The Cape Board's annual Reconciliation Day 2013 followed directly after 10 official days of mourning and the final laying to rest of Nelson Mandela. adiba's dedication to reconciliation in South Africa brought together people from all faiths, including Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille, in a walking tour to visit three of Cape Town's oldest places of worship.
This was the eighth Interfaith Reconciliation Day Walk and was arranged by Cape Board professionals Gwynne Robins and Gina Flash together with representatives from the Cathedral and the Mosque, Di Oliver, Laurie Gaum and Mohammad Groenewald.
The overall theme chosen was the need for reconciliation in the face of violence. The Very Reverend Dean Michael Weeder welcomed everyone to the St George's Cathedral, followed by the Mayor, who opened proceedings. She shared her thoughts on reconciliation, which she called a process and not an event, that could not exist where there was poverty, landlessness and inequality.
Sheikh Igsaan Taliep, the Principal of the Muslim Peace University of South Africa, then addressed the group on xenophobicviolence. "Reconcilation needs to be a continuous process to establish universal values of humanity," he said. He also pointed out that foreigners were looked at as though they were the causes of the problems in the country; and interfaith should champion the voice of the voiceless. Walkers then made their way up the Company's Gardens and into the Gardens Shul where Rabbi Feldman welcomed everyone, giving a short explanation of some of the features of the sanctuary and spoke about reconciliation and the meaning of the chuppah.
Lynette Maart, National Director of the Black Sash, discussed the violence inherent in our society. She explained that underlying the violence in South Africa lay a cluster of intractable problems the historical legacy of abusive labour practices, exploitation, inequality and the long battle for control of the land. People did not have enough food to eat and lived and worked in appalling conditions. The challenge for reconciliation, she believed, was to address those fault lines and restore peace or face a deepened the spiral of violence. Creating connections.
The next stop was the Auwal Mosque in the BoKaap that was built in 1795, where gender activist and social commentator Melanie Judge addressed the issue of gender-based violence. "Gender violence is a manifestation of gender inequality. This violence serves to keep gender hierarchies firmly in place. Put simple, systematic rapes and killings don't happen between equals. The violence that kept apartheid in place for so many decades taught us this much." Melanie also addressed the role that faith-based communities can take up in combating this. "As history has shown us; communities of faith can also be places of inclusion, places that celebrates diversity, rather than fear it, and safe harbours for those who are frequently pushed to the social and economic margins."
This year the walk was dedicated to the memory of recently passed Nelson Mandela and his spirit of reconciliation. It was also shown on SATV with extracts from some of the addresses. The event ended with refreshments sponsored by the Mayor in the BoKaap Museum. We were honoured to be a part of the City's official programme, dovetailing with the renaming of the Fan Walk to the Remembrance Walk soon afterward. Many wonderful connections are made through taking part in this annual event. One such was the invitation given to Lynette Maart to repeat her talk at Friday prayers at a local mosque.