Monday, April 30, 2007

Bruin-ness and the church

Excellent sporting weekend (except for the CWC)- at least the local derby was a draw. What stand out however, was Fokus on Freek with quite a lively debate on bruin-ness. My youngest afterwards wanted to know what we are- brownies or coloured. Difficult to explain: we are Coloured in english, but 'Bruin' in Afrikaans. mmm difficult to explain. Anyway, the book of Gilliomee, Nog altyd hier gewees, tells the story of a Stellenbosch community- the 'bruin' gemeenskap. How do we see ourselves in the new SA- with Freedomday celebrations fresh in our memory. More pertinently: how do we see ourselves in the church, a uniting church, a URCSA church. I can speak of our experiences down in the Stellenbosch, but would prefer to narrow myself down to the place where I find myself now- in the North. I agree with Danny Titus, we cannot for now at least deny the Bruin-experience and simplistically evaporate into 'blackness' or South African-ness. This denies the unique history of colonialism, slavery and apartheid, but also (now) assimilation in the new South Africa. Suddenly, we ( in our church) have to let go of 'precious memories' and stories of struggle with the Kain's merk coming out of African, Asian, European creolization and adapt to the dominant NGKA churchculture and history. Yes, we are not significant in terms of the numbers, but still, the church is the place where we celebrate the reconciliation, unity in diversity, where we overcome the shallowness of uniformity and aim for justice - with God standing on the side of the weaker side, the oppressed and the marginalised. Whether He is on the Bruin-side is maybe pushing the argument too far , but I would assert that God doesn't in this case side with the powerful who in their selfish desires define and supress the weak. Beware: This is what Afrikaner-nationalism tried to do- mark you and put you in place. What we however as a church need to become aware of, is the reality that these 'sides' are not as clearly demarcated as we think it is- I think that these hybrid identities, the reality of fluid negotiated selves denies essential definitions of what it means to be an African or authentic member of the nation and of the church. That is why the future for national identities lies in shades of bruin- in multi coloured varieties and dialogues that includes rather then draw thick bold lines. These shades are in constant interaction allowing new strong colours to emerge- what beautiful, open possibilities are opening up in this context.... if only we we let it be...

Musings.....