Sunday, December 30, 2007

Keeping track

Being on holiday, in a sweltering hot Cape makes it difficult to keep track. The Boland and Cape Town remains one part of SA that pride themselves of the some of the most breathtaking scenery. In the midst of this, we must however also hear the shocking news of the untimely death of Benazir Bhutto, the tumulteous Kenyan elections and wonder what will 2008 hold. Visiting Pniel, a quaint community on the way between Stellenbosch and Franschoek, we found this beautiful house of worship. It reminded us that in the midst of some mean mountains there can be inspiration for tacking these heights. May we never succumb to the lies of evil and mobjustice...but overcome the evil with beauty and the good.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peace on earth

May the earth community be blessed with the gift of Peace/Shalom/Salaam. May we as humanity recieve this gift as co-pilgrims on a journey, following humble signs of hope. Reggie

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jody, more than an idol

Recent winner of MNET's talent search competition, Idols, Jody Williams, could be more then a pretty face and a song. Members of the Lighthouse Christian Church, share the exitement and surprise when the nation's starlet, was, last Sunday called to the pulpit and prayed for. Apparantly the family belongs to this church and her achievements seen as an opportunity for impacting young people positively. Indeed, there's possibly more to Jodie than meets the eye. We just pray that she is not abused and exploited in the entertainment and religious industries, alike. Just keep the Spirit, Jody.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Summerholidays...too fast. too furious..

It's that time again-on the road to the coast. For us, 'Valies' its part of an annual deathdefying bullrun, to unwind and enjoy the family. This however remains a risky affair, having to share one road with speedsters (read budding F1 racers) in Audi TT's, M5's, minibus taxis and trucks. (let alone those 4th-hand busses. Its total madness. Now we hear our Roadsafety agency reveals, not surprisingly, alcohol as one of the key factors towards the carnage. May I add the power of the hero media images, where the car becomes an extension of a search for identity. At least I can drive like those on TV...maybe it will bring me the same status...except for the fact that its an illusion, produced to be sold for a fat the meantime we face (evade) the reckless dreamchasers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Indigestion.... humble pie time

So the ANC did vote for JZ, AKA 'Umshini wam', AKA 100% Zuluboy, etc. I'm still abit taken a back...and proven wrong by the vote, but then, that's the risk you take. To the African National Congress: I suppose you deserve the kind of leaders you vote for. The question is: Is this what SA and Africa deserve ? Is this all that we can offer to the world ? Resisting the temptation to add to the showers of new jokes about African leadership/governance and the lamentations on our very own descend into mob rule (read 'democracy') I will remain hopefull. I remind myself of where we come from, of the fact that we should not allways take the ebb and flow of party politcs too serious. Given the history of South Africa-where it seemed as of the National party would reign until the Lord's second coming, and now, with the fundamental transitions we're still experiencing, we should remind the JZ-mob, not to be too comfortable in their coupe d'etat. I am reading in the commentary of some 'thoughtleaders' a call for resignation. This is a call to get used to Zuma-rule, to 'our' brand of democracy, as ugly and sleazy as it might seem, to accept majority rule, etc. The issue is not to live with penultimate compromises and flawed individuals and processes. That we can do and indeed, we all live (survive) within such compromises. The issue is that the ruling party, in the growing resentment against the Mbeki rule, missed an opportunity to creatively put alternative policies in front of the conference. The election of JZ is a change of faces and vibe, but certainly not progress in dealing intelligently and coherently with HIV/AIDS scourge, corruption and economic transformation- it will not deal with the growing inequalities between social classes in SA. Publically, Jacob Zuma does not have the symbolic or moral credibility to deal with these critical matters, except, of course in the judgement of the majority at the Polokwane conference. But then, not all of us are ( or will be ) naively intoxicated simply by dance and song.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And the world is waiting....

Voting is (finally ) underway between Mbeki and Zuma, and the world is
waiting. Dont hold your breath, though. I suppose the run-up to the
voiting, since Sunday, Day of Reconciliation. allready gives indication
of what is coming. Though some observers and analysts (read
thoughtleaders) like Ryland Fisher and Steven Friedman are exited about
this, our own South African brand of democracy, I however beg to
differ. I found it a bit embarresing and allthough I agree with them
that the unruly behaviour we witnessed on Sunday, Day of Reconciliation,
is not unique to South Africa or Africa ( just look at South-Korea!),
this however does not repressent the legacy of the movement that
spearheaded the struggle against apartheid. Secondly, we should stop
being so politically correct, in the face of blatant mob rule. Apart
from the evident class conflict that rage within the movement, there is
also a conflict between an older generation of 'elders' and a younger
generation smelling the green bucks, who will, by all means possible,
grab hold of power in order to rake in the tenders and opportunities.
This is what is at the heart of this intense battle. This is not an
ideological battle between the surging agency of the poor and tbe elite
in power- if it was- I think, then there would have been clear
alternative policies and lobbying around policy shifts on the
fundamental policy positions of the ANC- not around who sings and dance
the best. As a nation growing in stature and in responsibility in African and the rest of the world, we
cannot allow mere singing and dancing to shape our future and the future
of our continent. This conference then becomes to typical of the African
stereotype of the masses swayed by a charismatic leader and then, after
ascending the throne, revealing his true nature towards women and the
plight of the poor, becoming the lackey of the sweaty rich business class. We can only measure the mettle of a leader by the stand they take on key issues, the intellectual engagement on complex social and moral matters.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Swaziland here we come..... !!

On my way to the Royal Kingdom of Swaziland. Looking forward to some new experiences, reading and well..... holiday with wife and kids.. I will try to get connected though, Polokwane is happening, apparantly we will only know by Monday. Hope and pray for sense and responsibility....
Swaziland, here we come....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Zuma again...

I hoped that the conversations (read 'heated debates')on Jacob Zuma would be dated and boring by now... Ironically, it seems if we take serious various commentators, that JZ will be the talk of the town at least for the next decade or so in South Africa and where the rest of the word speaks of Africa. It seems, these days, as if he is the one to speak to and to be seen with and hence we will have to start to position ourselves accordingly. Maybe this is the time for me to eat humble pie, like others. I read Pierre de Vos, where he is saying: "In June this year I wrote on this Blog that Jacob Zuma was “fading fast” and that his Presidential bid was “done for”. Now less than a week before the Polokwane conference it is perhaps appropriate to eat humble pie and admit that I was spectacularly wrong".
His argument can be found here

I also offered an 'opinion', which, I admitted then, remains a risky move, and maybe I should also get ready for some indigestion. I would however go along with Henry Jeffries, in his contribution to Die Beeld, "Zuma-kamp trek kurk te vroeg uit". Maybe, it is prudent for us to wait for Sunday, Day of Reconciliation, in South Africa. It still seems to me that the ANC, as a modern political movement, will remain loyal to a powerful elite, who fuels the vehicle and butter the hands. This might be in stark contrast to the legacy of the likes of Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and even Nelson Mandela. But then, the this Limpopo conference is about an evidently, buttered party (cf The road to Polokwane is paved with millions of rand-Pretoria News 11/12/07) in government, not 'comrades' outside in the streets, or in jail, striding for the cause of the poor and oppressed.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Afrikaans en die heil van Bruinmense

'n Baie insigewende debat word gevoer in die Afrikaanse dagblaaie oor die vraag of daar 'n verband bestaan tussen bruin Afrikaansprekendes se armoede en die huidige stryd om Afrikaans se publieke plek. Richard van der Ross, eertydse rektor van UWK laat ook homself uit in sy bydrae in die Beeldforum (4 Des 2007). Uiteraard kom die debat al 'n lang pad en veral in Litnet en Die Vrye Afrikaan woed hierdie gesprek al 'n geruime tyd en spesifiek oor die vraag waarom dit lyk asof bruin Afrikaansprekendes nie so vurig stry vir die (onse)taal nie. Bekroonde bruin skrywer, Abraham Phillips, neem egter die strydbyl op vir Afrikaans in sy artikel, Die tragedie van Afrikaans en arm mense (Die Burger 20 Nov 2007). In 'n neutedop kla hy bruin intellektuele aan dat hulle nie in woord en daad opstaan teen wat hy noem die 'dooddruk en uitfasering van Afrikaans nie'. Met spesifieke verwysing na US (Stellenbosch Universiteit) en die SABC( die nasionale uitsaaier) is dit sy mening dat die uitfasering 'behoort dieselfde reaksie ontlok as die vergrype van Robert Mugabe'(!). Dit lyk asof Phillips van mening is dat, indien SA se bruin en wit intellektuele' daarteen veg en die stryd moontlik wen (en sodoende Afrikaans red), bruin en swart Afrikaanssprekendes , veral op die platteland en die Kaapse Vlakte, opgang sal maak. Andersom, indien daar nie gehoor gegee word nie, sal 'n katrastrofe volg.

Van der Ross stem saam dat die bruin intellektuele stil is... hulle monde is nog vol van eet... aan die vrug van hul struggle, ook aan kultuur het hulle in elk geval geen erg nie. Die geskiedenis het ons in elk geval geleer, so voer hy aan, dat die opinies van die armes nie tel nie en mag aan die kant van die owerhede en rykes lê. Hy argumenteer verder: "Al word en bly die US Afrikaans, en al word die SAUK (...) meer Afrikaans, sal dit bitter min doen aan die armoede onder die bruin mense. Die heil van die bruin mense sal, indien wel, geleidelik kom namate ons kinders opgeneem word in die ekonomiese vooruitgang van die land as geheel". T.o.v. Afrikaans voeg hy egter by: "Dit sal aangaan, hetsy op die Kaapse Vlakte, hetsy aan die US."

Miskien is Leopold Scholtz (Die Burger 29 Nov 2007) ten minste in hierdie opsig reg as hy in antwoord om van der Ross aanvoer, vanuit sy boekkennis, "In die algemeen is dit dikwels so dat 'n sosiaal-ekonomiese stryd agter 'n taalstryd tuisgaan". In sy aanhaling van grepe uit die geskiedenis van die Afrikaners se taalstryd, die Vlaamse stryd, de Tjegge asook,in sy woorde, die van die inheemse "Indiane", in Latyns Amerika, bied hy gronde aan vir sy punt dat die koloniste taal gebruik het om inheemse groepe uit te buit; dat daar dus wel 'n verband bestaan tussen armoede en taaldiskriminasie. Wat hy egter gerieflik weglaat, is die stuk geskiedenis van hoe Afrikaans self ontwikkel het as 'n taal van die verdrukker. Inderdaad, daar is 'n verband. Wat ons egter verder moet byvoeg is dat die heil nie noodwendig lê in die verabsolutering van die taal, Afrikaans soos ons dit vandag ken, as sodanig nie. Die ontwikkeling van Afrikaans ( en alle tale) geskied binne 'n bepaalde sosiale konteks, en een stroom het begin waar bruin slawe in die smeltkroes van Oosterse, Afrika en Europese kulture 'n nuwe verdrukte-kultuur ontwikkel het (teenoor die koloniale kultuur)- 'n kultuuurskat wat egter die laaste paar eeue voordurend gevorm is deur die konteks, in verskeie skakeringe. Die proses sal voortgaan hier in Afrika; net soos die voorgaande fermentering van Afrikaanse kultuur sal voortgaan in Engeland, Kanada en Perth, in Australië (en daar selfs ander name kry). Die elites en maghebbers sal ook voortgaan om hierdie lewendige gisting te wil beheer (naam te gee) en te wil inspan om hul ideologieë te verkoop, of om politieke mag vir hulself te mobiliseer en te behou. Die sleutel lê egter in die erkenning van hierdie selfbewuste hibriede identiteit (-e) waar Afrikaans onmiskenbaar 'n integrale deel is van die 'mix', verder waar ons heil opgesluit lê in die diepere waardes en hartsstories.. die breër kultuurskat wat voortleef en ons betrokkenheid en geleidelike opgang in die ekonomie, wetenskap en tegnologie dryf.

Monday, December 03, 2007

HIV/AIDS and 16 days of activism against violence towards women and children

Dr Sipho Senabe, key thinker in the current process of drafting national policy on HIV/AIDS in our government gave a succinct, but deep analysis of the HIV/AIDS pandemic yesterday. He noted that despite the stories of hope, there remains a lot of hard work and thinking ahead. This is a challenge that will remain with us for some time. What was of interest was the way he linked the prevalence and upward curve in the spread of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa to, what he called key drivers. He focussed on one of these namely the unequal power relations amongst genders in the homes, in churches, in our communities, but also in the bedrooms. Linking this to the mission of Jesus, as captured in Luke 4:18 we are challenged to cultivate communities that address the oppressive violence against women and children, communities that stand with the vulnerable, that support them in resisting unprotected sexual intercourse and toxic relationships that keeps the spreading of this disease. The churches from various (faith)traditions remain marred in their silence and outright patriarchal interpretations of Scripture, but also practices that side with the powerful. Unless this is addressed, we are impotent to stem the tide. Indeed, there remains hard work, but also hope. This is where the Spinathon of MES becomes relevant. On Saturday, World AIDS DAY, the MES, in partnership with eTV and JakarandaFM raised funds for a hospice in the inner city of Hillbrow, but also challenged people to know their HIV status. a Booth was set up to encourage people to get tested. Few people however grabbed hold of this opportunity. Why? It seems to me that we need to do more hard work in eradicating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Hubert Mogaecho, one of the organizers of the event, reminds us 'HIV does not discriminate on the basis of colour, creed or class, we are all affected'

Friday, November 23, 2007

Stellenbosch: in my bloed...

I was back in Stellenbosch and I cannot escape the feeling: the more things change, the more it stays the same. Please hear me our before I am crucified-I love Stellenbosch... Talking to a friend, who also studied at Maties (University of Stellenbosch), we reminisced about the good old(!) days 'op kampus', 'die rooiplein' (the red-square), 'die bib' (library), die 'Neelsie'(the cafeteria), 'die Laan'. He commented that its clear that many thing have changed in Stellenbosch- we almost don't recognize 'die Bos' anymore. Many new shops (especially coffee-shops) have opened, on campus you cannot walk into a building anymore, there is strict access control and you don't see the old familiar faces - its new ones in charge now. We exchanged cellphone numbers and promised to stay in touch, but then one starts to think: what has really changed ? These (new) coffee shops, on the pavements, we so love and hate, still seems to be like something foreign, like sitting somewhere in Europe (not in Africa). As I walked down 'Kerkstraat', most of the time I had to walk in the street, instead of on the pavement, sidestepping groups of camera wielding tourists. I went for a coffee at one (next to the historic Rhenish church). My waitress simply dumped the coffee on my table, never saying anything or smiling, maybe I was too much like her ( if you know what I mean). I was invisible- maybe my color wasn't green- I don't know. Anyway, the rest of the people of Stellenbosch, black and coloured seemed to remain basically invisible... there, but also not there. Our hometown (also) still seems to favor the moneyed and smacks a taste of the neo-colonialism. I loved the family though, spending precious time with friends (old and new) and passionate colleagues, carving out strategies for youth and student work in Southern Africa. It reminded me of why this piece of Africa, with all her ambiguities and hybidity, is, to put it simply- in my blood...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One of life's most embarrasing moments...

Ever prayed that God should open the earth and swallow you ? I felt like that this weekend. maybe this is some sort of search for absolution, a confession maybe... I dont know. I was at church and saw an old friend singing in the choir. She looked beautiful as ever, I thought, notwithstanding the fact that she and her hubby recently had a baby. I thought of her name. I'm sure you know the feeling. Even in church, you loose sense of reality around you. I know this is not suppose to be happening in church but you need to that name, a.b.c.d.e.f..... yea finally, I got it. Amen ! Afterwards I looked to find her, for a chat and yes she was there at the back busy with her camera or something. Brimming with confidence, I walked over to her, greeted, expressing the usual: 'long time.. no see' and then I complimented her on looking so fine after the baby (I don't know if we men are suppose to do it- anyway I did). She looked at me confused, 'a baby ??, I don't have a baby .. what are you talking about' Oh.. man...I was floored...this is someone else, it wasn't she... I offered some pathetic apology, but fortunately she was graceful as ever. Oh... how could I....eish !

Friday, November 16, 2007

Zuma for president of SA ?

I simply cannot imagine that Mr Jacob Zuma (JZ) will be the next ANC president, let alone the president of South Africa. Talking politics is allways a risky business, still we can voice our opinion, right ? With all the hype and hysteria, it seems as if there is a widespread consensus that Zuma is our man. Well, he isn't. The ANC Youth League and the mighty trade union federation, Cosatu might stand by Zuma, because he repressents a populist position, which is closer to their public socialism. It might be that he will be able to spur on the emotions of the Zulu masses in the rural areas of Kwazulu Natal, singing songs of war and swaying his big belly. At the ANC conference in Polokwane, come December, however, the membership will not vote for Zuma. Allthough the ANC is still percieved to be a liberation movement ( and comrade JZ might still view it as such) the last 13 years in government shaped it towards a sophisticated, politcal machine, where pragmatics, financial stability and growth is paramont. Hence, it is my opinion that the voters will go for stability, more of the same and possibly a bigger dose of neo-liberal capitalism, if not corporatism. The Polokwane conference will not be an ideological rubicon or kairos or watershed, it will be business (pun intended!)as ussual.
Is this what I hope for, in terms of our country ? This is a more difficult question. I would hope for a seperation of powers, where the ANC president is not necesarily the president of the country, where where there is direct representation of local constituencies, not proportional repressentation of the dominant parties and where parliament then elects the prez where ..... and so the list goes on. The bottomline: I foresee that Cosatu will (again) bow to the hand that feeds them and like Shilowa, Jay Naidoo, Cyril, Geraldine, Trev, eventually even Vavi and Midisha will will recieve the higher calling to office, serving their real financial interests, not dummy public roles. Am I cynical and disillusioned with partypolitics ? I don't think so, I just think that maybe inside the illusions of media politicking there are more powerful forces, ideologies and structures at work. But then, let me remind myself not to risk too much, talking politics... this is just an opinion....right ?

Monday, November 05, 2007

NG kerk and Belhar...

It seems as if the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, sadly, is still a prisoner to her colonial racist past. It was hoped that this church could lead her predominantly white, Afrikaans membership out of a fixation with separatism and supremacy, towards a new mission and calling in unity and reconciliation with her black sisters and brothers. An article in an Afrikaans weekly, recounts the most recent set of new (!) reasons why re-unification hasn't yet happened (and may not happen)- the most important being a growing opposition within the DR Church to the Confession of Belhar. Belhar, is a coloured township in Cape Town, where this confession was born, opening new insights in God's desire for unity, reconciliation and justice.The reasons for this growing opposition, however, does not reside in their theological rejection of Belhar, but in what can only be called a general hysteria that the acceptance of Belhar would constitute an acceptance of the new South Africa. An acceptance of the new SA, so they argue, means the acceptance of rising levels of violent crime, corruption and the abuse of power. Where, of course they are correct is that, in the Belhar call, God does call for restitution of injustice, for visible unity hence for the re-formation of colonial type race segregated churches.

In this article one of the ministers of the DR Church, Andre van Niekerk, correctly, express the need for re-unification succinctly '“Kerkeenheid sou ons kon bevry en laat beleef dat alle swart mense nie dieselfde is nie, dat talle nog swaarder onder misdaad en swak bestuur ly, en dat talle gemeenskaplike waardes met ons deel en vir ons voorbeelde daarin is. (Church unity, would have liberated us and let us experience that not all black people are the same, that many share a bigger load under crime and poor management, and that we share many common values of which they are examples to us'). The tragedy is however, that Belhar now becomes the latest 'reason' why the DR church cannot transcend her colonial legacy.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Jake White's dramatic exit-no talks

The dramatic exit of Jake White, triumphant coach of the RWC 2007 champs comes to me as no surprise. I might sound like one of the SARU officials, but scouts honor, I don't have any ties with them. I just love the game, passionately and speaks my mind, sometimes. It's therefor just that the cynical me, was waiting for something dramatic after the victory fires, to reminds us of where we are. It happened in 1995, when the Boks threatened to boycott further participation in games, unless they are paid more and now, again, basking in their victory, aware of their bargaining power, they push their luck for more. I expect some key players and former players to start pushing SARU for more perks and to revisit the Jake saga now. They will threaten that unless SARU reinstate him, they will leave SA's shores to apply their trade somewhere else. Of course the SA Rand cannot compete with the Euros or the Pounds. I stand to be proven wrong, I admit, but I am so deeply disappointed in the way our games, playful as it is suppose to be, embodying the values of fairness, communality, but also excellence and hard work, has under the pressure of global economics, bloated disproportionately, larger than life. The Carlos Alberto Perreira, Eddie Jones-case proves the point and may I add the names of Allan Donald, Kevin Petersen, Andrew Strauss, previous Bok coach Nick Mallet (and now Jake White ?) that whilst we naively hug each other in the streets as a proud 'winning nation' and wait in the rain, wrapped in a SA flag, from 3/4 o'clock in the morning to see our Bokke, coming home...they don't give hoot about national pride or patriotism. While we shed tears singing the anthem, what seems to matter more is the number of zeros of the highest bidder. Playing the game is for sale and going, going is being sold to the highest bidder-I am willing to sell my soul to the whoever is willing to pay. Irrespective of the accolades from all over, even from the prez to Nelson Mandela, why would Jake felt the need to publically disgrace the very people that afforded him the opportunity to be involved in the game ? It can only be because he knew that, in his back pocket, he holds the trump cards, financial offers from all over the world. Maybe I am old fashioned (and naive), but I so hoped that these guys in a small way could have said, now its my time to bring back home the skills and experience and invest and develop our youngsters, to help and make this a winning nation, or I've been so wonderfully privileged, if not blessed, to help make things to change in our nation, in Africa and from here, to the world.
Let me admit: for once I hope that I am totally off the mark, but from where I sit, with regards to Jake and some of 'our heroes', it will not be the case: it will be a matter of money talks... and it will come as no surprise.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Violent death of a reggae icon and vampires

Lucky Dube, international reggae icon, born, bred...... and died in South Africa, the latest famous, victim of our obsession with violence and blood- he has been bitten. What can ordinary street people however do to fight this foul tide. Zelda Jongbloed, in the wake of the Amabokoboko euphoria, calls (hopes) for a wave of protest against crime, others call for a return to more police 'kragdadigheid' ( strong-arm tactics) and then our Commissioner of Safety and Security is fighting (with the prez) for his public life, in the midst of rumors of involvement in the dark underground.

It seems to me that we need to acknowledge that many commentators did warn us against the unacceptable levels of economic inequality in our country. This is the breeding ground for social instability, for conflict. Then, there is also our obscene infatuation with violence and guns. It's in the movies we love, in the music we consume - I see it branded on the cell/mobile phones, drawings of our young people. Its a symbol of coming to age in our day to brandish an image of gold Glock an Uzzi and the list goes on. And then.... amidst pending legislation to protect our children against violent abuse, we fight for the right to bliksem them, to beat them up, so that they can become peace-loving adults.

I'd say, that amongst ourselves, from the smallest circle in our community we need to make a decision never to propagate or (even worse) to use violence as a means to an end. It might sound powerful (like Malcolm X) to scream, 'by all means possible !' or to have 'armourbearers' escorting us, or making public statements that police must (if need be) shoot to kill, but these actions contradicts the deepest values we yearn for. We can embody with our children, students or colleagues a spirit and practice of non-violence of restorative justice of community. This does not mean a lack of discipline or order, it does however affirm the value and dignity of life. I still hope that the legacy of violence and current idolization of the adage, 'get rich ( by all means possible)or die trying...' should not shape the values we live by... It only sustains and entrench a materialist culture of death, that sucks our lifeblood... you have been bitten by a vampire, now you're also a vampire. We need to confront the social forces lurking in the dark alleys, to feed the forces like justice and peace to shape our world.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bokke and unity in South Africa

The Bokke are the World Champions and we are (again) basking in this phenomenal victory, having ectastic visions and dreams of the dawn of Utopia. We had a jol on Saturday night, in Riverlea, spilling over in the week. As an avid rugby fan since, the early 70s enjoying the running brutal battles with the conquering Lions of Willy-John McBride, the French, All Blacks, with Billy Bush, Syd Going, etc, our coloured communities followed the game (on the radio with Gerhard Viviers), but in the heyday of apartheid, being forced to build our own heroes and proud heritage. I have to come clean om the fact that I followed SARU (the coloured/ non-racial league) , KWARU ( the black/non-racial league) as well as 'Federasie'. The Federasie played with the 'Boere', they formed a national coloured team the 'Proteas'- a Wednesday side who would give stiff competition to the dirt-trackers of the touring sides. Why do I say that I have to come clean, is the fact that rugby was divided along political lines. The National Party government started the whole mess, by legislating, the fact that no coloured or black person were allowed to wear the green and gold-we had to play in aparte teams. The SARU and KWARU fraternity then decided to keep these lines and in line with the SACOS policy of the day to say that there can be 'No normal sport in an Abnormal society'. The Federasie however said, No, we'll take what falls from the tables of the white man and play the game. All these configurations were determined by the politics of the day. Many of us, playing in SACOS, supported the foreign teams coming to SA- I however struggled with this. To make a long story short, it comes a bit as a surprise when we forget the history and pretend as if there was nothing between 1948 and 1994 and the politicians must stay out of rugby because sport and politics don't mix. It is not simply naive, it borders on dishonesty. To say that sport brings people together, ignores that fact that sport, in many ways mirrors the contradictions in society. So lets be cautious with our euphoria and realize that many things has changed over the years in sport ( rugby) and in future many things will change. One thing, for sure, is that the legacy and heritage of the heroes on the dirtfields, behind the 'sinkplate' (zinkplates) and in the darkside of yesteryear, deserves affirmation, otherwise, somewhere along the line, we might find to our horror that our celebrations was closer to be chemically induced, rather than a dose of reality

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Heaven is not for Christians alone-Tutu

Now we hear the 'Arch' saying that heaven is inclusive of good Buddhists, like the Dalai Lama and other good people, who are not Christians. In fact, it seems as if he is saying that God is not a Christian. This is of course a highly contentious issue and much deeper analysis has been spend on the question how inclusive (or exclusive) our conceptualizations of God is, on whether there is a heaven or the question of religious pluralism. Much more then a post here and there is clearly needed, but let me risk hanging my colours to the mast.
Desmond Tutu's credentials as a social commentator and prophet is, of course, self-evident and not disputed. His recent statements on Gary Player and Burma is a case in point. I have not been privilege to read his whole statement on this matter, and would therefore confine myself to what I read in the newspapers
It seems to me that, irrespective of whether one might believe whether there's a heaven or not, (and yes, I still think that there is) the issue of heaven, at least for Christians, need to be understood in terms of the Biblical accounts referring to that. That seems for me, to be the parameters within which we should understand this concept, but also talk about it. Especially ministers (or retired archbishops), even court prophets, should at least be guided by their tradition and not their own 'erratic musings', driven many times by political expediency. Secondly, I don't think that supporting, for example the struggle towards (for example) human rights for all or support for breast cancer research and in that quest, the discovery of comrades, like-minded and like-hearted people from which-ever religious or ideological persuasion, mean that suddenly, we understand and express our faith in the same way and therefore, we believe the same. We can respect and struggle with each other, even though, we might dialogue and debate on the differences, in the quest to fight for the issues which is so close to our heart. Thirdly, the (historical) facts of amongst others the crusades,KKK, Nazi-Germany and Auschwitz and the rest, Apartheid... our dark side as Christians, does not blot out the prophetic voices, marginal at best, i.e. the legacy of cross bearers, that is so central to the life of followers of Jesus. Maybe Arch, it reminds us all... to be cautious of our bold public statements about who we think God is and should be and what heaven is suppose to be, In this respect, the arch should also be circumspect, then, with his conceptualizations and hence his bold public announcements of who (he thinks)goes to almost sounds like the flip side of back in the days, when we as fiery evangelists would decide who goes in and who goes down...

Friday, September 28, 2007


Let us rise and stand in solidarity with the people of Burma. It is a sin against humanity to see the naked aggression and Zimbabwean-type onslaught against people of conscience, against us all. Wear your red today and show solidarity with the rising waves of protest the main city, Rangoon, against the military violence. For more information read human rights action blog or maybe this one. You sign a petition from Avaaz

Friday, September 21, 2007

Silent September

Its been a quiet month for me. I had a lot planned, are working on some 'serious projects', important meetings and so forth, *sigh* the usual. Then, I was (and am still being )whipped by a bout of bronchitis. It gave me time, though to pick some reading, coughing my lungs out, listening to the latest school gossip from my 2 preens and see how our national cricket team choke themselves (again) out of a World Cup. I think I need a stronger dose of antibiotics, doc. Maybe the Boks will beat me and the rest of our nation back in shape, even though it's White's team, having to beat the All Blacks...go Amabokoboko !

Monday, September 10, 2007

Courage is Contageous...AA Boesak

Allan Boesak remains someone to listen to intently, irrespective of how you might feel about the man. His most recent article in the Beeld is indeed timely and relevant for the context in which we find ourselves today. It is written in Afrikaans and this in itself, indicates the place the Boesak takes in the debate on national unity and reconciliation. Many a time, key thinkers succumb to the push for political correctness and color-blindness as the safe place for the church to be. Not so with Boesak. Although he fervently stride for non-racialism, affirm the influence of Black consciousness on his own theology and ministry, he is also critical of the way in which the current political regime lay claim upon this legacy. The ANC's growing obsession with race and quotas, obscure safe and constructive conversations about reconciliation, which, in my view are not simply a project, but a costly lifestyle. What is for me interesting about Boesak, is the unapologetic manner in which he unmask ( in his view) the key to Biko's legacy in the fact that he followed, not the gospel of the church, but the gospel of Jesus.

This reminds me of 1993 at a tense funeral of Christ Hani, in the Student's Church in Stellenbosch, where the same Boesak stood up and addressed angry, bitter comrades, who just lost their hero to a right wing assassination. This time he drew strength from the wells of the cross and resurrection of Jesus and played no small part in allaying the eruptious raw emotions of black militant youth.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Being human and the quest for reconciliation

Talks of reconciliation is not popular, it never was. Most of us call for blood and revenge. In our communities, coloured communities, we were fed on 'action' and 'karate movies'-Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, John Wayne and later on TV 'The A-team', Nightrider, Macgiver, 'Jackie Chan', etc. One of the key (if not the only) themes in these movies were the violent murder of the hero's family or burning of the village, the taking over of their land or positions of power by the enemy, the hero's oath to revenge this injustice and then.... how he (usually a man) takes on the enemy and kills him violently at the end. That's where the movie stops, the highlight, the bloody hero having conquered them all. Small wonder then, that our communities were inherently violent. Weekends we would run to see the fights in the streets, to see men would drag their wifes/girl friends on the pavements and our sports games were often called off because of marauding gangs showing 'their colours'. Of course we should not give too much credit to the movies and Bruce Lee's acting abilities, hence the question need to be asked why there are such a fascination with blood and revenge. Could it be that these themes were speaking to the heart of our experiences under a cruel system or that it articulated the same yearning for dealing with the injustice of a brutal oppressive system ? Could it be that we merely reflected in our own bloodsport, the core of what is happening in any case in our society.

The question then is how do we overcome this, because indeed, even today we still call for the guillotine, for more blood. I would think that we could start to re-affirm the call of someone like Steve Biko for the regaining of our humanity. Reconciliation and anti-racism is not about oppressed conquering the oppressor violently, it's rather about finding and asserting our common humanity in the face of inhumanity, in the face of violence, in the face of injustice. It is at this point where we discover the same humanity in 'the other', the enemy, in their being a father a mother, son, a lover of fun, good food, humor, etc. Maybe the key to understand my opening line lies in the word 'talks' about reconciliation. Talk (blogging?) is cheap. Maybe we rather need these smaller connections, rooted in the humane values that we share and then we'll destroy our enemies by turning them into friends (Abraham Lincoln, I think) Maybe, by simply being human amongst other humans, by mothering, fathering, laughing, crying playing.. we can start to connect the dots.. and simply be humans of flesh and blood. Maybe, then, I still need to call for blood, flesh and blood.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Our boozing public officials

Why should we allow public officials, especially ministers of health to remain in their powerful positions, whilst there are intimations that they have a dependency problem, or at least deeply rooted personal issues. I suppose having one with the colleagues after work or being sociable is not the issue. Usually, however, where there is rumours in the workplace, you will go the normal counseling, later maybe the disciplinary route, which can lead to dismissal. For those in the public office, these speculations and damaging rumors would seem enough to warrent a suspension, pending the outcome of an investigation, like with Jacob Zuma. Madlala-Routledge were not even afforded this time of grace.

Not so with our disgraced Minister of Health, Dr Manto. Along with the prez, she is adamant that she will survive yet another vicious onslaught on her person and would fight these malicious attacks from her political opponents. I however think she should do the honorable duty to her nation and to her office and (dis)gracefully, resign. The issue is not what the intent/agenda of Sunday Times were, the issue is simply: she is an embarrassment and a liability to the high office she holds. At this point, even a groundbreaking announcement vindicating her views on HIV/AIDS would be met with incredulity-sorry to say.

Maybe, she will survive legally, like 'Pastor' Jacob Zuma, but politically and in terms of the public image of our government (and our nation?), they have failed their higher calling, to be public faces that embody our highest ideals. In the mean time we suspect them to be boozing and showering...

Monday, August 27, 2007

time for revolution

It so easy to talk revolution out of the comforts of our air-conditioned offices, in front of our laptops, in virtual reality, so to speak. We read and study the classics, whether it be Martin Luther or Steve Biko and we 'discover' that these revolutionaries often confirm our current secret social positions and intellectual hunches. Out of reading the writings of these, we then extract proof texts, to support our cause, which we present with pomp as new scholarly contributions to the world, for consumption.

This type of revolution cannot be enough, in fact it cannot even be called revolution. It is merely creating stone faced idols of dead revolutionaries. Revolution starts with a serious dissection of the world/community we live in, the world we are so comfortable in, our vested interests in this world. This analysis has to be done through the eyes of those whose voices we, as society, has silenced. One of those sections of society we've effectively silenced is children and young people. But often, surprisingly, they rise up and speak for themselves. When we start to discover these creative spaces of our children and young people, where they think for themselves and speak for themselves, and when we are challenged by them, then we might find etchings of a revolution. When we allow ourselves to me moved by their emotion and passion, maybe then we will start to rediscover our humanity, being rooted in the closest circle, at home.

This is why we need to embrace and engage youth expressions of spirituality, of public critical engagement and challenge. For if we root our humanity in the closest ties of blood and kinship, then the key to overthrow chains of oppression and tyranny, clearly will not come from the hallowed halls of fame, money and power, but there where children and young people are liberated. Up until that point, however, in the fog our our talks of revolution and reformation, they will continue to be abused, murdered and fed to our war-gods as foot soldiers, as consumers by greedy adults. But if we look closer, we'll find that there is however grassroots movements and in underground pop culture, inklings of something subversive, something revolutionary, emerging.

Steve Biko legacy

"The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed..." Steve Bantu Biko.
Seeing that it is 30 years after the cruel murder of Steve Biko, it seems appropriate to visit his legacy. Last week, I attended a conference here in Tshwane (Pretoria) on the theological relevance. A few things that strike me again.
Biko was a young,
a college, university drop-out (kick-out)
an ordinary member of his church, the Anglican church.
proudly black, without being racist to white people.
against racism,
against capitalism
a hard worker.
committed to his community.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hip-Hop church ?

I recently read a book with the title the Hip Hop church. The writers wants to link the Hip-Hop movement with the gospel and suggest that we can use elements within the culture to spread the gospel. It made me to think. Some would say: For the first time ?
Anyway, I also cut my teeth on Hip-Hop, after I destroyed my father's Reader's Digest Beetles collection. It became the vinyls for scratching. No, I am lying... I scratched it beyond recognition, as an act of faith. I was moved by a scathing Christian book on rock music and the influence of the devil on it and I listened to youth preachers nailing them (us) for 'backward masking'. 'Another one bites the dust' from Queen became 'Its fun to smoke marijuana' backwards. Scouts honor, I did smash my father's collection, because 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' from the Beetles of course became a call to take LSD, 'Hey Jude' (the song I liked most) was somehow connected to another drug, maybe weed or something, and so forth. Many of these songs were, of course, 'white pop music', but me, being a hybrid coloured, enjoyed also this, with a fair amount of guilt- coming from the church and the comrades. To make a long story short: pop culture is the air that young people breathe and articulates deep emotions and struggles in ways that cold hard reasoning can't. Is it then simply enough to plunder Tupac or LL Cool J's thunder and use it ? Maybe, we do need to get behind the words, antics and glitter to capture the soul, the hidden messages behind the songs. Am I arguing for another 'burning fire' of the ipods ? For now let's maybe only erase the memory and format the hard disk- which would suffice.

No, I don't think these old school 'preachers' took pop culture serious enough. They did not get behind the supposedly profanity and blasphemy and notice the serious questions that this culture is raising. Let me add: Don't worry, I am also not fooled by the current neo-liberal commodification and bling-bling stuff. I am interested in the underground stuff, who are also not fooled... this is the heart of a generation... and I think: a church that miss this (heart)beat is not hip and certainly hop(e)-less.

Monday, August 06, 2007

(hidden) Women's month ?

In South Africa, August is officially declared to be women's month. Whatever was meant by the 'declarers', in the popular mind, it denotes heightened consciousness on the role of women in the public sphere, their impact and possibly giving some credit where credit is due. This is mostly done at certain special days, allowing them, grudgingly, some space alongside men... on our (men's) terms of course. The origin of women's day is, in a general sense, linked to the role of women in the struggle against apartheid. So, certain sections claim to own this legacy. What is significant of this legacy, is the prominence the famous surnames and current ANC woman politicians and their place in our national history and national identity. Yes, maybe they deserved this place of prominence. What is however less prominent is the celebration of the role and place of the mothers of these public faces, the domestic workers, but also the (still) lowly paid ordinary teachers and lowly paid nurses, the grannies and even single mothers, on whose backs the nation were reared. They are still, even in the 'new' South Africa, hidden in the kitchens, on the farms and in our townships, in the backyard. Then there is the sick ones, the infected and those that are struggling with chronic (many times terminal) diseases. Those, who for a variety of reasons beyond their control, struggle undignified, with mental illnesses. All who are still the embarrassment, when the rich and famous come to visit and when we have to set up the stage for the powerful women, the phenomenal women... I wonder sometimes what they, the hidden, think of women's month?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Youth people and intellectual engagement

The youth organization I belonged to in the 80s and 90s were the place which shaped me immensely. I'm not sure whether it has been for the good. What I do know however is that I found many people in key positions who, at some point served as youth leaders of mine. The least that I can offer then, is to say she or he were at one point my youth leader. This begs the question: did the youth work shape them to be who they are today, or were they in any case, destined for greatness because of some other reason and were only surfacing in our youth organization. Whatever your answer to this: the point is that we need to take serious those young people who are surfacing at our humble and sometimes clumsy youth organizations. We need to track them and possibly learn from them, they can most likely be the next generation of key thinkers, decision makers, i.e world makers.
Yes, some fall through the cracks and never surface again, or surface later. It doesn't mean that the input in their lives were in vain. I however would surmise that, even the space of world making, is not necessarily the hallowed halls of fame, but many a time incognito in the streets, the protest movements, those forms of collective behavior we have labeled 'rebellious', 'irresponsible' or 'in vain'. Who determines these definitions and who have the power to put people in these categories? Aren't these categories only our fearful labels for notions like 'creativity', 'imagination' and 'hope'?
Maybe we fail in youth work when our young people grow up to be the silent and subdued mass, domesticated and mere mirrors of an adult culture that is devoid of creativity, imagination and hope.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Flogging Vlok..

Adriaan Vlok, notorious ex minister of 'Wet en Orde' close to 20 years ago, came out of the blue and offered to wash the feet of Pastor Frank Chikane. Pastor Chikane is of course these days, the right hand man of the prez. Now, as you might know feetwashing is big these days in churches. Although its usually the owner of the washed feet who feel most embarrassed (well at least me, seeing that my feet, toes, toenails, etc are part of the category of my 'skaamdele'), yet, the washer wants to express something of a humility and a 'I want to serve you...' Legally, of course, Mr Vlok (as did PW. FW, PIK and others) forfeited the time of grace when he did not come clean, during the TRC amnesty period.My question is: what makes Mr Vlok and his cohorts different to be singled out(only now) for prosecution. Surely he had done more to express remorse and to commit to serve and pay back( wash feet of the mothers whose children were slaughtered back in the dark old days). I've noticed the SACC are now saying that prosecuting him and his cohorts will move us closer to reconciliation, because it will bring out the truth. The truth that we need now is dealing with the loss of income and therefor poverty, inequalities and violence and the answers to the question: why is it not being dealt with... Flogging Vlok won't bring us closer to socio- economic transformation and service delivery- in fact by releasing Vlok, pastor Chikane, maybe we could have opened up floodgates of good will, social captial so needed right now... but then.. I am not next to the throne..

Monday, July 16, 2007

Identity in Postcolonial world

I recently read some stuff from Walter Breuggemann on how words and language in fact construct the worlds we live in. It sort of ties in with postcolonial theory- which in my view provides a coherant arguement for understanding our racial identities
(the worlds we live in)as socially constructed and therefor fluid. This understanding stands against the essentialist view, so endemic in the discourses on what it means to be African and the deeper discourse on race and racism. If identity is then constructed, then it follows that Africanist views, which sometimse smacks a racial fundamantalism need to be reviewed in favour of an understanding that Africa belongs to thos who live in her, irrespective of colour, genealogical background, etc. If a different African is possible then a different Africa can be imagined.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Amazing how a strike can strike you down... I know-its a bad excuse. A lot of things have happened... holiday in Kruger National Park, 1 day in Mozambique ... Maputo to be exact and some time in the Cape... Western Cape to be exact. I was at the congress of the Christian Youth Movement.... what an experience ! Young people from all over Southern Africa gathering, discussing, reflecting... Mixiting, texting... and so forth. I was wondering again... are we in touch with the various hybrid generations that are emerging. I think this is exiting and hopefull ! I came back energised to stay in touch ( if I can )
I had to leave the youth happening to attend to a family thing in my hometown, Piketberg. We unveiled a tombstone for my ancestors, Christian Nel and Wilhelmina Nel. Another, I think, inspiring moment... to be re-affirmed to the soil again, African soil, earthy soil.... it reminded us of the richness of our culture, multivaried, shifting and dynamic.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Strike action...

This URCSA Executive has produced a position on the public service strike and it is found on our webpage. The initial just demands of workers however later became part and parcel of Cosatu's show of strength in the run-up to the elections of a new president. This seems to become a war now between unions ( and their private hooligan army) and government. It then strike me that in youth month, the unions are using the future of our children as cannon fodder, in their battle for political positions. This is bad taste in the extreme. Yesterday, I sensed in the only Afrikaans sunday newspaper, Rapport a low key support for the strike. Could it be that Rapport is now turning socialist on us ( in support of the power play of Cosatu ?)- No, its just their ussual anti-government, anti-black propaganda again pouncing on the opportunity to get a 'below-the belt upper cut' in -here from the side of the ring. Everybody is in on what ever there is outthere for the taking. In the meantime, their (Union bosses, government ministers, rapport's bigshot's) children goes to school, whilst the rest of our children are left unattended, they go to the private hospitals on medical aid and the rest ( like 87 year old auntie Minnie) is graspking for breath, because she was harrased away from two hospitals by maurauding 'health workers'. I almost said it smacks like Charles Taylor, using children in his terror on post-colonial West-africa. can someone show me the difference ??

NG Kerk, unification and so forth....

The General Synod of the NG Kerk is in the news again, especially the Afrikaans media. This time they made some progressive steps in their gay debate. I however wondered why this NG-gay debate (for lack of a better term) ballooned almost out of porportion. I can understand the relevance, the genuine-ness and seriousness with which they grappled with these matters. Who will dare to deny this ? This is also from what we've over-heard, not an easy discourse. My question however relates to the fact that again, it was their debate, in the corner and still, a debate which smacked the old styled apartheid. After their 1857 decision of seperate communion amongst races, which paved the way for seperate churches and later apartheid and which coloured (pun intended) this church as racially separatist and a colonial relic of a dark history, they were still not able to throw off this baggage-no, they choose to trek laager around (now also gay) white Afrikaners. The consequence is that they have not yet come to the point of opening up to their black, coloured and indian sisters and brothers and become one church, listening to God's word, irrepective of race, language or culture. It remains difficult to open up to the 'other', because maybe we would loose power or control over the outcome.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Prosperity cults, etc

This morning I listened in horror and pain to a breakfast show from a local Christian community radio station here on the Westrand. Many sincere believers called in to share their bit about a 'christian' investment scheme, started in the building of a prominent big coloured, Christian charismatic church here in Joburg. The leadership of this church and other churches promoted and provided the platform for this and many followed the integrity of the pastor and invested in the sceme. Apparantly what was promised was a '4 to1' return ( whatever that means). People 'invested' their savings, pension, a second ( or third bond) for a return in 4 months of 4 times the ammount they invested. Some allowed it to 'roll over' and millions were promised- in the church. In a context of declining jobsecurity, rising unemployment and underemployment ( government employees are striking now!), but more so, a bit of 'praise and worship', speaking in tongues and a 'word of prophecy', which is never to be challenged by scripture or common sence, who would not be susceptable and vulnerable? It sounded and appeared like a miracle and indeed divine intervention for our coloured communities. Hallelujah ! This was not to be. People lost houses, their hard earned pensions, childrens study money and are up in arms: the miracle worker dissappeared (he called in to the program to claim innocence: he is 'in hiding' somewhere, pleading the community to allow him to come back to clear his name. What was worse was the way in which the radiostation's boss and another 'pastor' was pasting the same lame, posperity texts over this mess... 'just trust and put your faith in God and He will supply your needs' (read greeds), 'God is in control'. don't say anothing against God's annointed, etc.etc... It painfull but true: we as christians and churches are guilty. We have been too quiet and submissive to put our God-given minds in action to analyse these bogus prophets of prosperity and their reckless 'gospel' and 'theology', in the face of real injustice and evil. They have been and clearly still are instruments - sometimes usefull idiots in the hands of global capitalism and we have been colluding, because maybe there's something out for us as well or we don't want to rock the boat. We'll the good that will come out of this is that a few people will be liberated from these religious charlatans and the bondage of prosperity cults- maybe (hopefully) a more humble church, identifying with the poor, standing against the rich and powerfull, who in their selfish interest have worked against God, will emerge... let's wait and hope... in the meantime let's test ourselves and if if need be, repent...

Friday, May 25, 2007


We had a wonder-filled week of pentecost at church. Small groups of twenty something people faced the icy cold Highveld at our creche, where we meet. Interesting discussions and conversations ( my new buzzword after Amahoro, conversations...) Yes, we sang, we danced and did the pentecostal thing, but also reflected silently, stiffly on what the Spirit is doing, today. The Spirit, we dare say, give us superpowers ( like Neo in the Matrix or Superman ??) - but this power connect us to the divine. We read passages in Acts and discover its surprisingly an earthly divinity of grace- in the midst of ethocentrism, persecution, violation of human rights and empires (ecclesial, economic and political). It almost as if pentecost-al emerge in the midts of these, as the courage to be different- to defy hegemonies, to follow a leader who subvert the powers that be, by being a servant, dying, by witness through the stigmata of the nails and the thorns- the spear (of the nation), to seek alternative community.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Again Amahoro

Thinking about Amahoro, I realised how relevant the another confession from Africa was for the conversation, namely the Accra confession 2004. I got this Accra worshipresource from an American church. Cool hey !

Good to be back on the hill far away

Good to be back in Riverlea and the Tshwane-hill, although its freezing, according to SA standards. According to the weatherprophets- it was -4C last night here in the north. Anyway, it makes sense to be back and to reflect on my experiences with colleages and with members of our faith community, the Alpha Community. This in a sense is a time of working through the experiences and allowing the Body to temper one's concentrated views. This is sometimes humbling, but also importantly grounding, (rooting) you in your community of faith, in the reality of our community life. This means: amongst others reports to be finnished, scrips and assignments to be marked, meetings to be set up and children to be taken to school, recorder and violin lessons and feeding the Zazza, our German ( yes, German) sheperd dog. In the midst of it all- I think- we need to explore the what it means to be church....

Monday, May 21, 2007


Amohoro ! I was taught that this means something like 'peace', so Amahoro!! again. I suppose as Africans we probably cannot over-stress this greeting. I will not repeat what was said and happened. For those interested check out the Amahoro blog or for the technically advanced there is Greame's Future church site.
Good, it seems, to be able to reflect on my 2 week experience in Uganda. it was good to experience the Uganda hospitality, to be re-affirmed in many things, but also challenged on a fair ammount of areas in one's life. After all, an unexamined life is not worth living, right ?
Jenkins/Jurgens would say that the centre of gravity has shifted towards the global south, towards Africa, where seemingly the church growing at its fastest. The question is: what type of church and whose Christianity. Coloniality, and therefor colonial Christianity or religiosity it seems to me, is not confined to the period which came (past tense) to an end at the time of independance. Some (at Amahoro, amongst others) would still shoot at the old styled missionaries from Europe and the rest, not realising that the Emperor is now disguising self in new clothes and masks- some of them South African, some as black as can be. Some still hold to the myth that God came to Africa with the ships of the colonists. If we hole to a trinitarian theology then we'll have to revisit these positions.

Postcoloniality, for me, questions fundamentally an imperialistic and conquering gospel- and discover amongst the silenced the humble cross, the empty grave, the witnessing, vulnerable church, under the shadow of the cross....The postcolonial church, therefor might be at places where we didn't look for and certainly not at the big stadiums with Holy Spirit Miracle Crusades. I was so disappointed at an old gospel artist whom I admired and whose music me and my family loved, who seemed to lead the pack of ravaging Crusaders ( not Richie McCaw and his cohorts) aiming to ( again) plunder Africa's soul. I don't even want to mention Ron Kenoly's name. (oops- there it's out) How can our Christian African American brothers be so gullable and susceptable to proprerity cults is beyond me, for now. Are we as a church beyond the point of redemption, beyond the point of repentance and conversion ?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Bruin-ness and the church

Excellent sporting weekend (except for the CWC)- at least the local derby was a draw. What stand out however, was Fokus on Freek with quite a lively debate on bruin-ness. My youngest afterwards wanted to know what we are- brownies or coloured. Difficult to explain: we are Coloured in english, but 'Bruin' in Afrikaans. mmm difficult to explain. Anyway, the book of Gilliomee, Nog altyd hier gewees, tells the story of a Stellenbosch community- the 'bruin' gemeenskap. How do we see ourselves in the new SA- with Freedomday celebrations fresh in our memory. More pertinently: how do we see ourselves in the church, a uniting church, a URCSA church. I can speak of our experiences down in the Stellenbosch, but would prefer to narrow myself down to the place where I find myself now- in the North. I agree with Danny Titus, we cannot for now at least deny the Bruin-experience and simplistically evaporate into 'blackness' or South African-ness. This denies the unique history of colonialism, slavery and apartheid, but also (now) assimilation in the new South Africa. Suddenly, we ( in our church) have to let go of 'precious memories' and stories of struggle with the Kain's merk coming out of African, Asian, European creolization and adapt to the dominant NGKA churchculture and history. Yes, we are not significant in terms of the numbers, but still, the church is the place where we celebrate the reconciliation, unity in diversity, where we overcome the shallowness of uniformity and aim for justice - with God standing on the side of the weaker side, the oppressed and the marginalised. Whether He is on the Bruin-side is maybe pushing the argument too far , but I would assert that God doesn't in this case side with the powerful who in their selfish desires define and supress the weak. Beware: This is what Afrikaner-nationalism tried to do- mark you and put you in place. What we however as a church need to become aware of, is the reality that these 'sides' are not as clearly demarcated as we think it is- I think that these hybrid identities, the reality of fluid negotiated selves denies essential definitions of what it means to be an African or authentic member of the nation and of the church. That is why the future for national identities lies in shades of bruin- in multi coloured varieties and dialogues that includes rather then draw thick bold lines. These shades are in constant interaction allowing new strong colours to emerge- what beautiful, open possibilities are opening up in this context.... if only we we let it be...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Emergent church

Last night I listened to two radio programs on the new forms of church. Some call it emergent church, others alternative others say its just another word for the charismatic renewal and the AIC's. Maybe it is merely the Americans trying to label and intellectual property-fying and exporting back a move that has been going on in the aftermath of decolonization in the South anyway. Jurgens Hendriks on 702 seems to say that AIC's - or as it was called in the program, the 'breakaway' churches is simply part of this new move of God. Earlier, on RSG (Afrikaans radiostation) it was refered to as the alternative church, which is basically spreading the same old gospel story, in a new way (package). I agree that we need to have a historical perspective on what is happening currently. What is happening in the UK and North America ( also in Australia and NZ-Aot ?) need to be viewed in terms of the context that the church finds themselves in there. The Newbigin-inspired gospel and our culture network is doing just that- a mission by and for and to the north. We have these pockets of the West in the colonies still and they have their links to the metropole ( to the motherland). Then, we have the South, the colonies, the rest... do we now ( again) swallow the medicine that the doctor prescribe or do we go for the traditional healer. It seems to me that a lot of what is suggested in the glorification of the AIC's is a regression back to the traditional healer. If only we could go back to a primordial past, purged from Western influence and culture, in church and society then we can sit ( again) under the tree and smoke the pipes whilst the women, the children and the slaves go on with their work on the land. I quess, it doesnt take a lot of brainpower ro realise to discover that we have moved on, due to the colonial project and now in the context of neocolonialism we discover we are mixed, mobile, Euro/Asian-Africans, who are negotiating and re-inventing our self-concept as we engage in living.A postcolonial position will assert: we are not only in Joburg any more the colony, we are Joburgers in Seattle for 7 months, in Amsterdam for a year, working on a pig farm in the UK for 3 years and 'come visiting home' in Stellenbosch for a month. Even the US and UK are not what it used to be... the key players in the England cricket team look more Indian, and sound more South African then typical English- and it is in this fluid and emerging context- postcolonial that church has to make sense. This for me is not the case in AIC's and charismatics ( let alone us 'mainstreams' or sidestreams !

Monday, April 16, 2007

Rugby and cricket woes

It was not a good sporting weekend for me. The worst thing about the loss of the Stormers and the South African cricket team is the fact that you cannot do anything about it. Maybe I should, like many newspapers over the weekend, blame it on transformation and qoutas. If only we had spinners like Botha and Harris, instead of Pietersen (Robin, not Kevin) and bag-carrying Telemachus ( and now Langeveld as well) and if only Hershelle ( despite his 60) and Ashwin didn't dropped their catches.... Rapport's only photo of the cricket is Hershelle dropping that one (oh yes, and the glory of AB in the previous match against Windies with a few spinning the future of our golden boy) and so we can go on. The same can be said of rugby. The bottom line is that it's enough to loose badly-and take the rap for it, but its so sickening when black players are singled out for blame. It is for me symptomatic of so many aspects of our time: people ( and Afrikaans newspapers like Rapport) oppose transformation and affirmative action arguing that it militates against merit and excellence. I don't think its that simple. I think that in the messy world that we live in powergames plays its part-and colour (pun intended) the way emerging talent is managed , that entrenched interests still militates against harnesing all the best we have to produce (winning) results. We are not doing this well enough- this is why talented black schoolchildren are left behind (put down) by the wayside. I've seen them at games and meets at Stellenbosch 10 or so years ago at highschool events taking the honours- today- maybe at their prime age of 20-25 they're gone.

Monday, March 26, 2007

On Zimbabwe again...

Last week ( 21 March- Human rights day in SA-Old Sharpville day) my wife and my daughters checked out constitutional hill. A sort of national, secular, pilgrimage to our hallowed temple of human rights. The official tour guide took us on a trip down (literally down) memory lane down the dark dungeons of colonialism and up again to the highest court in the country- the constitutional court. In the meantime there was some educational programs for children (all black of course) and a gathering of the human rights day celebrations ( all black of course). A bit further off, just missing the official dominant text was a small placard swaying, bussed-in crowd, multi-coloured. They were standing outside the gate raising their protest against the situation is Zimbabwe. (our police kept them at a safe distance).
This morning I was driving to Tshwane and gatecrashed a radio discussion on the Zimbabwe issue. We are still not saying anything. It's the elderly statesman, Kenneth Kaunda and someone from Zambia who are taking part. They're debating possible transitional arrangements, exit strategies and enhanced quiet diplomacy, etc. But then, who's listening, they are after all (still) outside the gates of the official discourse.. and teh scope our national faith where we hail our homebrew miracle and our most progressive constitution in the world.

Friday, March 16, 2007


University of Pretoria is still reserving their lecturing jobs for the white, Afrikaans Nederduitse Gereformeerde kerk (Ned Geref Kerk) men. This is the only conclusion I can come to after observing the unfolding saga that last few weeks on process the appointment of a professor in Missiology and the Science of Religion. From what I could gather (the spin notwithstanding) the post was advertised in the Kerkbode (official newspaper of the NG Kerk). I don't know if it was advertised in any other newsmedia (maybe it was - I just didn't see it !). From what I read in the "Kerkbode" ad, it was preserved for Ned Geref Kerk ministers and licenced candidates. Maybe as a way of appeasing the black masses I also heard that (informally) their people, including a noted TRC commissioner/academic/writer ( hence 'integrity' and 'truth' himself) generously invited the rest of members of the black churches also to apply. What happened afterwards however , was that only the Ned Geref ministers (and licencees) were called for the interview, inspite of the fact that one of the leading missiologists specifically in the field of theology of religioun were sidelined- in favour ( eventually) of someone, who is not a missiologist and who doesn't have any academic ( let alone serious) experience. It seems to me that this imply that, not academic excellence or qualifications count at UP ( Tuks)'s theological faculty, but denominational loyalty and whiteness. The UP are not the seminary of the NG Kerk hence the argument for seminarybased traning does not hold here- this is still a state asset and how could they preserve positions for one denomination- and a predominanlty white dominated one is just a mystery... a tragic one for that matter !

Zimbabwe and other musings..

I never had the guts to speak out on Zimbabwe. Maybe this is my own kind of 'quiet diplomacy', which is so typical of us South Africans, of course. To be honest, maybe part of the reason for my silence is simply because on the one hand I support the redistribution of land( I would do it differently-being proudly south-African). I am also opposed to the new hegemony -empire ( read: colonialism) of global institutions like the International Monitary Fund (IMF) imposing their kinds of democracy, economic logic and culture all over the world. I therefore want to also assert the notion of national sovereignty- within a postcolonial context. Coloniality is (still) part of the messy equation here and the role of the 'old' colonial empire (Britian) is ambigious for me in terms of the past and the legacy and the questions of restitution-hence the present crisis. The media's demonising of Robert Mugabe doesn't help getting us out of this quagmire- it rather push Zanu-PF in a place to safe face and to keep the power - at all costs ( because, they would argue, we are after all (still) fighting the empire). It seems to me that some kind of strategy has to be negotiated, where Zim don't loose the gains of the liberation and the transformation and where Zim don't (desperately and like SA) totally succumb to the logic of the new empire. This strategy would have to include: The succession debate, with a Zim flavour, the human right abuses of the present government, but also of the empire, has to be dealt with within a progressive and legal framework in order to facilitate healing and peace (shalom) (not the absence of war, but the presence of justice-ala Martin LutherKing Jnr). I agree: let us resist and prevent human rights abuses and stateviolence against peaceful protesters, let us support our neigbours, but more so, we need to expose and exorcise the real principalities and powers, evil lurking and hiding, yet manifesting in various guises....

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Russel Botman praat oor Afrikaans

Prof Russel Botman, nuwe rektor by Maties praat oor die rol en plek van Afrikaans. 'n Verkorte weergawe verskyn toe in die Litnet. Lees dit hier.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

taxi talk

Usually I read my Beeld in the 'taxi' between Joburg and Tshwane-hoping not to be disturbed by talkative co-pilgrims to the holy hill. I know...I know...its not Christian and missional, but hey... early in the morning is not the best time of my day. Anyway.. yesterday en today I was disturbed.. (in the good sense of the word, if there is any) I had conversations with two colleages and ( because they knew I was working in theology and the church) the conversation predictably, inevitably shifted to being christian and how they became christians. What was enlightning was the fact that I knew them for a few years now, yet I was amazed at their story, their journey- both relocating from churches where they grew up to newer more conservative evangelical churches ( 'warmer' ones, more 'biblical' ones). What striked me about these wonderful people and why they 'relocated' was the fact that in both cases- it was facilitated, prompted 1) not a pastor, evangelist or massive evangelistic service but by 'just someone who is a member in the church', but 2) there was a clear role of family, a close relative who was a christian and part of that church who had a hand or a smile or a word... a kind of a relational incarnational soteriology. Amazing what missional theology takes place in the taxi...thanks to my two interlocutors for disturbing the neat holy hill theology...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fred Kumalo on coons culture (Sunday Times)

I want to take issue with Fred Khumalo in his article on Afrikaners and Coloureds, who need to get into it and on with it in the 'new SA'. I have a problem with the way he is putting the coon issue in the same level as the De La Rey issue. I have a problem when coloured culture is equated with the coons. I have problem when people generalise about coloureds because he spoke with one Mohammed and another relative of his in Mitchels Plain. You are letting yourself down Fred with this kind of journalism..

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Crime suck the life out of us

Crime sucks !
What sucks more is our president, who doesnt give a damn ! I however are of the opinion that more is needed from us as civil society in terms of addressing the issue of violence and crime. There is for me more complex questions on the issues of reconcilation, the culture of violence, but also the deeper moral malaise that we find ourselves in. This seems to be for me a starting point for dealing with the scourge. I start to sound like oom Coenie...hmm

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Christina Landsman se droom

I read in Die Beeld that Christina Landsman is dreaming, like Martin Luther King (Jnr). She's dreaming of a church that build bridges in 2007. The article is your typical well-written academic type, clincial and correct. if you work at the University, then you are indeed required to write like this and to touch on the ( indeed hot !) issues she is touching on.. dreaming about the church, society, etc. I don't mind her dreaming, we all should dream more, I say. My wife however, allways remind me that we are not living in our dreams, our people are not living in our dreams. The church are just ordinary people, where our lives are not clinically and clearcut... where we live with uncomfortable compromises, with ambiguities, with mistakes and working class people -who are sacrifcing their time and money for the church ( for the Lord) well meaning, but (yes) also bigoted, cynical and sceptical people sometimes with leaders who have come through the ranks fighting their way up. Here we find dreams which are more messy and confused, less political correct because its about the unwanted electricity meters, by the council, about the ANC's coldness towards unsafe streets in coloured communities, communities that, like in apartheid, are left to rot in drugabuse at the mercy of druglords and merchants from the rich suburbs, connected to high police circles; the 24X7 shebeens where fathers sell their soul and girls their bodies. Maybe what we need is the embodiments of MLK struggling, marching, being humiliated in the streets, facing police brutality, jail ultimately death- because of his dream... a costly dream.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Back at the office

Good to be back at the Tswane hill, back at the piles of paper, unfinished projects, lining up for attention ! Ready, set, go !
I will be starting this year with a but of a different perspective. Last week I was caught in the middle of a bankrobbery, here in Florida, Joburg, got my shoes stolen in Stellenbosch, last month etc, etc. I however promised myself- I will not yield and succumb to these- I'll keep on struggling for peace and goodwill. I'm appalled and enraged at these idiot thugs, who seems to arrogantly break in our public and personal space and try to rob us of our dignity. I am impatient with the aloofness of Thabo Mbeki and his government at our plight. It seems as if we are left at the mercy of these violent thugs. Our president should appoint stronger, sharper ministers for the portfolios Safety and Security as well as Justice and Constitional development. Talking about Constitutional development- we need a revisit of the constitution of our country, which enshrine and protect our diginity and safety. Why should our suffering under lawlessness be the main content of our conversations ??? This is one area where it seems to me a lot of research and thinking has to go into. Which brings me back to the office. Lets start to work towards raising the levels of dignity and pride in our nation, build on concrete action against lawlessness, violence and criminality- we indeed can do better than this !