The Turquoise Harmony Institute hosted the 9th Annual Friendship and Dialogue Dinners series between 30 October and 4 November 2014. For the first time, the Dialogue Dinner series was hosted in four cities across South Africa, beginning in Johannesburg, before moving to Durban, Cape Town and culminating in Bloemfontein – with the tag line for the events being: “Four Cities, Four Days, A Thousand Friendships.”
The 2014 Dialogue Dinner series featured Rev. Dirk Ficca, a veteran of the global inter-religious movement and renowned interfaith activist. Rev. Ficca is the former executive director of the Parliament of World Religions, and is currently the international director of a social cohesion project out of f Malmö, Sweden called Open Skåne.
The Dialogue Dinner series is aimed at bringing together people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, linguistic and cultural groups to foster and encourage mutual understanding, tolerance and respect through social engagement and dialogue. The theme for the 2014 Dialogue Dinner series was: “Unconditionally for the Other”.
The 2014 series was well attended by representatives of different faith groups, religious and traditional leaders, community patrons, government officials, political leaders, social activist, teachers and educators, members of the academic community, sporting fraternity and the media.
Over 500 people combined attended the Dialogue Dinner series hosted in the four cities – which was aimed at reaching a diverse group of South African’s, and bringing them together under the auspicious of dialogue and encouraging social cohesion.
The City of Johannesburg served as the introductory leg of the 2014 Dialogue Dinner series, which was held on Thursday, 30 October 2014 at The Maslow Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg – in front of a crowd of 170 people.
Rev. Dirk Ficca delivered his key-note address for the first time in South Africa and was very positively received by members of audience, who continued to further engage with him after the event concluded. Turquoise Harmony Institute’s executive director, Mr. Ayhan Cetin gave the official welcome remarks.
ANC Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the party in the Gauteng Province, Mr. Paul Mashatile, MP was in attendance and delivered the special guest remarks – where the Honourable MP praised the work done by the Turquoise Harmony Institute, as it embodies the South African concept and philosophy of Ubuntu, along with crediting the Institute’s sister organizations, who are involved in education and humanitarian aid.
Additional comments and remarks were given by Prof. Tawana Kupe – Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of the Witwatersrand; Mr. Hoosain Karjieker – Chief Executive Office, Mail & Guardian Media; Adv. Mohamed Ameermia – Commissioner, Human Rights Commission of South Africa; Ms. Bokang Montjane – Founder, Bokang Legacy Foundation & Former Miss South Africa; and Ms. Saeedah Cachalia – anti-apartheid activist and community patron.
Among the invited guest who attended include: Dr. Suleyman Desdemir – President, Horizon Educational Trust; Mr. Mustafa Eroglu – Secretary-General, Horizon Educational Trust; Father Padraig Smyth – Head of Ecumenical & Inter-Religious Affairs, Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference; Mr. Serkan Ergul – secretary general, South African Turkish Business Association; Siphiwe Tshabalala – Kaizer Chiefs & Bafana Bafana Footballer; Adv. Zwelethu Madasa – Secretary General, Pan-African Parliament; Mrs. Amina Frense – Managing Editor, Judge Aubrey Ledwaba – Deputy Judge President, Gauteng Province; SABC News; Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked – Beit Emanuel; Dr. Madge Karecki – President, St Augustine’s Colleague; Mrs. Nomvula Maswanganyi – Major Donor, Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital; Mr Joe Samuels – Chief Executive Officer, South African Qualifications Authority; Mr. Fadl Nacerodien – Head of Policy; Department of International Relations & Cooperation; Maj. Gen. Ed Ndaba – Deputy Police Commissioner, Gauteng SAPS; Jafata Mambolo – Writer, Actor & Producer; and Prof Farid Esack – Head of the Religious Studies Department, University of Johannesburg.
The 2014 Dialogue Dinner moved to a rainy and cloudy Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal for the second leg of the series, which was held on Friday, 31 October 2014 at Durban International Convention Centre – with a crowd of around 130 people in attendance.
At the event in Durban, Rev. Ficca was re-united with Ms. Ela Ghandi, an old colleague and friend from his time at the Parliament of World Religions. The reception to the Turquoise Harmony Institute’s work and the key-note speaker was well received. Turquoise Harmony Institute’s regional director in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mr. Atilla Dag gave the official welcome remarks.
The special guest remarks was delivered by His Worship Mr. James Nxumalo, the Honourable Mayor of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality of Durban. Mayor Nxumalo expressed his gratitude to the Turquoise Harmony Institute for hosting events such as the Dialogue Dinner, along with other projects and programs in education and charity.
Additional comments and remarks were given by Ms. Ela Ghandi – Former ANC MP, Community Activist and President of the Ghandi Development Trust; His Eminence Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Head of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference; Adv. Robin Sewlal – Associate Director: Journalism, Durban University of Technology; and Mr. Peter Butterworth – Minister, Durban North Methodist Church.
The third leg of the 2014 Dialogue Dinner series was held in the beautiful Mother City, Cape Town at the enchanting and elegant Table Bay Hotel, with over 120 people in attendance.
Key-note speaker Rev. Dirk Ficca was well received by the Cape Town audience, which was a very diverse crowd of journalist, religious leaders, community leaders, activist, academics and educators. Turquoise Harmony Institute’s regional director in the Western Cape, Mr. Muhittin Chamlibel gave the official welcome remarks.
The special guest remarks was delivered by Rev. Abraham Hanekom, from the NG Kerk (Dutch Reform Church), who expressed his gratitude to the Turquoise Harmony Institute for arranging an event such as the Dialogue Dinner, to bring people together in harmony – embodying the spirit of Madiba; something which was not possible 25 years ago. Additional special guest remarks was delivered by attorney and lawyer, Mrs. Rehana Parker.
During the comments and remarks section of the program, the following guest we invited to give remarks: Honourable Judge Siraj Desai – Judge of the High Court of South Africa; Rev. Michel Strauss – Pastor, NG Kerk; Honourable Shahid Esau – Member of Parliament.
Among the invited guest in attendance included: Sheikh Abdurrahman Alexander – Imam of the Al Quds Mosque, Cape Town; Mr. David Jacobson – executive director, Cape Jewish Board of Deputies; Yazeed Kamaldien – renowned journalist and documentary film maker.
The sunny and warm city of roses and place of cheetahs, Bloemfontine or Mangaung in the Free State Province, hosted the final leg of the Dialogue Dinner series. It was the for the first time that the Turquoise Harmony Institute hosted an event in Bloemfontein which was done in partnership with our sister organizations, the Horizon Educational Trust. The event was held at the elegant Emoya Estate, with more than 110 people in attendance.
Rev. Dirk Ficca, delivering his final speech in South Africa, received a standing ovation from the crowd after his speech; which was well attended by government officials, trade union leaders; NGO representatives; educators and church and traditional leaders. Horizon Educational Trust regional director, Mr. Aydin Inal gave the official welcome address at the event.
The special guest remarks was delivered by the Honourable Premier of the Free State Province, Mr. Ace Magashule. The Premier welcomed the efforts made by the Turquoise Harmony Institute to promote the ideas of dialogue, Ubuntu and tolerance in the region, and thanked the Horizon Educational Trust for arranging the event and praised the organization for its upcoming investment in education in the province.
Additional remarks were made by the Free State Province MEC for Education, Honourable Mr. Take Makgoe; who in April 2014 accepted the Turquoise Harmony Institute Ubuntu Award for Education, after the province achieved the highest matric pass rate percentage in the country. MEC Makgoe expressed his gratitude to the Institute and the Horizon Educational Trust for its work and efforts in the Free State Province, and offered his unconditional support to both organizations for future projects.
Among the guest in attendance included Honourable Ms. Mamiki Qabathe, Free State MEC for Agriculture; Dr. Suleyman Desdemir – President of the Horizon Educational Trust; and Mr. Mustafa Eroglu, secretary general of the Horizon Educational Trust; among others.
The 2014 Friendship and Dialogue Dinner series was a resounding success. The guest speaker, Rev. Dirk Ficca, no stranger to South Africa, appreciated the trip and was fascinated by the different people he met and engaged with.
The theme of this year’s series “Unconditionally for the Other” was a unique concept which both Rev. Ficca and Turquoise Harmony Institute embodied, embraced, and promoted at the four events around the country.
The dialogue dinners are aimed creating a harmonious environment for ideas, exchanges and connections to flow; allowing people of different backgrounds to build bridges and break down walls through dialogue.
The tag-line for the 2014 Dialogue Dinners was “Four Cities; Four Days; A Thousand Friendships” with all the participants and attendees to these events fully partaking in making friends and connecting with each other.
We look forward to next year’s Friendship and Dialogue Dinner Series, which will also be the tenth anniversary of the events being held in South Africa. Watch the space for more details and future programs, projects and events.