Resident Priest Emerita Tonen O’Connor got on a plane Wednesday for two weeks in Cape Town, South Africa. We know she arrived safely, after nearly 30 hours in transit, because today she sends us this photo. The weather forecast calls for highs in the 90s today and tomorrow, and lows in the mid 60s.
Cape Town is one of South Africa’s three capitol cities and the economic center of the West Cape province. Almost three-quarters of the residents speak Afrikkans or Xhosa, and most of the rest speak English. More than three-quarters are Christian, and about 10% are Muslim.
There is Buddhist practice in South Africa, although Buddhism is not a major religion there. According to Wikipedia:
Apart from various Buddhist groups brought to the Cape Colony from Southeast Asia during the 1680s, and the many indentured labourers brought to Natal from India during the latter part of the 19th century (some of whom were Buddhist, and some of whom were Hindu who later converted to Buddhism once in South Africa), most Buddhists in South Africa are converts, and not Asian. Various Buddhist groups grew up in the major cities from the 1970s, and there has been a proliferation of distinct Buddhist traditions since the mid-1980s. These include Theravada, Zen, Nichiren and Tibetan schools. The Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order has erected Nan Hua Temple, the largest Buddhist temple and monastery in Africa, in the town of Bronkhorstspruit near Pretoria. Another notable Buddhist centre in the country is the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal. The Nichiren Buddhist lay group Soka Gakkai International has a community centre in Parkwood, Johannesburg. Derivatives of Korean Zen have been established in the Western Cape. The Vipassana Association of South Africa founded by S.N. Goenka has been holding meditation retreats in the Western Cape. The Shambala, Diamond Way Buddhism (an alternative Karma Kagyu lineage) and New Kadampa traditions are some recent additions to the collection of schools.
A 2003 study estimated that in the late 1990s there were a total of 6,000 Buddhists in South Africa (3,000 of whom had Asian ancestry) out of a total population of 42 million (or 0.01% of the total population).