Celebrating diversity

The Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies and Cape Town Unitarians celebrated Heritage Day with an interfaith service at the David Profit Street Peace Gardens on Sunday September 26.

The Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies (BWL) and Cape Town Unitarians celebrated Heritage Day with an interfaith service at the David Profit Street Peace Gardens on Sunday September 26.

The garden, a project of the BWL, used to be a dumping site which BWL members transformed into an indigenous garden, symbolising peace.

Soraya Salie, the chairperson of BWL, said the members are a diverse group.

Chairperson of the Bonteheuwel Walking Ladies, Soraya Salie, honoured the memory of one of their members, Bernadette Humphries. Behind her are, from left, Reverend Nima Taylor, Hans Moolman and Cele Esau, all from the Cape Town Unitarians.

“In the days of District Six, we all prayed together and respected each other’s faith, so having interfaith gatherings is definitely part of our heritage. Today we are celebrating our diversity in unity. The garden is also a sacred space for us, so the venue is so apt.”

Cele Esau, the lay leader for social justice and special services for the Cape Town Unitarians, said they were a multi-faith community.

“We are more focused on the spiritual part than the dogma. We felt to bring our flower ceremony, which is a symbolic ritual that binds people more closely together. This simple service and its colourful ritual gives concrete expression to the humanity-affirming principles of our liberal faith,” Ms Esau said.

Although not initially part of the plan, a portion of the service was dedicated in memory of one of the BWL members, Bernadette Humpries, who died after a short illness on Wednesday September 22.

Ms Humpries’s sister, Keitherline van Wyk, said the family had been planning for her 50th birthday party this month, but instead found themselves planning her funeral.

“It means so much to us that the Walking Ladies are honouring Bernadette today. It just shows the type of person she was. She always thought of others, she was a giver and had a heart for the community. She was really a woman of strength. As a family we are heartbroken, but also consoled that she touched so many people’s lives,” Ms Van Wyk said.

Her other sister, Sandra Abrahams said Ms Humphries had been a role model to many.

“She was the youngest in the family, but she was like a mother even to us, her older siblings,” Ms Abrahams said.

Ms Salie said the ceremony was a beautiful way to celebrate Heritage Day and Ms Humphries’s life.

“We are humbled with gratitude to our Creator for blessing us with the precious gift of life and for blessing us with favours way beyond our understanding. We planned this day, not knowing we would lose a member, but we are also grateful that her family agreed for us to have a memorial in her honour as well.”

Aasiya Joomun, 10, and her grandmother, Gadija Booranodien, 72, selected some flowers, which formed part of the ceremony.