Anyone actively involved in the promotion of healing and reconciliation in our city will be horrified by the prevailing lack of a sense of urgency in addressing issues such as land, and the number of people frozen in the “let’s just move on” and “heads in the sand” mindsets.
As a result, we, the people of the Metro, have allowed publicity-seeking populists to hijack the land debate. Why did it take the proposed amendment to our constitution to galvanise some form of action?
The lack of meaningful progress on the land issue should surely have given many of us an uncomfortable feeling that we are running out of time to find a just and equitable solution – and this includes the Church, which has a very mixed record of its approach to ensuring that black farmers have access to land.
The truth is the issue has been simmering for well over 100 years.
Oliver Tambo called the 1913 Land Act (which stripped away the rights of blacks to own land) as the greatest injustice against our people.
During this year’s debate on president Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said “the dispossession of land through the 1913 Natives Land Act was apartheid’s original sin. Its consequences are still felt in our society today and, make no mistake, must be addressed”.
One of the many tragedies of the land question is that it is safe to say that more than 95% of us whites have not heard of the 1913 Land Act.
So, due to our ignorance or indifference we as whites have failed to participate meaningfully in the land debate.
On the other hand, government has failed to implement land reform successfully since 1994. The result is that we are caught in a blame game and have left a vacuum for the populists to make it a racial issue.
But, in order to be involved meaningfully in any debate, we must first do some research in order to form opinions based on facts rather than emotions and half-truths.
A good start is to Google the 1894 Glen Grey; the 1913 Land and the 1950 Group Areas Acts. Read articles written by contemporary commentators like Justice Malala, CJ Landman, Graeme Codrington and Jonathan Jansen.
If you really want to read about the “other side” of history read “Native Life in SA” by Sol Plaatje, which was published in 1916.
The Church has a moral imperative to provide leadership and guidance.
There is a need for local church leaders to step forward and encourage their congregants to play a positive role in solving the land issue.
Pastors should encourage their congregants to educate themselves with “both” sides of history and refrain from continually making uninformed emotional outbursts that sow radical discontent and animosity.
We don’t need any local pastors to become “politicians,” but we do need them to be active participants in promoting goodwill, nation building and social cohesion.
A popular phrase in our country at the moment is “send me” as quoted by president Cyril Ramaphosa in his state of the nation address. He was quoting from the lyrics of the late Hugh Masekela’s Thuma Mina (send me) which, in turn, is believed to have been inspired by Isaiah 6:8.
We should not forget the cleansing ceremony that Isaiah (6:5-7) had to undertake before he could make himself available to be sent.
Maybe a starting point for each one of us to be sent out to play our part is that we undergo a similar “ceremony” of racial cleansing, through guarding our tongues, and then undergo a “racial Damascus experience” to help us shed the scales of racial blindness from our eyes when it comes to land reform and so many of the other issues that face us.
Trevor Jennings (Transformation Christian Network 03/04/2018)