Theinterdenominational “Blessing of the Fleet” ceremony made a welcome return to Hout Bay after a 15-year absence on Heritage Day, Sunday September 24.
The ceremony went ahead despite the three-day Hout Bay Living Peace and Heritage Festival having to be cancelled due to safety and security concerns stemming from the housing and fishing rights protests earlier this month.
With approval from the City of Cape Town, religious leaders, musicians and residents gathered outside the Hangberg Sports and Recreation Centre on a glorious Spring afternoon to march along the route traditionally taken by the fishers of Hangberg.
“Today we are celebrating the diversity of Hout Bay while at the same using the event to unify all our communities,” said event co-ordinator Warren Abrahams.
“Unfortunately due to the protests we had to cancel the festival, but we felt we needed to reactivate the Blessing of the Fleet as it was such an important part of Hout Bay in the past. We will now be staging this as an annual event.”
There was a festive air to proceedings as minstrels led the march to the harbour precinct. Children quickly joined the procession as the music grew louder and marchers sang hymns and cultural favourites.
Pastor Steven Lottering, of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa Hout Bay, was pleased to see the tradition being resurrected, and said it was important that everyone pray for Hout Bay at a time when there had been so much uncertain-
Resident Brent Thomas, who runs the popular hiking operation Karbonkelberg Hikers, said the return of the ceremony was also significant because it was being
staged almost seven years to the day since the Hangberg riots. “This couldn’t come at a better time,” he said.
At the harbour, ward councillor Roberto Quintas stated that Hout Bay was a “rainbow ward” and had a heritage that was unique.
He hoped this could be harnessed in events such as the “Blessing of the Fleet” and others like it.
A number of religious leaders then addressed the marchers, including Pastor Lottering, Imam Mogamad Shahied Salie, Reverend Gail Beckett and Colin Delcarme of the Rastafarian community.
Well-known pastor Levi Bezuidenhout said the blessing of the fleet was long overdue, particularly since there were no longer snoek in Hout Bay waters. Taking a guitar from one of the minstrels, he led the crowd in an energetic rendition of the popular fishing song “Gooi Jou Lyn in die Diepte”.
As an unexpected surprise, local tour operator Captain Jack’s treated participants to a free boat tour of the harbour on completion on the blessing. “We would like to thank Anthea Meyer of Captain Jack’s for proving attendees with this opportunity,” Mr Abrahams said.