In celebration of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week 01 – 07 February 2020, we are presenting a first ever Interfaith, Intercultural pilgrimage, inviting our friends in interfaith from all over the world to join us. Here is the provisional itinerary.
Day Zero: Friday 31 January 2020
Arrive at Cape Town International Airport:
Welcome to Cape Town, a proud City of Compassion known the world over and with good reason as “The Mother City”. After a warm welcome at Cape Town International Airport (rendezvous 12 noon at the Mugg and Bean coffee shop) we will transfer to a comfortable local guesthouse where you can refresh, relax and settle in. We’ll introduce ourselves over dinner, setting our intentions for the week ahead, then enjoy an early evening in preparation for our deep dive into Cape Town’s faith life.
Day 1: Saturday 1 February 2020
A gentle start to your Interfaith experience as we greet over a light breakfast before our visit the Tushita Kadampa Meditation Centre, where we will learn about Kadampa Buddhism before we head off to the Ananda Kutir Ashram. There, the practitioners of Integral Yoga will be hosting us to lunch and an afternoon of gentle wisdoms with Swami Vidyananda and Mother Yogeshwari. Ananda Kutir Ashram is affiliated to the Divine Life Society of Rishikesh, India.
A sunset beach walk will conclude our day before we head back to our accommodation for a lovingly prepared, vegetarian Cape meal and an evening of gentle discussion.
Day 2: Sunday 2 February 2020
It’s our day of celebration! The first Sunday in February is the date of Prayers for the City, the event which was awarded the HM King Abdullah II Prize for World Interfaith Harmony Week 2019 and which inspired this tour. This year, we return to our 2019 venue – a vacant plot in a battle-weary and economically challenged area called Elsie’s River. As we did in 2019, we unite with Elsie’s River NGO Faith Hope Love Communities to support this commitment to taking back their suburb from the gang and criminal activity that threatens them every day. Our visitors will have the opportunity to engage with community members and learn about the challenges they face.
Expect a party. We have so much to celebrate!
Day 3: Monday 3 February
A change of pace! We head out early with local shaman Dean Liprini on a fascinating journey into the mountains surrounding Cape Town, to ceremony in one of the ancient sacred caves frequented by our Khoisan ancestors. We hike up the mountain in the footsteps of our ancestors, and descend for lunch in another glorious setting before a more gentle walk down to another sacred site, this time closer to the shore, where we honour the going down of the sun.
Day 4: Tuesday 4 February
Islamic day. First stop is the famous District Six museum where we learn the history of forced removals and family tragedies endured by a multifaith, multicultural community in bygone years. Our route takes us to the nearby Al-Azhar Mosque where we enjoy the hospitality of Sheikh Ismail Keraan before moving on to the Tana Baru Cemetry in Bo-Kaap – the first Muslim burial ground acknowledged by the SA government back in 1805. With master-historian and struggle veteran Mohammad Groenewald, we explore the issues of exploitation, crime and gentrification jostling for power in the local struggle to preserve this precious heritage.
We lunch in the Bo-Kaap and experience Cape Town’s unique heritage flavours, savouring the opportunity for an afternoon of in-depth conversation with local wisdom keepers of the Interfaith community.
Day 5: Wednesday 5 February
No Interfaith Tour would be complete without a visit to St George’s Cathedral, the Herbert Baker-designed Anglican Church that has welcomed so many of South Africa’s struggle heroes. If we are lucky, we may get to meet Dean Michael Weeder during our guided tour of St George’s before we wonder around the corner to admire the lovely Catholic Cathedral, St Mary’s, more formally known as the Cathedral of our Lady of the Flight into Egypt. In a wonderful gesture of support for World Interfaith Harmony Week, His Grace the Archbishop of Cape Town has offered to host us himself for this visit, along with the Administrator of the Cathedral.
We’ll change our pace for the afternoon with a visit to a Traditional Healer – or Sangoma – and her family of novices who will give us a taste of an oral tradition best described by the deeply unifying word “ubuntu”, with a meal prepared over the fire and an authentic experience of African traditional singing, dancing, bone throwing and messages from the Ancestors.
Day 6: Thursday 6 February
We make our way to the Jewish Holocaust museum and a presentation by Marlene Silbert, a South African hero recognised for her contribution to the creation of a respectful and just society in which all diversity is honoured and valued. Marlene used her role as an educator to launch CTII’s schools program, now known as the Marlene Silbert Youth Interfaith Intercultural Program.
In the evening, we learn how to do Interfaith Café – Cape Town style. It’s an interfaith, intercultural, intergenerational engagement that will highlight how vibrant dialogue is helping us to explore and create an emerging new civilisation. Our subject: What we have learned from the history of our Faiths.
Day 7: Friday 7 February
The theme for today is “Interfaith in Action”. We spend the morning at the Novalis Ubuntu Institute learning about a number of faith based organisations which are working tirelessly for the upliftment and empowerment of the deeply challenged, from babies with aids to food gardens for the hungry to township gang issues, skills development, employment schemes and leadership projects for disadvantaged youth.
We conclude our special week with a celebration of interfaith, hosted by the Progressive Jewish community at Temple Israel, Green Point, who have a special musical Shabbat Rina service scheduled that evening. We break bread together after the service, in gratitude for the community anchored in Cape Town that spreads like a light across the globe.
We recommend a day of rest before you travel, but here’s a thought…
You are in Cape Town, a gateway into the deeper mysteries of Africa, so speak to us about options for an onward tour. Visit the Sacred White Lions of the Timbavati or the extraordinary Inzawo ye langa – Birthplace of the Sun, an ancient circle of stones on a mountain top in the province of Mpumalanga. You could visit the only dedicated Tiger sanctuary in Africa, explore Namibia, take in the Garden Route, the Karoo, the Kruger National Park – or simply stay in Cape Town to experience more of our city’s many rich offerings.
It’s been a week, we’ve loved having you. We hope you will be leaving us with an uplifted sense that there is so much good in the world, and it lives everywhere in the hearts and minds of all those who embrace inclusiveness, kindness, compassion and peace.
We hope you’ll take something of our spirit of interfaith harmony home with you… and may it bless your path, and all those you meet along the way.
Tour cost: US $ 1800 / R25 000
Includes Accommodation, Meals, local transport and all entertainment and entry fees in Cape Town – so all you have to do is get to Cape Town and we look after you from there.
Exclusions: Personal purchases, gratuities, alcoholic drinks, between meal snacks.
Please note this itinerary is subject to change without notice but we do have back up plans in case of poor weather or other unforeseen circumstances. If you have physical concerns, don’t let them exclude you! Please discuss your needs with us so that we can make sure to accommodate them wherever possible. Bookings: Berry Behr firstname.lastname@example.org – Limited to 12 places. 50% non refundable deposit secures your spot, balance due 15 January 2020.
- Special South African student rate R600 per day excludes accommodation (6 spots available)
- Special South African day rate available for Capetonians R750 excludes Accommodation (6 spots available)