Monday, 16 December 2013

Oh, Africa!

Let me preface this by saying that I generally dislike it when people exclaim "I'm going to Africa!" because it just sounds quite shallow to me, as in, I want to know more. It's like me planning a trip to Bolivia and saying "I'm going to America!" Africa is a continent and there are many countries in it. Go to www.youdontknowafrica.com if you want to see just how many countries there are. (p.s. it's addictive)

Yet, I titled this post "Oh, Africa" because I so often hear South Africans exclaim it. Or sigh it. We also have the acronym "TIA" (This is Africa) which is often said when something goes wrong, but is not unsurprising because it's sort of expected.

My grandmother lives in a cottage on my parents property and this last week her house was broken into for the second time in 4 months. Her house has burglar bars, a security gate, an alarm, sensors on the windows. But, they got in. They pulled everything out of her drawers, and while last time they didn't find much jewelry, this time they took all that she had left. She doesn't have a lot, and what she does have is special to her, and somebody took it from her. When my mum told me it had happened, my heart just sank. I'm tired of thinking "well, at least she wasn't at home at the time". I think most South Africans will agree that we're tired of it. Feeling defeated and sighing "well, this is Africa."
No.
South Africa has the potential to be so much more.

At Mandela's funeral on Sunday Jacob Zuma said some interesting and hopeful things in his speech
"We pledge today to continue promoting non-racialism and tolerance in our country and to build a South Africa that truly belongs to all.
"Your abiding revolutionary spirit will prevail on us to not rest, until the poor and the working class have truly benefited from the material fruits of freedom and democracy which you fought for."
"We pledge to take your vision forward for good schools and hospitals, quality housing and utilities, decent jobs and working conditions as well as efficient and accountable public services."
"Therefore, in your memory, South African children must grow up in a country that is not only politically free, but which is also free and safe from violence; free and safe from crime, free and safe from poverty, ignorance and disease, free and safe from indignity. That is the type of country we are building."

Really? Is that really the country he's building? Some have called for Zuma's resignation. I think many see Zuma's speech as preparation for next year's elections, trying to get support again. But will that solve anything? Who are we looking to to fix it? 

Of course, the governance of a country will influence it immensely, the leaders will shape it significantly. But is a new leader our saviour? Is a new party the answer? I'm being careful not to paint Helen Zille or anybody else as my hope for the country. I firmly believe that South Africa has a bright future, and God is in control of it. That said, we are called to pray for our governments, and we have the ability to vote. So let's do it. 

Today is a South African public holiday, the Day of Reconciliation. I'm praying that people put their hope in the only Saviour, Jesus, who has already done it all for us, and are reconciled to their loving Father. 

13 comments:

  1. Your poor grandmother. It's the sentimental value that you can't replace. :(

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    1. Exactly... she's insured and might get some money back, but things that are essentially worthless in terms of money are usually the things that mean the most if one keeps them.

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  2. I'm so sorry that your grandmother's house got broken into--that's just not right.
    And your point about how people say "I'm going to Africa!" is frustrating--I can definitely get that! I know I couldn't list all of the countries in Africa today, but at one time in elementary school I could. I find that "other countries" tend to all be lumped into one group. So many people over the years have described me or my family as living in Indonesia or the Phillipines. Which kind of makes sense because it is SE Asia and both of those countries are in the news a lot more than Malaysia....but they're not the same!

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    1. I'm finally replying to comments! Hooray! I could reply immediately but I copy and paste the response to the blog and can't do that on my phone, so it gets put off...
      I can't list all the countries myself, and I only rediscovered the existence of Mauritania during a French class I was teaching, but if one is travelling to a country one should be able to be more specific. And when people say that they love Africa it makes me wonder because Egypt or Djibouti are very different to Namibia Swaziland. Oh well.

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear about your ouma's break in, argh that just makes me so angry. It's also just frustrating that we think about what could have happened and are then supposed to feel better about the situation. On the other hand, being South African, we know what could have happened. I'm with you though, South Africa does have a bright future and we need to always be praying for our country.
    And yes, people, stop saying Africa in place of the country you're talking about ;)

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    1. It makes me angry too. And I think people just feel so helpless about it. But, we can pray!

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  4. What very exciting news. I can't wait for all of the photos!

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  5. Sorry to hear about your grandma. That's difficult! I agree that we are taught by God to pray for those in leadership and government and we have rights that we have to use to make sure we contribute to getting good people in office.

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    1. Absolutely, collectively we have some power and can definitely each contribute something.

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  6. oh erica, my heart went to pieces when you talk about your grandmother. i wish there was something i could do to help.. i can't imagine how awful that must be for her <3 i'll keep you both in my prayers.

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    1. I wish I could do something to help too :( Security is increasing and insurance helps, but I hate how vulnerable older people and people living alone are.

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  7. ah, I love this post!!! I completely agree about this whole "this is Africa". No. It does NOT Need to be that way. I have to say, I feel pretty lucky that our house was not broken into during our time there.

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    1. Thank you!
      It made me so angry to see a video on youtube about a life-guarding boat where the life guards got thrown out and the boat didn't turn off and kept flipping around in the sea - a serious risk to people who had to get out of the water - and the guy recording said "only in Africa"... It just shows such a defeatist attitude AND it's NOT only in South Africa that things like that happen!? Then there were a whole bunch of really disgusting racist remarks flying back and forth and it was really just so sad and embarrassing.
      Anyway, I'm glad you guys were ok while there!

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