By R. Val Johnson
Assistant Managing Editor
South Africa’s people represent a kaleidoscope of cultures. For Latter-day Saints, that diversity is both challenging and a source of strength.
Just off the southern tip of South Africa, two oceans collide. A swift Atlantic current sweeping up from the Antarctic runs head-on into a slower and warmer current flowing out of the equatorial Indian Ocean. When they merge, somewhere near the Cape of Good Hope, the collision often creates turbulent, even dangerous weather. Indeed, when Bartholomeu Dias first rounded the cape in 1488, his ship was so buffeted that he called it the Cape of Storms. It was Portuguese King John II, hoping that Dias had discovered a new route to the riches of the East, who renamed it the Cape of Good Hope.
Both names define the nature of not only the cape, but the rest of South Africa as well. The peoples of South Africa represent a wide variety of cultures, some of them oceans apart, and encounters among them are not always smooth. But flowing together from north and south, east and west, they are merging to create out of their differences a future of good hope. Much of that hope is reflected these days in talk of creating a “new South Africa.” In many ways, that new vision already exists among the Latter-day Saints, who represent all of the cultural variety in the country. As reflected in the daily lives of the members of the Church, the gospel of Jesus Christ is solving many of the political and cultural conflicts that afflict this land of stunning natural beauty and human diversity.