On 15 and 16 December 2022, an event was held on Robben Island to mark the Day of Reconciliation, under the banner of ‘Moving beyond our Past to create an inclusive meaningful future’.
Cleansing ceremonies were performed and prayers, petitions and dialogues shared in an effort to process traumas from past and to clear the way for a peaceful future.
Two Jewish Capetonians, Marc Turok and Professor Leslie London spoke as members of the Jewish community. Marc is an activist in Environmental, Heritage and Civic concerns and has also been active in Jewish affairs over many years. He was previously Chair of Jews for Justice and is currently a representative of Observatory & Mowbray Hebrew Congregation and Chair of the Two Rivers Urban Park Association. Leslie is a social justice activist, UCT faculty of Health Science, and Chair of Observatory Civic Association. Both shared aspects of their Jewish identity, and Marc recited a Prayer for South Africa, adapted from the original by Chief Rabbi Prof. I Abrahams.
Full text of the presentation delivered by Marc Turok
“It’s a great honour to express Solidarity, as a member of the local Jewish community, on this historic Day of Reconciliation event on Robben Island.
This iconic heritage site tracks some harsh truth of our National Heritage.
We see beyond the ocean backdrop, are some Sacred Places: ‘Hoerikwaggo’, ‘Camissa’ and ‘IGAMIRODI KHAES!’ (Life generating Confluence of Two Rivers).
Our cultural landscapes affirm our heritage story over thousands of years.
While ancient life origins link us as Earthling people, unique cultures evolved over centuries. It is essential that our common humanity respect other forms of living heritage — tangible and intangible — to protect all our heritage stories!
We must also acknowledge the colonial pain that has not yet been healed. The full intangible truth, buried over hundreds of years, must be revealed so that reconciliation can be achieved as deep healing for us all!
Crimes against humanity, should be corrected. The dignity of our ancestors must restore the story of who we are. It’s our heritage and memory.
The broadest consultation is needed to recognise and protect the traces of pre-colonial heritage, located in these cultural landscapes.
Our vision of building a non-racist, non-sexist, respectful inclusive democratic culture is a process still to be realised. Our Southern African indigenous heritage origins must be recognised in our constitution.
We need effective rule of law, essential to protect the rights of all in peace!
Places of integrated indigenous life had natural sustainable harmony over thousands of years. The Kung or San people, the Khoi or Khoena people and the Nguni people are all an integral part of this Robben Island Heritage Site. Reviewing the 1510 defensive victory over d’Almeida’s invading Portuguese (512 years ago), our people are inspired to organise, protecting ourselves.
The places of first dispossession, the First Frontier War, the sin of slavery, and colonial plunder represent severe history, still needing to be HEALED!
These sacred places inspire recognition of the struggle for liberation that should enable deep reconciliation, restoration and as inclusive peace! Full respect following a co-design vision is urgently needed to end many years of disrespect towards other cultures! There is no place for abuse or hate!
Policy calls for protection of significant heritage so that future generations receive them as restored natural biodiversity of our planet in perpetuity!
Our Torah (Instructions for Life) implores ‘not to do unto others as we would not want them do unto us’! We need to learn to strive lovingly for peace.
We pray for truth and reconciliation toward healing.
Lord of the Universe, who hast made the world and gives life to all its inhabitants, who by Thy providence, dost weave the tapestry of history on the loom of time, bestow, we beseech Thee, Thy bountiful benisons — spiritual and material —upon our beloved, Southern Africa and our living Planet.
In Thy grace and mercy, bless our Leaders to act with required integrity, building leadership capacity, to attain full public benefit and prosperity for all.
We pray Thee, O God of our salvation, shield our people and planet from all danger, prosper the work of our hands; grant us vision in our planning, courage towards inclusive wellbeing, commitment for our urgent tasks.
Teach us the way of duty and unity, to dwell together in goodwill and in peace.
Help us to make justice, truth and restorative FREEDOM the strength of our land, blessed with respectful fellowship and realisation of deep healing, free of the cruel colonial and apartheid past, blessed in restored calm and tranquillity
For “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
Yea, spread Thou the tabernacle of peace over all the dwellers on earth and may we all find protection and redemption, restored under the ‘Rainbow’.
(Adapted, yet based on A prayer for South Africa by Chief Rabbi Prof. I Abrahams).
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