Buthelezi: Diwali calls us to a deeper spirituality
TWO decades ago, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi attended the inaugural Durban Diwali Festival, at the Bay of Plenty, and was again present at the official opening, at the old Drive-in site, on Saturday evening.
Calling himself “a lifelong friend of the Indian community”, Buthelezi said he felt a deep connection to the event organisers, the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, for walking a long journey in the country.
“Indeed it was founded in the same year that my uncle, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, founded Africa’s oldest organisation for liberation (the ANC). The journey we have walked in South Africa has been walked side-by-side and hand-in-hand,” he told guests and festival goers.
He said, through his good friendships, he had the privilege of experiencing the heart of the Indian community.
“I know the value that you place on family and how deeply connected you are to your cultural identity. This is something I understand, for it resonates with my own value system. I also know how deeply you care for South Africa, for I have worked with many women and men who have given everything for the sake of service.
“I know, therefore, what has been achieved and what can be achieved by the Indian community.
“You are making an invaluable contribution to social justice, to the strengthening of democracy, to growing the economy and to building our nation.
“South Africa does not belong to one group. None of us are visitors in our own country. We have built this country together, through all our efforts. We are one nation with one destiny.”
Buthelezi said that unless we start from this truth, he did not see the country making any progress.
He said the country was going through a crisis, likening it to going through a dark tunnel as far as social and economic justice was concerned.
“But more and more things done in darkness are being exposed to the light.”
Buthelezi added that “corrupt people” are being taken out of positions and that the wrong needed to be exposed.
“…There is, undoubtedly, still a difficult road ahead. But it’s a road we can walk, if we walk it together.”
The danger, he said, came when people start sniping at each other, not only across racial lines, but even within families.
“If we want to secure a good future for ourselves and for the next generation, we need to start channelling our frustrations into positive activism… And whatever we do, it must be underpinned by the truth that we are all equally valuable, equally worthy and have equal rights.”
Before conveying his well-wishes to members of the Hindu faith, he said he had expressed deep thoughts for such a festive occasion.
“But Diwali calls us to a deeper spirituality.”
In his address, the president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Ashwin Trikamjee, said the 20th year occasion had come so quickly.
“I can remember in 1998 when we planned this festival. Many said it won’t work. But we took the plunge at the Durban Bay of Plenty and thousands turned up.”
Trikamjee said the festival did not only serve the Hindu community alone, but it had become an attraction for all South Africans.
The chairperson of the Cultural Religions Linguistic Rights (CLR) Commission, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said she hoped peace, tolerance and friendship united the country, adding “let the hate go away”.
PRINCE Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Ashwin Trikamjee (president of the South African Hindu Sabha) and Neeran Besesar (festival co-ordinator).
THE diya being lit at the start of the programme with Vasugie Singh, left, and Mridula Trikamjee. RIGHT: One of the cultural items performed at the official opening.