Last week @SteveHofmeyr and @ZindziMandela tweets put our history of unresolved South African pain and prejudice, anger and hatred, rage and violence, on international display – to our national shame.
Steve Hofmeyr, not all whites are racists who arrogantly threaten death to anyone who might “come to take our land”.
Zindzi Mandela, not all whites are “rapists… shivering land thieves”, and the other stereotypes you used to describe “them”.
Both of you derail our national journey out of racism to reconciliation. Both work against the vision of Madiba (Nelson Mandela) and most South Africans, of a truly non-racial reconciled nation – which is also the will and purpose of King Jesus for SA (Romans 14:16-18).
How do we respond to this?
As South Africans we are survivors of a history of racism and violence – the generalized violence that touches every expression of our beautiful diverse people.
As Christians, especially Christian leaders – and more so to my white compatriots – we ought to weep over the blood shed on our soil, that it may be washed with our tears. Each drop cries out to God for justice, for redress, for judgement – unless we intervene before God and the nation, with intercession and action, for mercy and reconciliation.
On average 50 people are murdered every day in SA – an unbelievable horror!
We ought to put on sackcloth and ashes and ‘Cry, The Beloved Country!’
We have sown seeds of personal and structural violence of every kind, and we are reaping a whirlwind of judgement.
We mourn the long history of bloodshed in Southern Africa, from the violence of Colonialism that began in the 17th cen., to the Zulu wars and Mfecane (Difaqane), to the Anglo-Boer war and the Native Land Act of 1913, to the racist violence of Apartheid in all its forms and the retaliatory violence it produced.
We mourn the culture of violence endemic in our nation, now accepted as normal.
We mourn all the criminal, political and gang violence.
We mourn all the farm attacks and killings in its senseless brutality.
We mourn the festering wounds, volcanic hatred, hardening racism, and the evil powers behind all the violence.
We mourn the reality of fear that most South Africans live in daily.
We mourn the failure of God’s Church – the followers of Jesus – for not being the catalyst of change and instrument of reconciliation that we are meant to be. We’ve accepted the status quo, succumbing to the demons of vengeance, bitterness and self-interest, and the popular belief that reconciliation is an irrelevant idea that died with Mandela. The Church is meant to hold up the vision and work of reconciliation, through repentance, restitution and mutual forgiveness, for a diverse people who are victims of a history of conflict.
We cry out to God for mercy, for repentance, for forgiveness, for intervention, for reconciliation and healing. GOD has the power to save us, personally and nationally.
May we all – more so Christians and Christian leaders – speak up and live up as Christ’s Ambassadors entrusted with his message and ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Let us not be quiet. Rise up and intervene every day in our context and sphere of influence, for reconciliation and healing, even if it costs us our lives, as it did for Jesus. King Jesus modelled and taught, “go and be reconciled with your brother and sister… confess… forgive… make restitution… love your enemy… as God loves us.” (Matthew 5:21-26, 38-48).
May we be ‘atmosphere changers’ wherever we are, wherever we go, making a difference in how we greet and engage each person every day with great dignity and respect as the very image of God. May we be slow to anger, quick to forgive, and even quicker to show compassion and alleviate the pain of the other in love.
Nkosi sikelel iafrika! God bless (South) Africa!