Monday, April 06, 2009

We are Cut Down to Size....

South Africa experienced a miracle in 1994.

We moved from an oppressive racially based oligarchy to a democratically elected government. Our law was protected by an internationally acclaimed new constitution. And we boasted leaders of international stature – politicians such as Nelson Mandela, priests like Desmond Tutu; jurists such as Arthur Chaskalson and Albie Sachs; and many eminent writers, musicians and scientists.

We believed that we had something to offer the world. We believed that we had transcended narrow racial boundaries; moved beyond self-serving ideological disputes to build a “rainbow nation”; and were able to make visible the African concept of Ubuntu . I have travelled to various places in the world to speak of our national “miracle” experience….Northern Ireland; York, England; and various Methodist Seminaries in the United States of America.

Today I admit that I have been smugly deluded. I have allowed myself to be blinded by the newness of our land – and have not noticed that the same old things are still happening:
• The Apartheid politicians I despised had developed a system of self enrichment that was gleefully embraced by the new democratically elected representatives of the people. They learned how to inflate travel claims; and create jobs for their friends and family; and cobble together gifts and favours for themselves.
• The amoral Apartheid politicians set up systems with international arms traders that were taken over by the new government. And the same bribes/rewards/incentives were gratefully pocketed.
• The selfish Apartheid leadership manipulated the law to suit their personal agenda – a lesson well learned by this next generation of leaders.

And so today I witness Jacob Zuma, the next President of my country, weasel his way out of being charged for corruption and financial misappropriation of funds. He leads a political party that welcomed international solidarity when they were struggling for power – but now it refuses to stand in solidarity with Myanmar and Tibet. This is the party that enthusiastically embraced Desmond Tutu when he berated the sins of the Apartheid government, but now dismissively insults him when he points out the sins of the current government.

Today South Africa ceased to be something special amongst the nations of the world. We are just another Third World Country, adding to the litany of human rights failures.
BUT: this is my country. I am reminded (once again) that the struggle for liberation is never finished. I have been placed by God in this country to speak for truth. I refuse to give up the dream for a better land for all.

Thou shalt not be a victim.
Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.
Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

- Holocaust Museum, Washington, D.C

1 comment:

digitaldion (Dion Forster) said...

Thank you Pete.

You have a very clear way of expressing the feeling and concern that I feel.

Let us remain active and in prayer!

Rich blessing,