We were welcomed most graciously today by the Dean and people of St Mary's in the City (Cathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin) in Jo-berg. Dean John preached and assisted at the 8am service, and Bishop Councell vested and preached at the 9:30am Eucharist. We were also gifted in song by a beautiful spiritual sang by one of our own, Deborah Ford. The photos of our time at the Cathedral show the large mosaic-like image of Jesus on the cross. Hand made with small beads, "Reconciliation" provided a backdrop and a vision for our pilgrimage, and most importantly, of our life together as the body of Christ. Dean Charles May reiterated this theme in his generous hospitality to us. The Cathedral can be found online at:www.anglicanjoburg.org.za
Our day was set to be busy, so we quickly embarked after church for a tour and lunch in Soweto (South Western Township). Home to Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, Soweto is a metropolis unto itself, encompassing more than 80 sq. km and 3.5 million people. Our journey in and around this remarkable township included lunch at Chez Alina, one of many dining houses that can be found in Soweto. We enjoyed an assortment of African foods, though I must admit that the ice-creame tasted particularly good!
Soweto in all its diversity of style and character maintains a troubling reminder and memorial to the brutality of the Apartheid years. Our brief stop at the memorial for Hector Peterson (a slain 13 yr old who was the first to die in the Soweto uprising) invited us to consider the fear and courage that defined life in the township; a life that was under threat at all times. The Hector Peterson memorial (there is a large stone that has plaques detailing the story, and a fountain of 'tears' symbolizing the loss of so many children) served as the precursor to the Apartheid Museum (www.apartheidmuseum.org).
It is difficult to summarize the learning taken from this museum. The entry into the opening rooms is done via a symbolic segregation: blacks on one side, whites on another. Though our designation was arbitrarily chosen, the reality of entering as two groups rather than one communicated the poignant message that under-girded the Apartheid regime: we are not one people, we are an accident of color. Dean Charles's admonition earlier in the day of our identity as the body of Christ sounded a 'difficult gospel' in our segregated beginnings in the museum.
Our evening was made complete with dinner at Gramadoelas Restaurant (www.gramadoelas.co.za). Once again our palates were spoiled by the selection of foods. This evening we ate tribal African foods, Malay curries and Cape Dutch delicacies. Oh, and the wine was good too!
On Monday, we venture into the administrative capital of South Africa, Pretoria. The afternoon will offer some time for rest and reflection.
Thank you for your prayers!