Celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Interfaith Harmony Week was a beautiful and busy week for CTII as we set out to celebrate, educate and honour interfaith harmony in every way we could. Below are the highlights from different events we hosted and participated in throughout the week.

Let us Make Peace with Nature – Linda Tucker, Global White Lion Protection Trust

Friday 1st Feb: Linda Tucker, Founder and CEO of the Global White Lion Protection Trust, gave us some insights into the role of the White Lions in bringing hope and a new paradigm in leadership to our world. As Faith communities, we need to play our part in nurturing love and respect for all of life so that our planet will still be here to support our grandchildren and their descendants. Let us make our peace with nature. Watch the full video of Linda’s presentation here.

We followed up this event by joining Linda and her partner, Lion Ecologist Jason A. Turner, for their parliamentary presentation on Tuesday 5 February. The Kruger Park agreement to drop fences between themselves and local conservancies was put on hold as a result of this presentation. That’s a good thing, because some of those conservancies allow trophy hunting and dropping the fences meant lions, rhino, giraffe and other species would be in danger of wandering into hunting territory. Thank you Global White Lion Protection Trust and Linda Tucker Foundation for the amazing work you do in service to our planet and all her communities.

Freedom of Religion Rally 

Sunday 3rd Feb: Religious abuse is taking place in many parts of the world, and yet Freedom of Religion is enshrined in our constitution, but how do we safeguard it? This Rally in the Company Gardens was a youth-led project organised by the Global Citizens’ Human Rights Coalition in collaboration with youth, women and interfaith organisations in Southern Africa.

Prayers for the City – Elsie’s River

Sunday 3rd Feb: Under the cloudy Cape Town skies, in the heart of Elsie’s River, we gathered to pray for peace in our City. We met at the Siddique Mosque, and after the beautiful Call to Prayer was sounded we walked together in contemplative silence to our venue – a piece of open ground previously known as a crime hotspot, but recently cleaned up and reclaimed by the community of Elsie’s River led by a collaboration between two organisations, the Inspire Elsies and Peace Hope Love Communities.

Thank you to all those who attended Prayers for the City 2019, cohosted with Faith, Hope, Love Communities in Elsie’s River. What a special gathering it was! The violence in some of our suburbs is so bad that “death by violence” daily figures are considerably higher than those in war zones in other parts of Africa.

There are young teenagers who are living in hiding outside the city precincts, for fear of the gang pressure that is so prevalent in their own streets. We ask ourselves, would it not be better to remove the gangs than to remove the children? But for that we need more resources, more police, more political will, less corruption and less despair. With blessings of peace from so many different faiths and traditions, may our prayers reach far and wide in a global call for peace, because we know that there are so many places in the world who are suffering as our communities are suffering.

Traditions represented included Buddhist, Baha’i, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Hare Krishna, Brahma Kumaris and Unitarian. Everyone had a turn to pray or sing or bring a poem – anything that would contribute to the sense of unity and encouragement that we wanted to generate. The day was extra special because Prayers for the City, although a regular feature in the CTII calendar on the first Sunday every February to coincide with WIHW, has always been held in the City Centre.

This year for the first time, we took the prayers to the people. We decided that from now on, every year we will identify a troubled location and take our prayers there, because the prayers should touch the people and include the people who need their upliftment. And so we raise the consciousness of neighbourliness, and we become each others’ neighbours even when we do not live next door but in the next suburb. Special thanks to Maulana Rameez and the Siddique Mosque for surprising us with lovely refreshments before and after the ceremony, and to James Ellman of Faith Hope Love Communities who worked so hard to bring it all together but then was unable to be there due to a family bereavement.

With blessings of peace from so many different faiths and traditions, may our prayers reach far and wide in a global call for peace.

Spreading Harmony and Tolerance amongst all in the Western Cape

Monday 4 Feb: The Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies hosted a thought provoking, uplifting and encouraging event in the City Hall. Opening prayers by Chief Autshumao Francisco Mackenzie set a vibrant stage for Mayor Dan Plato, Judge Dennis Davis and Shaikh Keraan.

Open Hearts Open Minds

Thursday 7 Feb: We rounded off our amazing week by co-hosting an event with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Commuity of South Africa at their Baitul Awwal Mosque in Athlone. Titled: Reflections from the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions: Bringing it Home, speakers who had presented at the Parliament in Toronto in November were able to tell us about their experience and bring us powerful insights.

Sarah Oliver and Rev Natalie Simons-Arendse told us about how their presentation on their experiences working with the youth in the Marlene Silbert Youth Interfaith Intercultural Programme helped them to connect with other communities. It was emphasised how important the voice of the youth is, and we do hope that future PoWR events will be more accessible to younger representation.

Rev Rachel Mash of the Green Anglicans and SAFCEI mesmerised us with her presentation, A Capetonian Perspective on Climate Change and reminded us all once again how dependent we are on our planet, and how our love and respect for natural resources is a deeply embedded responsibility, a sacred practice across all faiths.

Majid Hargey read a presentation prepared by Badr Lubowa Mwanje Sahib on “Our Environment and the Teachings of Islam”, once again emphasising the importance of our care for the planet that supports us.

Warm gratitude to the Ahmadiyya Community for co-hosting this event with us.

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