In a powerful display of unity and purpose, hundreds of religious groups descended upon the streets of Pimville, Soweto, for the Ayihlome Prayer Walk, a symbolic gesture aimed at combating Gender-Based Violence (GBV), drug abuse, crime, and other societal ills.
Ayihlome, meaning “pick up your spiritual weapon,” is a precursor to the 16th Crown Gospel Music Awards. Leveraging on their popularity and influence, gospel artists use the awards to disseminate messages of moral regeneration, social cohesion, and nation-building.
The awards ceremony, scheduled for 26 November 2023 at FNB stadium, marks the first collaboration with the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG).
MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomomo-Ralehoko, also the Convener of Faith-Based Organizations (FBO), expressed her excitement, emphasising the opportunities this partnership brings to the people of Gauteng.
“The Ayihlome walk with the religious leaders in the communities is so that we can conscientize them about the things that are killing our society, all the social ills whether GBV, poverty or unemployment, drug abuse that our children are involved in. The communities were excited themselves,” said MEC Nkomomo-Ralehoko.
Commending the Crown Gospel Awards for their build-up activities, MEC Nkomomo-Ralehoko highlighted the significance of community engagement beyond television appearances.
The 4-km prayer walk, starting at Grace Bible Church, incorporated prayer stops every kilometre, creating moments for reflection and spiritual connection.
Stalls set up by the Department of Health along the route allowed participants to check their vitals, underlining the holistic approach to community well-being.
Pastor Sithembiso Mtshali of Upper Room Ministries stressed the need for healing in communities, addressing the escalating social ills such as gender-based violence, drug abuse, and unemployment.
He commended faith-based groups, political leadership, and the government for speaking healing into South Africa.
“We are doing this build-up because we cannot prosper unless our communities are healed; a lot of healing is required in communities.
“And there are a lot of social ills that seem to be out of hand and out of control, out of control on many fronts. We see young people raping the elderly, young people being hopeless into nyaope, and drug abuse. We see hopelessness and unemployment and so forth,” said Mtshali.
He also commended the faith-based groups, political leadership, and government for holding hands and speaking for healing for South Africa.
“We want to commend the bishops, political leadership and government holding hands together and speaking healing in our land.
“It takes humility, and we appreciate seeing the nominees and the participants in the GCA making themselves available to be part and parcel of this healing process because it does not help to be rich and buy a nice car and then they hijack you, and you die,” he said.
Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation Heard of Department China Mashinini expressed the significance of hosting the CGA in Gauteng to celebrate the legacy and impact of gospel music on societal and spiritual consciousness.
Mashinini said the aim was to reignite the spirit of ubuntu and strengthen social cohesion, aligning with the provincial government’s elevated priorities.
“This programme is more than just a showcase of musical talent; it is a platform where gospel singers actively engage in and give back to our society.
“It is an instrument through which we can pass the message of the Lord to the young generation of this time by engaging in motivational speaking and advocacy addressing critical societal issues that affect us all,” he said adding that together the province can turn the tide against social ills and restore societal values.
By Thembisa Shologu