Monday, April 21, 2008

Do we really need the Mighty Men ?

Apparently there's a movement of Mighty Men, ready to, valiantly, march through the country to bring hope-to bring revival. It would premature to either slam or hallow this movement or the person of Angus Buchan. Maybe they are the mighty men they claim to be, maybe they're simply men inspired to make a difference. Only time will tell. What is however hopeful is the fact that there is a possible resurgence (revival ?) of Christians, people of faith, who transcend old barriers in a quest to be socially relevant.

Recently I have been at the point where I wondered, what happened to the mighty so-called Christian majority. We've speak of this with an air of superiority. But recently, I was asked what happened to the comrade pastors, who led he struggle, in recent years. Maybe for us, its still too embarrassing to acknowledge that our once, mighty men of the struggle, are simply human beings, fallible and also vulnerable to the vices of this world. The media, in particular the Afrikaans print media, feels vindicated, and has been foremost in riding the wave of outright pessimism and bitter lamentations about South Africa's unavoidable slide into a black (this is a pun!)hole. Now of course, the recent outburst of racially motivated violence, the ugly face of xenophobia grinning at our now fading, human rights legacy, but more so, the disturbing and reckless support, by Thabo Mbeki, of the most recent incarnation of evil, our next door neighbor, the once strong man of the anti-colonial struggle, but now deluded Robert Mugabe, is sending shock waves through our senses. How is it possible that we have sunk so low ? How have these mighty men fallen ? And how is it possible that this obese rat, with his fellow misfits, parading as generals, could have the audacity to try and sneak his Chinese weapons through our harbor and country. Indeed, we have reasons for grave concern about the way our sensibilities have been eroded in the wake of our elated victories over apartheid and colonialism.

Let me add another image that haunted me since last week. Now, I have seen poverty and destitution, amongst our black informal areas in Gauteng; I have pastored Coloured farmworkers, who survive on Western Cape white farms (I'm talking the nineties now!), which for them, was nothing more than festering shitholes. There we find a neo-feudalism, in the Marxist sense of the word, where farmworkers are kept in a semi-inebriated state, in order to maintain the system of wealth creation for the 'baas'. Not much has changed since Nelson Mandela and Mbeki took over from FW and PW. (Yes, I know that things has changed for some farms and that this type of human exploitation is not unique to SA, its not even invented in SA) But, since watching JZ (Umshini Wam), visiting poor white communities in Pretoria,last week, I struggle to purge myself from those nauseating images. Images of what some would call, 'white thrash', desperately poor white communities 'left over people', hidden and evidently not very high on the ANC's priority list. Amongst my Coloured people it is often said dismissively that 'they' (the poor whites) have brought it upon themselves. How is it possible that they did not benefit from all the decades of preferential treatment? This response might be populist and score a few laughs, but it simply doesn't deal with the grave reality of the situation, seriously nor compassionately. Indeed, how have we sunk so low that these images doesn't affect our senses ? How is it possible that political correctness can prevent us from beginning to see these people as our people. I am a follower of the Confession of Belhar. It states: ' We believe that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged; that God calls the church to follow him in this; for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry' These wretched of South Africa, indeed, are Gods people, they are our people. Indeed, we need more then merely a political solution or transformation, we need something deeper.

This brings me to the other mighty men, those of Greytown. If farmer turned evangelist, Angus Buchan is sensing the need for a deeper level transformation, to take place within us and if he is channeling his energies and resources towards this, then I am all for it. I think there is a need for it. If it means a heightened sense of morality, of awareness that we are at heart, simply brothers and sisters, that we share a spiritual bond, then it gives me hope. For, the blood-drenched oppression and vicious slaughter of our people, whether it be in Mutare, Zimbabwe, in the Kenya Assemblies of God Church or Bethlehem in Andeon, west of Pretoria, or a farm in the Northwest or in Stellenbosch, cries to the heavens. This is evidently not merely about race or ethnic origin, there seem to be growing almost an insane, spiritual fascination with the sacrifice of people, for the sake of power and profit; it is evil and a tint of the demonic, and, now, maybe at this level, we need Angus and his mighty men, but indeed, maybe we need more then mere men, inspired to make a difference.
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