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...