On Saturday morning 25 May Cyril Ramaphosa was inaugurated as 6th president of democratic South Africa.  His, not unexpected 5 tasks, fixing the economy, addressing inequality, solving corruption, combating crime and land reform also include other elements like gender based violence and ways in which land will  be expropriated.  With some logistical problems with security and the many busloads of people over 30 000 finally attended. On a bright sunny winter’s day, at the Loftus Versfeld rugby grounds in Pretoria/Tshwane it was a day to remember, with entertainment and demonstrations by artists, the SANDF and Air Force.  Now the New Dawn for our country begins and, as Africa Day on 25th May had been chosen for the event, it is offered as a dream to the continent as a whole.

On Saturday afternoon members of “the cast”, choirs and orchestra gathered to prepare for a musical celebration of a more “colonial” hue. “The Last Night of the Proms” concert was held at the Linder Auditorium on the Wits College of Education campus on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. About 1400 people attended the 2 performances and thoroughly enjoyed the music by various orchestras and a pipe band, singing by soloists and choirs and exquisite Spanish dancing. Fun and a good time was had by all. This annual charity fundraising concert, an imitation of a century old tradition in the UK raised more than  R50 000 for LifeLine through raffles and donated items.  While the majority of the audience was traditional for such events, i.e. white middle-aged to elderly, a highlight was the participation by a good number of young people of all races. Some members of the local Youth Orchestra, Jeppe High School Girls’ choir, Jeppe boys and girls pipe band and other school orchestral groups added additional youthful colour.  In all it too was an event to remember.   The Pipe band video can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/JeppePipeBand/videos/303891217189427/

On Sunday morning I visited a quite remote parish at the far end of the Johannesburg Archdiocese to promote family life and MARFAM’s May theme PARENTS DO MATTER.  As always it was a good, participatory celebration of the Eucharist with an enthusiastic amateur choir leading the singing in which many of the congregation of some 400 joined in, except not much sound came from the children seated to one side.

How did all those events contribute to a New Dawn and a Brighter Future? What is required to build and achieve this? How can each of us play our part?


At the “Proms” concert the SA National Anthem was sung as usual in our 4 languages with some still having difficulty over some of the words.  The Hallelujah chorus is always a favourite. Traditional songs from the British tradition wisely had adapted South African words to the well-known music. Jerusalem and building a new land was reminiscent of the inauguration event of the morning. It was the Elgar chorus from his Pomp and Circumstance March that provided some food for thought. The original words to “Land of Hope and Glory,” is almost a 2nd British national anthem, popular at football and rugby matches. Those original words speak of hope and glory but of the British empire and of freedom,

Jeppe High School choir member and birthday girl!

sentiments that no longer fit well into our present South African sensibility.  The adapted South African words, “Land of many splendours,” nice as they are, leave out that element of hope, while still focusing on the diversity and unity that somehow run through all national anthems.


But picture this.  Consider all the different audiences at these events of the last few days, mostly black or mostly white, older or more youthful and more or less racially mixed, churchy or not. Faith-based organisations, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues or church groups that meet out in the open have an important role to play, like at a time when they can celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity soon from 2-9 June. Read more on this www.oikoumene.org/

For me in recent days it was the occasion of active interaction in the cultural – but still mostly western – musical setting at the Proms that pointed to a really hopeful sign for the brighter future for “all our people” as our President loves to say and for his and our “New Dawn.”  That is what we aspire to with that hope and that courage to perform those five tasks of which he spoke so eloquently not just for us down south but for all of Africa. In the opening words of our national anthem, “Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika.  God bless Africa!”    TR  FAMILY WEEKLY 29 MAY 2019


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