Our morning tour began at 9am after a wonderful breakfast. I dined alone overlooking the Square with The Madiba statue in full view and the melodic trumpet of Hugh Masakela piped-in. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.
Before I begin about this awesome Sunday I must tell you about Saturday. We went to the cultural village of Lesedi. I always look forward to the show even though this is my 6th visit there. Since I have blogged about this so much in the past, I will skip it this time and you will just have to come with me next year. I just chilled at the bar until the group returned for the show and fabulous lunch. That evening a few of us met for drinks in the hotel lounge so they could meet my dear friend and Joburg resident, Themba and his lovely lady. Themba is into filmmaking and always knows all the happenings in all of South Africa. His latest advice for me was to go back to Durban because it’s hot and boomin’. It’s always a delight to visit with him.
As we drive to Soweto on this gorgeous Sunday morning, we had a short prayer from Denise. Joe provided us with his knowledge of the history of this country and the Apartheid system, pointing out landmarks along the way. The group had no idea what they were in for. We arrived at the Methodist Church of Africa in Soweto (Orlando). Joe had set it all up so the Bishop was expecting us. Everyone was outside; bishops in their robes, sisters dressed in burgundy jackets, brothers in long black jackets, little children holding signs representing their groups. They were rocking a smooth rock to the beat of a drum, some bells, and a few beating on these leather pillows. The procession swayed down to the unveiling of a plaque downhill on the church property. They were also dedicating a new building for the Bishop. They prayed and sang in their native tongue, we couldn’t understand the words but the spirit was high and universal. The Bishop explained as we went along and Joe, a Methodist himself was in heaven. After the unveiling, an elderly, frail mother asked me where I was from. I responded California. She then chuckled and said, “Do you think you could get me a ticket”? It was like we were old friends instantly and that appeared to be what was happening with several others as they literally, verbally, “welcomed us home”.
After returning to the bus, the Bishop came on board and thanked us for stopping by. As we drove away, there were a lot of tear-filled eyes.
Next stop was Hector Pietersen Museum and Memorial. He was gunned down by racist police when he was 13 years old during a peaceful march. While they went inside, I learned of the ZCC – Zion Christian Church from our driver, Elvis. They proudly wear these sterling silver Stars of David. They don’t smoke, drink, they believe in Jesus Christ and they are the largest non denominational church in sub Sahara with over 7 million followers. You can tell the various churches by the uniforms they wear and a Sunday in Soweto, you will see many.
We had lunch at Roots Restaurant and Gallery and all seemed to enjoy it. This was a very full day in more ways than one. Of course, they passed Mandela’s mansion in Houghton and the Mandela Museum and Bishop Desmond TuTu’s early abode on the famous Vilikazi Street.
We have an early start tomorrow stopping at the famed Schwartz Jewelers and then on to our 5 star game lodge —-Ivory Tree.