Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Moment to pray for Zimbabwe

I've agonised over our people in Zimbabwe. Suffering at the hands of a dilusional tyrant, blissfully unaware of what is going on around him, they need our support and prayers as we reflect on the ancient story of the birth of the Jesus, in face of tyrans, who think that this world belongs to them. Then I stumbled across this prayer.

It is a suggestion that this prayer be done at a point in the service where the intercessory prayers are normally offered. A moment of silence may be observed before the light is lit and then the prayer offered as suggested.

We light this candle in solidarity with the suffering people of Zimbabwe:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour …
God has shown His mercy on those who fear Him
From Generation to Generation
He has shown strength with His arm
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts
He has put down the mighty from their thrones
And exalted the lowly
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His Mercy
(Luke 1:46,48-54)

Plea for Zimbabwe
God of Compassion
We take this solemn moment to pray for the suffering people of Zimbabwe
There is greed and destruction by those that are in power in your land
They have mismanaged the economy and resources of your people and
Your people live in hunger in a country that used to produce plenty for all
God of Compassion, you weep with those who suffer from oppression and exclusion

I was hungry and you did not give me food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink

God of Justice
We express with you our anger at the evil committed by those who are power hungry
Your people live in fear from persecution by the militia and oppressors
Many have risk their lives daily running to other lands where they suffer from exclusion
Many more die in the prisons where they have been held for daring to speak
God of Justice, you always hear the cries of those who suffer innocently

I have seen the oppression of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows

God of Mercy
We pray for your mercy upon the children, the old, those disabled and the infirm
There are many who are dying from cholera, AIDS, and many other diseases
We pray for the mothers who are nursing their new born babies and
We lift to you the medical personnel that still remain in a health system that has collapsed
God of Mercy, hear the prayers of your children as we intercede for the innocent

Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you

God our Liberator
We await the day when the sun will rise again in Zimbabwe
When the oppressor will be dethroned and there be peace and reconciliation
May the clouds of freedom gather quickly and beckon all your scattered children all over
We pray that a day of homecoming for your children in the diaspora may be near
May your church be the herald of such a day when all shall again sing a new song

Let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream

Prepared by Moiseraele Prince Dibeela

Friday, December 19, 2008

Petition to Pres Motlanthe on Zimbabwe

Have you seen the petition to Pres Kgalema Motlanthe? This is another effort to find a political solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

It reads...
Zimbabwe's people are wracked by a spiralling cholera epidemic which has already killed over 1000 people according to the UN and is spreading into Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique(1), while Robert Mugabe's de facto regime clings to power, even denying there is a cholera crisis.(2)

Three months ago we looked on with hope as Robert Mugabe and the MDC signed a deal to solve the country's political crisis. Now the negotiations are all but broken and Zimbabweans are left with fear, disease and growing insecurity. Because of its influence and position, there is one government that could stop Zimbabwe's meltdown - South Africa. President Motlanthe has the power to secure a political solution, based on the will of the Zimbabwean people, behind which Africa could unite.

So we're launching an emergency campaign across Africa to urge President Motlanthe to step up and take immediate action. Zimbabweans are pleading for help and if we join our voices across the continent in solidarity, our appeal will be heard in Pretoria and could save lives in Harare. To show President Motlanthe that Africa is counting on him, we want to deliver this message with the support of thousands of African voices to the South African government and to run it as ads in South African newspapers -- so sign the petition now, and please spread it to friends and family:

Zimbabweans have been waiting desperately for security and stability since March this year, when the majority made their views clear. In recent weeks Zimbabweans' fight for survival has become more extreme -- Zimbabwe is paralysed with no government, the highest inflation in the world, widespread hunger, a lethal epidemic, and increasing violence against civilians.(3)

A few African leaders have condemned the situation, and Western leaders have made their views clear, but South Africa's ANC government has the greatest leverage over Zimbabwe's Zanu PF -- not least because of their historic alliance during the liberation struggles , strong economic ties, and its leadership in the South African Development Community. To date, talks have been left to former President Thabo Mbeki -- but his cautious mediation, accused of lacking neutrality, has come to a deadlock and lost public legitimacy. Now the region is offering humanitarian aid, but that is not enough-- now is the time for the governing ANC to act boldly and propose a better way forward.

Last week ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said: "What will we do to make Mugabe retire? We will persuade him."(4) The South African government knows it can do it. Let's give President Motlanthe a strong mandate from the African people to act in our name and save Zimbabwe. Sign our emergency petition now and spread it to friends and family.

The resolution of the breakdown of Zimbabwe is complex for many of us, but as one African leader has recently said: "People need to be held accountable for any wrong they do notwithstanding what good things they did in the past, including liberating the country". At this crucial time, let's stand together as African citizens and call on President Motlanthe to keep Zimbabwe's liberation alive.

The Message is simple:
To President Motlanthe of South Africa,
We, citizens from around Africa, urge your government to recognise that the Mbeki-led talks in Zimbabwe have failed, and we call on you to take the lead in finding an urgent political solution for Zimbabwe, to save lives and avert regional catastrophe. Africa urgently needs you to take the necessary steps to ensure that a government based on the will of the Zimbabwean people can be restored to Zimbabwe, and only this will ensure security and stability.

Thanks !

Justice for Rwanda, for Zimbabwe

Finally there is a glimmer of justice for the beautiful country and people of Rwanda. Having being brutally traumatised by the most evil incarnations imaginable, we can only hope that the conviction of Theoneste Bagosora, will further the convictions of other perpetrators. Apparantly he, the cabinet director of defence, took control of the country, in April '94, after the dubious plain crash of President Juvenal Habyarimana, who signed a peace deal in August '93.

Tribalism, is still rife in our continent. The Rwandian genocide of 1994, still haunts us, as we come face to face with the consequences of tribalism gone wrong, 'horrendiously wrong'. Although there has been some relief in the transition and rebuilding of the country, still the healing of memories, but more so the quest for justice, by the victims, need to remain a priority in the international work for justice and reconciliation. The current conflict in the Great Lakes region, to large degree, is a spill-over, the unpaid debt of this bit of history. The appointment of Dr Andre Karamaga, Rwanda, on 12 December 2008, as the General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches, is however another sign of hope. Maybe Dr Karamaga, maybe Rwanda, a small country in the centre of Africa, are to remind us of how incidious the evil of tribalism can crawl up on us and devour us.

Of course we need to ask, what could we have done better ? Maybe we could have spoken out in horror, at the building-up of the hostlities and the demonisation of 'the other', the tribal other, in the conflict in before 1994. Maybe we should have sided more deliberately with vulnerable minorities, maybe we should have done this or that... We did not.

Today, I fear, we have a situation with the same perilous build-up, the same ominous signs. All evidence points to the reality of a military, information and bloody crackdown in Zimbabwe. Moreso, allready a unleashing of military forces on political opponents, on civilians, on vulnerable sectors and, most shockingly, the escalating humanitarian crisis, as vividly demonstrated by the cholera epidemy, is left unchecked by our own political leadership in die Region. Irrespective of the peace deal in September 2008, there has to be a concerted effort, with Botswana, to demand Robert Mugabe to step down. This process need to include control by the elected president (elected in March 2008), to take full control over the military, the Police and the Central Intelligence Organisation. It is time for civil organisations, people of conscience and alliances from all sectors, all of us, to join hands, for peace and justice to return and prevail in Zimbabwe.

What Rwanda has taught us, is that is it possible for a country, in a 100 days, to be wrecked beyond recognition, but also, we are reminded that it is possible to stand up and against the Hitlers, the Bagosoras of our time...because, with God on our side, we shall overcome.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day of reconciliation

What have you done for reconciliation today? I sat through the speeches of JZ aka Umsholozi and our new, acting President. Then I finished it off with Mr Bones 2 at the mall.

I liked the speech of our new acting President. It’s a pity he was just acting. It almost looked real.

The rally of ANC was interesting. Donned on their new yellow and red t-shirts, they outdone themselves, even with a military parade of sorts, nogal. When I noticed the rally, on SABC for the first time, I wasn’t sure whether it was a parody of a Mugabe rally, with the rag-tag camouflaged battalion marching, what seemed like, in circles. These guys looked a bit in their middle-years, some evidently over-weight and often out of step; some wearing comrade styled berets, others walking ‘kaalkop’. Talking about their step, the swaying of the arms from side to side and the ‘roll’ that I recognise from my teenage years, as we try to be ‘skollie’, was, of course what made me think of the ‘veterans’ nextdoor. Seriously though, these guys purportly, symbolised the heroic armed forces of the liberation movements, and this rally was a demonstration, no, a celebration, of the ANC’s history, more specifically that of the Umkhonto weSizwe, what JZ called, the ‘people’s army’. He would often refer to Chris Hani, who was decorated, as a disciplined combatant, a soldier, etc, who, strange as it might sound, actually fought for peace. There was no ‘Umshini Wam’ anymore, no waiving of replica AK47’s, but I wondered whether maybe he did not missed the point of today, our president in waiting. It seemed to me (and this is rather subjective, I concur) this rally was subtly, yet more sinister, a playing with the more militant tradition within the history of the Alliance. With the references, often to the ANC, as the ‘congress of the people’ and its fusion with armed resistance and militancy, I wondered, where are we going with this. In vain, I hoped for the commitment to reconciliation and the non-racial and non-violence traditions, within the liberation movement.

I then only saw glimpses of the other Congress of the People rally, according to the Supreme Court, the real Congress of the People, after which it was a very disappointing Mr Bones 2. Disappointing for me. But then, I suppose the fact that the Cine was almost full and that our people, around me, of all shapes and shades were laughing themselves to a standstill, while stuffing ourselves with popcorn and colddrinks, should say something about our people. After all, its power to the people. Maybe the official reconciliation and the acting has run its course and we want some funny stories about our fumbling with each other. Maybe we simply want to look at ourselves, as we take ourselves so serious, and realise that sometimes we also need to enjoy the funny, in our efforts to be important and rich and so spiritual. If anything, Bones becomes the parody of white-ness in Africa, of Africa-ness in South Africa, of the ridiculousness of our serious-ness with officiality. Reconciliation does not take place at the rallies, at the formal speeches and fire-offerings. Reconciliation takes place, where we get to know each other behind the religious rituals, beyond the skin colour, language and the trappings of wealth and where we discover real people, who simply want to love, laugh and live. This sounds maybe a bit simplistic and superficial- but then, I hope and pray for a reconciliation that is simply real, where I have space to love, laugh and love. I simply ‘want to study war no more’.

Monday, December 01, 2008

1 Dec 1838 Emancipation of slavery ! / ?

This is one of the most important dates in the South African history: 1 December 1838. This was the day when slaves, imported from various parts of the world to South Africa to provide the labour for grain and winefarms in the Cape, were finally emancipated, after at least 180 years of slavery in the Cape. But did it end there ?

Of course, legally these round about 36 000 slaves, were freed. They are the ancestors, with the settlers mostly from the Netherlands, Germany and France, of those who eventually were called Afrikaners, but most of all, of the 'bruin mense', the 'coloureds' or like some call themselves the 'people of mixed descend'. Whilst for most part of South African history, the Afrikaners denied their slave ancestry, recently, especially since 1994, more and more come out of the closet, owning up to their mixed descend, their coloured-ness. A history was constructed, told, taught and written to erase this from their memory and helped to forge a white identity, based on a mythological genetic purity, descending solely from the original settlers. A case in point is the fact that people would not be aware that Simon van der Stel, after which Stellenbosch was named, was actually of 'mixed descend', he was coloured.

Culturally, the birth of the Afrikaans language is part of the heritage of slavery as well as 'typical' Cape and Afrikaner cuisine, literature and songs. The bitter schism and eventual political and legal tearing apart of this vibrant community, also called apartheid, led to hard lines drawn arbitrarily on law-books, but also in the hearts.

So, in a sense, we have not yet broken those invisible shackles. I just found a website, iAbolish on slavery today and they make the point that slavery is not history. Today, we find trafficing, debtslavery sex slavery, etc. The point of World Aids Day is to remind us of a new form of shackles, where communities are gripped by this invisble master, yet also a new struggle for freedom, for healing.