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?