Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Christian students can make a difference in the midst of racism

The struggle against racism is not over yet. It is rumored that the rightwhine, sorry right-wing relics of apartheid like the Vryheid Front student's branch, in the wake of their victorious Reitz campaign, has set their sights now on Maties (University of Stellenbosch). It shouldn't be too surprising, given the destruction they leave in their wake, building their campaign on their outright opposition to integration and the values of a non-racial society. I also hear that ET has again ascended his high horse on his way to the International Court in The Hague, to charge South Africa for the 'oppression' of the Boerevolk. He came out of prison saved and all, proclaiming his newfound faith, yet, paradoxically the Holy Spirit has done nothing to the outrigh hatred and violence meted out against fellow human beings, who happen to be black. They, in particular the FF+ lynch mob, in fact encourage students to 'slaan eerste' (hit first) hence inciting violence in the face of our complex quest for healing and reconciliation, Not surprisingly then, the little racist clones of the Mulders en Terreblances, lurking in places like Reitz, turns on innocent black mothers who trust them, love and care for them. It need to be noted that the DA, the official opposition are in fact pointing, sort of innocently the finger to these rightwingers. Are they however innocent in this context?

In a highly interesting (prophetic?) analysis, Xolela Mangcu, in his most recent publication, 'To the Brink, The state of democracy in South Africa' (2008), (before the snufmovie was leaked)refers to the fact that the official opposition, since 1994, had a window of opportunity to provide leadership on helping their constituency to deal with, what he calls, 'the fears of an unresolved past' (108). He takes a leaf from Dan O' Meara's 'Forty Lost years' (1996), in particular his argument that 'the collective minds of different groups of South Africans are living the nightmares of different histories. They are thus also haunted by very different fears over what these unresolved pasts mean for their individual and collective futures'. Leon, Mangcu argues, capitalised on these fears (like the FF+ is now doing), whilst they in a typical individualist liberal fashion distance themselves from the racist acts. He continues, 'Instead of helping his mainly white constituency transcend the fears of their unresolved past, Leon capitalised on those fears. ....' (and may I add, building his formidable political party)...In the final instance Tony Leon failed to use his pivotal position to transform the identity of white South Africans. It is this unresolved identity, which manifests itself then in an irrational, almost sadistic anger, at the heart of this white political discourse.

In this context, Mangcu calls for leadership, leaders 'who are able to mediate the conflict between the unresolved fears of their past and the challenge of charting new values'. He shows in the examples of Carl Niehaus and Roelf Meyer how this can be done, albeit at a cost. I am however convinced that we should not look for these risktakers only amongst political figures. They need to build a party. These risktakers, I surmise, we might find closer to home in the forging of new identities amongst christian students and youth leaders, on highschool and college campusses. Mangcu again, 'Maybe the project of injecting new values systems in the white community and therefore a different breed of white leaders in the broader society will be the task of children. But can this be done without role models ? The story of Steve Biko, is one of a young christian studentleader, who dared to dream of a diffent country, different relationships, but at the heart, of a transformation of the collective and personal self. Maybe this is what St Paul meant by transformation by the renewal of your mind. It's indeed a struggle within, an ongoing struggle.
A luta continua !
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