Monday, December 27, 2010

Peace on earth, also in West-Africa

In the midst of the festive season and warm Christmas pudding, there is (again!) turmoil brewing in West-Africa. The situation in the Ivory Coast, arguably the worlds largest producer of cocoa, makes one wonder about 'peace on earth and goodwil amongst humanity'. I recently read a compelling book by James Brabazon, 'My friend the mercenary'. This account of, amongst others, the civil war in Liberia (some would say guerilla war) is giving me a new perspective on the violence in Africa, or better, on Africa.

For one, we should not be fooled by 'peace missions' and UN 'peace forces' (what a misnomer!), let alone AU missions as solution to the challenge of conflict and war. The real wars are fought in the jungles, away from reality TV and newscrews. Its an unconventional war, where ordinary Africans are butchered and blasted in pieces. These wars are fueled by multibillion dollar arms deals and the bitter war over mineral rights. In this war, there is no clear sides, no cause, except to violently suck the life out of the soil as well as the children of the soil. The ANC Youth League, might be impotent when it comes to dealing with teensex, but their obsession with mining, perhaps shows that they know where the heart of the real conflict in Africa, is pumping.

Whilst a superficial (and racist) reading of postcolonial Africa's 'propensity for conflict' would point to the innate violent black man, the real forces lurk in the capitals and they hold the aces. Its therefor not surprising that Gbagbo is upheld by the generals. The same kind of dynamic is at work in Zimbabwe, where the generals hold stakes in the diamond and weapons industry and where Mugabe, are to be kept in 'power' as long as possible, with Zimbabwean economic refugees and professionals fleeing over the borders.

If anything, those inspired by 'peace on earth' has to do something about these realities, and continue to fight against mercenary activity, but also the new scramble, by neo-colonialists. Peace!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Liberation movements and justice...

One of the themes that I explore on this blog is the misrule of ZANU-PF, in Zimbabwe, led by Robert Mugabe. Of course, this is not in anyway trying to get involved in partypolitics, it's simply a matter of justice. It's my simple argument that postcolonial faith is by definition, faith that engage issues of justice. Postcolonial theology articulates the voice of God's hidden people, as they engage their situations of opression under empires, as they struggle towards liberation. They also expose the empire theologies which collude with colonialism.

This is where liberation and liberation theology comes in. Its not simplistically a liberal theology. In fact, Black theology of Liberation has as one of its targets, Liberalism and a Liberal theology, which pretends to stand on the side of justice, yet frantically keeps and protects, the spoil acrued through racism and colonialism. This meant a strategic alliance, or dialogue with liberation movements of all sorts.

Today, I simply want to note (again) that this alliance is not for ever, espescially where liberation movements have evidently gone off the rails and have established sweet-heart elite pacts, with neo-liberal capitalists or where they have degenerated into little fiefdoms of despots like Mugabe. Hence, historical alliances have to be revisted on an ongoing basis, because where these movements don't concern themselves with the poor and the needy anymore, there they've become the new opressor. They've become as vile and despicable as the colonial masters and need to be exposed and deposed..

Sunday, October 24, 2010

a story of robust faith...

This morning I listened to Auntie Pienah,from Riverlea, sharing her story. She's originally from Buysdorp and came to Johannesburg in 1949. She emphasised the fact that she is a Buysdorper, in murg en been. She came to Joburg to work. This she also emphasised.

She shared her struggle to find work, eventually in a factory and she shared her ongoing struggles with racism. Yet, she found support with a friend and she remained part of the church. It was fascinating to note that she indicated she never was the talkative type in the church, nor was she the activist type. She considered herself a quiet member...yet she remained faithful and her faith sustained the kind of challenges she faced in the real world.

Her story is articulating a kind of faith that is taking place on the road, in the migration towards the spaces where we are able to sustain life. It's a robust faith in the midst of or better, against a vicious social system. It was a patient, prayerfilled journey, but its one where she are conscious of the fact that God was faithfull to her and that God answered her prayers. I was

Another thing I was thinking of is the fact that perhaps her struggle against colonialism and a brutal system is perhaps not the material that make the newspapers as perhaps she never participated in a march or never threw a stone. She was never in the prison, but she is the embodiment of a struggle tradition, but more so a faith that inspires. She inspires me, she teach me critical lessons of faith that sustains. This is a faith that lives in the stories of people like Auntie Pienah. Its not in the headlines, nor in the glossy books. Yet its a robust living faith, if only we are willing to listen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Finding our compass....

Listening to community members in Riverlea, the last few weeks afforded me the prescious opportunity to reflect on what is important. Perhaps the better question is 'who' is important. I will not be able to answer the question for now, because this really a ongoing mindset, that should guide all our activism as well as our intellectual engagement.
Often we get lost in the woods. We wander off to interesting pathways and sounds. This might be because some important person refered to this or that special detour. We would argue that we want to see it for ourselves and engage the person on the 'important' question whether it is really of value. Soon we become entangled in a secondary enterprise-now the issue is to engage these important people... and so we forget the reason for the journey in the first place. We are lost.
In these situations it remain critical to take a look at our compass again. It is critical that we listen again to answer the question, why am I on this journey and where am I going. For the last few weeks its been the people in Riverlea community that saved my soul. We are here for each other, we are here to regain and share our common be sisters and brothers to each other. Our engagements, even Gods interventions in our lives, remain focused on finding each other, loving each other and this, is a journey of picking up the impulses of the image of God. This is our compass, this is what directs our being here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Immigration and the new face of colonial conquest.

“Migration is nothing new and presents itself as a global phenomenon” (Jackson & Passarelli 2008:5). Often the responses to it is simplistically blamed on xenophobia.

A colleague, Karabo Makofane and me published an article last year, in Theologia Viatorum, entitled, ”The black African other OIKOS, and inclusivity: Reflections on the response of URCSA to SA’s xenophobic crisis” Here we argued that the vicious violence meted out against migrants from the various African countries, in May 2008, was actually a manifestation of the continuing onslaught on the black poor, i.e. it was the ugly face of unresolved structural racism that still haunts our world. With other anti-racism thinkers, we argue, that migration hence need to be seen in this context.

We concede that migration is driven by many factors and the internal dynamics is always shifting. Titty Rooze (2008:2), working in the Social Protestant Centre, in Antwerpen, makes the point that migration as it manifests itself today, is a challenge of globalisation, a sign of the times. She states,
All over the world more people feel themselves threatened by conflicts, their own governments through violent pressure from political, religious and social groups, through climate change… Also, the slow economic growth as well as problems on the food and energy-market, drive people away. A complex whole of worldwide problems cause increased growth in the number of refugees.
These realities have been surfacing especially since the late 90s with the European Monitoring Group on Racism and Xenophobia indicating that the various countries of Europe are challenged by new forms of racism and xenophobia. Lukas Adler (2000:2), however, questions the ability of this think-tank to adequately illuminate and respond to this situation. He argues that it needs to be linked to today’s forms of racism and xenophobia against migrants, with economic policies of the European Union.

In her analysis of African migrancy to South Africa, Genevieve James (2008:61) correctly highlights that although it has become prominent in the globalising world, “migration to the south is still under-researched and hence largely unrecognised.” This is the state of affairs, irrespective of Orobator's (2005:144) statement, within the context of elevating refugees as a key area the church’s mission in Africa. Orobator surmises, “it [migrancy-RWN] has increasingly become a ‘permanent emergency’ and a ‘normal way of life’… especially in Africa where ‘every time one refugee situation comes to an end, another develops”. What are these situations in the Southern African context?

Southern African migrancy cannot be understood apart from the colonial history. It is critical to note that the need for expendable cheap labour, to drive the expropriation and exploitation of the land, from the indigenous, black peoples, was at the root of the colonial system. Albert Nolan (1988:71) explains that the South African system of internal colonialism was different from other deep settler nations, as it was transformed into an ideology of apartheid, because of the unique dynamics in the discovery of gold in 1886. The gold found in this region, was “in thin layers deep underground” and required deep-level mining, by “vast numbers of cheap, really cheap, workers”. Nolan (1988:72) writes:
"Without this need most of the indigenous people might have been eliminated like the Native Americans or pushed into separate colonies outside of the ‘golden areas’. What actually happened was that millions of black people were forced into a kind of ‘slave’ labour to dig the deepest holes and the largest network of tunnels on this planet…"

The system of internal colonialism is at its roots a system of forced labour. The system did not originate from the racism of the Boers or Afrikaner nationalism. It was developed by the white mine-owners and successive white governments for the purpose of profitmaking. This meant that local social, political, economic and cultural systems had to be destroyed, and replaced by hierarchical, racialised identities, in order to produce a land-less, mindless, pool of black labour (Biko 1973). Indeed, the white South Africa’s economy, in particular, has been served well by waves of migrant labour, the “black African other” migrating between countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi, who, alongside landless black South Africans from rural areas, were then relocated haphazardly in shantytowns in and round the urban centres of economic growth (Davenport 1991:1-18). This came at an incredible social cost. Mosala (in Villa-Vicencio & Du Toit 2006:149) writes,
“The expropriation of ancestral land and the detachment of communities from rivers, lakes, mountains and valleys that grounded them in space, time and relationship with material and spiritual environment forces, resulted in the settlement patterns of crowded shack living of poor South Africans”.

It is within this context then, that we need to understand the anti-colonial struggle for liberation (see Chipenda 1995:39). The return of the land, but also, the return to the land, linking human dignity and livelihood, was central. In the post-colonial context, where the confluence of neo-colonialism, with corporate capitalism led to new waves of migration, this challenge was exacerbated.

At a consultation in 1995, reflecting on the public role of church in the post-apartheid South Africa, under the theme, South Africa in Regional and Global context Today, Brigalia Bam (1995:52) highlights, amongst other things, the following demands:
"We face the rebuilding of infrastructures of societies that have been decimated by civil war, and we face major dislocation of people through those wars and through high level of unemployment throughout the whole region.
Refugees from Mozambique and from Lesotho have long been served by the SACC , but we now face a new influx. Since the new government has taken power, thousands of refugees have come from other parts of Africa. They come because of the image of South Africa. They come to cities - Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban-which are already overcrowded by South Africans who are destitute and homeless. There is much tension in this matter and it has to be addressed by relief agencies, the government and the churches as quickly and as humanely as possible. It is a regional issue that cannot be solved simply by higher fences and more patrols on the borders."

Post-colonial governments in the region, however, failed in adequately dealing with this legacy. Mandaza (1999:79) argues that the kind of reconciliation exercises that accompanied the end of white settler colonialism and apartheid “serves largely a political function, facilitating the necessary compromise between the rulers of yesterday and the inheritors of state power, within the context of incomplete decolonization”. He argues that this policy and ideology, in colluding with globalisation, becomes increasingly untenable as the social demands of the mass of people grow bigger and louder, in an economy that remains narrow-based and of a colonial nature” (Mandaza 1999:81). Various scholars point out how, in particular the South African and Zimbabwe governments, in an attempt to gain popular support for their conservative and devastating economic policies started to revisit and proclaim quasi-nationalist rhetoric. In recounting the case study further North, of Cote d’Ivoire, Tadjo (2008:225-239), shows how the construction of the “other”, in defence of the model of a liberal economy turned a country, at one time considered to be West Africa’s richest country per capita, into a country divided and wracked by civil war. She cautions that ethnicity and colonial memories become the ingredients that elite groups mobilise and manipulate to maintain power, at all costs. Gundani (2007:10), states in the context of Zimbabwe, “ironically, the politics of “otherness” and of “purging and purification” that dominated the eighties under the pretext of nation-building, came to the fore again when there was a perceived danger to the ZANU-PF hegemony” (see also Gundani 2003).

The simplistic blaming of “xenophobic” violence on the “unenlightened poor”, therefore, masks this complex array of political machinations and ideologies.
For more posts today on Immigration and Migration, see Christians and the Immigration issue, by Steve Hayes
Other sources,
Bam, BH 1995. The church in South Africa, in Pityana, BN & Villa-Vivencio C (eds), Being church in South- Africa Today, 43-53.Cape Town: Salty Print
Biko, S 1973. Black Consciousness and the quest for a true humanity,in Stubbs, CR (ed.) 2004. I write what I like: Steve Biko. A selection of his Writings, 96-108. Johannesburg: Picador Africa
Davenport, R 1991. Historical background of the apartheid city to 1948,in Swilling, M, Humphries, R & Shubane, K (eds) 1991, 1-18.
Gundani, PH 2003. The land question and its missiological implications for the church in Zimbabwe. Missionalia, 31(3):467-502.
2007. Prophecy, politics and power: Scaffoldng a Catholic historiography in post-colonial Zimbabwe from the pastoral letters of the Zimbabwe Catholics Bishops’ Conference (1980-2007). Inaugural paper presented at UNISA, Pretoria, RSA (August 28).
Hassim, S, Kupe, T, & Worby, E (eds) 2008. Go home or die here: Violence,xenophobia and the reinvention of difference in South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.
Jackson, D & Passarelli, A 2008. Mapping migration: Mapping churches’ responses (Europe study). Nucice: Gemmapress.
James, GL 2008. Due South: The challenges and opportunities of African migrancy to South Africa, in De Gruchy, S, Koopman, N & Strijbos, S (eds), From our side: Emerging perspectives on development and ethics, 61-74. Pretoria: Unisa Press.
Mosala, I 1997. Ownership or non-ownership of land forms the basis of wealth and poverty: A Black theological perspective, in Guma & Milton (eds) 1997, 57-68.
Nolan, A. 1988. God in South Africa: The challenge of the gospel. Cape Town: David Phillip.
Orobator, AE 2005. From crisis to kairos: The mission of the church in the time of HIV/AIDS, refugees and poverty. Nairobi: Pauline Publications Africa.
Rooze, T 2008. Lewe in tijden van globalisering, een uitdaging voor de kerken. Unpublished discussion document for Accra Workgroup of United Protestant Church in Belgium.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Opportunity for South Africans to visit Palestine and Israel

For South Africans: An opportunity to visit Palestine and Israel:
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) seeks to support local and international efforts to end the Israeli occupation and bring a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a just peace, based on international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. SACC facilitates EAPPI in South Africa.

To become one of the Ecumenical Accompaniers and spend three months in Israel/Palestine experiencing the life with victims/survivors of the conflict, and come back home to advocate.

Contact the SACC office at the following address:
office no: 011 2417827
For an application form.
Deadline for applications is 20th October 2010.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In honour of Dr SPE (Sam) Buti, a beacon of hope in the struggle for justice.

Unisa recently honoured Rev Dr Samuel Palo Ernest Buti, for his contribution towards a new South Africa. I am greatful to have known him and worked with him. He was a dignified church leader with a sharp intellect. He was fearless.

Rev SPE Buti, a third generation pastor, grew up with his father, Rev ETS Buti being the first moderator of the then Dutch Reformed Church in Africa, General Synod. Born on 1 June 1934, he grew up in the rural areas of the then Western Transvaal (now North West province) and received his academic and professional education primarily in Afrikaans.

He graduated from the Stofberg Theological Seminary in 1959 and began his pastoral ministry in 1960, in Alexandra, where he continued to serve until his retirement. Initially his ministry was under duress, as community members were suspicious of his allegiance to the white Dutch Reformed Church. The church buildings were burnt down at some point. His own journey was however a journey of a growing conscientization and activism. Of this, fellow pastor Rev ZE Mokgoebo writes, 'Serving his parish with this uneasy conscience and being involved in the DRCA's struggles and the struggles of the community of Alexandra, would lead Sam to a critical awareness and an involvement from which he would not easily retreat.' (1983:134)

In 1971 he went for further studies in the Netherlands, which sharpened his intellectual resistance against ecclesial and social apartheid. He became one of organisers and founders of the Alexandra Liaison Committee resisting the proposed resettlement of Alexandra, by the apartheid government and also chairperson of the Black Renaissance Convention.

In 1977 he was elected as the President of the South African Council of Churches, as the bitter confrontation between the government of the day and prophetic church deepened. This was a period where this confrontation shifted from critical engagement to non-collaboration and non-violent protest.

The protest action was also prevalent, in the two terms that he served, as vice-president of the international Reformed Ecumenical Synod. In 1980 he staged a boycott of participation where the white Dutch Reformed Church, supporting apartheid, participated.

In 1982, he earned a Master of Theology from the Princeton Theological Seminary and continued to travel worldwide and be involved in church leadership, fighting the cause of the oppressed, globally.

In the meanwhile, he was elected as mayor of Alexandra, in the mid 80s. This however did not sit well with a substantive percentage of the people of Alexandra and in 1985, his house was bombed and the pressure was taking a toll on his family. After consultation with the then political prisoner and now ex-President, Nelson Mandela, he decided to quit politics and in 1987 he was again elected the Moderator of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa, which in 1994, led to the establishment of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, to which he was elected as the Vice-Chairperson (Assesor) of the General Synod.

His relentless commitment to the struggles of the poor and oppressed was acknowledged on 25 Oct 2008, when Selbourne Street was renamed Reverend Sam Buti street and in 2010 when Unisa confered upon him an honorary doctorate.

May his legacy live on !

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Unions use learners as weapons

I've often been uneasy about Prof Jonathan Jansen's devastating attacks on our teachers. Whilst I affirm his view that an excellent education is the key to our liberation, I felt that his critique on the work ethic of teachers, especially unionised, black teachers were a bit unfair. [Of course, I come from the old school where teachers don't strike and where they either walked or drove around with bicycles] Jansen's view is that unions, (and I would qualify, SADTU) runs our schools.... to the ground. It seems to me, from what I've read of Jansen, that he argues that the children in our townships are the last of these teacher's concerns. Jansen is clear: the reason for our dismal Grade 12 results in black township schools are the teachers and unions.

Recently, we returned in a daze, from a glorious Soccerworld Cup. Schools were closed for 6 weeks. Many of us wondered about our Grade 12s, but also our Grade 11s because their results are critical for applications. Within one week after the school started, the teachers abandoned these students for meetings over a salary dispute. We hear from the unions that this is the 'strike season' and this is going to be a big one; the biggest teacher strike that we have seen, we are told. How can this be? Perhaps, I have to read Prof Jansen again. Its evident: the unions clearly don't flinch at putting our children's future at risk, moreso, in their view, its the education of our children, that are the cannonfodder to win their struggle. Let me put it more clearly: they use the education, in particular, of the poor and black children, as weapons in their struggle. [Teachers in most of the more affluent schools, decided not to strike; it's the teachers in the poorer areas, in the black areas, that go on strike] COSATU also affirms this by stating, 'the impact of a public service strike was unlike any other strike, because it affected everyone, especially the poor and most vulnerable, who were sorely dependant on government services for their daily survival'

Let me concede: I would be first in the battle lines to fight for higher salaries amongst teachers. Why? As indicated earlier, education is critical and therefore our teachers are perhaps one of the most important roleplayers in building a educated, free person, but also a strong nation. They are the ones that hold the key to information, to skills, indeed to power, as the mold the young lives. Yet, today in South Africa, it's the cricketers, the soccercoaches and rugbyplayers, who are paid obscene amoounts of money, to entertain us. Its the gangsters and stripclubowners in silky Italian suits, who capture the imagination of the media, as they cash in on assasinations, drug and humantrafficing. They are all over the printed and new media. In the meantime, our teachers are being treated with contempt by the current government's ministry of Education; they have to stand last in the line. It remains this reality that breeds anger amongst teachers, who are qualified for their calling, yet offered peanuts in return.

My concern here is however that I cannot, I cannot ever, support the usage of education or more specifically the future of our learners, i.e. our children, as a weapon, in their quest for higher salaries. Let explain: unions in the metal industry or in mining, can down tools and by such industrial action, hurt the profits of the bosses; they can close down the plant. The question is: who will be hurt in the strike where children are deprived of an opportunity to free themselves? Will it be the administrator or functionary at the Department of Education? Of course not. Their children already are in the better schools in the suburbs or studying overseas. How can unions justify the callous disregard for the future of our children, in particular the black, poor children? There has to be another way of making their demands heard. There has to be another, more pointed way of addressing the real enemy, i.e. the current government or the current policies which evidently collude with protecting the interest of the already rich and powerful. As teachers walk out of classrooms and leave black learners in the dark, they betray their calling, they betray the black child, whose key to life to power, is education. These teachers betray the trust that we as parents bestow upon them and they don't deserve the respect we afford them by virtue of their calling. They don't deserve to be taken as serious, as I suggested earlier.

Perhaps this post will offend some. I know it will offend friends and family. I am however convinced more and more, with Prof Jansen and others, that these actions of unions are indeed running our education to the ground. Moreso, they are destroying the future of our children. I think, this is criminal.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

free the word (s), media freedom...

It seems like the so-called "Hawks" did not have a case against Mzilikazi wa Afrika, a journalist, who was arrested in cowboy style yesterday and thrown in the dungeons (he was trucked to Mpumalanga). Perhaps it was simply part of the bigger threat of a clampdown on media-freedom in SA, perhaps it just showed off how incompetent the Hawks really are, moreso how futile it is to gag the truth. Let us cut to the real issue: our freedom is under threat.

The SA media has a political agenda. Politically, media should be part of the system of institutions guarding the truth and guarding our hard-earned freedom. Yet there is allways the danger, that they might only serve the system that reproduce and justify inequalities; in this case they will not report anything which will hit their pockets and the pockets of their owners, the elites.

My view is that it does not help to hide behind a veil of supposed independence, objectivity or neutrality, as a response to government's threat of a clampdown. A better response would be to concede their political and economic interest, but have environment where the news repressenting various interests can thrive. In my view this would leave space for newspapers with a clear government bias, but also others who repressent oppositional interests.

This viewpoint might sound naive. Its not. It takes into account my initial point of view that newspapers are being run like businesses. They are out to make profit and would dish out to an unsuspecting reader anything that sells. Hence, we need various perspectives, angles and interests to shed light on whats happening in our world. This kind of contestation is the only hope for the voices of the silenced to see the light of day. Hence we need to free the word, in order to free the world.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reitz, an island of hope in the Free State (?)

A group of 4 white students acknowledge guilt in the week, following the discovery of their shocking video, where they humiliated black workers, in their hostel called Reitz Residences or Flats. There is a significant difference between the trials of the Reitz-4 and the Waterkloof-4, a group of white students who brutally kicked to death a black man one night, in Pretoria. The Reitz-4 acknowledged their guilt and expressed the desire to make amends. I would also recommend monetary compensation for the victims, although it would never be able to restore the dignity of me Koko, me Rebecca Adams, me. Naomi Phororo, me. Mittah Ntlatseng and mr. David Molete; the restoration of their dignity is rooted in much more then a symbolic gesture.

It seems to me that these boys, in the words of Jonathan Jansen, are the products of 'knowledge in their blood'. Yet, they, unlike the Waterkloof-4 seems to be aware of the graveness of their actions. For me there are other concerns. The fact of the matter is that this video, was entered in a competition for students on the campus of the University of the Freestate. I don't know, if it won any prizes, but seemingly no-one, not the organisers of the competition, nor the crowds watching it, raised any significant protest. It was, as the four said later, an attempt to be funny, like the volk's hero, Leon Schuster. They simply wanted to be the next Leon Schuster. No jokes. But moreso, and this is critical, they were taking the political messages of white supremacist groups like FF+ (FreedomFront Plus) and AfriForum on their campus, to its logical conclusion. Their actions need to be seen within the context, at that time, of these organisation's consistent campaign on various traditionally Afrikaans campusses, against what they called 'integration'. The message of the video was: this is what we think of integration. The black workers represented the black 'hordes' who wanted to come and invade their space, in this case the 'island of Reitz' or the University of the Freestate. When this repugnant story broke, the FF+ and AfriForum, usually very vocal and ready for any interview, simply walked away from these boys. They were on their own. The political leaders never conceded anything, they simply pointed out that these boys lost the plot. Well, they did lost the plot, because they were led by and they trusted organisations and leaders who continue to hide their intently racist visions and interests, in their quest for a dream that was doomed from inception.

Its at this level where we need to focuss our attention. Yes, a mission to overcome racism need to address the personal journey of acknowledgement of guilt and commitment to restorative justice. At this level, exposure to the other on the same level, in equal-power relationships is critical. But its much more then this, this journey needs to be a communal journey, as the practices and rituals which sustain the myths of racial supremacy are deconstructed and replaced with new rituals and practices, which consciously embody equality, openness and justice. These new practices pursue a quest for redress and transformation; it seeks together to nurture new communities, a new just society. Its difficult, fraught with deep and painful learning experiences; its breaking down the islands of separation, yet it builds slowly but surely, islands of hope.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

...when the morning comes..we will tell the story of how we overcome.

I recently was part of the backroom team working in a SA/Namibia camp with young people from various countries. They came to serve, to learn and to experience intercultural living together. It wasn't possible all the time. The Rwanda group were not allowed to enter Namibia and Lesotho. I was then asked to prepare an alternative program. My colleagues and friends, Natasha Felix and Malin Fisher (young pastors) and our faithcommunity and youth in Riverlea joined hands. This was hard work, but not impossible. Yet, emotionally it was gruelling; it sucked us deeper and deeper into the cesspool of injustice. Whilst our European friends were welcomed with open arms, because they are able to pay their way (and indeed they are welcome), our very own sisters and brothers, in the wake of the African World Cup were stopped at the borders and send back to where they came from. Soon it dawned on us: Fellow poor Africans were not welcome in fellow African countries; money are!

This experience pulled us deeper and deeper into their experience, into their pain. Deeply spiritual in their approach to this injustice, they would remain strong and dignified. They would smile bravely and continued to walk tall. They remained true ambassadors of a world, few us us are familiar with and then, when we concluded the camp, this weekend, oh my word, our friends stood up sang this song. Its a song written by perhaps the father of gospel music, Charles A Tidley, a son of a slave Albert Tidley and freewoman, Hester Miller. He taught himself how to read and write and eventually he became a pastor of a church, where he was first a janitor. Amongst others, he wrote a song 'I'll overcome Someday' (1901), which many years later inspired the popular struggle song, 'We shall overcome'. Our friends from Rwanda however sang, 'By and By', which may inspire another struggle. They sang,
Trials dark on every hand,
and we cannot understand
All the ways God would lead us
to that blessed promised land.
But He'll guide us with His eye,
And we follow till we die;
We will understand it better by and by

Often our cherished plans fail'd
Disappointments have prevail'd
And we've wandered in the darkness,
heavy hearted and alone,
but we trusting in the Lord,
And according to his word,
We will understand is better, by and by

By and by, when the morning comes,
when the saints of God are gathered home
we will tell the story how we overcome
we will understand it better by and by

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It is about power...justice, I mean.

Power is critical in the quest for justice. Yet, power in itself is no virtue. It can be an instrument of oppression, where justice are denied. It can also be a tool to liberate.

I've come to realise that the passion for justice, the adoration of justice, the affirmation that justice is right is not enough. These notions might even be opium to the masses. Of course, we would all affirm the need for a world that is devoid of pain, oppression and violence, a world of justice, but there has to be more. We also need power to make it happen, to make it a living reality, not mere words.

Many a activist for justice would affirm, in the trenches, that the powerfull never give away power. Power-sharing does not follow from an altruism or a deep sense of pity for the wretched of the earth. The commitment to justice assumes a contest over power. It asumes a struggle for power. Often, I hear people wailing about powerstruggles in a particular setting. These complaints often are as a result either of a naive analysis of reality, or of a deliberate denial of reality. Those in power are of course, confortable with naivety and would encourage denial. They would even create a mirage of power and would frantically deny their own collusion in the centralisation of power. I often hear how powerful people use words and phrases as they strive to protect their positions. The alternative is not to play into these delusions, but to see through the fog of propaganda and to push for more power. That is how we come closer to the lofty ideal of justice.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

strangers become part of us...

Its one thing to speak about lofty ideas on justice and reconciliation. Its another thing to live it. We often asume that its all about saying the right words, quoting the most sexy philosophers and authors and have them comment on our wordsmithship.
Its not.

Its about sensing and feeling our fellow human beings. As we journey through life we meet strangers along the way. In those moments where we meet the stranger, where we are challenged and changed. Our world is changed. Sometimes we meet in them the face of God, as his dream for the world becomes a-live (or a life). Justice and reconciliation (and you might want to add unity, love, peace....etc) are living realities. These realities that need to be embodied in the mandane struggles for life (and also of life itself), as we inter-act. Sometimes we are able to capture these moments in words; often not. Then we may dance or sing. We may simply rest in that moment or the series of moments-almost like a surfer who caught that special curl. Then its gone....its part of the ebb and flow, of life and we need to (again) battle as new more powerfulwaves are on the horison-beckoning us.

As strangers enter our worlds, they become part of us. Perhaps we will never see them again, yet, those moments of inter-action, have left their mark. We are changed, our worlds have been changed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Peter De Villiers and the media (again), the clown, the questions

Some would say, here we go again, but let me say it: certain sections of the media is running a campaign to discredit the black Springbok coach. I can understand when Aussie and New Zealand commentators and journos have a go at anything to do with the Springboks. They need to attack us psychologically. That's part of the game. But why would South African sportsjourno's then reprint these reports almost verbatim?

My questions:
Why would they gloat at the kind of remarks made about de Villiers capabilities, his English, his style, his kind of humour. Why would it be funny when he waffle in English ? Why would his moustache, or voice-tone be singled out for particular redicule.

Questions that I ask: who would benifit from a Springbok side that loose ? Who would gloat over a loosing Bok coach. In whose interest would that be. Why then would our journalists continue to cas a shadow over the capabilities of de Villiers.

If one analyse the games we've lost so far against the All Blacks then I ask, what would be the reasons behind the loss. Let me state the obvious: At least 2 Boks were cited for their ill-discipline, at least 2 got yellow cards. Why would de Villiers be blamed for it and not the forwards/scrum coach Os du Randt.

Just asking ?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Paying the highest price for health...who cares?

It's a fact: State hospitals don't provide the same care and service as private medical facilities. Put differently: healthcare is a commodity.

We've all had the experience when you land up at the admissions of the closest hospital, and the first question relates to your medical insurance or medical aid. Tough luck if you don't have might end up back on the street looking for a state hospital or community clinic. Who cares? I've heard in my community of people who were actually turned away with their sick first baby, because the nurses were on strike for a higher salary. The baby died. Who cares?

At the Charlotte Maxeke Academic hospital 6 premature babies lost their lives over a weekend in May this year. They died because of a virus, which is supposedly spread by contaminated hands, water or food. According to a report, released by Prof Keith Bolton, a few "contributory factors" was also present, such as overcrowding, under-staffing and a lack of antiseptic sprays and paper towels at the hospital. The state health authorities however absolved themselves of any blame. Shit happens....espescially at State hospitals, I suppose. Who cares?

For how long will we tolerate the evil, that the health, the lives of certain people are more valuable, then that of others. Back in the days of slavery, the lives of the slaveowner was of more value than the lives of the slave. The slaves would die in the field or in a delapidated shelter, out there away from human beings, who were afforded the best medical care and eventually a dignified death. Has anything changed in the current situation where healthcare and healing comes with a pricetag? Has anything changed in the 'new South Africa'? Who cares?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Its not xenophobia, or is it ?

Again, there are a deep and understandable concern over the violence meted out against nationals, in particular against shopkeepers from Somalia and Zimbabwean and Mozambican nationals. This scourge must concern all of us.

Let me give a piece of my mind, so to speak. I've observed that its not focussed on foreigners in general, the Eastern Europeans or Mafia-types from Italy or China (if anything, I would admit hating these ugly China-malls popping up all over Johannesburg.*blush*); This violence is focussed on black Africans; it is the actions of the poor and it is focussed on the vulnerable, the defenseless. Mostly these actions are physically violent, yet it's a desperate unorchestrated kind of violence. Its not the violence of the powerful in society, its the violence of the powerless. So, my concern is the question, what lies behind these actions. What leads to township folk pouncing on fellow Africans, as they too scramble for the crumbs that fall from the table of the rich man.
Let me make another point. Uncomfortable as it is, it need to be said. As I can see it, most middle class professionals from various other countries working in South Africa are not chased out of their houses, nor are they in the danger of being hacked to death or burnt alive. Again....its the poor.

So, what's my point ? My point is that the deeper socio-economic, the class dimension is more pertinent. In my view, we see the symptoms of a deeper more incidious evil system that gangs up against the landless, vulnerable classes. This system is maintained by the elite classes, where the old colonial elite and the new black diamonds have a common interest: the exploitation of the natural and human resources for the sake of the optimization of profits. We see in the so-called xenophobic violence the brute power of the current empire, which divide and rule the poor, the marginalised, through the other-ing of those darker blacks. The actual loathing of the stranger, the hatred of the other is happening in sophisticated systems of power, which creates others through laws, media images, police brutality.

The soldiers will not stop migration nor will it stop the inevitable ruthless scramble for the crumbs. The key to unlock this is dealing with the long term contradictions in the system; it lies in the state's regulation of economic policy, in the integration of regional economies, but moreso in the removal of bloodhirsty tyrants, who sell their own people at the market, to finance their lavish splurges on soccertickets and fine whisky. What was learnt is that quiet diplomacy simply entrench and solidify their positions. A more direct approach in unmasking and isolating the Mugabes and the Al Bashir's of this world is needed from the African Union. Unless the invisible (?), structural violence against the poor, is dealt with, we will continue to be disgusted by this visible (?) naked violence, which forces us to hear the wailing cries for a place under the sun.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Danny Jordaan, the humble champion of the world.

Danny Jordaan, must perhaps be the most unasuming champion of the Fifa Soccer World Cup 2010. He's been the one person that galvanised an organisation, no, a movement to make it all happen. Yet, listening to an interview with him on Talkradio 702, I was again struck by the matter-of-factness of his attitude in pulling off this soccer spectacle. Whilst the world is ecstatic, for him it was almost just another day in the office.What have I learnt from the interview with this worldleader?

Of course, I am simply responding to what I've heard in the interview, today and have not done a deeper look into his life and context. On my drives in our taxi back from Pretoria, in the afternoons, I had some fascinating conversations with a friend of his from the Eastern Cape, who was also deeply involved in sport, back in the days. From these conversations it was evident that Jordaan was a keen and brilliant soccer player, who were of course never afforded the opportunity to play for the national team. What a loss. From the interview, however one would not find one instance, where Jordaan presents himself as bitter or resentful. He is active in the present, have learnt the lessons well and he remains commited to affirm the dignity and value of human beings irrespective of the colour of their skin. These comments are simply presented as a background for my observations and it remains my thoughts, as I listen to these various voices.

Now for my reflections on the interview with the Talkradio 702
1) I was struck by the sense that Jordaan remained humble, aware of the challenges the still lies ahead.Its tempting to lash out at your foes and enemies, the naysayers and the prophets of doom, like some have done. In this interview there was reference to the Afrophobia and the pessimists, yet it was never in a gloating manner. There was a simple affirmation of the achievement, a sincere 'thank you' to all who have been part of the team, but them also a humble acceptance of the fact that he is human, tired and also overwhelmed by the support.
2) It seems to me that this moment was just another step in Jordaan's bigger vision. His journey came a long way, with many disappointments, many losses, many times where he had to start again, yet he maintained his overall vision of bringing all South Africans together and affirming the value of all human beings, in particular the people of the continent of Africa.
3)Whilst Jordaan felt the raw impact of Apartheid, he said at some point, we still carry the pain of it, he was able to be aware and transcend his own weaknesses, yet never succumb to a victim mentality. He was speaking of his own story, Group Areas Act, Bush colleges, Churches, schools, homes being demolished, with all the memories and social capital that went along with these buildings. He experienced the depth of depravity that human beings, blinded by ideology are capable of. Yet. he is also aware of the capabilities and potential within people-people can change and also make the world a better place.

These little glimpses of his story, in my view, gives hope. Its not only about the big lights and the rands and cents, its also about the human spirit, which can overcome the odds.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hospitality comes at a price.

Hospitality is not easy. Its easy perhaps, when its staged, not when the stranger rocks up and intrude on our programs and plans. Its not easy when the stranger don't pay back. Its not easy when the stranger is poor and at your mercy, financially and socially. 

For many, hospitality relates to an industry. Its about good marketing. Its about cashing in on 'tourists', but also 'selling the country'. Yet, these concepts and understanding need to be unpacked. Using euphemisms can maim the rich-ness of the concepts itself and subvert it, to serve hidden agendas and interests. Of course, we can read the dictionary or even our sacred texts to try to grap hold of the meaning, but there's more. These texts won't be able to unearth the complexities and cost of what it means to 'welcome the stranger', to 'host the unwelcome'.

Many are chastized for a fear for the stranger. Perhaps it would be more apt to speak of 'hatred' instead of 'fear'. I would also be in the chorus condeming all forms of violence against refugees and immigrants. We should all be. But are we willing to concede our own 'fear' or perhaps 'hatred' of the other, in particular the black other-those that come and seemingly impinge and threaten our way of life ? How much are we (I use we intentionally here) willing to open our doors, our homes, country to those who cannot pay us back ? Its all about the cost, hey ?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hospitality for the fans arriving, in SA has got to offer more...

Fans from all over the world are arriving for the FIFA soccerworld cup, here in South Africa. Recently we had a dance festival at our community centre, in Riverlea, which is situated in the shadow of SoccerCity. We celebrated the coming of all these soccer teams, but also the fans. We shared information about them, but also, there were quiet moments where we prayed for those arriving. There are many ways to prepare for the soccerfest.

What the fans and the players need is perhaps a bit more then mere shelter, food, safe roads. They also need to experience hospitality.... a deep sense of being at home. For many this is possible, at the right price ( and you get even more then what you paid for). I've often experience the friendliness at various guesthouses, hotels and other establishments, as long as I stayed there and, of course, paid the price. As soon as you leave that place, you are again a stranger, just another client, another number. Its plastic.Its business.

For faith communities, however, recieving guests has got to offer more. There has to be a genuine love and compassion, flowing from a deep sense of common humanity that should inspire us to open up, not only our homes, but also our hearts. This deep-seated motivation is the root for a warmth and openness, that is a central part of who we are, more then for a once off event; its a lifestyle. Its a way of acknowledging our inter-connectedness. I find the notion of hospitality industry, a bit of a oxymoron: hospitality is not hard, business, for sale, a commodity. Hospitality, but its very nature, is freely recieved and shared, amongst former strangers, now friends, later sisters and brothers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

white women speaking black

A very profound week, last week. I marvelled in a bitter way, at how in most of our South African media, the Mafia-stylled hit on a shady, strip-club owner, and the search for his killer, overshadowed the death of a longstanding activist for justice. Yet, this fine women stood up, with a black sash, when the rest was turning the blind-eye. She was white, inspired by her faith and a heroine in the struggle against injustice. She stood in the tradition of white, middle-class women, who fought for justice, often and still at the risk of being labled as naive, self-righteous and gullable, infantile. The New York Times notes, she 'moved far beyond the traditional sphere reserved for white women of her day'. I salute the memory of Sheena Duncan, for decades the public face of the Black Sash.

Perhaps you might have noticed that this reflection is not simply about Sheena Duncan. Its about the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. This is about how powerful forces continue to silence the cry of justice. This struggle relates to another debate during the past week, on the recent book by another white, female activist, Antjie Samuel (Krog), called provocatively, Begging to be Black. I write about and hope to contribute to a highly emotional and complex conversation (Cobus , Tom, 'Skillie' and Steve) about matters of identity. It's, at least for me, also about the manner in which women is shaping the conversation-away from what the headlines might want us to talk about. I have a hunch that the struggles of women, 'beyond the traditional sphere reserved for white women', might just be a critical clue to helps us in trying to make sense and get focus, on the black struggle for liberation. It may be appropriate in the warm atmosphere of Mothers's Day to reflect on this. These women, worked the struggle from the trenches (just read of Krog's role in the local Kroonstad struggles, behind the scenes) as the personal (home) became the space where these battles were fought (she is in an ongoing conversation with her husband and mother). I think that perhaps women are grappling openly on these because they experience what it means to live in a world where an invisible norm, called patriarchy, continue to create situations where they as not valued as fully human, by the dominant, hegemonies. They experience the subtleness and sophistication, yet brutality of being excluded and purposefully misrepresented. They know how it feel to be subjucated, violently.Therefore, perhaps they may also be in a better position to speak out or respond to the pervasiveness of something called whiteness.

Let me agree with Tom, that whiteness is a reality. This is not simply skincolour. This is a construct in people's heads, but also, its a system of priviledge that was engineered consciously for material exploitation. It asserts itself, irrespective of whether you are overtly crude in your pronouncments over the 'other'. Its a system which is based on an idea; but also its a powerposition where it does not even matter if you're aware of this. Like patriarchy, most of those in power, are particularly sensitive to those who recognise, identify and name these powerful forces...let alone start to unravel, expose and dismantle it.  The battle becomes bitter and relentless.

This is the point where the resistance to policies aiming at redress is fought, as well as the thinking behind these policies. Its a conflict over these flawed ideas, yes, but its also about how these ideas, embedded in a legislative framework perpetuate the real material inequalities. This is why organisations like Afriforum and MynwerkersUnie (Solidariteit) would wage their struggle, strategically in the court-house and media platforms. They know where the real battle lines is drawn-not in defending the flawed ideas in public, but fighting the legislation, which aims at redress. One should not be fooled by the human rights or civil rights language, nor gestures of change in attitude or well-meaning welfare efforts. This will not change the situation of the oppressed poor.

What will transform the situation? Let me again start with the womanist struggle against patriarchy, as these hold key insights. The situation against which Sheena Duncan waged a relentless struggle will be transformed where the unique voices of the downtrodden are heard, in all its strangeness, pain, uniqueness and complexities. When we, as men listen and filter these voices through our ears formed by our positions of power, then we will easily ridicule, scoff and ignore it. (Most of the critical voices have not even tried to read Krog).  But when we take serious the 'long conversation' of which Klippies Kritzinger made us attentive to, then we will stay and struggle to hear, to understand, to stand with. This will change the relationship from power-over to power with, sharing power. This will be a painful struggle. This will transform the situation. Perhaps I should keep quiet now...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On free speech, today.

This time around, I agree with Jonathan Jansen's column. Not fully, but I would go along with the basic thrust of his argument: there is not enough deep debate on public issues today in South Africa.

I am however surprised at the generalisations in Jansen's collumn, given the fact that he rants the 'lack of' deep intellectual discourse at universities. He makes another point of interest,

'’n Universiteit, anders as ’n kerk, moet ’n plek wees waar idees aangebied, uitgeruil, verdedig en uitgedaag kan word. ’n Kampus moet ’n veilige ruimte skep waar mededingende ideologieë aangehoor kan word.'  ( a University, unlike a church, must be a place where ideas are presented, defended and challenged. a Campus must create a safe space where competing ideologies are heard/aired)

For him a church is (by definition) a space where we let go of our intellectual abilities and simply accept everything, 'in faith', whilst a university is a space, where there is suppose to be a freeflow of ideas. At another speech, after listening to Jansen, I wondered that perhaps his glaring ignorance on what is happening inside some churches and amongst some church people, apart from his own evangelical fundamentalist group, is sad. On the other hand, at least he, as a leading academic and principal at a university, is suppose to know that the contestation of ideologies even at a university, takes place in a particular socio-historical context and political context. By its nature, despite modernist myths of the objective, rational scientist, it is heated and emotional. The current shift in the academic landscape is contested; it is a struggle and Jansen is part of that struggle.

However, he has a point if he argues that part of the current strategy within the elite classes, dominating institutions like the academia ( and the church), is to silence dissent and that this silencing strategy has to be faced head on. I agree that, the dearth of intellectual debate opens up space for demagogues to run amok. We will only have ourselves to blame, where facism reigns supreme.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Reconciliation on a knife's edge.

I agree that reconciliation and nation-building is on a knife's edge. However, I don't agree that its because of the brutal killing of Eugene Terre'Blance nor the antics of some ANC youth league functionaries. My view is that the recent obsession with these personalities, conveniently obscure our perspective to see where the real epicentre is with regards to the tenuous reconciliation in South Africa. Its not primarily, in the relations between white and black.

Let me concede first and then proceed to my actual point. These figures do raise the emotions. They are (were ?) orators of note. They are controversal, offensive and often vile. For a section of our population, a small section, they do articulate their aspirations. Not for others (like me!) and we would often express our revulsion. Yet, we need to remember that they remain part of our South African human landscape, warts and all. I do agree therefore, with Tinyiko Maluleke, the president of the South African Council of Churches, that we should condemn threats of violence, as well as brutal killings of fellow human beings, for what ever reason. We simply cannot descend into political fanaticism and mayhem. If anything, the actions related to these personalities, should remind us of who we are not.

Back to my point: Reconciliation, as we've experienced it in the South African context, in the 1990s, was appropriate for its time, but we need a new social contract. The 'negotiated settlement', as preliminary as it was, did help to stop the low-intensity civil war raging in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Let's remember that there was a real guerilla-war raging. It was fought amongst others, in Northern-Namibia, Mozambique and Angola, but also in our township streets. The SADF and the MK and perhaps APLA, fought each other some argue, through conventional warfare, or a brutal armed struggle. Many died. We simply cannot go back to that time. It was appropriate therefore, given the context, to negotiate a settlement that facilitated the transition of political power and stem the tide of violence. It's was not only Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo, Joe Slovo and Chris Hani, who played a key role, but also level-headed negotiators like Cyril Ramaphosa, Roelf Meyer, Leon Wessels, but also Constance Viljoen (who were able to transformed a conglomerate of bitter, rightwing parties and movements into the VryheidsFront). In this context, parliament, the public service and  public instiutions were transformed or replaced with new ones. We can speak of the de-racialisation of politics.

Let me jump to today. Today, embarrassed we discover the frightening increase in the income-gap between the rich and the poor. Whilst the majority of the poor remains black, we also see a growing number of white people in desperate poverty, in shacks and on the streets. Whilst the majority of the wealthy remains white, we also see a small, but growing percentage of black millionaires and billionaires. We can talk about the signs of the de-racialisation of the economy. Yet, the system reproducing these glaring inequalities remained the same. Economic emancipation in the main, means today a small elite who, at the expence of the poor, are fleecing the public treasury. This, is where the fault line lies. This is where reconciliation of the 90s, are under duress, for some empty. I would argue that this explains the growth in disillusionment, desperation and anger. This explains the fact that a boy of 15 years, a child, are not in school, but working for a wage on a farm.

The recent revival of an old struggle song, the rhetoric on nationalisation and the sudden infatuation with Mugabe's 'shining successes' should should not fool us. It's got nothing to do with the the sharing of resources or the struggle for justice and equality. Rather, its an attempt to delay the attention away from the deep tensions that are surfacing. These tensions are felt in the Alliance, where Gucci capitalists crudely display their opulence and wealth  in the face of just demands of the poor. And its here that I agree with Nico Botha's analysis, which I think takes the debate beyond the old-styled race analysis. Indeed, a new debate on reconciliation is needed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Judgement on Malema ?

Are we doing enough to stem the tide of rape and abuse ? How committed are we ? Is fine to lash out at Malema and the president, but what about the rest of us? Yesterday's judgement by the Equality Court on the matter of Sonke Gender Justice Network vs Mr Julius Malema is hopeful, but also it raises a few critical, disturbing questions.

We should again, note our appreciation for our judicial system. This judgement is a clear signal that our courts, by and large, still serves to defends and protects the dignity of all people, irrespective of status, class, gender, etc. This is hopeful. It builds upon our Constitution, which states, ' and Everyone is equal before the law...''Everyone has inherent dignity...' But its not as simple as that.

Of course, I cannot make any pronouncements on the legalise and whether the judgement was fair or not. My understanding is that Malema's legal team is working on an appeal and, in following in the footsteps of his president, we can assume that this matter will go all the way to the Constitutional Court.There is nothing illegal about that. My comments here are of a different nature. It relates to understanding the Malema-phenomenon. Who created this image and for what purpose ? Is he really so out of character with the rest of us ? Or is he perhaps the scapegoat ? We pack on him all our hidden dark secrets and chase him in the desert as an atonement. Of course, these questions calls for a more substantial investigation. I'm simply raising questions. 

It is significant that the judge considers Malema to be someone who commands 'significant social and political influence and particularly over young people'. I've refered to this adoration, in a previous post. Who are these young people and how does Malema's public role influence their norms and values ? Malema, according to the evidence presented in this case, argued that his comments need to be seen within the context of him pursuading and mobilising young people towards an ANC victory. With these comments he is motivating young people to join his campaign. He is the president of the ANCYL. The ANC alliance scored a resounding victory at the poles last year, after his campaigning. So he must know something about these voters or like many fine savvy marketers would say: he knows his market, his target audience-just look at the numbers.

He also argued, that his party promotes the advancement of women and specifically black women. He will never promote hatred against women. Afterall, he explained, he himself was mentored by a few and raised by his grandmother. We don't know who these seemingly older women are, but one can asume that he holds their lives and examples in high esteem.There is a particular understanding of women and gender, at work here, that undergird his public persona.

Further, and this is significant, as his audience were tertiary students at the Cape Peninsula Technikon, he testified that his audience 'cheered him on with loud applause'. His assessment is that his audience, did not percieve his speech as particularly 'hurtful or harmful'. Malema is often invited to speak at tertiary institutions and, if anything his speeches are raising his profile amongst a fair percentage of tertiary students, in South Africa. Why? Who is it that continue to invite him and hold him in high esteem?

Yes, I know that the court also heard from an expert witness, Ms Lisa Vetten, that Malema's utterances were based on 'generalisations' about women, rape and consent, and that those in power, like Malema often, create and proclaim myths and stereotypes, which distort reality, but also entrench the lies and domination, of men. The court also found that his comments 'ammount to hate speech and harrasment'. The questions however remain, disturbing. This judgement cannot be the final word.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Christians, Muslims slaughter each other in Nigeria.

It's International Women's Day and in Jos, Nigeria an estimated 500 women and children were brutally killed between yesterday and today. They were slaughtered in the ongoing violent conflict between Christians and Muslims. It's simply awful.

Of course, this issue is more complex then this and it is also argued that tribal and land issues are at play, but still. Its does not help to deny, like the Vatican, the fact that religious motivations are also at play. Religious fanatism are at work. What an indictment against people of faith, people of the Book, so to speak. If anything, we are all implicated. Let me rephrase: What an indictment against us.

How far have we really come from building walls between people of faiths ? Even within faith communities, we develop sophisticated walls of seperation, thus sowing seeds of conflict. The challenge of new fundamentalisms, the othering and demonizing of difference is still alive and it more vile then ever. But where does it come from? One answer is perhaps not for our comfort: This violence seems to be embedded in the way we read our sacred texts, the way our reading still brutalise and maim. It's in the myths we believe about ourselves and them and re-tell.  Its simply awful and how awful, how horrific this Sunday has been.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Memorial Service in honour of Steve de Gruchy, by SACC

The SACC will host a Memorial Service in honour of Prof Steve de Gruchy at Khotso House in the Chapel on the first floor. This service is open to all who remember Steve's contribution especially to the ecumenical work of the Council.

Come; let us pay tribute to this son of the soil, a pastor, academic, husband and father, for his spirit will be with us as his soul is resting in peace.
For More Info Please Contact: Rev Dr Vuyani Vellem 011 241 7804 / Mr. Eddie Makue 011 241 7817


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bafana need faith

Watched the game tonight. Exited like the rest of the nation to see our team doing well. Playing against teams like Namibia     would be the opportunity to rally the nation behind the boys. I would not say I was very impressed though. It seemed as if the guys was simp;y going through the motions, just doing enough to draw against a team that did not even qualify for the World Cup finals.

So, what is my advice to Bafana? Being an expert arm-chair critique, I observed that our team were able to execute the moves, make the breaks, but there's one thing we lack. We don't finish it off. We freeze in front of the box. ( or the shots goes haywire). Perhaps we need a bit of self-belief, faith that, indeed we can. I've seen other athletes with less talent, opportunity and finesse, yet they burst with self-belief and they intimidate you with their confidence. So, at every opportunity, they shoot for goal. They have faith in their ability- and if they fail the first time? Then they go back and shoot again.

Come one guys, we know you can do it.

Benny Hinn is still going strong en route to South Africa.

Believe it or not, Bennie Hinn is on his way to South Africa. This quack will be hosted by the Good Hope Christian Centre in Cape Town and the Durban Christian Centre in Durban. (There's a bit of free advertising for you). I stand amazed: when our churches will wake up and regain our dignity to listen to God and think for ourselves. But another thing: What is it with these quacks, who cannot stay home and sort out their own problems?  What is driving them ?

There can be only one explanation: the love for moola. These kind of industries need to keep the system going to rake in the profits, irrespective of the price that decent, sincere believers have to pay, for a miracle. Whilst we abhor the obscene plunder, by polititians and their lackeys of public money meant for health and education services of our elderly and needy, I don't have words for the vile stench of these prosperity cults...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

100 days before the opening of the Soccer world cup. Are you ready ?

Are you ready for the Soccer World Cup ? Its only 100 days now. 3 months. Its been said often that SA will not be ready, the roads, the Gautrain, the team, the stadiums, etc. I think we will be ready, so last year I bought myself a Bafana Bafana shirt ( I know its the old green one- at least its made in SA, not China) and I thought, I will use my Chiefs vuvuzela ( I know that SuperSport won the league-at least its not Pirates)- I am ready to roll.

My question remain: are we ready ? Speaking from our community in Riverlea, I wonder whether our communities are prepared for the onslaught and whether our children will be safe. For more then a month our children will be at home. We are preparing some youth and children's programmes, but we need to step up awareness, support services for parents, alternative care-facilities; we need to be able to track our children all the time.

But there is some good news !
A helpline was launched early in this year by the Salvation Army and BE HEARD. Lets put it up there on our boards and pamphlets. 

Monday, March 01, 2010

top 3 most influential living Christian preachers..

What a shock to realise, that I only know the names of 3 of the 'top most influential Christian preachers'. Am I missing something? Is this bit of research, exposing the secret to my glaring deficiencies? Anyway, Lifeway Research did a telephonic survey last year, amongst a 'random sample of  1002 Protestant pastors' and found that Billy Graham is 'far and away the top living preacher that has most influenced Protestant pastors.'

Of course, the researchers also found it 'surprising' that there is not enough diversity and respressentivity in the findings, but hey, what can you do: when you're good, you're good. Influential and all. You can find the results of the survey here.

The questions however remains: Who defines influential? Who are these 1002 protestant pastors, in terms of generation, race, class, gender ? What does it say about the powerrelations?  Is this kind of research relevant ? What would be the point of this kind of research? More questions then answers.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Council of Churches on Steve de Gruchy

Released Friday, 26 February 2010
Message to:

The Family of Prof Steve de Gruchy
The United Congregational Church
The School of Theology & Religion- UKZN
The South African Christian Churches at Large
People of Faith in South Africa
Academics (in the service of the church)
Friends and Colleagues from all over the world
Fellow (South) Africans

Dear Sisters and Brothers

We are shocked at the sudden passing away of Professor Steve de Gruchy, our brother and friend.

Please receive the sincere condolences of the SACC and all our members. We pray that this period of grief and mourning will be lighter as you reflect on the life and contributions to the Church and broader society that Steve has made with so much dedication. We all bear testimony to the great love that Steve had for life - in all its forms.

The SACC recalls, with adoration, the sterling manner in which Steve assisted our Triennial Conference of Churches (during 2007) to appreciate the important theological connections between the economy and the ecology. We remember how he uncompromisingly stood for justice and promoted righteousness rooted in the infinite love of Christ. This is a love that at times extends beyond our human understanding.

Steve’s theological insights and his vision for mission served as a source of encouragement and consistently challenged the way we do theology and engage in mission. The lenses through which he looked at profound questions were always informed by a deep spirituality, scholarly discernment and passion for the truth. He never had to raise his voice in order to be heard or to convince any opposition, because he was such a humble servant of the poor and our Creator.

Through the way that he practiced our common faith, Steve was able to make many friends and to embarrass those who wanted to be his enemies. He was blessed with the capacities to love even those that wished to be his enemies. This is a demonstration of how dearly Steve loved our Lord and Saviour.

The SACC commends the humility with which Steve served the international ecumenical movement and enriched our lives. He rigorously pursued the family tradition of ecumenism through his unselfish services in the World Council of Churches, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Council for World Mission and the SA Council of Churches - both nationally and provincially.

The wealth of the selfless sacrifices that Steve made in all our lives only adds to the shock of his sudden death.

At this time of bereavement we wish to offer comfort to the family and the many people who had the opportunity to experience the many gifts that Steve shared with us. We are struggling to find appropriate words as we understand that the pain is deep. As we attempt to find comfort by reflecting on Steve’s life, we know who our True Comforter is.
We rely on the promise in the Gospel of John (14:15-31) that the parakletos will fill the needs of the De Gruchy family during this time of tenderness and mourning. When you and the rest of the people who love and know Steve raise many questions, may there be comfort in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit teaches us all things. We believe that the will of the Holy Spirit and that of Jesus Christ is one and we know that Jesus wills for us to have life everlasting (Jn 10:10).

Though we will all miss Steve, and do so sorely, we trust that he is not dead. Steve will always live in our memories. His love for life can not be taken away by water which is a source of life. We appreciate and often value the mystery of God’s salvation. All things tie in directly with the plan of salvation and the blessings it brings. We therefore value the teachings of the Holy Spirit even more.

Dear Marian, Steve's wife, and his children Thea, David, and Kate as well as the parents and siblings of Steve and Marian, be assured that God has a wonderful plan in place. We can rejoice that Steve has been promoted, for his departure is a promotion as he is returning to God our Creator. His death may for a time appear to represent defeat, but it will ultimately be a victory.

May the soul of Steve de Gruchy and many other dearly departed find eternal rest at the place that Jesus had gone to prepare for us.

From the SACC National Executive Committee
On behalf of all SACC Members.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Trouble in paradise: Bennie Hinn is human after all.

We don't know the facts and one could argue that we're not suppose to know what the issues are. Yet, the divorce filed against prosperity apostle Bennie Hinn does challenge the church to look again.We simply have to own up to the fact that we also struggle and yes, that we are also human beings who fail each other and who sometimes divorce. His response does not suggest any such acknowledgement or confession. a Public statement from Hinn, suggest that he is putting the blame on the wife. He states, 'Even though Suzanne has been under great stress, the children and I never expect this to happen' and ' My wife has no biblical grounds for what she has done.'  Its simple: blame it on some-one else. The question is: how is it possible that one could grow so far apart that you dont know what is coming. These grave decisions don't pop out overnight.

Divorce is never easy. Its agonising and the inevitability grows over a period of time.Then let's say it:  divorce also happens in the Christian church. Unless we are able to own up to the fact that its a reality within the church, then we will continue to struggle to develop appropriate ministry and support for sisters and brothers going through this agony. We, as believers, cannot continue to pretend and act as if it does not exist. This is my problem with Hinn's response. This is a season, for him to own up to the vulnerabilities and the complexities of human relationships-even as a pastor. We don't build our marriages in heaven. We can confess that we need help and support-even as pastors, for goodness sake.

But he can not. Why ? Because this is exactly where the prosperity cults struggle. In terms of their 'theology' this is not suppose to happen and we are not suppose to own up to any weaknesses. This flawed theology which denies reality and magically chant biblical spells and rituals need to be questioned. It creates a god, which frown upon poor, infected and struggeling people. This god drives in Harley -Davidsons and Limos, eat caviar and look down upon those that face a brutal, injust worldand sometimes strumble and often struggle.
But there's another God, who are with us in the muck, as we bear our crosses in this world, reminding us where our strengths come from. Let me put some divorcees at ease: The all-powerful God did not hang his head in shame because of your 'failure' in marriage or terminal sickness, God is walking alongside you in love and grace to support in facing the real challenges of life.This God does not magically wipe away reality, but rather, enables us to find deeper perspective and meaning to draw on our inner strength, wisdom, to make critical decisions for our future. This good news is for pastors as well. We also live only because of this grace of God. Faith therefore means to acknowledge that, on this journey, I am a cross-bearer, weak, oftem praying a type of 'Please Lord, I believe, but help with my unbelieve' (Mark 9:24) prayer. It's the God, who triumph and help us to come out strong, yet singing 'I didn't know my own strength'.

The kind of theology that underlie the industries of Hinn, is impotant in addressing this kind of faith and therefore it need to be reviewed. This therefor calls for a fundamental review of the role of pastors and those superstars in these 'ministries'. It calls for a questioning of the ostentatious lifestyle, which are simply  provided as 'proof' that the theology is healthy. In South African black and coloured communities, we see a powerful attraction to these groups, simply because people want hope for a better life and identify with wealth and success and so it seems, this gospel will give me that lifeline. We should however see that this whole movement is facing a serious credibility crisis and cannot stand up to the serious transformations that impact on families and children. The world is reeling under a neoliberal capitalist onslaught, which, driven by crude greed, proclaim that financial prosperity is the way to heaven. For these communities, unless we review and reject these false messiases, we are heading for disaster in the areas which matters most. We need something deeper and an affirmation of the way of the cross. Only in discovering the Crucified amongst cross-bearers, do we find real hope. Here we own up to our weaknesses, challenges, vulnerabilities-our sin and its here that we find grace. Let's pray that Hinn might also find it at the foot of the cross.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

NERSA Declares War against the Poor (SA Council of Churches)

The SA Council of Churches has launched a scathing attack on the decision by the Energy regulator, in South Africa to hike electricity prices. The statement reads as follows: 
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) considers the recent NERSA approval of the ESKOM electricity tariff increases the worst and most devastating news the poor of South Africa have received this year.
Clearly NERSA has neither listened nor heard the cry of South Africans. Forced by legislation to conduct so-called public hearings, NERSA went through the motions and in the process caused South Africans of all ranks and class to cry out for it to intervene decisively and constructively. Essentially, NERSA has made a mockery of these submissions. Clearly NERSA has taken the side of ESKOM. NERSA has chosen to side with the powerful. In the process NERSA has dealt yet another blow to the poor whose ranks are swelling by the day. Even if there are electricity subsidies for people considered “poor” according to some random statistic, this increase will impact on food prices and prices of manufactured goods – all requiring electricity somewhere along the line of reaching the consumer.

While the SACC understands the increasing demand for electricity in order to satisfy economic growth, we are shocked at this insensitive slap in the face of the poor and the ordinary consumers, at such a precarious time. The message of this action of NERSA is obvious: the South African poor are on their own. By the time the middlemen, municipalities and agencies have added their own levies and costs, passing all of these to the hapless consumer, the 75% increase over 36 months will in fact be more like the 105% ESKOM had asked for in the first place. In effect, steps taken in the National Budget to be pro-poor are being undermined.  The words which our government has fed us over the past fifteen years pertaining to a ‘war against poverty’ now ring hollow. War has been declared against the poor! The sweet-talk of government is patently negated by devastating short and long term impacts of decisions such as NERSA’s.

The SACC and South Africans know about the poor quality of leadership, the high levels of inefficiencies, the immorally high salaries of ESKOM managers, the environmental disaster into which ESKOM technologies are driving us all, the corrupting monopoly that ESKOM has over our  lives  and the inept interventions of government in ESKOM. These are the things South Africans are being asked to fund. It is shocking that a government given an overwhelming mandate by the country’s poorest citizens is allowing these developments.

We must now brace ourselves for higher rates of unemployment, more small businesses collapsing, more environmental degradation owing the technologies used by ESKOM, slower economic growth, a degradation of the quality of jobs, higher levels of poverty and more ‘service-delivery protests’ – the only ‘weapon’ seemingly available to the poor and marginalized in this country.

The SACC is outraged that yet another instance of long-term incompetence and lack of planning has to be suffered by South Africans. The mere fact that ESKOM now seems to be planning for the next three years is no excuse for missing fundamental developments in the past 14 years. The SACC also wonders why government bail outs are available for other parastatals, but apparently not for ESKOM. We are also concerned that the price hikes seem to be benefitting  environmentally damaging and irresponsible technologies only, as we have yet to hear how the extra income will be used to diversify sources of energy and invest in renewable energy.

SACC reminds government and NERSA that this independent regulator is supposed to base its decisions on the national interest. We appeal to government to produce concrete strategies by means of which the poor will be assisted to deal with the misery that will accompany the lucrative tariff hikes approved for ESKOM. To this end we call for:
a) responsible and competent oversight of the parastatal ESKOM by government;
b) a sustainable vision for the energy sector, including substantial investment in renewable energies;
c) a diversification of the energy landscape in South Africa – it is dangerous for a country to be in the hands of one electricity provider only;
d) pro-poor policies.

For further information please contact
Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, SACC President           082 925 5232
Eddie Makue, General Secretary                      082 8538781 or 011 241 7817

Eulogy for Prof Steve de Gruchy-UKZN (School of Religion and Theology

The University of Kwazulu-Natal, Vice-Chancellor released the following eulogy for the late Prof Steve de Gruchy.

Steve de Gruchy was born on 16th November 1961 in Durban, South Africa, later moving
with his family to Cape Town and matriculating from the South African College High School
(SACS) in 1979. He continued his studies at the University of Cape Town obtaining a MA in
Religious Studies, a STM from Union Theological Seminary, New York, and a DTh at the
University of the Western Cape in 1992. His doctoral thesis focused on the themes of justice
and liberation in the work of the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
As a young man, Steve’s commitment to issues of justice and liberation were evident in his
involvement in the Students’ Union for Christian Action, as a youth pastor at the Rondebosch
Congregational Church, as a religious conscientious objector refusing to serve in the South
African Defence Force during the 1980s, and finally as an ordained minister in the United
Congregational Church of Southern Africa in Athlone, Cape Town. Committed to both faith
and social action, Steve became Director of the Kuruman Moffat Mission Trust in 1994.
During this time he was engaged in establishing a number of projects to alleviate poverty,
curb illiteracy, and promote theological education, becoming fluent in speaking Tswana.
In 2000 Steve was appointed as the Director of the Theology and Development Programme
at the School of Theology at the then University of Natal. At the time, this fledging
programme was small and little known and Steve has built this programme to be recognized
throughout the African continent as a relevant and contextual centre of post graduate study.
With a strong commitment to the Ecumenical movement he has participated in a number of
consultations and commissions of the World Council of Churches, World Alliance of
Reformed Churches and the Council for World Mission.
Appointed Associate Professor in 2005 and later full Professor in 2008, Steve’s stature as a
scholar grew enormously over the past decade with numerous publications in the field of
theology and development, more recently in the area of public health and issues of water
and climate change. He was passionate about the way in which communities need to regain
their dignity and focus on their assets in order to become more fully human. He has
supervised numerous students who know and love him as a committed and critical scholar,
pastor and friend. In 2008, Steve became Head of the School of Religion and Theology at
the merged University of KwaZulu-Natal. Colleagues have thrived under his decisive and
brave leadership. He was always full of new ideas, ready to relieve tension with a joke, and
determined that the School of Religion and Theology would be a centre of excellence within
the University.
Those who are close to Steve also know that scholarly and activist pursuits are not his only
love. He is a gifted musician, loves walking in the Drakensberg, and always enjoys
socializing with friends. Married to Marian, and with their three children, Thea (18), David
(15), and Kate (11), the family loved outdoor adventures. It was on one such adventure that
the life of Steve de Gruchy was taken by the very waters (pula) he spoke so passionately
about. South Africa has lost a son of the soil. The South African church has lost a key
theologian. The Ecumenical Movement has lost a prophet. And the University of KwaZulu-
Natal, and particularly the School of Religion and Theology, has lost an astute administrator,
dedicated academic, an agent of transformation, and a caring friend. We mourn his loss.

(This Eulogy was prepared by the School of Religion and Theology-UKZN)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

they never die

Theologians never die. They live on. Whilst some-one like Dawid Bosch honed many leading thinkers as supervisor and pastor/missionary while he was alive, perhaps his most lasting legacy was his writings, which steadily gained reputation and gravitas after his untimely death in the early 90s.

To make the point, perhaps it would be better to replace theologians with writers, intellectuals or teachers. In any of these cases, the title is not the point. The point is that we leave a lasting legacy when we are willing to share, to give, to try and enrich the lives of others. Michael Le Cordier drove this point home recently when he responded to the challenge to 'bruin intellektuele' to come out and join the debate on Afrikaans. Le Cordier's argument was simple: there are people in our midst, unasuming and perhaps not 'educated' in an elite sense of the word. These people shaped the next generation, planted seeds for the trees that gives us fruit and shade today. Their legacy lives on, their views of God, the world humannes still inspire debate, reflection and new ideas. They remain our incipient theologians and as we stand on their shoulders, we can see better. Indeed they never die-they live on.
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Steve de Gruchy, let's keep the faith..

Many of us, in the theological and church fraternity are a bit off-key at the news of the disappearance of Prof Steve de Gruchy over the weekend. Apparantly he went tubing and did not return.

De Gruchy, a minister from the Congregational church, is currently editor of the Journal for Theology in SA and Head of the UKZN School of Religion and Theology. He is most probably amongst the best theological minds amongst the younger generation of scholars in Africa, deeply involved in social activism and simply a wonderful person. We pray for him and his family.

Koelkop Wenners is diep gewortel (uncut)

My artikel geplaas in gister se Beeld, is bietjie gesny en die titel was bietjie anders, so hier's die rou, uncut version.
'Dis met ‘n trotse hart dat ek kyk hoe Hashim Amla, koelkop die een Indiese aanval na die ander afweer. Daar staan hy, omring met duisende krieketmal toeskouers wat roep om sy paaltjie, vyf of ses veldwerkers, intimiderend om sy kolf en ‘n wêreld-klas bouler wat wat hom aangluur, uitlok en probeer uitoorlê. Wat gaan in sy koelkop aan? Hierdie onverskrokke Suid Afrikaanse held.
‘n Mens kry een leidraad as jy meer intens kyk, na sy klere. Daar is ‘n verskil tussen sy uitrusting en die van sy spanmaats. Hashim het dit duidelik gemaak dat hy geen handelsmerke van alkoholiese dranke op hom sal dra nie. Hierdie tekens is teen sy geloof. My tienerdogter merk op: dis ‘cool’. Nee, korrigeer sy haarself, dis prysenswaardig dat hy so standpunt inneem vir wat hy glo. Inderdaad. Of ons nou met hom saamstem of nie, hy laat ons dieper kyk. Hierdie jong man, ‘n uitstekende sportman, trotse Suid-Afrikaner, word ten diepste gevorm deur dit wat binne sy hart aangaan.
Sportsielkundiges wat met die elite sportspersoonlikhede werk, is dit eens, op internasionale vlak is die verskil tussen atlete, in terme van talent, vaardighede en liggaamskondisie minimaal. Die groot verskil tussen wenners en verloorders is dieper, dis in die hart. Dis hier waar bepaal word hoe ons koppe werk; hoe ons reageer op ‘n verwoestende aanval, ‘n groot terugslag in die spel, of op hartverskeurdende teleurstellings. Dis hier waar die wenners koelkop bly en besluit om hulself te herinner aan hul vermoëns en waar hul energie en aandag gekonsentreer word op die dinge wat saakmaak. Hulle is in die ‘zone’. Uiteraard kom sommiges by die punt deur diep grawe in hul geloof, ander in hul nasietrots, of dalk ‘n moeder se opoffering wat hulle inspireer. Hulle vind dit in hul hart.
As land en gemeenskappe word ons almal telkens gedwing om keuses te maak oor hoe ons reageer op wat om ons gebeur. Die onlangse verkragting van ‘n diep gelowige suster het ons weereens laat steier. Voeg hierby die roekelose lewenstyl en optredes van ons president en ander hoë profiel persoonlikhede, maar meer nog, die verleentheid van die 20 jaar euforie, wat wys dat ons nie te suksesvol is in ons stryd teen rassisme, ongelykheid en geweld nie, kan maak dat ons kop verloor. Miskien dwing dit ons dieper kyk en onsself herinner aan die hart van ons menslike bestaan en om ons aandag fokus op die dinge wat saakmaak. Miskien dwing dit ons om dieper te kyk as die bekende handelsmerke, die tekens wat baie keer bepaal watter waarde ons heg aan die wat dit dra.
Vir gelowiges gaan dit daaroor dat ons, ten diepste nie aan onsself behoort nie en daarom nie bloot vir onsself lewe nie. Immers, as Christene glo ons dat ons ten volle, in lewe en in dood, aan Jesus Christus behoort. Ons bely dan ook dan Hy ons loskoop van slawerny uit sonde, ten einde as vry mense te leef. Ons bely, dat Hy sy skepping verder versorg en ‘n toekoms gee. Dit volg dus dat ons sin het vir die lewe en daagliks besluit om vrywillig vir Hom lewe.
Dis hierdie diepe sinvolheid wat maak dat ons koppe anders werk. Ons sien ons hierwees as ‘n roeping, ‘n lewe waar ons hierdie wed-stryd om vryheid vir almal, asook om die versorging van die hele skepping, te dien. Ons besluit om ons hier te vestig en kreatief om te gaan deur nuwe tekens van hoop te skep, maar ook om by tye onsself te verset teen die tekens wat teen God se droom woed.
Dis nie ‘n maklike keuse nie. Om hierdie rede staan baie stomverbaas as ‘n ander jong Suid-Afrikaanse held, ondanks haar brutale verkragting, opstaan en besluit dat sy wel die volgende naweek die Midmar-myl gaan swem. Of waar ‘n jong opkomende geestelike leier, met ‘n groot toekoms in die Verenigde State, homself tot Suid-Afrika bekeer en huistoe kom, om ‘n versoenende kleipot gemeente te bou, waar wit en swart mekaar opsoek en leer ken. Dit is waar ons harte, geloofsharte, ons koelkop maak, herinner aan God se vermoens en waar ons energie en aandag gekonsentreer word op die dinge wat saak maak. Dit is hier waar ‘n wenspan gebore word.
Hashim is sekerlik bewus daarvan dat êrens in die toekoms hy weer ‘n nulletjie gaan aanteken of ‘n bal sal misvang. Daar sal weer tye kom waar hy gaan faal en uiteindelik uitree uit krieket. Baie van ons sal dalk sy kolfbeurt op Eden Gardens vergeet. Maar daar sal nuwe name, nuwe helde, nuwe tekens wat ons herinner daaraan dat dit uiteindelik Godself is wat die wenner is en van ons wenners maak.'