Thursday, March 20, 2008


People have asked me about this, and I have forgotten to write a bit about it. Like I said before, the region of the world most foreign for me be it religiously, linguistically, ethnically, etc. is Asia. Here there are many things to which I am used. This includes religion. Christianity accounts for about 80% (79.7%). Islam is 1.5% while Hinduism is 1.3% (2001 Census). There is Sikhism, Judaism, Jainism, and the B’ahai Faith.

So though most people blame the Dutch Reformed Church for apartheid and others say that it wasn’t the Afrikaners but the British, you have to remember that there are many Jewish people here that feel remorse. And the sentiment is strong that says anyone who stayed here and did nothing is culpable. So it’s a strange country with implicit tensions and explicit reconciliations that counteract and interact constantly. The Jewish people feel it especially I’ve seen because they know what it is like to be oppressed and to seek God for salvation and exodus and liberty and promise. And the system goes against what they believe and practice, as well as their heritage (look at their practice of Jubilee).

Today you will still see (at least in Cape Town) people going to the synagogue. There are Jewish schools even in South Africa. They cannot discriminate based on that, but if you choose to go there, you cannot complain about receiving a Jewish-based education and taking religious classes.

We do have religious tension here but it is not like in other countries where Christians and Muslims actually violently collide. Here the tension is in prejudice or dislike, and the tension is not held by everyone but it does exist. For instance, I have not experienced any recognized ill-will toward me. So it’s peaceful as in Ghana, but charged unlike Ghana. I went to the evening service at my church last week, and people kept turning around to look at me as if I had my cell phone on. The audible noise during a very powerful and soft part of the guest speaker’s talk was the call to prayer by the Imam in the neighborhood. He was singing loud and blasting it through some speakers or megaphone or something. Actually if people weren’t annoyed with me and I didn’t get crazy looks from people and the speaker (no, he didn’t notice), I would have enjoyed listening to the style of singing. [Though the country has a very small Islamic population, I live in a part of the country with a relatively high Coloured population and so the percentage of Muslims is higher where I am. My mall, Kenilworth Centre, looks like Little North Africa.]

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