During the 9th Annual Friendship and Dialogue Dinner series held across South Africa between Oct. 30 and Nov. 4, former African National Congress (ANC) MP and community activist Ela said she has known for a while now of the activities of the Turquoise Harmony Institute, which also took her to İstanbul. “Everything we spoke about, we witnessed in action,” Gandhi commented, adding that it was very inspiring to see the activities of those running the institute inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
Ela said she is continuously inspired by the people who are affiliated with the Hizmet movement, as they encourage people to volunteer for public service. She spoke about a young doctor she met in Geneva at an activity organized by the Turquoise Harmony Institute who told her those from the institute had taught him that there is more to life than materialism and earning money.
For the first time, the dinner series was hosted in four cities across South Africa, beginning in Johannesburg before moving to Durban, Cape Town and culminating in Bloemfontein.
Ela underlined the importance of making a change at the individual level without expecting the government to improve certain things. According to Ela, those in the Hizmet movement have shown people that it is possible to change things by first changing ourselves.
Similarly, speaking at the event, the head of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, His Eminence Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, referred to late South African President Nelson Mandela and said he had showed everyone by example that we need to change ourselves if we wish to see change.
Talking about a trip he took to Turkey, Reverend James Butterworth also said he had learned much from the Turquoise Harmony Institute and recalled that actions speak louder than words. According to him, the actions of the institute had changed him, his situation, and the way he looks at others and what he can share with them.
The 2014 Friendship and Dialogue Dinner series also featured Reverend Dirk Ficca, a veteran of the global interreligious movement and a renowned interfaith activist. Ficca is the former executive director of the Parliament of World Religions and is currently the international director of the social cohesion project out of Malmö, Sweden called Open Skane.
The 2014 series was well attended by representatives of different faith groups, religious and traditional leaders, community patrons, government officials, political leaders, social activists, teachers and educators, members of the academic community, the sporting fraternity and the media.
A total of over 500 people attended the Dialogue Dinner series hosted in the four cities, which was aimed at reaching a diverse group of South Africans and bringing them together under the auspices of dialogue and encouraging social cohesion.
The tagline for the 2014 Dialogue Dinner series was “Four Cities, Four Days, A Thousand Friendships,” with all the participants and attendees fully partaking in making friends and connecting with each other.
Among the guests who attended were President of the Horizon Educational Trust Dr. Süleyman Desdemir, Secretary-General of the Horizon Educational Trust Mustafa Eroğlu and Head of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference Father Padraig Smyth.
Published on Today's Zaman, 14 November 2014, Friday
Dr. Ficca on Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement