June 03, 2008

vigil against xenophobia

friday, may 23rd, the kids and i attended a peace vigil against xenophobia. we parked near the art museum downtown and walked with 2 friends to the Parliament building. a crowd had formed upon our arrival, but there were many more to come. an eternal flame was held up high, along with the South African flag, and soon the chanting and singing of various songs and calls for universal brotherhood, peace, and love for our neighbors were raised up high. i kept looking around at the wide variety of people who came to show their support for immigrants and foreigners in this land: Christian pastors and Muslim leaders, Cape Malay, Xhosa, Congolese, Europeans, elders, children, students....at one point the whole crowd held hands and raised their arms up in the air for one of the freedom songs. at another time the crowd loudly sang the national anthem together:

Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw' uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela,
thina lusapho lyawo.

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

what i felt and witnessed that evening is that a lot of people care deeply about our humanity, our oneness, and were brought together as a result of tragedies that are heartbreaking. before leaving, the drummer created a space inside the circle of Xhosa women who were singing some spirituals, and then we were all swept into a rhythmic dance around them, singing some Xhosa song about Thixo (God). the photographers were trying to capture the moment, but what occurred next left its imprint in our hearts: the drummer raised his hands in praise and began to call out the names of African peoples living here in Cape Town; his acknowledgement of each of these populations felt powerful to me, as if no one was forgotten and all were recognized as important; then he asked all of us to pray for peace in our own language -- by this time the sun was setting and the candlelight illumined the gathering as the crowd prayed in unison in many different languages. the power of that moment has no measurement, but surely all of us left there feeling how powerful the light of unity is....

1 comment:

  1. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Day Star of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. (~Baha'u'llah)