Cape Town – Millions of South Africans are revving up to showcase the diverse cultures and traditions both old and new that make up the nation as the country marks Heritage Day on Saturday.
One such celebration will be in Wynberg, where the Open Mosque will host an interfaith celebration with what the organisation’s secretary Jamila Abrahams described as a salute to South Africa’s remarkable religious mosaic and cultural diversity.
Abrahams said the day of prayers, poetry and uplifting talks delivered by, among others, a Jewish rabbi, Christian ministers and a Muslim imam, will bring together Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Baha’is and others for a complimentary vegetarian dinner buffet.
“There will be inspirational songs and sacred music performed from each religious tradition and the main objective of the event will be to enhance friendship and fellowship between the various faith communities in the Western Cape and beyond.”
The Open Mosque hopes the event will encourage greater harmony, effective unity and increased tolerance within Cape Town’s cosmopolitan population.
Abrahams said one of the highlights of the event would be the staging of a formal Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath) service inside a mosque.
There would also be Christian prayers said and hymns sung in a Muslim house of worship.
Meanwhile, for the first time since 2011, members of Cape Town’s Griqua community will not be marking Heritage Day at the Castle of Good Hope, but will be celebrating their culture in the town of Campbell in the Northern Cape.
Contralesa deputy secretary-general Aaron Messelaar, who is also the head of administration of the Griqua Royal House, said one of the highlights of the celebration would be the Hok Meisie ceremony, which is a rite of passage for girls into womanhood.
Messelaar said: “As Griqua people we have celebrated our culture and traditions since before other people came to what we now know as South Africa.”
He said because Campbell was a small town and not geared towards mass tourism, it would be a “small gathering of only 300 people. It will be unlike our usual events at the Castle where we’d normally have the Griqua flag-raising ceremony”.
Earlier in the week, Parliament marked Heritage Month with a debate that centred on the country’s indigenous music, as well as on the life of singer and composer Solomon Linda, who wrote the international hit Mbube which later became the famous song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
Opening the debate, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said: “The song generated and continues to generate millions of dollars across the globe, but not for Linda, he died penniless.”
Mthethwa said Linda’s life story encapsulated the experience of many creative workers in South Africa and the continent in general.
DA MP Thamsanqa Mabhena urged the minister to address the issue of how so many of the country’s musical icons of the apartheid era “were ripped off, and received the short end of the stick”.
He said the music continued to be distributed worldwide and consumed by millions, while the families of the icons did not benefit.