South Africa 25 October: Johannesburg - Pretoria

Southern Africa 25 Oct, 2013

Johannesburg and Pretoria

We were very happy to start the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run in Johannesburg at the Inkanyezi Waldorf School in Alexandria, visiting our old friends at this unique school. Alexandria township, made famous by former residents like ex President Nelson Mandela, holds a special place in the heart of Johannesburg.

Running into the school through Alex.

Our team was bolstered by Mary from Lesotho (holding the South African flag) and Anna from Zambia (holding the torch) both of whom were on the Peace Run for the first time.

Inkanyezi Waldorf School - what a great sign!

Mark and Aion plunged right in upon arrival after 24 hours flying, plus a 9-hr layover in Hong Kong.

Today is the last full day that Penny and Cliff are with the Run. Although they grew up in Johannesburg their Chinese background shows through and the school children invariably guess that they are Chinese before they say anything!

In the background a class is learning groundskeeping skills, laying sod, pruning and planting seed.

Anna carried the flag of her home country Zambia before stepping up for her introduction.

Mary had them guessing saying that she came from a country inside a country.

What a great school!

Feeling peace inside

We were very happy to offer a certificate of appreciation and a print of Sri Chinmoy's "Happiness" painting were presented by Dhiraja to Dimitri, chosen for his peaceful and calm demeanor.

Solly, the headmaster, who came out of retirement to run the school had so much love for the students that it seemed to shine through at each moment!

What a great run we had through Alex with the school. It was full of joy and enthusiam. It started gently...

... but then the children's natural exuberance came forward.

Michon was in heaven.

We are hoping to meet the President this weekend and present this flag signed by all the students to him. It says "We the children of South Africa pledge to work for peace and harmony in our beautiful country"

Mary, originally of Lesotho, shares the torch with Headmaster Solly Mashiloane in his office. Here they create a tableau vivant in homage to Vermeer for Balarka's camera.

The run out of Alexc.

At 11:00h part of the team took the torch to Thlakanang Primary School in Tembisa.

Smiles all round

Beautiful paintings for peace from the children

A drummer added a beat to the Peace Run Song played over the loud speaker giving the school children a lot of energy.

Thlakanang Sports Director with the Peace Run certificate of appreciation.

Steve was mobbed for our Peace Run Bookmarks

The warm heart of Africa!

Allie van Niekerk, the Deputy Principal of Arcadia Primary School very kindly arranged the visit to the school at short notice.

Stacey teaches the team our motto "Peace begins with me!"

Zandile and Chipo took turns reading a Peace Run essay they wrote for the occasion reproduced in part below:

Feeling peace in the heart

The school's fastest boy runner and girl runner carry the torch round the school followed by an enthusiastic throng.

We arrived at Village Waldorf School at 12:40h, and were happy to give our Peace Run presentation to a beautiful school.

Stacey presented this beautiful painting on peace by Sri Chinmoy to to the school's Elizabeth Swanpoel. I noticed the staff and students later looking at the painting with great interest. Our certificate of appreciation was presented later outside to Linda Raubenheiner and students Chloe, Kopantsho and Nica.

We were very happy to be able finish off our run for the day at Freedom Park in Pretoria. Freedom Park is a beautiful monument to freedom that has been constructed on a hill overlooking the city. Here we are running up the hill.

Our new friend Luwazi helped us carry the torch up this challenging hill.

At the amphitheatre of Freedom Park, Acting Department Head Tembeka Ngcebetsha received the Peace Torch and presented her own pledge for peace.

Posing for Ron, the press photographer.

Balarka spoke for a few minutes on how the ideals of the Peace Run resonate so powerful with those of Freedom Park. The Peace Runners felt that Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the run, would have seen the visit to Freedom Park and Freedom Park itself as such a victory for for world peace. In Sri Chinmoy's own words:

Elsa Daniels, orange-on-blue in center, PR Officer for the park, received us warmly and cheerfully.

The eternal flame burns just outside the glass curtain wall of the pavilion.

We presented a certificate of our deep appreciation to Freedom Park for allowing us to pay homage to this beautiful place.

Holding the torch with Elsa is Preeti (right) who was kind enough to offer to guide us around the park later.

Our group tour begins at the Wall of Names which commemorates those who perished in the struggle for freedom.

The walkway led to this sacred misty rock garden for a brief meditation.

A small font for cleansing.

The view from the top of Freedom Park is just spectatular.

Penny and Anna having fun running down the hill

While some of us got a ride...

Pretoria Jacaranda's in full bloom.