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religion

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. One of several buildings that comprise the Jesuit Institute South Africa. The institute’s gardens are really spectacular. The Jesuit Institute residence, built as a private home by […]

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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. The 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 […]

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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, which I believe is the […]

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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. 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 […]

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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. The Melrose Temple as it looks today — it’s been rebuilt a couple of times since 1870. I need to go back again sometime when […]

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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 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 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 […]

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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 […]

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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 (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 […]

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#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 […]

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#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. 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. A statue of the Virgin Mary in the church’s courtyard. 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 […]

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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. 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. […]

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Weekend Worship on the Koppies

In my last Melville Koppies post, I mentioned a Saturday morning guided hike in Koppies West that I planned to attend. I didn’t make it and I won’t bore you with my lame excuses. But to make up for our morning laziness, Joe and I took our own walk on Koppies West yesterday afternoon. Of all three Koppies sections, Koppies West is the largest and has the highest elevation. The view of downtown Joburg from Koppies West is jaw-dropping.

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