The people of Franschhoek Valley in the Western Cape, a burgeoning tourist destination that includes some of the most expensive real estate in South Africa, have pledged to work together to overcome the legacy of apartheid – the poverty gap in particular.
The Franschhoek Transformation Charter was launched in the town’s historic Dutch Reformed Church. Speaking at the launch, the initiative’s patron, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, said the people of the valley – renowned for its fine fines and restaurants – were setting an example that the rest of South Africa should follow.
“We are not only divided, we are also unequal. Ownership of resources – especially financial ones – is heavily skewed in our community, mainly in line with ethnicity,” the charter boldly states. “We shall work together to become a more integrated and cohesive community. We will try to bridge the divisions among us, mainly in terms of ethnicity, but also in terms of language, culture, origin, religion and political affiliation.”
Franschhoek’s economic and social divisions mirror the rest of the country. The town has undergone major development, particularly tourism-related, but 18 years after South Africans voted for the first time in democratic elections most black citizens have yet to experience material changes in their lives.
“We believe that our destiny is in our own hands. In everything we do, therefore, we shall demonstrate our awareness and belief that we are a diverse but interdependent community, which shares a common environment and future destiny,” the charter states.
Archbishop Tutu said divisions in the world – from Africa to the Middle East and Asia – made God cry. But when God looked down from the heavens and saw the people of Franschhoek coming together, it was as if a team of angels were drying God’s tears.
“We want to lie in a healthy, productive and caring community where the dignity and humanity of ALL is upheld and celebrated. We want to be free and safe and happy. We want to proclaim our membership of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s ‘Rainbow People of God’,” the charter concludes.
The charter was conceived and written by a diverse group of Franschhoek residents, who packed the old Dutch Reformed Church.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…” Archbishop Tutu said.