Thursday, November 6, 2008
After the long flight from London, we arrived at the Cape Town, South Africa, airport at 6:30 this morning (Thursday). What a pleasant place to begin this pilgrimage! There is almost a small town feel: no crowds, just a wave to get through customs, and friendly faces everywhere.
First impressions are always subject to revision, but Cape Town has the look and feel of a multi-cultural city that is both confident and relaxed in that identity. I heard many languages from many cultures as we walked to lunch and saw every shade from white to the darkest brown.
But I was drawn to the faces, silently asking whether I would see myself among these people. Asking whether the heritage that I embody would be welcome. Will this be a homecoming, or will I be a stranger in a strange land. I think I will be asking those questions in all the places we will visit. But the easy "good morning's" I exchanged with those I passed could have taken place at a Sinkford family reunion as easily as in Cape Town.
This afternoon we had a long lunch with Rev. Roux Malan of the Cape Town Unitarian Church. The congregation was called together by Rev. David Faure, a Dutch Reformed minister who rejected the strong Calvinism (predestination and human sinfulness) of that tradition. He was promptly excommunicated and formed what is now the Cape Town Unitarian Church in the late 19th century. In the 20th century, the Dutch Reformed Church was a primary supporter of apartheid. In recent years, that church has issued a public apology for that support.
Tomorrow we attend a mass led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the St. George Cathedral. He has invited us to have coffee with him after the service.
The trip is off to a good start.