With a country in turmoil, the South African religious leaders are on a mission to re-establish their traditional identities and reconnect with the people who once worshipped in the hills.
“We are in the midst of a time of great change and upheaval,” said Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, head of the South Asia and African Religion and Culture Commission.
“There is a lot of talk about identity, and we need to reestablish that, and to reintegrate the country back into our communities,” she said in a video address to the South Asian Association of Islamic Organisations.
In recent years, South Africa’s Muslim population has decreased by one-third, but the religious leaders want to reverse that trend and provide a sense of identity to their communities.
“South Africans are a diverse nation and we are all South Africans,” said the South Australian Prime Minister, Daniel Andrews.
“The South African Muslim community is part of South Africa.
It is an integral part of our country,” Andrews said.
“In many ways, South Africans have always been South Africans.
Our history is a history of people coming together and bringing a sense, a community, a spirit, a culture to our country.
And that is what the Muslim community brings to South Africa.”
The Muslim faith, which is the third largest in South Africa, is a highly conservative one.
It believes in traditional practices and values, such as modesty and strict adherence to Islamic law, as well as a belief in a shared history, language and culture.
In many respects, the community has been isolated in South Asia.
Many South Asians live in Pakistan, India and Myanmar, and the religious movements in these countries are generally more conservative.
However, some have come to embrace the South Africans who migrated from South Asia during colonial rule.
Many people from those countries, like the Muslim leaders, have lived in South African communities for generations.
The leaders say South Africans should be able to reacquaint themselves with their cultural heritage.
“It is not only about a change in the country, but also about how we re-integrate South Africans into our society,” said Dlaminis-Zums.
“I am confident that we can re-create the cultural fabric in our society that is here, that is in our past, that has been here, and that we are going to build again and that is going to continue to happen,” Andrews added.
South African Muslims are not the only ones to embrace South Africa: the South Asians who immigrated to South Asia before World War II, also embraced South Africa as a part of their new home.
However some of those South Asians were not willing to return home, and others had become disillusioned with their new country.
“What we have been hearing a lot lately, and what I have heard recently from people who have been here for a long time, is that South Africa is a bit of a dream come true,” said Mohammad Farooqi, a retired Pakistani army officer and head of one of South Asia’s largest Islamic organizations.
“They are living in a dream, and it is not a dream they can achieve,” he said.
South Africa has an estimated 1.2 million South Asians.
Many of them came to South African shores after World War I, when the country had few other options for integration, Farooji said.
After World War Two, South Asians settled in many of the same towns that had been home to their people for generations, such to the Cape Town and Johannesburg areas.
They worked in the fields, worked in construction and built the hospitals, schools and other infrastructure needed for the country to recover.
The number of South Asians living in South America has grown steadily, according to the Pew Research Center.
In 2015, there were almost 17 million South Asian immigrants in South-East Asia, with about 14 million of them in South and Central America.
In South Africa alone, there are more than 2 million South and East Asians, the largest population in the world.
In the past, South Asian communities have struggled to integrate into South African society.
In some cases, the groups have become isolated.
In 2007, when an international study found that South Asians in South Australia had a higher rate of depression than their African counterparts, the government launched a program to help South Asians find employment.
In 2010, the United Nations Population Fund estimated that South Asian immigration to South Australia cost South African taxpayers $5 billion a year.
“As a result, the communities have been left with a lot to lose,” said Faroozi.
“When they feel isolated, they become depressed, and they become more isolated,” he added.
While many South Asians have not left the country due to economic pressures, some are choosing to do so.
According to the National Association of South Asian Women, there is a significant increase in the number of women and children leaving South Africa for countries in Africa and the Middle East,