Ah, but your land is beautiful! This title
of Alan Paton’s novel proclaims what we all believe, for South Africa is
a great country with great possibilities for the best of life for its
citizens. But the book, set in the 1950s, reflects on the human cost of
sustaining and standing up to a racially divided society.
Today, 21 years into Nelson Mandela’s promised “united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society” we are less clear about what mires the waters we’re swimming in to cross from the past to the future of promise.
A study commissioned by South African Council of Churches (SACC)
says: “Over the past twenty years the country has sought to dismantle
not only apartheid institutions but also to reconcile and heal the
traumatic effects South Africa’s history had on many of its people”.
We’ve done pretty well in dismantling the institutions of apartheid, but
not so well in reconciling and healing the apartheid effects on our
socio-economic architecture and national psyche. National Reconciliation
remains the big elephant in the room!
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) came and went and we
remain a polarized nation – spatially, socially, economically, and
politically. The integration we enjoyed during the 2010 FIFA World Cup
was isolated. Life’s realities and the education pathways to economic
opportunities are racially lopsided. Family fabric is disintegrating.
The cost to poor communities, of corruption and maladministration is
immense. How can we be reconciled if we continue to battle these
Reconciliation is often seen as simply referring to racial
reconciliation – as in the reconciliation between blacks and whites. The
SACC advances a thicker and more holistic interpretation of
reconciliation where we have to:
This week the SACC’s annual Central Committee meeting considers the
call by church leaders to “soak the country in prayer”, and act for the
post-apartheid promise of a just, reconciled and equitable society, free
of racial, tribal, xenophobic and gender prejudices, free of corruption
and deprivation, and with enough food and shelter for every citizen;
and for each child born to grow to their God-given potential.
But, James 2:17 reminds us that faith without works is dead.
Therefore the church leaders’ call to prayer for the promise of a
reconciled and prosperous society must be supported by action. Anchored
on the essential platform of active engagement in healing and
reconciliation, the SACC is calling for congregations to play an active
part in dealing with poverty and inequality, economic transformation,
the challenge of family life and the declining public trust in State
institutions. We have committed to the War on Poverty – one family at a
time in each ward, for each ward has no less than 15 churches to work
together to heal and to address social ills.
We live in the days of #somethingmustfall.
Let us decide constructively what must fall, for the common good of South Africa.