Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Plaaswerkers, in die Boland ruk op !

Ek sien die berig in Die Burger, dat plaaswerkers, oppad is na die parliament. Plaaswerkers, in die Boland, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington, asook die Hexriviervallei, Weskus, Breërivier, Witzenberg, Overberg, Oostenberg, Breede­vallei en Swartland is die onsigbare slawe wat die sagtevrugte en wynproduksie van die Weskaap, aan die gang hou. Meer nog: dis hulle wat die skatryk boere, in die Weskaap, se lewenstyl omhoog hou. Naweke, word hulle dan letterlik, in trokke aangery, soos diere en op die straat gegooi, met 'n skrapse hongerloon, en geen uitlaatkleppe nie. Wat is die gevolg: die mense, my mense, 'emerge' uit die landerye, uit die plantasies, gestroop van hul menswees, van hul waardigheid, en haas hulle na die eerste beste 'off-sales', of 'smokkelhuis'. Hulle is gekweek om te werk en leef vir die 'dop'.

Daar is ook diegene wat moedig tot sport en die kerk, hulle toevlug vind. Kerke, floreer in die gemeenskappe, veral die 'handjies-klappende'pinksterkerke. Met 'n hoogs emosionele aanbiddingstyl, vuurwarm en dramatiese predikers, vermaaklike kragtoere, word die diepste behoeftes van hierdie plaasgemeenskappe aanspreek. Die emosionele dwang en vlugtige bekerings, die wonderwerke en die 'kragtige werking van die Heilige Gees' oordeel sommige geleerdes, is maar net nog 'n uitwas van 'n 'pie in die sky' evangelie of 'n 'opium-gedrewe religie'. So is teologiese studente soos ek geleer, God is hier bloot 'n 'projeksie van die menslike psige' (Feuerbach), die produk van menslike begeertes' ens. Tog, maak dit vir die meeste plaaswerkers nie saak wat hierdie slim wit mense, van hulle sê nie. Hulle weet en ervaar wat hier op die plaas aangaan en die pastore, hier by ons, by die 'ope lug', verstaan hulle, meer nog vervul hulle behoeftes en gee hulle waardigheid. Hier, is daar mense wat hulle ernstig opneem en nie beskou as die 'dronk, lui en vuil' nie. Hier kan hulle hulself uitleef en hul eie leefruimte skep.

Daar is maar hier en daar, waar van die gevestigde kerke iets verstaan van die bedieningsbehoeftes van plaaswerkers en toepaslike style ontwikkel. Ek dink ook dat, ongeag die veranderinge in die land, die ANC nie 'n clue het oor die behoeftes van die sektor nie- en hulle daarom nogsteeds afgeskeep is. Waar hulle verstaan word, gebeur dinge en keer hulle, hul wereld om. Dit is egter raar. Die pinksterkerke verstaan baie beter en daarom, maak hulle so 'n groot indruk en verskil. Hulle gee krag aan die mense, krag om 'n verskil te maak, krag om waardig in die wêreld in te stap.

Dit is om hierdie rede dat die opmars (instap) van plaaswerkers, so belangrik is. Erens het hulle krag gekry om op te staan en op te ruk. Ek is hier in die Noorde, maar my hart is in Eikendal, Roulou, Uitkyk, Alto, Liquenda, Devonvalley, Spier, Vlottenburg, tussen die mense. Ek kom van die plaas af en staan met hulle teen hul verdukkers. Maar meer nog, ek is oortuig dat God saam met hulle 'march'.

Mag die stryd voortgaan !

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On The Life and times of Bill Jardine, by Chris van Wyk of Riverlea

I just finished 'Now listen here: The Live and Times of Bill Jardine', by renowned author from Riverlea, Chris van Wyk. From the moment go I gobbled up, the over 200 pages, enthralled by the way in which van Wyk draw pictures, weave aromas and emotions, through his words. It was almost a state of nirvanah,for me. Enough of trying to emulate van Wyk. I like the book.

van Wyk gives in another interview with Litnet a glimpse of his soul. He states,

'A few years before Shirley I wrote a biography (entitled Now Listen Here) of one Bill Jardine, an ANC activist who lived in Riverlea. In order to write Bill’s life story I interviewed dozens of people in Riverlea. The stories were so incredibly interesting that I continued to do the interviews even after I had finished writing the biography. So interesting, in fact, that I became almost obsessed with it. I became a kind of stalker of oupas and oumas, looking out for someone to interview everywhere I went. I now have in my possession dozens of cassettes crammed with stories which I can use in any creative way I like. And I strongly recommend that all writers in this country embark on a similar exercise. Apart from enriching one’s own writing, it is crucial that ordinary people, who in many cases did not believe they were part of our history, tell their stories.'

The African Book centre states of this book,
A biography of Bill Jardine telling the story of his childhood in Johannesburg and the formation of his beliefs to his adult political activism. Index,gloss, bib, b/w illus, 263pp, SOUTH AFRICA. STE, PUBLISHERS, 1919855084.
But this is much more then that. This book, like van Wyk states, is about people, 'ordinary people', who make history. it is the grit and gut struggle of making people's history, of creating a strong sense of identity, a strong self-hood, of pride, nurturing subjects, who will take life into their own hands- who think for themselves and act accordingly.

In a sense, this is also the story of Bill Jardine. Van Wyk tells the story of a coloured man from 'Fietas', who raised himself, his family and community up to walk tall and look any-one in the eye. His humble background, the obstacles of institutional racism, in the sport which was so close to his heart, rugby, did not deter Jardine to excel and to leave a legacy, for generations to come. He had to make difficult decisions, many times in the face of the brutal assault from the white regime, many times at the expence of his family-life, and fiendships, to unite South Africans, espescially through rugby. There are two anecdotes, which remains with me.

In the early to middle 80's black sport was to a large degree dictated by the SACOS slogan, 'No normal sport in an abnormal situation'. In this context however, more and more calls were made to 'normalise' sport from being an endorsement of the apartheid ideology. These anti-apartheid ideological positions was to a large degree dictated by the movements pushing for non-collaboration, yet, for some, it did not move beyond mere rhetoric. I remember that in our communities, the sport was well-organised, in our local clubs, and schools, from local up to national level. Yet, it was seperated. It was in this context that people like Jardine and others, from the rugby frateral (SARU) started, in consultation with the UDF, and later the MDM, pushed for non-racial sport (unity), under the banner of the National Sports Council (NSC). This paved the way for our re-admittance to international competition and, like we allways say: the rest is history. We enjoy the fruit.

Another story was how, in 1995, the then president Nelson Mandela instructed Jardine and the NSC to leave the Springbok as national rugby symbol, as a gesture of goodwill, for the sake of reconciliation. Van Wyk vividly tells how 'Uncle Bill' Jardine, literally in tears, asked the policy conference of the NSC to respect the instruction from the President. A few weeks after that, Louis Luyt, then president of SARFU, took the government to court and the same President Nelson Mandela was humiliated, when he was sapoenaed to appear in the dock.

This book not only presents deep insights in the anti-apartheid, struggles of rugby in the then Transvaal, it also take us into the colourful, yet up to now, invisible world and traumatic, yet resilient journeys of Johannesburg's coloured communities. Yet, it is a book of hope, a book that give birth to a new 'self-believe', that, indeed they are part of history. It's then so tragic then that recently the nomination of Jardine's son, Neville, as the next, possibly the first coloured president of the Golden Lions Rugby Union, was simply sweeped from the table. I guess, the struggle continues, as it was in the life and the times of Bill Jardine, as it is now, with hope...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Let Kaka be.....long.

Kaka, one of the world's richest and best soccerplayers, from Brazil, often brandish a t-shirt stating that, actually, he belongs to Jesus. I suppose all his soccerwealth, as well. I recently twumbled across an article, retweeted by Dollabrand, in a Danish newspaper, where apparently pressure is put on him and the rest of his Brazilian team, by the Danish Football federation, to stop it. They should stop telling the world who they belong to.

Danish, according to my scant knowledge of the ways of the world, are famous for a kind of a sweetened pastry called a 'Danish', but also for publishing some offensive, cartoons mocking Islam. Their soccer-team, however remain nowhere close to the Brazilians at all. I suppose focusing on the religious affiliations and t-shirts that some team members wear after the game, would be their best chance at scoring any goal against the Brazilians. Perhaps, the Danish Secretary-General Jim Stjerne Hansen should try to focus on soccer and, of course, baking and exporting those sweet pastries.

The issue is however deeper. Its well-known that the Bokteam, bended their knees on the field, on two occasions after winning the William-Webb Ellis trophy. No-one said a word. Yet, recently, our very own successful rugby-coach, in the aftermath of scoring an historic series win over the British and Irish Lions, seemingly, were also 'asked' amongst other things, to refrain from speaking religion. His words, many times littered with biblical quotes and his own pop theology, seemingly affects the game. It's seems as if Hansen's statement summaries this trend of attacking the faith of sports people. Hansen (the Dane) explains: "Personally I do not think that sport and religion should be mixed to such a degree that we more or less see a manifestation of a religious stance..."

Many successful sportspeople, however, drive themselves in many different ways to their ultimate performance or to a life of discipline, which gives them the edge over competition. Some of the world's foremost super athletes, in this quest, nurture a deep religious commitment and seemingly 'it works for them' or it sustains them through the 'lows'. That is hopefully not in dispute.

What some find objectionable is the where they make these deepest commitments and most probably (for them!) their secrets to success, known to the world. It is at this point where they should remain, in the closet, where they should simply shut up and play, not pray (!).

Whilst some of these advocates, still builds their argument on a modernist ideological view which separates personal faith from public commitments, most people, these days, would subscribe to a position of tolerance and plurality. Whether a person adheres to no specific faith or religious system or whether they are devout believers, what matters most is how they live their lives, amongst a diversity of people, but more so, how they perform to the best of their abilities. If on any of these two levels, sports people are failing and becomes offensive, because of their faith, I would be the first to call for their silencing. As far, as Kaka and co, Peter de Villiers and his 'Mighty Men', Victor, Luke, Brian H, Bakkies, etc are concerned, my observation is that they remain heroes and welcoming to all, irrespective of still being overtly religious.

So, my suggestion to the Danish would be to just let them be...long, whilst, doing themselves and the world a favour by focusing on their game (and, of course, those sweet delicacies!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Statements of DRC and URCSA on Belhar Confession

Translated statement from the Dutch Reformed Church:
*The Moderamen feels that Southern Africa has in more ways then one reached a cross road.
* The Moderamen confirms the conviction that the Church in a time like this, must be directed by the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, the prophetic voice of the one and catholic (Algemene/ general) Christian Church as it came to us throughout the centuries, as well as the formulations as it is expressed in die confessions of the church.
* In light of this, the Moderamen of the General Synod in line with decisions of the General Synod of 1998 and 2004, accepts the Word of God, the Three formulas of Unity and the content of the Belhar Confession as guideline for our decisions and actions.
*We are convinced that our existing confessions still express the essential truths of our faith in a comprehensive and conclusive manner.
* We are convinced that the Belhar Confession expresses crucial truths, which give to us Biblical guidelines to approach the important contextual challenges of our day in a Biblically responsible way. We accept the Belhar Confession as a gift to guide us on this way.
* At the same time we hope that a serious conversation about confessional issues can be held in the near future to discuss the current functioning of our existing confessions.

This was translated from the following Afrikaans statement:

Die Moderamen van die Algemene Sinode en die inhoud van die Belydenis van Belhar
* Die Moderamen voel aan dat Suider-Afrika in meer as een opsig by ‘n kruispad gekom het.
* Die Moderamen bevestig die oortuiging dat die kerk in ‘n tyd soos hierdie gerig moet word deur die Skrif, die Heilige Gees, die profetiese stem van die een heilige en algemene Christelike kerk soos wat dit deur die eeue na ons toe kom, asook formuleringe soos dit veral tot uitdrukking kom in kerklike belydenisse.
* In die lig hiervan aanvaar die Moderamen van die Algemene Sinode, in lyn met die Algemene Sinode-besluite van 1998 en 2004, die Woord van God, die Drie Formuliere van Eenheid en die inhoud van die Belydenis van Belhar as rigsnoer vir ons besluite en optrede.
* Ons is oortuig daarvan dat ons bestaande belydenisse steeds die kernwaarhede van ons geloof op omvattende en beslissende wyse verwoord.
* Ons is oortuig daarvan dat die Belydenis van Belhar kernwaarhede verwoord wat aan ons Bybelse riglyne verskaf om van die belangrikste kontekstuele uitdagings van ons dag op Bybels-verantwoordbare wyse tegemoet te gaan. Ons aanvaar die Belydenis van Belhar as ‘n gawe om ons as gids op dié pad te begelei.
* Terselfdertyd hoop ons dat ‘n ernstige gesprek oor belydenisaangeleenthede in die nabye toekoms gevoer sal word om onder meer die huidige funksionering van ons bestaande belydenisskrifte te bespreek.

The reponse of the URCSA is as follows:

We, the Moderamen of URCSA, took note that the Moderamen of the DRC declared that the Belhar Confession
1) express fundamental truths on some of the key challenges of the day;
2) accepts the Belhar Confession as a gift to guide them on these matters.

We also took note of the lack of advocacy in the said statement that the Belhar Confession should be part of the confessional basis of the re-united church.

Therefore we reaffirm our decisions of the General Synod of 2008 and our commitment to assist the DRC and other churches on the study of the value and importance of Belhar Confession, as a confession. in a re-united church and the acceptance thereof.
(Decided at Moderamen meeting-13 July 2009)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Voortrekker monument- feel the magic

I visited the Voortrekker monument, today and worked (struggled) again through it all: the history, the symbolism and the power, the drama, the art..is too much. That place has some serious power (spell) over me...

Maybe people don't go there anymore, only tourists. I honestly don't know. I also took a Dutch tourist there. What I do know is that the aura of that space is seriously spiritual(?), daunting, intimidating and unnerving. It's like a shrine, a holy place, with all the spiritual, biblical and theological trappings, mixed with a people's story, identityconstruction, mythmaking, creating lifeworld, etc.

But then, it is also violent, crude, painful, yet, its real. It's history, part of our history, my history, my story, my blood.

Whether I want it or not.. it's there. But what are we to do with it ?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jonathan Jansen belowe een jaar van transformasie by Kovsies

Ek moet erken, ek is nie 'n Jonathan Jansen 'fan' nie. Ek het hom by verskeie geleenthede ervaar as bombasties en arrogant. Sy onlangse grootse belofte, dat ons Kovsies, oor 'n jaar nie sal herken nie, kan dalk teen die agtergrond verstaan word. Daar is egter meer aan Jansen. En miskien is dit hier waar my hoop lê. Hy is nie bang vir 'n uitdaging nie en sy assosiasie met Kovsies spreek daarvan. Miskien is dit juis wat nodig is vir 'n 'Vry'-staat.

Baie 'Black consciousness insiders' of selfs 'Charterists' wonder soms in die binnekringe, waar Prof Jansen sy sg 'struggle-credentials' vandaan gekry het. Miskien beskou hy homself selfs as 'n 'exile', aangesien hy in die buiteland was toe die land gebrand het. Miskien maak dit nie saak nie. Wat bo twyfel is, hier en in die buiteland, is die feit dat hy homself akademies en in sy bestuur by Tukkies, onderskei het as 'n opvoedkundige wat respek verdien. Hyself, dink ek, sou selfs 'n goeie saak daarvoor wou uitmaak dat die obsessie met 'struggle-credentials', juis een van die grootste struikelblokke is vir akademiese prestasie. Oor hierdie kwessie sal ek nou nou ingaan nie. Wat wel belangrik is, is dat Prof Jansen, 'n uitnemende akademikus, 'n besondere stuk geskiedenis en daarom invalshoek bring in die landskap van akademiese leierskap, in die Vrystaat en in die land.

Kovsies, word meer en meer gesien, as 'n sleutel tersiêre instelling, vir studente, uit die sentrale provinsies, asook die Noord-Kaap en ek sou dink, Namibië. Die besondere ontwikkelingsvraagstukke, die unieke uitdagings vir fundamentele transformasie daar, sou kritiese aandag, in die instelling verg. Dit sou selfs 'n nis vir Kovsies vestig, vir nasionale en internasionale belangstelling. Die gewraakte tragiese voorval verlede jaar, het egter die mislukte pogings tot transformasie, deur die bestaande bestuur, kru aan die wêreld bekendgestel. Dit was jammer, maar was dalk nodig om juis uit te wys dat nie enige vorm van transformasie vir ons sal help nie. Prosesse van transformasie, asook die voorveronderstellings en vertrekpunte moet gewoon ook onder die loep bly. Miskien is dit juis die unieke wat Jansen tot hierdie uitdaging bring, miskien is dit juis in sy persoon en geskiedenis dat hy sy belofte gestand kan doen.

Dit sou, na my oordeel dus wys wees om die ontwikkelings by Kovsies fyn dop te hou. Op verskeie ander tradisioneel Afrikaner instellings, was daar ook groot beloftes en waagmoedige aanstellings en prosesse. Nie almal wat transformasie en verandering praat, praat dieselfde taal nie, en het dieselfde uitkoms in die oog nie. Ek wil egter waag om Prof Jansen my mosie van vertroue te gee, vir nou.... Miskien moet ons weer oor 'n jaar gesels... maar onthou net asseblief dit: ek is nie en sal ook nie dan goeie 'fan' materiaal wees nie.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Madiba day, no holiday ?

I put my vote amongst those who say, no holiday.

Madiba Day celebrates the service and sacrifice of one of the key leaders in the struggle against apartheid, a struggle for humanity, for dignity. I also appreciate the legacy of Mr Nelson Mandela, and the role he played in the transition towards democracy, since his release from prison. Its impossible to pay him back, or any other political prisoner, who spend decades in jail, for a South Africa free from apartheid. We may draw strength and inspiration from his example that human beings, normal, fallible as we are, can make a difference. Through service, dedication to values of humanity, compassion and justice, but also through struggle, through hard work, we can make a change.

Today, we still face new challenges, as a nation, as the world. We have not yet been able to stem the tide of violence, of racism, but also the scourge of poverty, illiteracy and disease. We still reel under the impact of unfair discrimination and the demonisation of people, who are different from us. The road to freedom is still under construction and a lot of hard, tireless effort still await us. My view is simple: we can only celebrate the legacy of the great humanitarian leaders like Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jnr, Aung San Suu Kyi, mother Theresa, etc, when we, ourselves get up and out of our comfort and join the messy struggles of peoples in the streets, on the farms and in the hell-holes, we hide from the tourists' gaze.

It would be contrary to what these people stood for, and some died for, if another day of rest, of going to the mall and spending our money on popcorn and coke is called. Let's keep on struggling for a new day, for and with all of humanity and the earth. There is more work to be done !

Thursday, July 16, 2009

re-imaging ourselves in New Zealand, and South Africa today

I listened yesterday to David Tutti, a New Zealander, a Kiwi, a Pakeha ( he would call himself!) on re-imaging God. Tutti, a social justice trainer, argues that people will only change when their image of God change. Of course, I wondered, whether God still matters, in a secularised context like New Zealand/Aotearoa.

For Tutti, we need a pedagogy for the priviledged, where, in terms of his context, Pakeha, are accepted and respected, i.e. provided a safe space to experiment with their own re-imaging, the re-imaging of their identity. In this process, immersion and exposure to the other, to different lifeworlds are critical, as well as emotional support for dealing with the discomfort, unease and trauma of letting go of old, obsolete gods and worldviews.

Of course, in many ways, New Zealand and South Africa share the same deep-settlement history and the quest for new self-images is unleashed upon us all, in the context of new colonialisms. How does one provide space for those who do honestly search for some life-affirming image that can only be imagined, in the midst of a re-entrenchment of older images, which manifest itself on so many new sophisticated ways. The article of Xolela Mangcy, in today's Business Day illustrates the ways in which we are vulnerable to keep the old gods alive, or even the ways we are pushed to maintain their old order. Indeed, new, creative, but also bold images are needed, maybe a conversion for a new time

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Peter de Villiers, you're on your own

Peter de Villiers het my teleurgestel. Hy het my teleurgestel in sy spankeuses vir die 'squad' teen Namibië, vir die span van die 'Emerging Boks', en uiteindelik het ek nie geweet wat volgende gaan gebeur nie. Die laaste span, en die plaasvervangings was dus, snaaks genoeg, geen verassing nie. Maar, nou wil ek byvoeg. So het Rudolf 'kampstaaldraad', asook Jake White, voor hom, by tye vele van ons verras en teleurgestel. Maar laat ons tog maar ook weer perspektief kry en onsself herinner: ons is nie in die binnekringe van die gesprekke tussen 'coach', agente en spelers nie, ons (ten minste ekself) is geen professionele rugby afrigter wat die fyner tegniese aspekte op 'n daaglikse basis bestudeer, eet en slaap nie, en laatstens, ons elkeen het maar ons eie spesiale, 'besonders begaafde' speler of span. Hierdie uitverkorenes, sit mos nooit 'n voet verkeerd nie, en is, ten minste in ons koppe, 'die beste in die wereld'. Ek het ook 'n paar van hulle... geen name nie, sommige lesers mag dalk naar word.

In elk geval, ek wil nie oor die aspek veel meer uitlaat nie... daaroor spoeg ek gereeld op twitter. Ek wil my eerder uitlaat oor die golf van kritiek teen sy 'media en taal vaardighede', om dit heel diplomaties te stel. Daar is vandag weer 'n 'onderhoud' in 'n Afrikaanse Sondagkoerant, waar de Villiers, op 'n fyn, voorbedagde wyse, uitgehang word en uitgevang word, tot groot genot van lesers en die skielike taalpuriste onder die rugbypubliek. Die meerderheid van Afrikaanse kommentaar op die rubriek, eis Peter se kop. Hy is volgens die kenners, 'n 'verleentheid' vir hulle en vir Suid Afrika se rugby en daarom is dit ook genoeg getuienis dat hy deur die ANC aangedra is en as 'kwota' aanstelling, natuurlik totaal onbevoeg is vir die pos. Die argument loop min of meer so: hy worstel met Engels, hy worstel om homself teenoor joernaliste uit te druk, daarom is hy onbevoeg as rugby afrigter.

Die vraag is, wat skuil agter hierdie ooglopende drogredenasie? Dis eenvoudig: die aandag van die publiek, word hier fyn en baie effektief, weggelei van sy prestasies op die veld, van die ondersteuning en respek wat hy kennelik, onder die huidige Springbok spelers geniet, van sy prestasies op junior vlakke, m.a.w. sy bewese baanrekord. Terwyl Suid-Afrikaanse rugby, destyds onder die presidentskap van Brian van Rooyen en nou Oregin Hoskins, op die kruin van die golf is op die veld, en terwyl die spel onder verskeie gemeenskappe veld wen, maar SARU ook in die internasionale arena hoog aangeskryf is, word daar, doelbewus en meedoenloos, verkies om op ander aspekte soos op sy snor, sy stem, sy privaatlewe, sy geloofsverstaan, sy Engels, sy Afrikaans, en so kan ons aangaan, te fokus, met die doel om die huidige afrigter as belaglik af te maak. As ons eerlik is, sal ons moet erken dat dit duidelik was van die begin af, dat die Afrikaanse media hom geen kans sou gun vir sukses nie. Vanaf die eerste aankondiging, as die 'eerste swart Springbok afrigter', was die lyne getrek en was hy voëlvry. Hierdie aankondiging was 'n oorlogsverklaring.

Maar dis nie al nie. Wat verder gebeur het, was dat daar op opportunistiese wyse, kragte saamgesnoer is met die Britse afrigtingspan en die Britse media, toe die geleentheid hom voordoen, om ons afrigter sielkundig by te kom en sy selfvertroue en selfwaarde te vernietig. Wat het gebeur? Die Britte se gesoute afrigtingspan en string veteraan joernaliste het effektief saamgespan na die reeksnederlaag meestervol maar ook karaktervol geklink is op Loftus Versveld, om die impak te neutraliseer en die grootsheid van die oomblik, in ons onlangse rugbygeskiedenis, te ondermyn. Hul reaksie was te verwagte. Hulle strategie was, met die oog op die derde toets, om Peter de Villiers, een van die sleutels in ons huidge sukses, te teiken en sy beeld in die openbare oog te vernietig. Hy moes geteken word as totaal onbeholpe en dom, 'n karikatuur wat baie subtiel die spot dryf met sy sogenaamde 'kwota-aanstelling'. Hy is 'n hanswors van SA rugby en ons almal moet saamlag. Die tragiese is, dat ons eie magtige Afrikaanse media, hier, by die Britte, die gaping gesien het om verder vir Peter de Villiers bespotlik te maak en te isoleer, in 'n poging om hom finaal uit die weg te ruim. Dit gaan egter hier nie bloot oor vermaaklikheid nie of die derde toets nie. Peter de Villiers se aanvanklike aanstelling is die teiken en binne die groter prent, was dit die ideale geleentheid om aan te gryp, en 'n paar punte te aan te teken. Dit gaan hier om dieper belange as die viering van 'n Suid Afrikaanse suksestorie en om daardeur die moraal van ons land te lig. Peter de Villiers, geteken as simbool van regstellende aksie, en boonop nog 'n self-erkende lid van die ANC, mag nie suksesvol wees nie.

Waar laat dit vir my ? Dit laat my as gewone passievolle, Bok ondersteuner, in 'n moeilike dilemma: aan die een kant is ek ook krities op sekere van sy rugby besluite, ek vind sommige van sy sêgoed uiters snaaks. Tog geniet ek ook sy mens-wees, is gefasineer deur sy popteologie, en sien ek niks fout daarmee om dit uit te wys en daarmee krities om te gaan nie. Ek is seker daarvan dat de Villiers ook daarmee kan saamleef. Aan die ander kant, kan ek myself nie skaar by die kru, bittere aftakeling van die grootse prestasies en die besondere unieke karakter van Peter de Villiers, ons afrigter, die afgelope paar weke nie. Ek vra myself: waar is die Bokke se media en openbare betrekkinge spesialiste wat vir die ware Peter de Villiers moet praat. Ek is nogsteeds diep beïndruk met die waardes wat hy nastreef en die voorbeeld wat hy is in ons land en breer, in besonder vir jong mans asook die hardebaarde in ons gemeenskappe.

Daarom is wat hier gebeur, ongelukkig niks nuut nie en herinner ek my onwillig aan iemand anders wat op 'n stadium vir ons gewaarsku het, 'black man, you're on your own'. Maar dan dink ek, of te wel, dan antwoord ek so half skuldig vir myself, 'maar die dinge het mos verander..' of 'die stryd is mos afgehandel...'. Todat, ek die dagblaaie oopslaan, dit in my ma se taal lees, en tot die pynlike besef kom, PdV, you're (still!) on your own....

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Michael Jackson's memorial: spirituality, human-ness and popculture.

Fascinating, intriguing, moving... what else ? How can one describe the Michael Jackson Memorial? Is it significant for churches and Christians to ponder over this question?

CNN suggest that this memorial was in the class of Diana Spencer-Windsor's funeral, or the JFK-assassination or the landing on the moon. Given the traffic on Twitter and Facebook, the audience, was huge and highly significant in pop culture. Social commentators call Michael, the King of Pop (I've reflected on his significance,in a post February, last year) and the pastor, who closed the memorial with prayer, said: (paraphrased) 'The King of Pop will now have to bow to the King of Kings'. How are we to assess this mixture of pop culture and spirituality. This is a much deeper question, which needs a lot of research, but the Memorial yesterday, provides an opportunity to make some comments.

The memorial brought home a few random thoughts:
1) Jackson (as with all these celebrities, who spoke last night) was a human being, exceptional in many ways, but also flawed and dependent on God.
2) For many, he was simply a brother, son, father, a friend...Michael Joseph Jackson, MJJ not MJ, an 'icon', 'legend', hypertext image, a 'sex symbol', etc.
3) Seemingly, the music industry own these people.It seems as if they create pop products, mirages of eternal youth, of sensuality and power, which they sell for billions. We all buy these 'products' and never ask the deeper questions about the tortured souls and broken bodies that are hidden behind the plastic. We often glare into their lives, and with contempt spew at any indication of being like us, fallible and weak. We expect them to live up to the dream, whether they are on stage or not.
4) The 'Michael Jackson' phenomenon and following on the previous point, the brand, like 'Elvis Presley', 'Marvin Gaye' and 'The Beatles', amongst others will live on and continue to rake in the millions.
5) These pop products will continue to shape different generations...
6) It shaped and will continue to shape inter-racial relations even to the point of creating a 'post-racial' context.
7) The world looks for healing, one-ness; not essentialist identities, but love, etc
etc.... not institutional politics or powergames. They look for glorious mirages of healing, hope and human-ness.

These things, I think may have a bearing on how we share the gospel, today. Maybe, Michael Jackson has done more for a post-racial America, then her churches or maybe this pop product, is a dangerous delusion, a false prophet, of sorts.

Yet, last night I realized that deep down, I feel compassion for the people behind the glove. Because maybe, I have my own little gloves, which hide the real self. In this memorial, last night, we've seen, and felt (!) glimpses of the vulnerability, of the human-ness, that we all share.

We never knew the real Michael Joseph Jackson, the son, brother, uncle, friend, which is fine. We cannot know every one. But we may pray, in our common human-ness, may you rest in peace, brother, and may your family find comfort and consolation, by the power of the Holy Spirit...

Monday, July 06, 2009

postcolonial church (2)

I found a speech by Tinyiko Maluleke, entitled, a Postcolonial (South) African church: Problems and Promises, which he apparantly presented a year ago (2008), at the annual Desmond Tutu lecture. This was an unedited version, yet it may take us deeper in Maluleke's thinking on postcoloniality and the church. Whilst he is not fulltime, involved in academic work anymore, his recent (26 June 2009) invitation to present a keynote address at the Joint theological conference, of all the theological societies in the region, celebrating Stellenbosch University's 150 years of theology, suggests that he is still, one of the foremost African thinkers, in South Africa and African theology (possibly the world?).

In the Tutu lecture, on the postcolonial (South African) church, Maluleke starts by sharing his experience, possibly last year, on a radio show where listener after listener tormented him with their scathing critique of the Christian church. The essence of their critique was that the church remains 'in bed with government', like the previous white, missionary, colonial churches; also that the church was the repressentation of a 'foreign and culpable religion' and that this role was perpetuated, even in the 'new South Africa'. Here, he surmised, that some callers confronted him, with the challenge that decolonization should go hand in hand with dechristianization and that African's full liberation means, a return to the religion of their forefathers and mothers. Lastly, the charge of the callers were, that black theologians suffered from a 'massive religious false consciousness', in that they fool themselves to think that they can 'dismantle' the master's house, with the 'master's tools'. How can middle class, patriarchal institutions ever deal with the power-imbalances, these callers seem to ask.

Ironically, Maluleke surmises that his callers, were actually calling for the church to take their proper place, yet as vulnerable, human, open to critique, giving hope prophetically. He recalls an incident with Prof Kader Asmal, last year (2008) who simply dismissed the possibility that religion could still play any role in protecting human rights (given our track record). His response is noteworthy.
I restrained myself because it is my view that we churches need a different set of strategies than the ones we have been using. To begin with we need to listen deeply to the criticisms – even the cruelest of these. We need to hear the message and the message behind the message. As churches, we need to take responsibility not merely for this particular phase in the history of the church; not only for the history of our church denominations; but for both our good and our bad legacies.

After delving into the reasons behind the current absence of the church, Maluleke then goes into his understanding of the 'postcolonial thing'. He suggest three understandings.
1) the entire world today is postcolonial..'both the great grand children of former colonialists and those of the colonised have to make sense of a world, which is deeply marked, albeit differently, by colonialism';
2)some put the emphasis on 'post', as if colonialism is something of the past;
3) others understand the 'post' as something 'since', which acknowledge of the 'continuing impact of colonialism after the fact'.

In alligning himself with the later, he then states, working (again) with the analysis of Achille Mbembe of Cameroon,
The tyranny of the postcolony is intimate – it binds the powerful and the powerless together in one destiny until they are convinced that the choice they have is one of either staying together, going up together or doing down together. I want to suggest that the church in a postcolony is one of the first victims, purveyors and theatres of the (violent) power of the state.

How does the church escape this collusion? Maluleke suggests the following:
1) listen the critique from ordinary people and the call for moral leadership,
2) the church need to
'get off the 'Apartheid is dead bandwagon, because, no, Apartheid is not dead. We need to see it in its latest guises and its latest mutations. When 60% of our population still lives in poverty then Apartheid is not dead.....When millions in our country still die needlessly and prematurely of preventable, curable and manageable diseases then we know that Apartheid is not dead. The church must wake up to the fact that Apartheid is not dead, it is here among us; here and there it may have replaced blacks with Zimbabweans and whites with BEE blacks, here and there, but the evil system is alive in our midst.'

3) Face up to the fact that 'one of the distinct features of the new South Africa is the manner in which, as the media tells us again and again, African policemen are authorized or encouraged to arrest fellow African for looking too African, for being dressed too African and for sounding too African and too black.'
4) The church will have to confess that the notion of 'critical solidarity' with government was a 'monstrous error' which has caused much death and mayhem...'
Let us confess the sin of critical solidarity. Let us confess this post-Apartheid heresy. The government need no solidarity, critical or non critical, from nobody.

5) the church need to get down from the elite position and walk with the people again,
6) the church need to be faithful,not hegemony, not what she cannot be...
7) the church need to deal with the crisis and models of leadership and power, and 8)the church need to offer South African and the world, faith, imagination, that things can change.

As I read Maluleke's speech, there seems evidently, given the context in the second part of last year, a deeper awareness of the vulnerabilities of the church's responses. It seems as if he is conscious of the fact that the church, even the prophetic black church, have colluded with the elitetransition, which we all called 'rainbow' nation. A church with such a consciousness, or even vulnerability may be better placed to exlore self-transformation, prompted by the Spirit.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

xenophobic hell for black Zimbabweans not over yet

In the middle of a bitter, bitter cold winter, in Johannesburg, the weather seems to be the least of their concerns. This time its officialdom and who they serve, which make life for Zimbabwean (and other African) refugees, a living hell!

The South African police (SAPS) and the Metro police in Johannesburg, this weekend again targeted poor refugees, in particular those who are desperately seeking shelter in and around the Central Methodist Mission in Johannesburg. Easy prey, as they flock to this church in the hope of escaping another living hell, under Mugabe. Apparantly, SAPS and Metro police pounced upon these destitude for the serious offence of 'loitering' and 'sleeping on the pavements'. According to an article in News 24, these violent actions and arrests have been condemned by the Legal Resources Centre and Lawyers for Human Rights (statement), confirmed by doctors from Medesines Sans Frontires. In a joint statement LHR and LRC say,
The City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Provincial Government have been aware of the predicament of the people living in and around the church for well over a year. Despite undertaking to provide shelter for these people, we understand that the government authorised the unlawful police action to arrest them. The only crime they have committed is to be destitute and without shelter

These human rights organisations, then call upon SAPS to immediately release the detainees, but also to the
'City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Provincial Government to urgently deliver on their undertaking to provide basic shelter to the people seeking refuge at the Central Methodist Church (sic).'

These attacks on refugees fleeing the hell of Zimbabwe, is not an isolated incident that sometimes flare up and South Africans should not act surprise. Our criminal justice system should prioritise serious violent crime, instead of spending much-needed resources pretending to be 'fighting crime'. Their most recent actions last night, feed into the suspiscion that our public institutions are still being used to protect the powerful and the elite. The vulnerable sectors in our society are institutionally being singled out, 'other-fied' and demonised, as the new menace to be fought and stamped out. In an article, on xenophobia, migrant labour, and the role of the church, Dr Genevieve James from Unisa, in a publication on theology, development and ethics, From Our side, states that way before the much publicised xenophobic attacks in that shameful, bloody May last year, our various institutions were key agents of xenophobia. She names the South African government’s Home Affairs Department, the media, the South African Police Services and then what she calls “the South African public at large” who blames, create and tell urban myths and jokes that “belittle” and “blame”, but also that unleash “verbal and physical abuse” and start “all-out wars against migrant communities” (James 2008:67-68).

Pumle Dineo Gqodla, in Go Home or die here (2008:211) concurs, but is more scathing in her analysis,
'Unless South Africans are an exceedingly naïve nation, it is not possible to be ignorant of how we arrived at a point where Ernesto Nhamuave could be burnt alive for being ‘foreign’. Even a cursory glance at South African society a few years ago would throw up the ways in which, progressive Constitution notwithstanding, there are ‘throw away’ people. These are people who do not matter, whose humanity, once successfully misrecognised, renders them safe to violate. Such people range in the South African public eye from poor people of various sorts who can be nameless ‘victims’ of violence, farm workers in remote parts of the country and Black lesbians against whom a consistent war is waged, to immigrants from the African continent.

So, here I stand and I join the chorus condeming the latest attack on these poor, black refugees from Zimbabwe and renew the call for our government instead, to provide services to these asymumseekers, to the desperately poor, otherwise, it seems as if their hell is not over yet.