Report from Cape Town, South Africa
Solidarity Over Division
[Cape Town] Cape Town was the last African stop on Master's 1999 Middle Eastern and South African Lecture Tour. In addition to holding a public lecture and retreat in the city, on December 1-8, 1999 Master also participated in the Parliament of the World's Religions (PWR), which brought together many international spiritual and religious leaders. She attended the Parliament's opening ceremony and delivered a lecture at the city's Good Hope Center the following day. (Please refer to News no. 108 for detailed reports on this event.)
The opening ceremony was held in historic District Six of Cape Town, which came into the international limelight in the mid-1960s as a result of the government's apartheid (racial separatism) policy. Between 1960 and 1980, its 66,000 residents were forcibly relocated and their homes and shops demolished. Families and friends were separated when they moved to the dusty area of Cape Flats. As the government tried to remove all traces of District Six and changed its name to Zonnebloem, only a few churches and mosques remained as reminders of this once happy community.
In a historic moment on Sunday, November 26, 2000, South African President T.M. Mbeki handed an official document, certifying the return of this land to its earlier residents, and signed by the Land Affairs Minister, to the chairperson of the District Six Beneficiary and Development Trust. Fifty percent of the relocated families returned to participate in its redevelopment. The rest chose financial compensation.
There was a joyous celebration that Sunday, with many former residents, some in wheelchairs, others leaning on walking sticks, along with their children and grandchildren, making their way up the hill to the Moravian Church. (Master initiated new seekers there after Her lecture at the PWR.) Old friends were reunited. Many had not seen each other in the 35 years since their relocation from District Six. Tears flowed freely as people reminisced about their happy old times together. (The oldest resident to return was a centenarian!)
Master's address at the opening ceremony of the Parliament of the World's Religions on December 1, 1999 was in the form of a prayer. She bestowed Her special blessings on Cape Town and its people, asking all to accept God's supreme will with love, understanding, and peace.
It was approximately one year after this momentous ceremony that the former residents of District Six received official permission to return home - a happy turn of events after more than 20 years of ceaseless fighting.
You, Master, for coming to bless South Africa, and especially Cape Town.