Lynne Holmes-Ganief and Yusuf Ganief of Desert Rose at the Sufi Temple in Cape Town: What a wonderful show and, for some of us, an introduction to the world of interfaith worship.
It felt a bit like hopping on a train that happened to be going the same way as me (Destination: Wholeness). It felt good to rest the feet and the soul, but to keep moving.
What we said on June 21 …
Capetonians will have a chance next weekend to hear a local couple play a condensed version of the sacred music they are to perform at the 3-day inauguration in July of The House of One Peace Cathedral in Tbilisi, in Georgia, that will unite three Abrahamic places of worship, a mosque, a Christian church and synagogue.
Desert Rose composer and singer Lynne Holmes-Ganief and lead singer Yusuf Ganief will perform their sacred music over 3 days at the historic event in Georgia, leading from the Mosque to the Synagogue and finally the Church on the Sunday.
For the performance at the Sufi Temple in Newlands on Sunday June 25, they will condense the three-day celebration into a one-hour spiritual pilgrimage.
Yusuf, who is also chief executive of the Cape Town Arts Festival, which promotes and develops local artists, said: “This initiative is deeply close to my heart and my life’s work, reminding us of our common journey and destination.”
He added that the work also resonates strongly with the original purpose of the Cape Town Arts Festival’s predecessor, the Cape Town Festival, which was born out of the One City, Many Cultures initiative. The then editor of the Cape Times Ryland Fisher launched One City, Many Cultures in 1999 to address cultural intolerance and racial violence after 1998’s Planet Hollywood bombings at the V&A Waterfront.
With growing anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Georgia, the Peace Cathedral is likely to be a beacon of peace and inclusivity in the war-torn region.
Bishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, the Metropolitan Bishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia and professor of comparative theology at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, is at the heart of this interfaith initiative, which he describes as “responding to ugliness with beauty”.
Songulashvili transformed his church into a space for the worship of all three Abrahamic faiths. In addition to the mosque, synagogue and church, there is a space for interfaith dialogue, as well as an interfaith library for children and adults.
Recognising the contribution being made by Yusuf and Lynne, Bishop Malkhaz added: “On the journey for interfaith peace and harmony we are being inspired, encouraged and empowered by sacred music. This is why the ministry of Desert Rose is so important. We hope that their visit to the Peace Cathedral in Georgia will refresh our commitment to interfaith harmony, peace and justice.”
Songulashvili has been marginalised for his support of women and oppressed minorities. He has ordained women to serve as deacons, ministers and bishops, and he has provided hospitality and refuge to Muslim communities.
He also embraces the LGBTQ+ community in a country where that can mean a death sentence. Formerly the Archbishop of Georgia’s Baptist Church, Songulashvili was demoted in 2013 to Metropolitan Bishop of Tbilisi because of his stand against homophobia and Islamophobia.
Yusuf and Lynne are also familiar with facing adversity over their unifying views. While gaining support from the likes of Desmond Tutu, their music has been the subject of a fatwa (ban) by the Muslim Judicial Council for the use of a Qur’anic verse and the Christian ‘Lord’s Prayer’ in the same song.
Limited seating available. The Sufi Temple has indoor heating, but patrons might want to bring a blanket too.