June 05, 2009
Spiritual dawn – a Cape Town Tourism Flickr photo essay
Two weeks ago I was at Fish Hoek beach shortly after sunrise on a Saturday morning. Living a few minutes’ drive from the beach, and being a naturally early riser, I am often fortunate enough to enjoy the sight of the sun rising over the sea and it’s well worth the effort of getting out of a warm bed on a clear winter’s morning!
A little way along the beach, in the direction of Clovelly, a small group of men and women in robes were gathered near the shoreline while a man in white was baptising another man in the chilly waves.
This is not that uncommon a sight on Fish Hoek beach – or other Cape Town beaches – but this morning I had my camera with me, so I approached them and introduced myself. The watchers on the beach were very friendly. The man with the biggest smile introduced himself as Simba and told me they were members of the African Zion Christian Church.
They were not originally from South Africa but now live in Khayelitsha. Beyond this brief exchange, and my getting their smiling permission to take photographs, conversation petered out as we lacked fluency in a common language.
I couldn’t find out more about the church or ceremony from Simba and his friends, so I took a handful of photos and watched a few more baptisms. I noticed that the “priest” (I’m not sure what his title would be within their church) submerged each person many times under the waves, but only after tying a rope around the individual’s waist which he held tightly while carrying out the baptism.
I suspect this was for safety as I have heard recently that a number of people were swept under the waves and drowned during recent sea baptisms elsewhere in the country. While the priest repeatedly submerged the person, another man stood alongside them with what appeared to be a Bible in hand and gave voice to much loud exhortation.
Fish Hoek is a beautiful, safe beach which tends to be favoured by locals (rather than the trendy tourists who flock to Camps Bay), especially young families and older people, who make up most of the population of this small coastal town. It is, however, a wonderful beach for all ages, with soft white sand forming a long stretch of shore linking Fish Hoek to Clovelly; a gently sloping beach washed by the comparatively warm waves of the Indian Ocean; an on-site takeaway and sit-down restaurant, a children’s play park and a walkway protected from the wind.
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Images © Joy-Anne Goodenough aka Greenhairmermaid 2009