PRESS COVERAGE 2005-2006
Plainsman, 23 February 2005
PLAIN, KHAYELITSHA SHARE CULTURES
Learning to bridge the racial divide
Situated a stone's throw away from each other, the communities of Mitchell's Plain and Khayelitsha have more in common than they realise.
Both areas have priority status in the president's urban renewal programme, but just over 10 years into our new democracy a great divide still exist between the two.
Last Saturday, a group of Mitchell's Plain residents crossed that divide during a cultural outing to Khayelitsha. The residents visited the home of Mary Mhango, who greeted them in traditional Xhosa.
The outing followed a culture workshop presented to a group of residents from Mitchell's Plain and Khayelistha by the Quaker Peace Centre earlier this month.
The workshop and outing formed part of the City's Wolfgat 21 Household Project.
As soon as the Mitchell's Plain residents arrived at Mrs Mhango's home, they were greeted by their fellow participants from Khayelitsha, many of whom were dressed in traditional Xhosa wear.
Mrs Mhango, with the help of neighbours and other participants then presented the different aspects of their Xhosa culture to the Mitchell's Plain residents.
She told them about a herb which the Xhosa people burn as incense to call on the spirits of their ancestors, the significance of the circumcision school Xhosa young boys go to in order to enter manhood, and the duties of a newly wed wife.
Mrs Mhango and her friends also prepared a traditional Xhosa feast for the Mitchell's Plain residents, including umqomboti-traditional African beer, ipens - sheep intestines and umngqusho - samp and beans.
After a long round of questions and feasting, the Mitchell's plan and Khayelitsha residents made their way to Tafelsig. As they made their way to the presentation, the Khayelitsha residents broke out in traditional African song and dance.
The Mitchell's Plain residents then presented their culture to their peers from Khayelitsha. Some of them wore traditional Islamic garb, and others were dressed in the I colourful outfits of
Cape minstrels and Malay choirs. Connie Adams of Tafelsig spoke about her culture as a Cape coloured and the significance of her Christian faith.
Wahieba Naidoo of Freedom Park then introduced the visitors to her Islamic culture and the significance of ceremonies like nikah - wedding ceremony and a janaazah - an Islamic burial.
The Mitchell's Plain participants presented a traditional Muslim meal - roti and curry to the group after answering questions about their cultures.
During the workshop, Mlungiseleli Dywili, of the Quaker Peace Centre, introduced the participants to the concept of cultural diversity and asked other to give an interpretation of the word "culture".
"Culture is influenced by the environment and the people. The constitution guards all our cultures.
"Each one of us needs to come with their own cultures and be willing to journey with each other. We have a lot to teach each other about our cultures", Mr Dywili said.
The participants said when they think of culture the think of it as religion, heritage, rituals, beliefs and language.
After sharing their interpretations on what culture means to them, the participants also shared the things they like most about their individual cultures.
Some mentioned the respect, love for food, traditional music and moral upbringing.
"We should all be proud of our culture. It is important that we do not keep it to ourselves but to share it with those around us.
"Before we can learn to understand each other, we need to understand each others' cultures," he said.
The participants also had a chance to switch roles as coloured and black communities and were asked to give their views on how the other perceived their cultures.
"All our cultures are different, but we have to identify and celebrate our similarities. We must also learn to respect and tolerate each other, irrespective of our different culture," Mr Dywili said.
Small focus groups discussed their cultures with each other and presented a collective summary to the group.