Browsing Tag

religion

Inside the Buddhist Centre in Fietas

Meditating at the Buddhist Centre in Fietas

I’ve been in the U.S. for the past three weeks dealing with very frustrating South African visa problems. I’ve been ridiculously stressed. Then yesterday, in the middle of my most recent meltdown, I remembered my recent visit to the Lam Rim Buddhist Centre and instantly felt calmer.

Inside the beautiful shrine room at the Lam Rim Buddhist Centre in Fietas.

The Lam Rim Buddhist Centre is in Fietas (also known as Vrededorp) — a historically non-white suburb in Joburg that experienced forced removals and virtual destruction during apartheid. The building used to be an Afrikaans Dutch Reformed church.

It’s not a place where one would expect to find an octagonal-shaped shrine to Buddha painted in every color of the rainbow. But there it is.

Outside the Lam Rim Centre.
You can see the Cape Dutch influence in this part of the building.
The garden.
Closeup of the shrine with photos of the Dalai Lama.

This is a rough neighborhood and the centre backs up to an informal settlement. But it’s so peaceful there, inside and out. The garden is simple but pretty and there’s a little koppie, or hill, behind the building where the residents of the centre go to have tea.

Marie-Lais on the koppie.

Marie-Lais and I visited on a Thursday evening and met Shayna, who lives at the centre, and Neil, who leads meditation classes there each Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

I mostly took photos but tried to meditate a little between shots. I’d like to go back soon to learn about meditation for real. I think I need it.

Evening meditation.

This is all I have time to say about the Buddhist Centre because I’m getting on a plane back to Joburg.

And speaking of which, my book is published! If you live in Joburg, please come to the launch of The 2Summers #Gauteng52 Challenge this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at Bridge Books in Maboneng. See you soon.

Chapel at Jesuit Institute South Africa

#Gauteng52, Week 45: The Jesuits of Auckland Park

Welcome to Week 45 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Jesuit Institute in Auckland Park.

Sitting atop a ridge in Auckland Park is a stately, century-old house occupied by a group of Jesuits. Who knew?

I certainly didn’t, but Marie-Lais did. In fact, as #Gauteng52 draws to a close (only seven weeks left!) I need to give Marie-Lais Emond a shout-out. Her encyclopedic knowledge of secret Jozi places has made this series much more interesting than it would have been without her.

If you’re not reading Marie-Lais’ weekly “Other Side of the City” column in the Saturday Citizen newspaper, which features my photos, now is a good time to start. (The column doesn’t appear online, unfortunately, so to see it you have to buy the actual paper or follow Marie-Lais on Facebook.)

Anyway, Marie-Lais knew about the Jesuit Institute South Africa and the two of us went there to meet Father Russell Pollitt.

Jesuit Institute and swimming poolOne of several buildings that comprise the Jesuit Institute South Africa. The institute’s gardens are really spectacular.

Jesuit Institute residenceThe Jesuit Institute residence, built as a private home by Julius Jeppe in the early 1900s. (The Jesuits moved in several years ago.)

View of Joburg from the Jesuit InstituteView of downtown Joburg from the grounds of the Jesuit Institute.

The Jesuits

Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus, a Catholic congregation founded in the 1500s. The society is focused on scholarship, and according to its website the Jesuit Institute South Africa “is dedicated to encouraging debate on current social issues from a faith perspective and to stimulating critical reflection, research and dialogue”. Incidentally, the current Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope.

I won’t try to explain the Jesuit society any further, as I’m understandably uncomfortable discussing religions I know nothing about. If you want to learn more you can do what I did and read about it on Wikipedia. Or even better, go to Auckland Park and speak to Father Russell, who is a lovely person and happy to receive visitors.

Father Russell at the Jesuit Institute South AfricaFather Russell.

I really just want to talk about what a beautiful place the Jesuit Institute is. Visiting gave me a momentary yearning to become a Jesuit priest myself (if I were Catholic, that is, and a man). The institute is a peaceful, welcoming place that makes one want to sit down in the shade, read a book, and ponder the mysteries of the universe.

Speaking of books, the Jesuit Institute has a beautiful library with a great view over Melville and the northern suburbs.

Jesuit Institute library viewView from the top floor of the library. The books aren’t all religious; I saw a huge variety of subject matter during my quick browse.

Father Russell in the libraryFather Russell in the library.

My favorite place at the institute is the small chapel, which has a similar view to the library but with a lot more glass.

Inside the the Jesuit Institute chapelInside the chapel.

Side view from the Jesuit Institute chapelThe east-facing window in the chapel, which has a view of the Brixton Tower.

I’m not a religious person but I love visiting beautiful places of worship. I happened to visit this one right after The Breakup and it made me feel better, for a few hours at least. I was grateful for the opportunity.

Walkway at Jesuit InstitutePeace.

The Jesuit Institute South Africa is at 15 Molesey Avenue, Auckland Park. Call +27-11-482-4237 to schedule a visit. The institute also hosts interesting public events from time to time, and has a blog covering various timely news topics.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

Inside St. Sergius Russian Orthodox Church

#Gauteng52, Week 37: South Africa’s Only Russian Orthodox Church

Welcome to Week 37 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh, in Midrand.

If you’ve driven from Pretoria to Johannesburg, you’ve probably seen it: The white church with gleaming gold domes in Midrand, easily visible from the N3 Highway. Apparently lots of people show up at the gate of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh, simply because they have glimpsed the church from the road and are overcome by curiosity.

Outside the Russian Orthodox Church of St. SergiusThe Russian Orthodox Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh, built in 2003. The domes are covered in very thin gold leaf. Father Daniel, the priest, says it’s less than one kilogram of gold altogether.

If you read my blog, then you know I love visiting churches and places of worship of all kinds. So when I got invited to visit St. Sergius as part of an event organized by the Johannesburg Russian Tea Room Group, I eagerly accepted and invited my friends Ang and Gail.

St. Sergius is the only Russian Orthodox Church in sub-Saharan Africa (the next closest one is in Egypt), and it is spectacular.

Inside St. Sergius Russian Orthodox Church
Inside the church. There are no pews, just a few chairs around the edges, because parishioners usually stand during the 90-minute services.

Ceiling in Russian Orthodox Church That ceiling.

Detail of the ceiling at St. SergiusDetail shot of the ceiling.

Side of the Russian Orthodox Church
The church is built in the shape of a cross. This is one of the two side areas.

Orthodox church ceilingAnother ceiling shot, this one taken from the upstairs gallery where the choir normally sits.

Father Daniel at St. SergiusFather Daniel Lugovoi, the priest assigned to St. Sergius. Father Daniel, along with his wife and children, moved here from Russia for this assignment in 2010.

Father DanielI was charmed by Father Daniel.

I was fascinated by this church, as I am by all churches, and I imagine it would be even more fascinating to go during an actual service. Father Daniel says anyone is welcome at any of the services, although most of them are in Russian. (There are some English services though.) The schedule is here.

Russian Orthodox church entranceThe other side of St. Sergius.

The Russian Orthodox Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh is located at the corner of Wattle and 8th Street in Midrand. Call +27-76-565-2225 or email rector@st-sergius.info.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

Krishna deities at Lenasia temple

#Gauteng52, Week 33: The Hare Krishnas of Lenasia

Welcome to Week 33 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit ISKCON Lenasia, home to Gauteng’s Hare Krishnas.

When I was about 14, my family took a trip to San Francisco. I remember virtually nothing about the trip expect for one afternoon in Carmel, a town outside San Francisco, when a group of Hare Krishnas paraded down the street chanting their mantra: “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”

The Hare Krishnas wore robes and thongs and had interesting makeup and hair styles. It was the craziest and most wondrous thing my teenage eyes had ever seen.

I didn’t give the Hare Krishna movement much thought until nearly 30 years later, when my boyfriend’s brother Hal told me about a Hare Krishna temple in Lenasia, the historically Indian township in Joburg’s far south. Hal found himself in Lenasia late last year and stumbled upon ISKCON Lenasia. (ISKCON stands for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.) He and his friends enjoyed a free vegetarian meal at the temple.

ISKCON Lenasia, home to Lenasia's Hare KrishnasISKCON Lenasia, which I believe is the largest Krishna temple in Gauteng province.

A couple of months later I also found myself in Lenasia, learning about Gandhi and his time at Tolstoy Farm. I visited ISKCON Lenasia too, but didn’t blog about it right away. The visit was brief and I didn’t have time to learn very much. Also I wanted to come back on a Sunday to experience the weekly “Love Feast”, when hundreds of devotees gather at the temple for a huge meal and various family-oriented activities.

Anyway, it’s now seven months later and I’m not sure I’ll make it back to ISKCON Lenasia before the end of my #Gauteng52 series. The photos are too interesting not to share, so I’m putting this out there now.

ISKCON is a movement based on Hindu scripture, founded by Srila Prabhupada, aka Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in 1966. As I said, I didn’t have time to fully immerse myself in the tenets of ISKCON so I’ll share my pictures with minimal commentary.

Visiting the Hare Krishnas at ISKCON Lenasia

The temple appears to have been converted from a more conventional house, and is quite intimate inside. We entered into a small hallway, with a kitchen to the right, a bookstore/gift shop straight ahead, and a wide stairway to the left that leads up into the temple itself. The manager of the temple — sadly I forgot to write down his name — was very kind to take us for a mini tour even though we arrived unannounced.

The upstairs temple is amazing.

Deity area at ISKCON LenasiaThe main deity area in the temple.

Krishna deities with monkThe staff opened the glass doors so I could photograph the deities up close. The man on the right is a Krishna monk from Ukraine, who was working at ISKCON Lenasia at the time of my visit.

Krishna deities at Lenasia templeA closer look at the beautiful deities.

Statue of Serial PrabhupadasI love this statue of Srila Prabhupadas, founder of the Krishna movement. 

Makhosonke, staff member at ISKCON LenasiaMakhosonke, a staff member and devotee at ISKCON Lenasia.

Manager at ISKCON LenasiaThe nice manager (name forgotten), shows us around the peaceful Tulasi garden.

Hari Krishna plantsI can’t remember the name of these plants, but they are sacred to Hare Krishnas. You’re not allowed into the greenhouse without performing a special cleansing ceremony first.

When to Visit ISKCON Lenasia

We showed up randomly in the middle of a weekday. The temple does prepare food several times every day, which is available to the public at no charge (a great service to the community). But as I said, the best time to go is Sunday at 10:00 a.m. for the Love Feast, which I believe lasts all day. I’m still going to do that at some point, for sure.

Marie-Lais wearing a wreathMy friend Marie-Lais wearing the lovely garland she received. I got one too.

ISKCON Lenasia is at 7971 Capricorn Avenue, Ext 9, Lenasia (entrance on Nirvana Drive East). Call +27-11-854-1975 or email lenasia@iskcongauteng.com.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

 

Outside Master Mansions

A Magical Visit to Master Mansions

A couple of weeks ago I attended the book launch for Master Mansions. Master Mansions is the eighth in a ten-book series called “Wake Up, This is Joburg”: written by Tanya Zack, photographed by Mark Lewis, and published by Fourthwall Books.

Master Mansions book
My precious copy of Master Mansions. Just a side note about the “Wake Up This is Joburg” books: If you attend the launch of one of the books, then buy the book and impatiently rip it out of the plastic right away, please do not do so while eating canapés. You’ll risk putting greasy fingerprints on the delicate, un-laminated cover of the book. (I photoshopped my fingerprint out of the picture above.)

The “Wake Up This is Joburg” series is fantastic. I learned about it late, after the first five books had already sold out, so I only have numbers six, seven, and eight. (Nine and ten haven’t been released yet.) The narrative in these books — which are more like fancy pamphlets, covered with thick, matte paper and bound with staples — is exceptional and the photography is inspiring. The short stories are required reading for anyone who appreciates Joburg’s beautiful oddity.

At the book launch my friend Gail approached Harshad Bhikha Master, one of the owners of Master Mansions, and asked if he’d be willing to show us around the building. Mr. Master, who prefers to be called Grandfather, graciously agreed. The following week I visited Master Mansions with Gail and my other friend Marie-Lais.

Outside Master MansionsThe ground floor of Master Mansions, at the corner of Ntemi Piliso Street (formerly West Street) and Commissioner Street.

I’ve walked and driven past Master Mansions 100 times and always wondered about it. It turns out the the building’s history is more tantalizing than I imagined.

I can’t recount it all here, and I don’t want to anyway because I won’t do as good a job as Tanya and Mark. If you’re really interested I highly recommend ordering a copy of Master Mansions immediately, as the “Wake Up, This Is Joburg” print runs are very small. As of now — 9:00 p.m. South African time on 4 June 2017 — there are still copies available on the Fourthwall website. There might also be copies at independent bookstores around town. (Check Bridge Books and David Krut Bookstore.) But not for long.

Inside Master Mansions

Master Mansions is on the west side of downtown Joburg in an area called Ferreirasdorp, on the edge of the original city limits.

Historic mosaic outside Master Mansions
This mosaic outside Master Mansions, by Joburg artist Andrew Lindsay, reads: “RANDJESLAAGTE TRIANGLE: This site marks the eastern boundary of the Ransjeslaagte Triangle, where Johannesburg was founded in 1886. Randjeslaagte was a piece of uitvalgrond — land left over from the farms surveyed around it.”

Here is a truncated description of the history of Master Mansions:

In 1895, Uka Prema Prajapati came to Johannesburg from Gujarat in India. Uka Prema made a living as a fruit and vegetable seller and eventually expanded his business. Uka Prema’s son, Bhikha Uka Prajapati, was an even more successful businessman and master bookkeeper. He changed his surname to Master to match his profession, and started a hat business with two of his cousins. The business was called Master Brothers, shortened to Mabro. Bhikha and his partners became evermore successful, purchased land in western Johannesburg, and built Master Mansions on the site in 1941.

Mabro HatsMaster Mansions, home of Mabro Hats.

Master Mansions housed Mabro Hats and multiple generations of the Master family. Mabro Hats was in a good spot; the Johannesburg Magistrates Court was a block away and hats were required dress code for anyone appearing in court.

During apartheid, when most Indians in Joburg were forcibly removed to Lenasia, Master Mansions became a stopping place for Indians who had nowhere to stay in the city. The Masters built a small, hexagonal-shaped Hindu temple on the roof of the building, where Bhikha’s wife Jyotsna prayed every day along with visiting gurus and swamis.

The Mabro Hat staff designed and produced hats for countless prominent South Africans, including the hat that Winnie Mandela wore to her husband’s inauguration.

Eventually Mabro Hats could no longer compete with cheap imports from China. The hat business closed in 2007. Harshad Master (Grandfather), youngest son of Bhikha, was the last Master to manage Mabro Hats. Today Grandfather runs a Malaysian traditional medicine business in the building next door, called SHM Distributors.

The Masters still maintain a warehouse full of haberdashery, felt, hat moulds, and other supplies. Local hatmakers continue to purchase those supplies from the Masters.

Master MansionsThe white building to the right of Master Mansions, with the pink SHM Distributors sign at the top, is where Grandfather runs his medicine business today.

The old hat factory is still there, although it’s locked up, and the Master Mansions building is occupied by a mix of Indian, Pakistani, and African residents. The Hindu Temple looks the same as it did 50 years ago.

Master Mansions reflection
A reflection of Master Mansions. The white dome on the top-right is the Hindu Temple.

View from top of Master MansionsView from the top floor of Master Mansions.

Grandfather led us up seven flights of stairs (the elevator doesn’t work) to the well-kept flat at the top. The entrance to the temple is inside the flat, surrounded by beveled glass.

Bedroom outside temple in Master MansionsThe top-floor flat, occupied by the building’s maintenance manager.

Entrance to Master Mansions templeThe entrance to the temple.

Grandfather unlocked the temple doors. We removed our shoes and stepped inside.

Master Mansions Hindu Temple interiorInside the temple.

Harshad Master inside Hindu TempleGrandfather explains the history of his family and Master Mansions.

After we visited the temple, Grandfather took us to the warehouse.

Harshad Master in the warehouse Grandfather stands among hundreds of wooden and metal hat moulds. The factory has boxes and boxes of ribbon, plastic flowers, pins, and various other hat accessories. 

Mabro Hat boxI love this box.

As we wandered the dimly lit aisles, I spotted a shiny bit of red and purple satin sitting alone on a shelf. I picked up the hat and put it on.

“That hat was made for you,” said Marie-Lais. “You can’t leave without it.”

I turned to Grandfather. “How much for this?” I asked.

“It’s a sign from God,” Grandfather said. “You must take it.”

Grandfather was right.

Heather and her Mabro hatMy hat soulmate. Photo by Gail Wilson.

Thank you to Tanya Zack, Mark Lewis, Gail Wilson, and Grandfather for inspiring this post.

Colorful guy

#Gauteng52, Week 9: Kavady at the Melrose Temple

Welcome to Week 9 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Melrose Temple, a 150-year-old Tamil temple in Joburg’s northern suburbs, during its holiest festival of the year.

I’ve put off writing this post for a couple of weeks because I wasn’t sure where to start.

First, the basics:

The Melrose Temple, also known as the Johannesburg Melrose Shree Siva Subramaniar Temple, was founded around 1870 in what is now the Joburg suburb of Melrose. The original temple was built by ethnic Tamils who came from India to South Africa’s Natal colony as indentured laborers. When their indentured servitude ended, the Tamils migrated north and found work at a commercial laundry along the Jukskei River. (This was 20 years before the founding of Johannesburg.)

The Tamils began to practice their faith on the land surrounding the laundry, and eventually the laundry’s owner gave them the land to build their temple. The temple remains in the same spot today.

Melrose Temple outsideThe Melrose Temple as it looks today — it’s been rebuilt a couple of times since 1870. I need to go back again sometime when the temple is less crowded. There were thousands of people there the day I went, which made it difficult to get decent photos of the temple itself.

If you’re familiar with apartheid and its history of segregation and forced removals, then you’ll appreciate how remarkable it is that this temple and its congregation have survived intact — in one of Joburg’s wealthiest, whitest neighborhoods — for nearly 150 years.

The Melrose Temple is dedicated to Lord Murugan, the most important Tamil deity. I visited the temple during Thai Poosam Kavady, the annual festival honoring Murugan.

I was amazed and overwhelmed by what I experienced at this festival. I’ve thought about it a lot and I even met with two devotees from the Melrose Temple this past weekend, to educate myself about Tamil culture and the significance of Kavady. I’m still not sure I can provide a sufficient explanation to accompany the photos I’m about to show.

In the briefest possible terms, Thai Poosam Kavady (or Kavady for short) is a ten-day festival that falls during the Tamil month of Thai (which has nothing to do with Thailand). During the ten days, devotees of Lord Murugan choose to fast in a variety of ways, leading up to the final day when the devotees “carry Kavady” as a way of offering devotion and prayers to Murugan. A Kavady is a symbolic yoke, which the devotees decorate in different ways with flowers and food. Some of the devotees go into a trance, channelling the spirit of Murugan or other gods. Many devotees also choose to pierce their skin with pins and hang offerings — flowers and fruit and small tins of milk — from those pins. (Read more on Wikipedia.)

The Melrose Temple holds the largest Kavady celebration in South Africa: Between 7,000 and 10,000 people attended this year.

I’m sure this all sounds a little confusing but hopefully it will make more sense with the photos. By the way, the photos could be disturbing to some readers. You’ve been warned.

Thai Poosam Kavady at the Melrose Temple

The day of the festival was a blazing hot Sunday. The sun was already beating down when I arrived at 8:00 a.m. I walked past a field filled with dozens of massive pots, bubbling over open flames. Everyone who attends the festival receives a hearty meal of vegetarian biryani.

When I reached the yard of the temple, I took off my flip-flops. (Shoes aren’t allowed.) Hundreds of people had already arrived and were gathering in the field on the other side of the temple.

Carrying Kavady at Melrose TempleDevotees line up with their Kavady offerings at the beginning of the day. Kavady is celebrated differently in different parts of the world. In South Africa, most devotees use marigold flowers and limes in their offerings and many of them wear yellow. 

Cleansing smokeDevotees prepare offerings to Murugan by cleansing metal vessels with smoke and then filling the vessels with milk. They carry the vessels in a Kavady, in a symbolic pilgrimage around the temple, and then pour the milk over one of the deities as an offering.

The drumming and chanting started an hour after I arrived. Incense burned, forming fragrant clouds above thousands of marigolds. The devotees began to enter into trance.

Tedrick Naicker at KavadyA devotee, already in a trance, receives his piercings. The devotees often put their tongues out — a commitment to be silent while carrying Kavady — and/or get piercings through their lips and tongues.

The man on the right in the photo above (with a beard) is Lushen Pather, former chairman of the Melrose Temple. He found this picture on Instagram and contacted me, and then he and his friend Vinesh Dorasamy met me last weekend and explained lots of things about Tamil religion and Kavady. I’m really grateful to them.

Tedrick with piercings The devotee with his piercings. Three is a holy number so the number of piercings is always divisible by three. Devotees receive up to 108 piercings. 

Tedrick's backA close-up of his back. The small brass receptacles hold milk inside.

I started to feel woozy, but collected myself. The photos don’t convey what it feels like to watch this.

Vines going into a tranceI think this man, whose name is Niren Moodley, was just entering his trance at this moment.

Vinesh in tranceNiren mesmerized me and I wound up following him the whole morning.

Vinesh againNiren stands in front of his chariot as fellow devotees pierce his skin. More on the chariots later.

Kavady blessingThe devotees who go into trance are often moved to channel their deity and bless other devotees. Side note: These two men have spectacular heads of hair.

Eventually, the devotees organize themselves into lines in the field and begin a symbolic pilgrimage around the neighborhood surrounding the temple. They then re-enter the temple grounds and circle the temple at least three times. (Remember, everything is in threes.)

Kavady processionThe start of the procession.

Young child carrying KavadyA young child joins the procession.

Once the procession was in full swing, I spotted Niren again. Niren is one of the devotees who pinned himself to a chariot carrying his deity and pulled the chariot the whole way around the block and back around the temple.

Vinesh with chariotAt this point Niren has already pulled the chariot a hundred meters or so. But he is preparing for the hardest part — dragging the chariot onto the street and pulling it uphill for a very long distance. Remember, the chariot is connected to him through pins. In his skin.

Pulling the chariotPulling the chariot uphill past a power station. Niren also has coconuts hanging from the piercings on his back. The boy next to him is pulling a stereo speaker playing music.

Shaun dancing in front of VineshThe man dancing in front of Niren is named Shaun. It’s Shaun’s job to channel the spirit of the mother of Lord Murugan, to motivate Niren to keep going.

Shaun and VineshAt one point Niren went down on all fours and struggled to stand again. Shaun put his forehead against Niren’s and began to scream and dance. Soon afterward Niren stood up and continued.

Vinesh and chariotThen the road levelled out and the worst was over.

I followed Niren and his crew back through the temple gate, then watched him run his chariot six times around the temple. Lots of other devotees were circling the temple too. It was a noisy kaleidoscope of colorful chaos.

Woman carrying KavadyA solitary woman carries her Kavady around the temple.

Woman pulling chariotI was especially impressed by the women pulling chariots.

Bad-ass womanThis woman is bad-ass. She looked well under five feet tall and literally motored, pulling her chariot like it was weightless.

Drummer wearing funny shirtA band of drummers accompanying a devotee. Gotta love this guy’s tee-shirt.

Guy with tons of flowersI’m running out of words at this point.

Chariot pictureI think this is my favorite chariot-running picture.

That’s pretty much it.

With the exception of the heat and sunburn (definitely wearing a hat next time), I loved everything about this experience. It was incredibly moving and inspiring. I especially loved the giant plate of delicious vegetarian food that I received at the end (sorry, too hungry to take pics) and didn’t have to pay for. Kavady is all about giving and receiving.

Colorful guyThis is the same guy from earlier, with the great hair.

Thanks so much to my friend Gail for introducing me to the Melrose Temple and this amazing festival. And thanks again to Lushen and Vinesh for taking the time to sit down with me and explain Kavady. You guys are awesome.

Everyone is welcome to attend the Kavady festival at the Melrose Temple, as long as you’re respectful and follow the etiquette like removing your shoes, etc. The temple’s events calendar is here. You can visit the temple at other times too but it’s best to arrange in advance.

The Melrose Temple is located on 2nd Street in Melrose. For more information, call +27-79-696-6445 or +27-11-728-6590 or email bookings@melrosetemple.org.za.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

Rabbi Nathan Obiekwe at Bethel Messianic on Yom Kippur

#TheGodProject: Nigerian Jews in Joburg

There is a congregation of Nigerian Jews in Joburg. Who knew?

Rabbi Nathan Obiekwe at Bethel Messianic on Yom KippurRabbi Nathan Obiekwe of the Bethel Messianic Assembly in Yeoville.

I first visited the Bethel Messianic Assembly in October, to take photos for my friend Marie-Lais’ “Other Side of the City” column in the Citizen. Marie-Lais and I showed up unannounced, but fortunately the door was open.

“What religion are you?” asked the man at the door.

“I’m Jewish,” I said proudly, figuring my religious heritage would give us a foot in the door. The man led Marie-Lais and me inside and introduced us to the rabbi, Nathan Obiekwe. Rabbi Nathan greeted us warmly and we sat down for a chat. On our way through the outdoor passage that led to Rabbi Nathan’s lounge, I noticed a large room filled with people, all lying on the floor.

Rabbi Nathan in his loungeRabbi Nathan in the lounge of his home. The house doubles as the Bethel Messianic synagogue. Note that the rabbi is holding a bible in his hand — this congregation reads frequently from both the old and new testaments.

“Why are there so many people here on a Wednesday morning?” I asked the rabbi after a few minutes of small talk.

Rabbi Nathan looked at me curiously. “Today is Yom Kippur,” he said, half smiling.

Busted. I’m technically Jewish but I’ve never practiced. I’m so ignorant of the religion of my birth that I didn’t realize we happened to visit Bethel Messianic on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

Mocha Egbo, one of several leaders in the synagogueMoshea Egbo, one of several leaders in the Bethel Messianic congregation, reads from the Torah during Yom Kippur. The congregation usually sits on chairs during prayers, but on Yom Kippur they sit or lie on the floor.

Fortunately Rabbi Nathan didn’t judge me. (Or if he did, he kept those thoughts to himself.) He was extremely welcoming to Marie-Lais and me, and then welcomed me back a few months later when I returned with my blogger friend Ang to do a story about Bethel Messianic for #TheGodProject.

Inside the Bethel Messianic Assembly

I’m not going to give away too much about the Nigerian Jews of Joburg in this post. If you’ve read my God Project posts before, then you know Ang writes an in-depth post about the experience on her blog, and I mainly just share photos on mine. I’ve got lots (and lots) of photos to share.

Rabbi Nathan during Shabbat prayersRabbi Nathan addresses his congregation during Shabbat Prayers — the religious service that happens every week on the Sabbath (between nightfall on Friday and nightfall on Saturday).

Nigerian Jews at Bethel MessianicSinging and dancing during Shabbat prayers.

Band at Bethel MessianicThe service includes a full band with drums, trumpet, vocals, and an electric guitar. This was the best religious music I’ve ever heard, by a long shot.

Rabbi's wife and childThe rabbi’s wife and son dance at the back of the congregation during Shabbat prayers. The women and children stick to the back row.

Rabbi Nathan's daughterRabbi Nathan’s daughter.

I thought nothing could beat the last religious service Ang and I visited for #TheGodProject — a wedding ceremony at the Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church. But Shabbat prayers at Bethel Messianic blew my mind even further.

Moshea Egbo at ShabbatMoshea Egbo again.

Mocha Egbo, trainee at Bethel Messianic
This guy knows how to pray.

Sonny with bell during ShabbatPrince, aka Sonny, another leader of the synagogue who also happens to be my neighbor in Melville.

Woman outside the synagogueWomen on their periods are not allowed inside the synagogue, and I’m assuming that’s why this woman and her child were outside. But that didn’t stop her from singing, dancing, and enjoying the service, despite the fact that rain was bucketing down.

Rabbi Nathan leading the serviceRabbi Nathan has quite a presence.

I don’t agree with everything I saw and heard at Bethel Messianic — the gender inequality, for example, and the anti-Islamic sentiment and the unexpected outpouring of praise for Donald Trump. But I was fascinated by the story of Nigeria’s Igbo Jews and the Messianic interpretation of Judaism. I was completely charmed by Rabbi Nathan and his determination to journey thousands of miles from home to build a congregation in South Africa, against stiff odds and a lack of acceptance and respect among mainstream Jews.

I also love the message Rabbi Nathan sent me via whatsapp, the evening after our visit: “May Elohim bless and keep you, oh daughter of Jacob.”

I’m not sure why, but I like the idea of being a daughter of Jacob. If I ever decided to become Jewish for real, I’d be tempted to do it at Bethel Messianic Assembly.

Rabbi Nathan outside Bethel Messianic AssemblyRabbi Nathan outside the synagogue on Yom Kippur.

Read all of my #TheGodProject posts. And read Ang’s post here.

The Bethel Messianic Assembly is at 105 Regent Street in Yeoville. 

Inside Ethiopian church

#TheGodProject: Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

For the last year or so, my friend Ang at JOZI.REDISCOVERED and I have been working on a blog collaboration called #TheGodProject. We visit different places of worship around Johannesburg. Ang interviews a spiritual leader (or leaders) at the place of worship, and I take photos. Then we both publish posts on our blog. In this installment of the series, we visited the Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Bertrams, just up the road from Ponte City.

I’m not going to say much about the church itself or the history of Orthodox Christianity. Ang will have all that covered and you should definitely read her blog for the fascinating details. My post is all about photos. This church is, without a doubt, one of the top five coolest places that I’ve taken photos in Joburg. I’ve done my best to show you only my very favorites, but there are lots.

Before I start the slideshow, I’d like to thank my friend James, the owner of James XVI Ethiopian in Maboneng. James organized our visit to the Tewahedo Church and it was a particularly spectacular Sunday to attend services there. You’re the best, James, and so is your food.

Visiting the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

James’ brother drove us to the church and dropped us in the parking lot, introducing us to a man named Behailo, the secretary of the church. Behailo invited us in, mentioning that there was a wedding happening today, and said we could come find him in his office whenever we were finished observing the service. Ang and I removed our shoes, covered our heads, and walked into the chapel.

View from the back of the Ethiopian churchOur view when we first entered the chapel. Women sit on the right side and men sit on the left.

There was indeed a wedding happening, and I noticed right away that there were a bunch of photographers set up in the front of the church. A wedding press box! I plunged through the crowd, camera around my neck, and joined the rest of the media. No one seemed to mind, even though I was the only non-Ethiopian photographer/videographer there.

Wedding videographyOne of a few videographers at the wedding. The the photographers were evenly divided between men and women.

View from the front of the churchView from the front of the church. People praying, people holding babies, kids playing on iPads…The service was long and people weren’t expected to pay attention the whole time.

Bridal partyThe bridal party. The lady kneeling on the far right, wearing a crown, is the bride. The groom wasn’t with her until later. 

Ethiopian church service 2Seriously, could this church be any more beautiful? I had no idea what was going on as the service is conducted in a language called Ge’ez, which I believe is similar to Amharic. But I was transfixed. Incidentally, this building used to be owned by the Rhema Church, a huge South African evangelical church, and my boxing coach George used to run a gym here.

Marvin and the umbrellaThe man with the umbrella, I would later learn, is a deacon named Marvin. Marvin is not Ethiopian. He is a colored guy from El Dorado Park — a former Rastafarian who became interested in Ethiopian religion and converted to Orthodox Christianity. Ang will have more to say about Marvin.

Women prayingWomen praying.

Ethiopian brideAnother look at the bride.

Ethiopian priest
The priest, doing his thing with the incense.

Giant bibleAfter the priest walked through, this man came behind him with a giant bible and everyone kissed it. 

Preparing communionPreparing communion.

The longer I stood in the press pit, the more I noticed the children. There were tons of children around and they had free reign of the place. The kids wandered wherever they wanted, even crawling right in the pulpit behind the priest, and no one seemed to mind.

Cute kidCute kid.

Cute little girlCute kid just hanging around.

Mom and baby in church Mom and baby. There’s Ang in the back.

Well dressed kid in Ethiopian Orthodox ChurchThis kid wins the prize for best dressed. His outfit matches his mom’s — I think they were part of the bridal party.

Kids waiting for communion at Ethiopian Orthodox ChurchAt one point all of the kids crowded up to the front of the church, for some kind of kids-only communion. I was surrounded by a sea of cuteness.

Church guy talking to kidThis church official was showing the kids, very kindly and patiently, how to stand when they accept their communion.

Smiling girl in Ethiopian Church Cuteness!

Inside Ethiopian churchCheck the kid in the front. At this point in the service, a group of men and women were lined up in the front singing, while a few people played drums in the background. It was so beautiful and fun.

We stayed for well over an hour, but the service was still going strong and we needed to speak to Behailo. Sadly, we left before the service ended.

Outside the Ethiopian Church Scene outside the church.

Behailu in his officeBehailo in his office next to the chapel, showing us the Amharic alphabet on his phone.

We finished with Behailu, and by the time we got outside the service had ended. We watched everyone come outside and I ate some tasty Ethiopian food that was being served in the church courtyard.

Wedding carThe wedding car.

We had a brief, fascinating chat with Marvin, and then it was time to go.

Marvin, deacon at Ethiopian Tewahedo church
Marvin outside the church.

Taking pictures at this church was an amazing experience. Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity seems like a lot of fun — at least it did during the two hours I spent at this church. I would love to go back someday.

Read JOZI.REDISCOVERED’s post.

Nizamiye Mosque minarets

Touring Joburg’s Mosques and Minarets

Joburg’s religious diversity is one of my favorite things about the city. There are so many beautiful churches and mosques and temples, representing every faith imaginable, and while I’m not a religious person I love visiting places of worship. (See the “God Project” series that I’m doing with Jozi Rediscovered. By the way, you can expect a new God Project post very soon.)

So when I saw that the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation was offering a “Mosques and Minarets” bus tour, visiting three mosques in different parts of town, I signed up. I usually avoid bus tours, but Joburg is vast and sometimes wheeled transport is necessary when visiting far-flung parts of town.

As often happens on tours like this, I get distracted taking pictures and miss a lot of the interesting information imparted by the guides. Nonetheless, we had fantastic guides and one of them was the legendary Flo Bird, founder of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation.

Flo Bird with Muhammed DockratFlo Bird (right) with Mohammed Docket, chairman of the Northcliff Jummah Musjid.

I did manage to absorb a few details, which I’ll share along with many mosque photos.

The Nizamiye Mosque

We met the bus in Parktown (it was full — Joburg Heritage tours are very popular) and proceeded up the M1 highway to the Nizamiye mosque in Midrand. I’ve written about the Nizamiye mosque — a smaller replica of the Selimiye Camii mosque in Turkey — before, so I won’t repeat myself. But I will repeat that this mosque is spectacular and such a fun place to visit. If you haven’t been yet, go. The mosque is open every day and tours are free.

Nizamiye Mosque minaretsLooking up from inside the courtyard at the Nizamiye mosque.

Shoes outside the Nizamiye MosqueThe most fabulous pair of shoes left outside the mosque’s prayer hall.

People gathered inside the Nizamiye mosqueTourists inside the mosque. We had a brief but informative lecture from my old friend Ahmet Çoban, the PR representative at the Nizamiye Complex.

Ceiling of Nizamiye mosqueThe ceiling of the Nizamiye mosque, hand-painted by artisans from Turkey.

Tiles in the Nizamiye mosqueOne of thousands of handmade tiles in the mosque.

Nizamiye mosque sketchMy friend Fiver came on the tour and decided to bring her sketchbook rather than a camera. This is her Nizamiye mosque sketch in progress.

Please go back and read my old post about Nizamiye for more information.

Northcliff Jummah Musjid

We loaded ourselves back into the bus and headed across town to the residential suburb of Northcliff, where we visited the Northcliff Jummah Musjid. (“Jummah” means Friday in Arabic, and “Musjid” means mosque.) This small, yellow-brick mosque, which accommodates less than 200 worshipers, is about a tenth the size of the Nizamiye mosque, with far less grandeur. But I loved the beautiful simplicity of this community gathering place.

Northcliff Jummah MusjidOutside the Northcliff Jummah Musjid. 

Northcliff Jummah Musjid minaretThe mosque’s single minaret.

I enjoyed the short talk by Muhammed Dockrat, the Northcliff Jummah Musjid chairperson, about the origin of this mosque. It was only completed about five years ago. (Thinking back now, I vaguely remember watching the mosque take shape during weekly visits to the Impala fruit and veg shop, which is across the street.) But the process began many years before, when the Northcliff congregation first began meeting in a creche (nursery school) across the road. Eventually they raised enough money to purchase a house, where they held services temporarily as the mosque was constructed on an adjacent property.

Northcliff Jummah Musjid wood carvingIncredible woodwork on the mosque’s front door.

Northcliff Jummah Musjid imamOmar Bham, the imam at Northcliff Jummah Musjid. An imam is to Islam what a minister or priest is to Christianity.

Northcliff Jummah Musjid carpetI love the carpets in this mosque. Then again, I’ve never met a mosque carpet that I didn’t love.

I would have liked to spend more time at Northcliff Jummah Musjid, taking photos and talking to the staff. But we had to hurry on to our final destination — the mosque that drove me to sign up for this tour in the first place.

Kerk Street Mosque

The Kerk Street Mosque, located in the heart of downtown Joburg, is the oldest mosque in the city. (In an interesting side note, “Kerk” means church in Afrikaans.) Originally built in 1906, the Kerk Street Mosque was reconstructed in 1918 and again in 1990.

Kerk Street Mosque JohannesburgThe Kerk Street Mosque (right), at the corner of Kerk Street and Pixley Seme (formerly Sauer) Street.

Kerk Street Mosque minaret reflectionA reflection of the mosque’s minaret in the modern building across the street.

There are several things that I find amazing about this mosque:

1) Even though the building is relatively new, it still feels old.

2) Somehow the mosque blends in with the modern buildings around it, while also standing apart.

3) The mosque is built on Johannesburg’s square city grid, but the interior of the mosque is tilted 11 degrees to the north to face toward Mecca. Don’t ask me to explain this in further detail, as I am not an architect. But it doesn’t take an architect to see that this mosque is an architectural work of genius.

Kerk Street Mosque basementThe basement prayer area of the Kerk Street Mosque. How amazing are the arches? Apparently the arches are made more amazing by the fact that they are constructed completely of brick, with no steel whatsoever. Again, I can’t explain why this is significant. (#NotAnArchitect.) But the arches are stunning and my photo does them no justice whatsoever.

Inside the Kerk Street MosqueThe first floor prayer room in Kerk Street Mosque. There is also a balcony above this room, surrounded by a beautiful wooden lattice.

Kerk Street Mosque archesI struggled to take good photos inside this mosque. We were there in the late afternoon when there was very little natural light, my camera didn’t capture the colors properly, and the structure is just too magnificent to properly photograph. But here you can see a glimpse of the beautifully carved arches and the dome at the top.

Carving inside Kerk Street MosqueIntricate carving in the qibla wall, which faces toward Mecca and points congregants toward the correct direction in which to pray. (Hopefully I’m getting this right. If not, someone please correct me.)

Kerk Street Mosque reflectionsA reflection of the Kerk Street Mosque, shot from a small balcony outside the first floor.

My only complaint about this tour is that it was too short. I wanted to visit more mosques, as there are scores (maybe hundreds) in Joburg. I suppose I’ll have to do some explorations on my own, and hopefully the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation will have more mosque tours in the future.

If you’re interested in signing up for Johannesburg Heritage Foundation tours — the Foundation offers all different kinds of tours, all over the city — please follow them on Facebook. If you’re interested in seeing more Joburg mosque photos, check out this interesting blog.

My tour with the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation was complimentary. Opinions expressed are my own.

#TheGodProject: Johannesburg’s Home of Scientology

A few months ago, my friend Ang at JOZI.REDISCOVERED and I started #TheGodProject. The point of the project is to visit and document different places of worship in Johannesburg.

For the first installment, we started relatively simply with the one of Joburg’s Catholic churches. For the second installment we’re really going for it, investigating the Church of Scientology in Joburg.

When I say “we”, I really mean Ang. This project was her idea, and I’m just the girl trailing along behind her with a camera. My job in this project is to post a few pictures and refer you over to Ang’s blog, where the real action is taking place. In this case I am more than happy to do so, because the Church of Scientology is a pretty complex phenomenon and I am in no place to explain it to you right now.

Photos of Johannesburg’s L. Ron Hubbard House

I am, however, excited to share a few photos of the L. Ron Hubbard house in Linksfield Ridge, where Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard lived in 1960 and 1961. This beautiful historic house, built in the 1950s, is a registered Joburg heritage site and really worth a visit, whether you’re interested in Scientology or not.

Outside the L. Ron Hubbard House, JohannesburgThe house in Joburg’s eastern suburbs where L. Ron Hubbard lived for about six months in 1960-61.

Lounge of the L. Ron Hubbard House, JohannesburgThe living room of the house, which has been restored to look exactly as it did when L. Ron lived there.

Puneet and Ang at the L. Ron Hubbard HouseAng (right), interviewing Puneet Dhamija, the curator of the L. Ron Hubbard House and a staff member of the Church of Scientology, with L. Ron Hubbard memorabilia in the background.

Photos and memorabilia at the L. Ron Hubbard HouseSeveral rooms in the house are filled with museum displays documenting L. Ron Hubbard’s life. Let me summarize things for you: L. Ron Hubbard learned to read at age three, became an honorary Native American and an Eagle Scout, learned to type 94 words a minute, became a pilot, a ship captain, a doctor, a policeman, an author, a photographer, and a movie script writer, and basically did everything faster and better than any human ever has before or since. Okay, there might be a few things that L. Ron Hubbard didn’t do faster or better than any human ever has before or since. But I didn’t learn about those things at the museum.

Memorabilia at the L. Ron Hubbard HouseL. Ron’s special police badge.

Desk at the L. Ron Hubbard HouseL. Ron’s telephone.

Ang at L. Ron Hubbard's deskAng contemplates the meaning of life at the desk in L. Ron’s study.

The L. Ron Hubbard House kitchenL. Ron’s beautiful kitchen. I really love the blue floor tiles.

Swimming pool and view at the L. Ron Hubbard HouseThe swimming pool at L. Ron Hubbard House, with the downtown Jozi skyline in the distance. 

Dog at the L. Ron Hubbard HouseSheba, the dog mascot of L. Ron Hubbard House.

Scientology videos at the L. Ron Hubbard HouseScientology DVDs.

The Aims of Scientology
The sun never sets on Scientology.

I’ll leave it there for now. Go on over to Ang’s blog to get the real scoop on L. Ron and Scientology in Johannesburg. More #TheGodProject posts coming soon.

PS: The official website doesn’t really indicate this, but the L. Ron Hubbard House in Joburg is a public museum and anyone can rock up for free and take a tour. There’s more information on the L. Ron Hubbard Heritage site Facebook page.

#TheGodProject: A Catholic Church in Rosebank

A few months ago, my friend Ang at JOZI.REDISCOVERED asked me to partner with her on a blogging project. It would be called #TheGodProject, and the two of us would go around Joburg exploring different places of worship. Ang would interview the various religious leaders and write about the services, and I would take photos.

I’ve always been fascinated by religion so I jumped right on board. It took us a few months to get the project off the ground but we’re finally ready with our first post, about the Rosebank Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Church-outside

The Rosebank Catholic Church, at 16 Keyes Avenue in Rosebank.

I’m not going to say much about the church because the whole point is for you to go read Ang’s post. But I will say that this was my first time visiting this church, which is about 80 years old, and I found it incredibly beautiful and interesting. Here is my collection of photos from the Sunday evening service that we attended.

Virgin-Mary-and-ivy

A statue of the Virgin Mary in the church’s courtyard.

Station-of-the-Cross

A window inside the church illustrating one of the 14 Stations of the Cross (religious images of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion). Interestingly, this is the second time this year that I’ve mentioned the 14 Stations of the Cross in a blog post.

Full-church

A full house for the Sunday evening service. It’s technically called the “Youth Service”, although the parishioners were all different ages.

Deacon

Brent Chalmers, one of the deacons of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Ang will have a lot more to say about Brent in her post. He looks stern in this picture but is actually a very friendly guy.

Crucifix

The cross above the pulpit. Brent told us that the reddish lines on the marble below Christ’s hands just appeared there over the years, and no one knows how. 

Virgin-Mary-and-candles

The section of the church where parishioners go to light prayer candles.

Maxine

Maxine, a cute young girl who played guitar in the “youth band”. Maxine was the only youth in the band though. All of the other musicians ranged between 30 and 80.

At the end of the service I approached the priest, Tony Nunes, to thank him for letting Ang and I attend the service and take photos.

“It was a pleasure,” said Father Tony. “And what is your religious faith?”

A logical question, coming from a priest. But I had to pause for a panicky second, thinking of an answer.

“I’m Jewish,” I said.

This answer is 100% correct. My mother is Jewish so technically I’m Jewish too, even though I know next to nothing about Judaism. I was also baptised Episcopalian when I was a baby, attended a Methodist Sunday school as a kid, and now don’t follow any particular religion. But I didn’t want to get into all of that with Father Tony.

“Ah, I’ve just returned from Israel!” exclaimed Father Tony. “Amazing place.”

I smiled and nodded, praying (pardon the pun) that Father Tony wouldn’t ask me if I’ve ever been to the Wailing Wall or which shul I attend in Joburg.

“It was great meeting you, Father,” I said, backing away. “Thanks so much.”

“Of course,” said Father. “Shalom!”

#TheGodProject is going to be interesting.

Church-after-service

Thanks to the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Follow #TheGodProject on 2Summers and on JOZI.REDISCOVERED.

Pop-Up Travel: A Beautiful Church in Zimbabwe

Last November I visited Zimbabwe with Ray‘s family. During that trip, while driving back to Harare after our holiday in Nyanga, we turned off the A14 highway at a small sign for St. Faith’s High School. We were in a Zimbabwean province called Manicaland, a few minutes east of a town called Rusape.

We drove for a few kilometers down a bumpy dirt road, sweating in the mid-day heat. Eventually, right in the middle of the bush — in the middle of nowhere, really — we came upon one of the prettiest churches that I’ve ever seen.

St. Faiths outside2

St. Faith’s Church in Rusape, Zimbabwe.

We stopped to visit St. Faith’s — an Anglican church and mission school — for old time’s sake. Ray’s family has a history there. It’s a complicated story but here’s a brief recap:

A couple of decades ago Ray’s dad, Tim (who is a historian), visited St. Faith’s as a favor for a colleague. He was looking for a sculptor named Job Kekana. Kekana, who was South African but moved to Zimbabwe in the 1940s to work for a nun named Sister Pauline, had a workshop at St. Faith’s. Kekana specialized in religious woodcarvings and his work appears in churches all over the world. * (Read more about Job Kekana.)

Tim became friends with Job Kekana and visited him at St. Faith’s a few times over the years. Tim and Diana, Ray’s mom, also commissioned Kekana to carve a few sculptures for them. Kekana died in 1995.

Kekana carvings

Job Kekana sculptures in Ray’s parents’ living room.

Anyway, back to St. Faith’s. I’ve never seen anything quite like this church. It’s so huge and so remote — it seems to defy logic. Apparently the church was built in 1907 and I’m amazed that it has remained standing for more than 100 years. It’s made completely of wood, mud bricks, and thatch.

St Faiths outside1

Another view of the outside of St. Faith’s. I can’t figure out how it hasn’t burned down, or if it has burned down, why it doesn’t just burn down over and over again. It has a massive thatched roof and I didn’t see a lightning rod.

Inside St. Faiths2

Inside the nave of the church.

Inside St. Faiths1

I don’t know enough about the architecture of churches (or architecture in general) to accurately describe this picture. I know it’s beautiful though.

Station of Cross1

A carving of one of the 14 Stations of the Cross. I did some research into these carvings and it seems they weren’t actually carved by Job Kekana, but by another St. Faith’s sculptor named David Chituku.

I wish we’d had more time at St. Faith’s. Other than a friendly secondary school student who walked past and said hello to us, we didn’t have the chance to speak to anyone who lives or works there. I could have spent hours walking around inside and outside the church, taking photos. But we were in the middle of a long, hot car journey and it just wasn’t possible.

Inside St. Faiths4

Maybe I’ll make it back someday.

*Thanks to Tim for lending me a book called The Prophetic Nun, by Guy Butler, which provided some interesting background about Job Kekana and St. Faith’s. Also, today is Tim’s birthday. Happy birthday Tim!