Sacred sites in South Africa
Did you know?
Shembe is a combination of Zulu culture and Christianity based on the old testament of the Bible.
Mosques, kramats (the holy graves of revered devotees of Islam) and Hindu temples abound in South Africa, as slaves from the east in the 17th and 18th centuries, and Indian sugar-cane workers who began arriving in KwaZulu-Natal in 1860, brought these faiths to our shores.
Among the most visited of the South African sacred sites is the Juma Masjid, or Grey Street Mosque in Durban, which was the first mosque built in KwaZulu-Natal. The mosque of geometrical design is the oldest in the southern hemisphere, its first 2 minarets rising in 1904.
Another is the Lord Vishnu Temple in Ladysmith, which boasts a fine statue of the great spiritual leader Mohandas Ghandi. In Ladysmith too is the beautiful Sufi Mosque on the banks of the Klip River, one of the most exquisite in the world.
Muslim sacred sites in South Africa are also aplenty. The Sunni Muslim Mosque in Claremont, Cape Town, the Auwal Mosque in Dorp Street, with its history dating back to 1794, the Nurul Islam Mosque in Buitengracht Street (the third-oldest in SA), the Masjied Boorhaanol Islam built in Longmarket Street in 1884 (the only Cape mosque declared a national monument), and the Palm Tree Mosque in Long Street, built in the 1780's, are key centres of Islam.
For Muslims, the most sacred land in South Africa consists of 20 Islamic grave shrines, or kramats, which encircle Cape Town, and with the aid of a booklet from the Cape Mazaar Society these can be visited in a day. The kramat of Sheikh Yusuf of Macassar, on the farm Zandvliet at Faure, is the most important, as he is regarded as the father of Islam in SA. He lies beneath ornamented quilts in a miniature mosque.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the most revered Zulu sacred sites are in the hills and valleys of eMakhosini near Ulundi, among them being the homestead of Shaka's grandfather Jama, "the place of unity and strength". In Limpopo, there are a number of sites sacred to the Venda, the most well-known being Lake Fundudzi.
South Africa also has what many spiritualists believe are 'energy centres', the best known of them being Table mountain in Cape Town, the Three Rondavels in Mpumalanga and Magaliesberg in North West province.
And for the first people of southern Africa, the San, there are many thousands of rock art sites around the Karoo and various mountain ranges that resemble their sacred communion with the spirit world.