my car among the many parking areas, so I stayed for dinner while kind volunteers went in search of it, and had the priivilege of sitting next to the King of Allada in Benin,who is also
President of the Supreme Council of Sovereigns in Bénin. The King doesn't eat in public, and in his own realm his food is prepared by the Queen, who tastes it and serves it to him, then leaves the room. Succession is by the choice of the King from amomg his sons, and he told me he had selected his secod son, who is a 25-year old banker. His eldest som is a journalist. He said he Ahmadiyya Jamaat is flourishing throughout Bénin. In fact I gathered from the Khalifa's speech that they are making excellent progress also in other West African countries such as Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ghana.