In a month I will return to South Africa after more than twelve years. This is not a tourist trip but an update on the land and people I worked with for twenty two years.
I’ll be visiting Caesar Molebatsi who took over Youth Alive in 1977 during the fiery demonstrations in Soweto, and who gave leadership for many years. I hope to meet with many former Youth Alivers– eager to see how the Lord has lead, and blessed. Many are professionals, business people and Christian leaders– opportunities not open to them in 1977. I’ll also be meeting with a group of African Christian women who serve in leadership positions in the countries of southern Africa , i.e. Botwsana, Swaziland, Mozambique, etc.
I know I’ll be saddened by the poverty as people have poured into Johannesburg looking for work, living in slums.. AIDs is rampant, as well as crime .
I’m eager to understand the political situation under an African president. One of the friends I’ll be visiting is on the Johannesburg City Council, and her son works with the ANC (African National Congress) , the party in power, in the capitol Pretoria.
If you are following this blog it’s because you’re interested in my trip, and probably more than that, in what life is like in the new South Africa. Hopefully you’ll have read The Soweto Legacy (see about my books) so that contrast will be clear.
Based on the best-selling book, “When She Was White by Judith Stone,’ this acclaimed film (2008) takes you back to South Africa in the last century when apartheid destroyed relationships between black and whites — even within families. Sandra (played by Sophie Okonedo) is born to a white Afrikaans family, but because of a genetic throwback to African ancestors in their pasts, she appears to be an African. Legally declared “colored” she could not attend white schools, and is shunned by whites associates. She eventually begins an illicit love affair with a black man. Torn between her family and her heart, Sandra struggles against hardship and racial intolerance.
If you’ve read my book, “The Soweto Legacy” (see about books) you’ll be able to “see and hear” how people treated each other. Have we truly succeeded in healing these hurtful attitudes?
Here’s today’s news from South Africa. Does it sound like deja-vu?
Some South Africans compare incident to apartheid-era Sharpeville massacre
Police say they fired at the striking workers in self-defense
44 people were killed this week in violence at the mine — 34 on Thursday
Are you affected by the violence?
Marikana, South Africa (CNN) — The headlines Friday in South Africa spoke of a bloodbath, of war.
The morning after carnage at a platinum mine, South Africans grappled with shock, memories of an ugly era resurrected in their minds. The word apartheid surfaced again as people debated the need for such police force.
The police, meanwhile, explained themselves at a news conference, giving reporters the grim toll: 34 mine workers killed, 78 others wounded, 259 arrested on various charges, including malicious damage to property, armed robbery, illegal gathering and possession of weapons. That according to Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega.
She said police “were forced to utilize maximum force to defend themselves.”
South African President Jacob Zuma cut short a trip to Mozambique to visit the scene of the shootings Friday afternoon. He announced the government will open an inquiry of the incident.
He told South Africans that they must come together to overcome national challenges as they had done before.
“This is not a day to apportion blame,” Zuma said. “It is a day for us to mourn together as a nation. It is also a day to start healing.”
Mourn, yes, but also a time to think about what had been done, some crie
The Africa itinerary seems to be changing — another option is to go through Frankfurt. I’m leaving for Chicago in the morning, so it’s confusing planning two trips at once. But the thought of going back to Europe — even if it’s just to the airport – is pleasing. It’s been so many years since I’ve been there. I look forward to the chocolate , and hearing German being spoken again. After all, I spoke only German until my parents put me into kindergarten where everyone spoke English, including the teacher. I must have been a slow learner since I had to repeat the first year of kindergarten. You might want to check out my books to see if I’ve improved since then.
Now the rush begins to get ready to fly to Chicago. For the first time in more than twenty years , two of my four sons are living within two miles of each other. Family means a great deal to me and I will go to great efforts to spend time with them even though they are spread across the country and around the world. There’s much discussion these days about what consists of a family– it’s certainly more than the original two people. When we get together at our family-reunion next March we’ll be more than forty people.–five children (one with the Lord), eighteen grand-children, twelve great grandchildren. What impact are we making for God? How have our original family values maintained? How have they improved? How did our children’s early experiences in Africa contribute to their values and life style today?
Yesterday the itinerary came across the Internet, so it looks like I’m actually on my way back to South Africa! I lived there thirty five years ago– so much has changed. In those days I couldn’t eat in a restaurant with an African friend, invite one to my home for dinner, or stay in the same hotel. You can read more about how Apartheid devastated not only black South Africans but whites, in my novel The Soweto Legacy. (See under About Books) I plan to keep you posted on this journey after so many years — my preparations, expectations and challenges .