With South Africans across the country expected to light up their braais for Reconciliation Day, the interfaith community in Cape Town has opted for a more unified approach to celebrating the holiday. For the ninth year running, members of the city’s respective religious communities have taken to hosting an interfaith walk through the CBD, stopping off at several religious landmarks in the process. This year’s edition of the march carried the theme of ‘twenty years of democracy – Looking back and looking forward’.
The event was held as a collaborated effort between the St. George’s Cathedral, Gardens Synagogue, the Boorhanol Mosque, as well as the Dutch Reformed Church’s (DRC) Groote Kerk. It was also supported by the City of Cape Town.
Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat prior to the walk, event spokesperson Di Oliver, explained that the event was originally initiated because of the strong representation in the Western Cape of the three main Abrahamic religions; namely Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The three respective groups have shared a long history of positive relations in the Cape; something she said organizers were keen to celebrate.
“In this new South Africa 20 years into democracy, we feel that Reconciliation Day is a very important event in the calendar of our country. We also feel that we have a very long way to go, especially given the history of what we (as a nation) have lived through,” she explained.
The walk kicked off promptly at 9am at the DRC’s Groote Kerk, with the event officially opened by City of Cape Town mayor, Patricia de Lille. Here an address was expected to be delivered by the CEO of the SA Human Rights Commission, Kayum Ahmed.
The walk then proceeded to the Garden’s Synagogue, with an address from Dr. Ndyebo Nghona. Thereafter it moved towards the Boorhanol Masjid in Longmarket Street, Bo-Kaap, with Jewish youth leader and entrepreneur, Amanda Stein, addressing the crowd.
The event was expected to conclude at the St. George’s Cathedral, with the church’s deen, Michael Weeder, reflecting on the day’s proceedings.
Oliver was hopeful that the symbol of walking through the CBD hand in hand and interacting with the various faith groups, could be seen as an expression of unity and connecting with others. They were also hoping to demonstrate that the day was more than just about hosting a braai, but rather a celebration of reconciliation. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)