1999 Cape Town: The Parliament Experience | parliamentofreligions.org

Over 7,000 persons registered for all or part of the 1999 Parliament. Over 75 nations were represented. The country with the largest number of registrants was South Africa, followed in order by the United States, Taiwan, India, United Kingdom, Canada, Korea, Singapore, France, Germany, Australia, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. Between 4,000 and 5,000 persons were in attendance each day. 

Vukani – The Parliament Newspaper

In Zulu, Vukani means “wake up” –– a fitting name for the Parliament’s daily newsletter. Each day in the Cape Times, one of Cape Town’s leading newspapers, a special section was devoted to the Parliament. Each issue contained photos and coverage of the day’s events, including: highlights for upcoming days; interviews with presenters, participants, and religious and spiritual leaders; schedule changes and corrections; and other daily news. Vukani proved to be a wonderful source of information for Parliament participants and for all Capetonans. 

Morning Meditations

Thirty-six different prayer and meditation sessions were offered to Parliament participants each morning, December 2–8, from 9:00–9:30 a.m. Described in the first issue of Vukani—which participants received at Registration—prayer and meditation offerings included: 

  • Jewish Prayer, Music, and Meditation
  • Muslim Dhikr and Fikr
  • Roman Catholic Prayers (Divine Office and Lectio Divina)
  • Zoroastrian Prayers
  • Anglican Eucharist
  • Zion Christian Church Spiritual and Prophetic Prayers
  • African Traditional Prayers
  • Brama Kumaris Medition and Raja Yoga
  • Hindu Prayer/Meditation
  • Taizé Prayers Around the Cross
  • Spirit of the Earth Ritual, Song, Dance
  • Manifestation Chant for Africa
  • Biblical Prayer
  • Sikh Prayer/Meditation
  • Baha’i Prayers for Peace and World Unity
  • Neshimat Hayim—the Breath of Life
  • Aumist Meditation
  • Brighid Meditation to Welcome the Day
  • Jewish Creative Mussar Meditation ​

Some sessions were offered daily, while others were offered less often, depending on the wishes of the person or group leading the prayer or meditation. In addition, a quiet meditation space was available in the Technikon all day every day. After initial confusion on the first full day about locations and scheduling, this dimension of the program ran relatively smoothly and was richly appreciated by participants.

Ther related sessions scheduled at various times included:

  • Tai Chi Practice
  • Sufi Meditation
  • Native American Ritual
  • Circle of Hearts
  • Women’s Meditation Circle
  • Prayer Ceremony for World Peace (on Table Mountain) 
Interreligious Celebrations

In addition to the morning prayer and meditation sessions, each evening a moving half-hour celebration (readings, song, and prayers from various communities) was held in the lovely outdoor setting of the District Six Stage (and on one occasion at the Good Hope Centre, prior to the evening plenary session). Religious leaders from many traditions offered prayers and blessings, and a rich variety of musical offerings made these celebrations an unforgettable part of the Parliament experience for many participants.