Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brothers Jake and Luke shake hands

Well, well, well ! Whilst the storms are raging, and everybody is calling for Luke Watson's blood, there is another unexpected turn to the ongoing saga: Brothers Jake and Luke are joining hands, in their church.

One can only wish Jake well, on his new-found love and new-found life. Its fascinating how many Springboks ( and coaches like Heinecke Meyer and Peter de Villiers) own up to a personal faith commitment and often refers to the role of their faith in God. This affects their relationships amongst each other and so forth ( sometimes behind the headlines!) Die Burger, reports on how Brother Jake, recently became a Christian and in the midst of the recent controversy, reached out to Luke Watson, at a church gathering. In the article Brother Jake, states, something which I heard in Luke's famous, motivational speech, 'Ons moet besef daar is ’n groter plan. Dit gee jou soveel rigting in die lewe'. Now, I understand where its coming from.

Anyway, to both brothers, we can only wish them blessings and a Amen ! I think they might be showing the way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Angelina Jolie is in the Bible !

Finally, my spiritual sense has been vindicated ! I always knew that there is something more to Angelina Jolie. She must be an angel of sorts. Now it is reported that a new Bible translation has included an image of this superstar in an illustrated Bible. Apparently this edition is a blockbuster !

Seriously though, whilst I find Angelina to be some of the few superstars, who has been an inspiration in terms of compassion and caring, this type of contextualization need to be questioned. It need to questioned when American images of stardom, are sold as the latest incarnation of God's word. In a world where the majority could care less, or don't even know, the lifestyles and antics of Hollywood, or where the USA is perceived to be the source of so much pain and mystery in terms of economic and ecological instability and imperialism in the rest of the world, this decision has to be questioned and resisted. It might sound utterly pious, yet it might be closer to the Bible to maintain that Brangelina is indeed in the Bible, where all of us are... typified as a sinner in need of grace. And it is at this place where angels are made, as normal human beings trying to make a positive change.

Friday, October 17, 2008

World Poverty Day 17 Oct 2008

On this day, we can make a difference by thinking about our lifestyles, about our commitment to justice and what we are doing about it.

World Poverty Day should actually be high in the agenda of faith communities, but we shamefully simply wait to be the next gospel or ecclesial tycoon, flying around the world in our private jet. We also fail to unmasked the false gospel parading as the panacea for the world's poor, whilst in actual fact it has been a mask hiding our true intents, self-enrichment and material greed, in service of global capitalism. Hopefully today can be a reminder to recommit ourselves in the quest for justice.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

churches and the world food crisis

Samuel Kobia, challenges churches to also get involved in the World Food crisis. I had a interesting conversations with a friend over the weekend, where I argued that the world has enough food to feed all her inhabitants, but the problem is political.

So, now Dr Kobia states, that faith communities should,
1. Advocate actively with their governments, intergovernmental organizations and international financial institutions for the implementation of the stipulation as set forth in his speech, today ( Check it out here)
2. Renew their commitment to work for genuine land reform – including the redistribution of church lands, institutional practices, demonstrating practical models of life-giving agriculture such as community based organic farming in church lands;
3. Review their own institutional practices, lift up, promote and replicate practical models of life-giving agriculture (e.g. community based, organic farming, especially in church lands);
4. Promote local and environmentally friendly agricultural production through support for:
* Community seed banks and appropriate household food reserve systems,
* Direct relationships between producers and consumers and
* Efforts of awareness-building in local communities and congregations on the global food crisis through education and ecumenical formation and relevant Bible study materials;
5. Link up with peasant movements, Indigenous Peoples, women's groups and disabled persons in designing other proposals for advancing the right to food and food sovereignty through the World Social Forum and other spaces;
6. Find ways of accessing studies on the social and environmental effects of a moratorium on agro-fuel expansion that can help churches in their work in this area.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty remains our biggest challenge, not new political parties

So what, if Terror or Shilowa starts a new party or if Allan Boesak walks out, again ? It's all a game- a game of power and money. Yet, everyone seems to be enchanted with the spats within the powerful ruling party, amongst tycoons, capitalists and wannabee capitalists, parading as the friends of the poor. They would even call themselves 'comrades', and act like people serious about an eminent socialist revolution. Either this is case of serious delusion or they try to fool us all. I'm not sure yet which one it is. This is the same kind of feeling one gets when listening to the debates about a 'free' market economy and how we all should simply try harder and push for more economic growth.

In the meantime, in realtime, oblivious of the slick political manoeuvrings or the paint-brushed images, the poor are dying of hunger and preventable disease. Is it possible that these powerful figures have missed the point and failed to see ? No, its not. Recently, the expired political actors (who now try to crawl back), through the 'Towards a 15-year Review', acknowledged for South African context
"Growth has exposed weaknesses ... the increase in the rate of growth does not necessarily result in a reduction in poverty."
Nor had growth reduced inequality, but had rather created a bigger gap between the rich and poor

This is no surprise as most of the countries, south of the Sahara, adhere to the flawed 'free' market dictum that capitalist economic growth will eventually eradicate poverty and bring about equality and peace on earth. It is in this context that the Accra Confession is relevant in stating,
The root causes of massive threats to life are above all the product of an unjust economic system defended and protected by political and military might.

This crisis is directly related to the development of neoliberal economic globalization, which is based on the following beliefs:
unrestrained competition, consumerism, and the unlimited economic growth and
accumulation of wealth is the best for the whole world; the ownership of private property♣ has no social obligation; capital speculation, liberalization and♣ deregulation of the market, privatization of public utilities and national resources, unrestricted access for foreign investments and imports, lower taxes, and the unrestricted movement of capital will achieve wealth for all; ♣ social obligations, protection of the poor and the weak, trade unions, and relationships
between people, are subordinate to the processes of economic growth and capital
This is an ideology that claims to be without alternative, demanding an endless flow
of sacrifices from the poor and creation. It makes the false promise that it can save the world through the creation of wealth and prosperity, claiming sovereignty over life and demanding total allegiance, which amounts to idolatry

This system fundamentally, has its grip over our governments and unless it is addressed, we will have more of the same, poverty, inequality and injustice. It is called for leaders to refrain from feeding into the consumerist lifestyles, from celebrating capitalism, but to acknowledge the role of government regulation, of the voice of local communities in what happens in our back yard, and to democratize financial institutions. For poverty to be addressed in sub-Saharan Africa, local products need to be pushed, locally and internationally through fair-trade practices, stronger government support and subsidies for emerging farmers, land reform in terms of property rights need to be fast-tracked and again government should look into the possibilities of Tobin-tax and bigger spending on education (skills-development) and health. Unless these are addressed now, we will in 15 years again hear the words, this time not from Netshitenzhe, "Despite reduced income poverty and faster growth, income inequalities did not decrease and in some respects increased"

This is a scenario scary....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Luke Watson, standing for the truth

After reading the full transcript of Luke Watson's speech at a private function (courtesy of Die Burger!), I can only have admiration for this young leader and his father. Being myself a ardent supporter of non-racial sport in the 80s and having participated in SACOS sport, I again have to agree and lament the death of the legacy of those who fought and died for non-racial sport. Today most of these voices are silent and silenced in mainstream media, where transformation in sport and sport administration remains to be under suspicion and are ridiculed. Even today, Watson might be lynched for who he is and might be vilified and quoted out of context, yet he remains a beacon of hope that people, irrespective of their racial heritage can share the same aspirations and hopes for excellence and success in this country.

I am not convinced that Luke Watson are against the presence and role of white Afrikaanses in rugby. Jake White, former Bok coach, who led the campaign against his exclusion and who orchestrated his isolation last year, celebrated it with his 'all revealing' biography and he is of English heritage. As I read the transcript, Luke's remarks on his painful experience last year in the Bokcamp, where he should have celebrated his inclusion, makes sense, given the context as corroborated by the biography of White. Where I stand, and what maybe Watson should have said, is that indeed, there is a racist clique within SARU, that still want to keep rugby in the control of whites. They have been there before 1994 and it is unthinkable that they simply left for Australia ever since. They are still fighting their battles inside SARU and they will continue to fight all that speaks of transformation and redress of the past. Luke Watson, has the guts to stand up and speak-out the truth on this sordid state of affairs. It would fascinating to read the tell-all biographies of Brian van Rooyen or of Mike Stofile or maybe even Origen Hoskins (Am I holding my breath ?).

Does this mean that all whites are again in the dock for racism ? Does it mean that Afrikaansspeaking whites are again to be singled out for special castigation ? No, of course not. I cannot read it from the speech of Luke. He did not even addressed transformation in rugby specifically. His speech speaks more of a personal - almost a spiritual/religious transformation. What I read is a motivational talk, where he argues that transformation starts from within ourselves- by self-critique and overcoming the odds stacked against you and then he recounts his own journey, as a rugby player and as the son of another rugbyplayer, who made certain important, but also costly spiritual and political choices. One line from his speech sums it up for me, he says,
I’m not throwing some political twist to this transformation, I’m not saying transformation of South African rugby, I’m not saying transformation of the man next to me, on my left or on my right, I’m saying transformation of Luke Watson, because when I’ve transformed, when I’ve pushed on

At another section he recalls,
“I’m sitting in Wellington last year, Super 14, a reporter comes up to me, he says: ‘Luke I interview your father Cheeky Watson about 20 years ago and I asked him: ‘Cheeky, why are you doing this? And Cheeky looked at me, and this is the defining moment in my life, when I got respect for him. he said: ‘Luke you father looked at me and said: ‘the reason I am doing this, is so I can look my son in he eye one day and say I made a difference, I stood up when others ran away, I faced the enemy when cowards fled, so I can look in the eye of my son one day and say: ‘I’ve made a difference.’

“Destiny is on your doorstep, I don’t care who you are or where you come from, tonight is an opportunity to grab hold of this message of transformation, to go forward - because we are so quick and easy to point at others and say why are you not transforming, have you transformed within yourself, are you creating hope, are you creating opportunities, are you creating a world for others that they can live, that they can be great in their own names and their own sake ... are you creating that world and opportunities...

Of course, we might decide to believe what mainstream media and the mob is selling us about these wretched Watsons. That is the everyone's choice, but theres another truth. After speaking to so many, who come from the dirt rugbyfields of the townships and 'lokasies', coming from SARU and KWARU, who had no hope of national and international participation because of racism, because of apartheid. Their talents were shunned and memories written out of the chronicles of South African rugby, they only shine on the photos in the barbershop, and the trophies in the sideboard. Amongst those, invisible heroes, who might not even read this post, but know the real Watsons, there is a sense of hope again; in the midst of all the spin and lies, finally, there are still people holding on to the truth- no, people standing for the truth.