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...