Is our problem policing or police brutality?

Picture: Marco Longari/AFP

By Puso Saul

‘There is something about the black body that makes it the repository of gratuitous violence’- Frank Wilderson III.

I was reminded of this quote when it was reported that the number of murdered civilians in our country are five. After just five days of national lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19 – a pandemic that currently wreaks havoc the world over, the police force has already murdered five black bodies. Assuming this brutality would go on unmitigated, it is not farfetched to suggest that after this lockdown the police could’ve claimed more lives than the virus itself.

Normally, such callous aggression against civilians by the police force should not only elicit widespread condemnation and outcry, but the officers involved should be brought to book and decisively punished. Unfortunately, there’s no normalcy whenever black bodies are involved. What is rather normal, in this country, is police aggression and unmitigated abuse against black bodies. Black people’s relation with the State, especially the repressive State apparatus ( police, military, security forces, etc), is always marred by violence and coercion. Blackness is a never ending state of terror in this country.

There is also never justice to this gratuitous violence against black bodies from the repressive State apparatus, the police always abuse and kill blacks with absolute impunity. Our collective memory still has images of Andries Tatane brutally beaten to death by the police force. All officers charged with his gruesome murder were all acquitted even when the whole world saw them beat him to death in broad daylight. Marikana massacre is perhaps the defining moment of police violence in the entire post-94 dispensation. To date, no one has ever been held accountable, neither the police, government officials or mine officials. Families of the slain miners are unlikely to ever see the dawn of justice, and are left to fend for themselves after the mass murder of their breadwinners. Such is the extent of impunity within the police force.

This police violence is uniquely targeted at black bodies. It’s as if the black body is the only body within the community of bodies in our society that magnetizes gratuitous violence. The relationality of our bodies to State sponsored violence is one which is shared by us alone. White bodies have a complete opposite relationship, almost special, with the same repressive State apparatus. In white demonstrations, the police always act with complete restraint, they never employ any form of aggression and it is normal to find police officers holding phones of demonstrators taking them pictures. Yet the very same officers are always trigger happy and ready to unleash torrents of abuse at black demonstrators.

The foregoing is a reality in this country because, at the collective unconscious, blacks are always already criminalized and infantilized. The most dramatic demonstration of the collective criminalization and infantilization of blacks can be seen right in this moment of national lockdown. Police and military presence in black areas far outweighs predominantly white areas. The assumptive logic is simple; blacks need to be constantly surveilled and governed just like criminals & children, whereas whites have the inherent capacity to self- govern. Even the punishment meted to blacks who don’t follow lockdown guidelines follows the same logic; they must be either assaulted, humiliated or ultimately shot dead. Whites gets spoken and reasoned to as ‘rational people’.

We have even internalized this logic as blacks, and have completely accepted that fellow blacks should always be whipped back to line if they’re found to be violating established law & order. Since the national lockdown came into effect, it has only been blacks who call on the authorities to punish those blacks who violated lockdown rules, our leaders have also echoed the same calls whilst remaining completely mum at whites who violated similar rules. It is also normal to hear blacks refer to each other as ‘black child’ or ‘Afrikan child’.Why would we refer to each other using infantile terms?

Because white paternalism and its attendant colonial logic of infantilization is embedded in our collective unconscious.

Policing of black bodies is therefore a result of that interpellation which renders black life, from birth to death, a life in captivity. The institution of policing itself is grounded in anti-blackness. Right from its inception, it functioned not just as an instrument that maintains and reproduces existing power relations in society but also social relations. Thus it is no surprise that there’s an inherent hostility between black bodies and police forces in society, that brutality is itself an expression of the underlying problem of policing black bodies.

The framing of our main question in this article should, therefore, extend beyond the underlying dichotomy between policing and police brutality in relation to black people. We should rather extend it to echo W.E.B Du Bois’ descriptive question – thus; ‘what does it feel it like to be a problem?’. For therein lies all the answers pertaining to black existence!


Puso Saul is a young emerging intellectual waging war against anti-blackness and racism.

To see more of his work, follow him on twitter: @PusoSaul

-Thank you Puso for your contribution-

Black Feminism in a Contemporary Church of God!!

By Mapaseka Muroa

A black feminist is a black person who believes in the equality of women and men socially, economically and politically. The essence of black feminism is choice; especially for black women! Both men and women can be feminists although they play different roles; the black woman must lead the change while the black man supports her efforts.

The position of the black man in contemporary churches has been that of privilege for the most part; they are leaders. Similar to the world’s social system however; in multi-racial contemporary churches they often find themselves third in command, after white men and white women respectively.

The black woman as she has historically done, leans on her skills and talents, compassion and work ethic because her race and gender automatically places her last in terms of privilege. The black woman plays the role of wife a lot which delays social change because according to the bible a wife is to submit to her husband. This is detrimental because young girls live with the image that a woman’s place in the church is behind a man. There are contemporary churches that believe in families leading churches, so the pastors are a couple but since the wife has a duty to submit; a woman in this instance can never lead a church. One can only wonder if this is to deliberately hinder women from leading churches.

I have seen instances where black women rise to leadership positions and I have also seen those very same women be replaced by white men. The challenge black women face in contemporary multi-racial churches is in double portion; their race and gender. From experience, I have learnt that our social attitudes and psychological sexism and racism do not automatically evaporate just because we are in a place of worship. It worsens, when to some extent, those prejudices are perpetuated by both the bible and our religious attitudes (that wives must submit to their husbands) or swept under the rug (the holy spirit promotes people to leadership).

In black contemporary churches led by black men, the struggle for the black woman is the same. The black man is always looking out for himself and his advancement,

trivialising the obvious and subliminal prejudice against the black woman. One can argue that the black woman has no place in contemporary churches, nevertheless in Christianity itself because she is set up to be subservient. One can argue that like how Bantu Biko left NUSAS (a liberal multi-racial organisation), black women should leave contemporary churches to establish their own.

Although that sounds impractical, it is difficult to see how black women can change the status quo because their participation in itself translates as tacit consent. The church is not independent to the worldly social system; in fact its set-up is a result thereof. Love should transform the world and the church should be a representation of love, it should be an example! However, the church participates in stagnating transformation. There should be a balance of spirituality and practicality! The church should either lead transformation or change in the world will transform it!!

The black woman should be able to sit at the table with the big boys, and then destroy the boys’ table to make it inclusive. She can attempt to transform the church from within as a leader but it is more likely that she will transform the world and its thinking and as a result, the church will change.

______________________________

**pic from huffingtonpost.com **

Mapaseka Muroa is a founder and host of Political Quickie, a show that subjectively discusses current affairs in South Africa and all around the world.

To see more of her work check out Political Quickie:

Twitter: @Politicalquicki

Instagram: Politicalquickie

YouTube (click on link): http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI-XuPZoUsjOE7aN_cJI_-g?view_as=subscriber

-Thank you Maps for your contribution-

All about love: Slavoj Žižek and Umar Johnson – a juxtaposition!

By Puso Saul

Hitherto, there isn’t a single definitive idea or universal consensus on what love is and broadly what it means to love. The question of love, therefore, remains as difficult a subject matter as has been all along. But certainly not so difficult to the Slovenian author and thinker, who’s also dubbed the most dangerous philosopher in the West; Slavoj Žižek.

Dr. Umar Johnson, the Prince of Pan-Afrikanism, also has his own ideas on what love is and what loving entails. But first, let’s look at Žižek.

To Žižek, the idea of true love, more than anything else, does not idealize the Other. That is, true love does not come draped with unrealistic expectations that we often put on the Other. Quite the contrary, love rather looks for universal perfection in the midst of the beloved’s imperfections. Put simply, the idea of true love simply entails our ability to look for eternal beauty on the Other and mostly this is through the glaring ugliness of human imperfections and contradictions.

It’s often said that in the realm of true love, that zone of total surrender, expectations have no room. That is to say, love does not put emphasis on what it gets in return and places no preconditions as a requirement for any relationship. This seems to be the kernel of the Žižekean idea of true love, and from this conceptualization it is clear how the old adage “love is blind” finds its modern resonance. Love is blind to the imperfections, the short-comings, and the flaws of the Other. Love therefore is universal perfection and more than anything else means service to the Other.

But what happens when love has preconditions and comes attached with expectations? What happens when the zone of love is defined by the idealization of the Other; that is, the idea of the Other as a figment of the imagination rather than as is? What becomes of love in that reality?

Before attempting to answer the foregoing pertinent questions, perhaps it’s important to first take a quick glimpse on how the dominant ideology, through its mass media, has bastardized the idea of love and romanticism mainly through its portrayal of love and romance in Hollywood movies. Love and romance are commercialized in the mass media. The art of loving and how to be romantic is often attached to narrow materialism and consumerism. This breeds expectations.

Because of all this, love often becomes violent. Relationships become zones of violence and alienation because all expectations are unmet and the horror of who the beloved truly is, as opposed to what ideally they were imagined to be, takes the foreground. It then becomes a norm for love to be accepted as inseparable from pain and abuse often justified and tolerated.

Let’s bring in Umar Johnson and perhaps the two positions, his and Žižek’s, can be read as a juxtaposition between what can be referred to as the Eurocentric and Afrocentric conceptions of love.

To Umar, love and relationships ought to fulfil a certain role. Love to him ought to be practical especially to Afrikan people. Unlike Žižek, Umar carries the burden of thinking about love and relationships from the standpoint of the oppressed. His idea of love is therefore BLACK LOVE. The idea of love as healing between the Afrikan people who decide to be together. This love recognizes black pain and seeks to create a space of healing from whence liberation of Afrikan people could be thought of and pursued.

That is why Umar strongly opposes interracial marriages. Again, he differs with Žižek’s conception of love which places no value on how the Other looks like. Perhaps it’s because Žižek is trapped in his Eurocentric worldview and defines love from his own spectrum. Interracial marriages, to Umar, derails the programme of liberation for Afrikan people. As a Pan-Afrikan, it makes sense why would the colour/race of lovers matter to Umar. The Afrikan family ought to be the first institution to be built and nurtured and the only nurturing it needs is black love. Love as healing, as gentleness, as patience, as forgiving, understanding, and most importantly, as building one another to collectively contribute towards Afrika. This is love as practical. Perhaps this is what is needed for a broken and oppressed people. Surely the idea of love as a mystery, devoid of knowledge and about which little ought to be known lest it becomes less romantic cannot apply to the oppressed.

Whether either Dr. Umar or Žižek is right or wrong is not the scope of this piece. I leave that to the reader.

Love therefore remains a beautiful mysterious instinctual pull.

**Pic from nypost.com**

~Puso is an avid reader and loves poetry and literature. His blog is currently unavailable but will be very soon~

-Thank you Puso Saul for your contribution-

‘Whose Wakanda?’: A Short Review of the Black Panther Movie

Black Panther (BP) – ‘What a great movie’ – I thought to myself at post-screening of the movie at the Australian Kotara cinema. There I was in a room crowded by Caucasians, Asians and few Irelanders, excited and confident in black excellence.  The African exultant was palpable in the room despite the absence of people with my colour code. Because of what many people had said and posted on social media about the movie promoting black narrative – I wondered why white people occupied the room and what they expected to find in the movie. At the same time I was happy they came. In concurrence with uTata u’John Kani who plays in the movie as King T’Chaka, Black Panther’s father, I too believe it was ‘about time they (white people outside Africa) learn something and let go of their ignorance about Africa.’ I felt it was imperative for them to learn especially after enduring the miserly of confusion in the attempt to understand how one in the contemporary global village would ask if there are cars in Africa, and how one would speak of Mozambique (as a place than a country) and locate it in South Africa. Thank God for Black Panther, someone got some learning to do. Generally, I believe the movie should be given greater credit for its intent and achievements. However, I also believe that when intent fails and/or distort the truth, concerns and disappointments should be raised unequivocally. Drawing from different scenes in the movie, I was greatly moved by the bold and uncensored lines of Erik who asked the white female museum host [how she thought Vibranium was taken from Wakanda by her people] and Shuri’s line to Everett “don’t scare me like that coloniser”. I believe those lines embody the bitter truth which should foundation and advance our discourse on Colonial power and its intent in Africa, and how the practices, and legacies of European colonialism with its knowledge advanced to the postcolonial epoch with or without our help. I commend the movie for the following; Firstly, I couldn’t disagree with my friends and Chadwick Boseman who plays as King T’Challa (Black Panther) in the movie for positing that the movie expands the canon of black heroes for most African kids (or people of colour). They get to see how powerful and relevant black people are than what they have been depicted by the media for many years as slaves, servants, thugs, who deserve to be nowhere other than prison, the grave and what Fanon coins as the “Zone of Non-Being” – below the borderline of humane. Secondly, the movie should be commended for reckoning the true functioning system of the ancient Alkebulan (today known as Africa which existing debates struggle drawing the line whether the name was inherited from the Roman General – Scipio Africanus who gained victory over the Carthagian leader Hannibal in the great Battle of Zama in Tunisia around 202 BCE – or Scipio won the surname, see https://www.britannica.com/biography/Scipio-Africanus-the-Elder ). According to the movie, Wakanda is protected by bald-headed women, under the leadership of the female General Okoye who expresses discomforts in weaves, long dresses and high-heels. Decisions in Wakanda are not taken by men alone, but the concept Matriarchy thrives. The late African scholar, Dr Cheikh Anta Diop (from Senegal) contested the notion of Matriarchy, as a system that thrived at pre-colonial epoch and advanced a harmonious dualism between men and women. However, patriarchy and feminism as fruits of colonialism fail to comprehend and acknowledge the prowess embedded in Matriarchy. But, the Black Panther movie draws such knowledge closer to the hearts of the audience. Lastly, There is ‘Ubuntu’ in Wakanda. M’baku affords Black Panther his life after he lost from Erik in the traditional combat, simply because Black Panther did not kill him in the same combat. That’s who we are in Africa. Even though we (as voice of parents) suffered in the hands of selfish oppressors, lost our resources and loved ones, we still manage to show love and respect to coloniser even though he keeps provoking us through his arrogance and greed. In the culmination of our excitement and celebrations of Black Panther, we need to pause and ponder at our jubilation. The black narrative does not end after watching the movie. We need to keep our conscience active to combat delusions. I was perturbed by the view that the movie depicts what Africa ‘would have been had it not been colonised.’ Lupita Nyong’o (Nakai) and Danai Gurira (General Okoye) expressed such views on the American show ‘The View’, and many African youth believe and lean on such an argument. I thought to myself, ‘what an unpleasant social-wish.’ The really is that no one really knows how Africa would be had it not been colonised. I can celebrate the black cast and the few role players who are rooted in South Africa, and to a certain degree, the butchered language of IsiXhosa. But to think and celebrate that the movie depicts what Africa would have been had it not been colonised is engaging in shenanigans of laziness and fairy-tales. Africa is colonised. We should be thinking and narrating African stories on how to escape the capitalistic global village. We should be narrating stories on how to achieve the African empire rooted in Pan-Africanism and bring into collapse patriarchy & feminism then revive matriarchy. We should be thinking on how to protect the remaining mineral resources and ensure they benefit Africans to a greater degree. We should be parading real African knowledge and brew ideas on how to survive the hand of the west that might attempt to punish our Decolonial project. To think that more African people in Africa believe delusions narrated by those who are not fully connected with the ambience and Aura of the Motherland is mind boggling. It is partaking in what was problematised by Jean-Paul Sartre in the Preface of Frantz Fanon’s ‘’The Wretched of The Earth’ text. -The global South does not think, but like megaphones, it listens then echoes what is being said in the global North. Our African stories are mostly narrated by outsiders through traditionally taken-for-granted Eurocentric approaches, and we exhaust our energy celebrating and idolising them, forgetting to scrutinise how we are presented to the world and whether or not our stories are accurate. “Many stories matter” – Chimamanda Adechie concedes. “Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower and humanise. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity. When [s]tories are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told really depend on power.” We need to scrutinise stories that are said to reflect who we are, check who tells them, their accuracy, and understanding how much power we give one to continue misrepresenting those who now possess agency and voice. Had the movie came from Nollywood or Bollywood, I wonder how many among the audience would have agreed that it is an Africa story. I never picture Black Panther telling an African story free from colonial architecture, but I see great entertainment with proof that black people are talented and capable to do same as white people and even far greater on many occasions. The authors’ decisions to use ‘Wakanda’ and ‘Vibranium’ which are fictional nation and mineral resource published in American comic books is enough proof that they are not in touch with the reality of what Africa really is. Irrespective, the Black Panther movie remains the greatest movie among those I ever watched. It deserves salutations for the black cast, black excellence and its affirmation of existing black heroes. It is a definite ‘must watch’ for the love of entertainment.  Sadly, to believe that it tells an African story free of colonialism is insisting and persisting on day dreaming. I believe we are still not off the hook, some of our ignorant fellow white friends in the global North will still ask whether there are roads and cars in Africa, whether our pets are lions and elephants and whether Mozambique is a town in South Africa.

*Used Image (and more piece on Black Panther’s necklace) by http://www.inverse.com *

‘Leadership Skills Most Leaders Won’t Tell You About’


A friend of mine residing in Cape Town recently asked me to comment on his leadership skills. This was the greatest challenge to me despite my now and again unequivocal honesty with my opinions. I wondered why I should be the one to take a bite on him and why not his immediate friends. Mind you that I have just over a year having seen him with my naked eye. However, I took an attempt to feedback on him on a general note. Even though my response was built on a diplomatic carpet, with aims to echo the overarching points on leadership – I had to feature mild irritation. I did this before, but I just could not allow another moment to annoy him pass me by. There I was counting various points like an expert:

  1. Respect higher authority (irrespective of whether you leading in church or not)
  2. Don’t always ask for advise and implement nothing, people you ask advise from may feel useless (key words here – always; implement; nothing)
  3. Encourage teamwork.
  4. Don’t show you are attached to one person in the team while making others feel invisible and useless.
  5. When you have projects, change or rotate project managers to promote knowledge and quell positional entitlements.
  6. Be open to constructive criticisms (my friend just had a feminine heart at the time i was serving with him and yes there is nothing wrong with that despite that he look really heartily bruised)
  7. Promote effective communication in the team. Even little things should be well communicated or hinted on time. People hate being cut off from information and decision making [however, some decisions just have to be from you, especially when there is no time to sit in boardrooms to brainstorm nor have no time for WhatsApp meeting(s)]
  8. At this point I knew he might be frowning so I just said to him – Keep smiling (he sure did, at least I convinced myself)
  9. Leadership is not always about what is found in books – context, time, situations matter and differs, so don’t be afraid to try new things not in the books. 
  10. NB: Always pray for God’s wisdom and understanding. Remember the people you lead are not your people. So, whether at church or work or in the community, always pray for wisdom and understanding.

I often don’t like to bore people who question me about leadership matters on things they already know, but this time I did and left out a few such as: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way” -John C. Maxwell. “Leaders don’t find fault but remedy” -Henry Ford. “Leaders eat last” -Simon Sinek, in fact that’s a title of his book. There was more to give, but just not at that time. All the aforementioned are what have been echoed for years by people who consider themselves to be great leaders. A couple of years back I served in a church of God and did serve the community of Turffontein, Johannesburg South in a soccer league convening soccer games every weekend (topic for another day). I still do serve in Church but not on any leadership position anymore. So, there were and still are common things observed but hardly heard as they were and are still deemed wrong. I call them “the hidden politics of great leaders”. Obviously they are open for contestation. Again, I do acknowledge they may not be hidden, but people simple shy away from airing about them in the name of “peace”, until real conflicts arise. I also think they are good until one is exposed. I recently echoed these points to my mentee who is currently a youth leader at one of the impactful churches in the South of Johannesburg. I wasn’t echoing to indirectly coerce him to implement them, but to help him understand why other great leaders do what they do. Judging from his facial expressions I could tell he will employ them. I just left him with a choice to make while unpacking my views. Remember, these, I believe are some of the leadership skills great leaders won’t tell you about nor publicly disclose to be putting them in play. But believe me, they do.

  1. If you are the main leader, you can appoint co-leaders into the team based on merit, but some it’s based on resource(s) they can offer. These are people whom there is nothing ‘quality’ about their leadership skills nor hope that they will ever rise to great leaders. Their car(s) [for transport] or signature [for approving documents/policies] or money is just what is needed. There could be other things needed but, these people are for the good of what they can offer resourcefully not knowledge or leadership wise. Very often such people realise later that they are being used. Beware of their public venting.
  2. Leadership is always going to be about selection. You may have 5 people in the team, but there will always be that one person you are very close with than the rest. Reckon in Jesus’ 12, Peter was the popular – a celebrity in today’s language. So this close person often thinks he/she deserves better treatment, but very often they become victims of their expectations. Consider a conflict between two valuable people in a team and think on how the closer candidate would expect support from the main leader to reprimand the other candidate, but instead the main leader protect the other candidate and leave the closer one confused as to “which side they are on”. Now here is the thing, I had a very close friend of mine who was most of the times correct in the team and he was more of a brother than a friend and co-leader. I would often hurt him to make the other party happy and feel good where in reality I make damage control to my brother and friend later after the meeting. This could be confusing, but it’s often the best to employ in a middle of conflict(s) among people you want to keep in your team. The challenge is that the head of the candidate supported often grows uncontrollably. Therefore, wrong is taught in contrary to right and growing of thick skin.
  3. Leadership can and should often undermine those who’ve been there for long to condone fresh blood. The idea here is not about one understanding organisational culture before leading – but the other way around. Some people are often pushed into leadership immediately because of what expertise they can bring on the table and how good they can teach others few skills while in the process of understanding organisational culture. This is often dangerous because the main leader faces criticism from within than from outsiders. Main leaders often need other experienced people to trim off the heavy load. So this is one of the ways out. 
  4. Main leaders can often surrender to being captured for a short while. This is also about what the capturer have to offer. The rationale is often about how “God” spoke to them or how they “feel” like blessing, but, in reality accepting their offers will cost you. This is the most dangerous act which should be taken with much care. Only “expert” leaders should take part in this. Those are the ones who can say yes today and no tomorrow without fear or favor. They may also face criticisms from all corners of observers. And it may sound wrong, but main leaders often allow it to happen simply because they are lazy to think of other ways out of a deprivation – the laziness is the issue here. 
  5. Lastly, and let’s stop here for now: Main leaders should often generalise in their reprimanding. I hate this with passion but for peace’s sake I would often employ it and become diplomatic. I recently observed a scene where the main leader called his entire team to order and complained about late coming as a reason behind the failure to execute that which was intended. In my view I realised someone who is a favorite to the main leader is in fact the one who cost the team. He came late and “helped” change what was right become wrong – as a result, delay was birthed. Instead of the main leader calling the one favorite candidate into order, every one in the team had to bare the reprimand. It is unfair to some, but often necessary if one wants to win everyone and prevent future late coming from the entire team members.

Some of the points raised may seem unconventional and unhealthy – yes, they are until you become a leader and realise they are actually helpful in the attempt to escape some of the leadership tests. Though they may be unhealthy it should be borne in mind that they are happening anyway. Instead of shooting them down i would prefer them opened for contestation. My mentee shook his head like he was mad, not because I was making sense then, but because he was making sense of his past experiences in events he encountered. I realised I didn’t tell my friend residing in Cape Town because his request to me was about what he wanted to hear than what he was prepared to hear or what he should hear. However, I do believe some day soon he will know, most probably when reading this piece before experiencing it if he still has not yet. 

**Picture by sabusinessindex.co.za downloaded from google.com**

Grass, Snakes, Doom and Other Healing Methods in a Christian Church of God: A Theological Crisis?

Since the dawn of 2014 till to date, South Africans became and are still becoming cognisant of some controversial Christian churches using ‘unconventional’ healing methods. Around early January 2014, the Rabboni Centre Ministries became first to take part in the ‘unconventional’ acts by feeding some congregants grass, and later had some drinking petrol and claimed it tasted like Pineapple juice – all these for healing purposes. After March 2014, the End Times Disciples Ministries whose pastor is said to be a protégé of the leader of Rabboni Centre Ministries fed members of his congregation snakes and pieces of cloth, claiming they tasted like chocolate. In 2016, Mount Zion General Assembly church introduced to us the use of Doom (chemical used to kill insects) for healing purposes. It was followed by claims that a barren woman immediately showed signs of pregnancy – thus carrying a “miracle baby” (iMzansi, November 2016). Some of the practices comprise the following; End Times Disciples Ministries in 2015 – members eating out of a pastor’s shoe, and congregants getting naked before the pastor can lay hands to pray for them (eNCA, July 2015). Between May and June 2015 the very same church had members eating weave [Artificial women’s hair] (Daily Sun, June 2015). Towards the end of 2016, members of the AK Spiritual Christian Church in Limpopo were fed Dettol – a bacteria and gems killing chemical (EWN, December 2016). Between January and early February 2017, Grace Living Hope Ministries’ members were fed ‘Rattex’ – a deadly rat poison with claims it was for body nourishment and healing the sick, (Christianpost.com, February 2017). Many acts were carried out and yet congregants participated despite the unfolded public criticisms. 

“Sow and Reap”

“A man reaps what he sows” – Galatians 6:7b

In the culmination of these acts, I am concerned about the absence of full report(s) on the health of the congregants at post-participation. Also, little is emphasized on the spiritual lives of all participants to the aforementioned acts. Psychological effects are often assumed. Claims that ignorance is what church members suffer from dominates. Judging from the on-going acts and the commitment of congregants despite public critiques, I hold the view that ignorance is not the only problem. Manipulation and/or deception by pastors, prophets and/or leaders in these churches may take full dominance. But, is this manipulation and/or deception at all? Judging from the video captions on the media platforms, it does not look like pastors/prophets/leaders coerced church members into these acts, but their speeches succeeded luring congregants through the name of ‘faith’ coupled with ‘works’ needed in order to please God (James 2:14-26). Therefore, manipulation it may be. I also believe that vulnerability often corners some congregants such that anything auspicious to quell their social anguishes can be easily trusted and employed. Since time immemorial, black South Africans employed alternate ways when it comes to health and healing. King’s (2012) research study upheld that blacks would pray in church during the day and visit sangomas at night. Thus proving the act of using alternate healing or consulting strategies when it comes to health is common among some blacks despite their claims of being conservative Christians. I am also perturbed by the insufficient reports of death or health complications – thus proving an apparent lacuna of information on the post-participation to these ‘unconventional’ healing methods. Therefore, probing the participants and investigating on their health at pre- and post-participation in these ‘unconventional’ healing methods is imperative. According to iJozi’s website, 13 members of the Grace Living Hope Ministry were reported dead day(s) after they drank Rattex, (Ijozi.co.za, February 2017). The emphasis was on the Rattex than unmeasured faith. And I pose this question, what if faith or little faith was the problem and not what was consumed? Similar to most other cases, people visit private and public hospitals yet some still die. People visit traditional healers yet some still die. People put trust in their pastors who never practise ‘unconventional’ healing methods and yet they too die. Where do we draw the line or should we draw the line between a Godly destined date of death and an event(s) of unforeseen circumstances? Could it be that the prophets and pastors misinterpreted the bible? Or God really wanted to reveal himself in a different way? 

The Bible: Past and Present 

The book of Acts 19: 11-12 tells us about handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul used to heal the sick and cured evil spirits. In John chapter 9, it is recorded that Jesus healed a boy who was born blind by using his saliva, dry soil (which he made mud after spitting on it and smeared in the boy’s eyes) and told him to go wash off in the pool of Siloam – after such instruction and action, he received sight. Later in that chapter we learn about the Pharisees investigating the healing. Their focus became more about the act taking place on a Sabbath day than investigating and celebrating God’s healing power. But, what more do we know about the responses of the then audiences (people in general than Pharisees) of Jesus’ healing methods and audiences of the miracles that followed the Apostle Paul? In Mark 7:31-36 Jesus healed a man who was deaf and could not talk well by firstly tossing him away from the crowd, then putting his fingers into the man’s ears and spitting and touching the man’s tongue. After a little prayer “be opened” the man was healed. But Jesus instructed them not to tell anyone. What could be the reason for Him instructing the healed not to tell anyone? Perhaps His ways of healing were considered „unconventional‟ by the then audiences. Drawing from the responses of the contemporary Christians towards the use of grass, snakes, doom and more for healing purposes, it could be possible that had the contemporary Christians lived in the times of Jesus; they would have questioned about hygiene when Jesus spat and touched the tongue of the sick. It also is possible that Jesus may have feared interrogation about his ways of healing or violence or persecution, so as a result, He instructed the healed not to tell anyone. 

Conclusion

I do not wish to leave you with more questions than solutions. But again, the purpose of this piece is not to bring solution(s) to what I think is yet to be fully proved as wrong. Politically and psychologically speaking it seems wrong. Judging from the silence of most pastors who never employs such ‘unconventional’ healing methods, I believe theologically, Christians are apathetic when it comes to participating in the narratives of health, healing and interpretation of God’s word. Therefore, conversations and proof that lead towards the conclusion that the acts are wrong should be encouraged. Through the raised questions I am making an appeal that the questions posed throughout this piece be used as starting points in opening up conversation(s) about these healing methods and our faith in general. I am not proposing that the ‘unconventional’ healing methods employed by the contemporary pastors and/or prophets in South Africa are correct. Neither am I saying they are incorrect. But, I am asking with reference to this: Jesus and Paul employed different methods too than just laying of hands and praying to God. As reported earlier, one was only healed after being smeared with mud and instructed to wash in a particular pool. One was healed after Jesus spat and touched his tongue. Others were healed after being touched with handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul. Many other miracles were performed than just a simple laying of hands which is common in most churches of God today. But what if the use of grass, petrol, Dettol, Rattex and all others is the substitution of saliva, mud, particular pool and more as scripture recorded – Jesus said through Him we shall do His work and do more greater than what He did, (John 14:12-14). Also, with our critiques, what if most of us are the contemporary Pharisees investigating the healing methods than the outcome of those fed grass, snakes, petrol or even doomed in order to see whether there is God’s healing power worth a celebration. In Matthew 23:13-36 Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, if we are the modern day Pharisees, what kind of chastisement do we deserve? If what is currently happening proves a theological crisis, to those who questioned Jesus’ healing methods, wasn’t Jesus’ act(s) proof of theological crisis to them? But are the acts indeed proof of theological crisis? Should anomalous religious acts be dismissed with the rationale of not being biblical correct? And lastly, do our disagreements prove us to be biblically or theologically correct or they merely serve as resistance to experiencing God‟s simple next flow and discovering new methods of healing? Selah! (Lean back and think).

References 

●The Holy bible
●King, B. 2012. „“We Pray at the Church in the Day and Visit the Sangomas at Night”: Health Discourses and Traditional Medicine in Rural South Africa‟. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 00(00):1–9.

●http://www.christianpost.com/news/after-south-african-pastor-makes-church-members-eat-grass-he-now-forces-them-to-drink-petrol-127099/

●http://www.enca.com/south-africa/prophet-feeds-congregation-snakes

●http://www.dailysun.co.za/News/Congregation-eats-weave-at-church-20150616

●http://imzansi.co.za/doom-pastor/

●http://www.christianpost.com/news/pastor-makes-congregants-drink-deadly-rattex-poison-to-show-their-faith-174445/

●http://m.ewn.co.za/2016/12/09/limpopo-pastor-gives-congregants-miracle-dettol-to-drink

●http://www.ijozi.co.za/13-dead-after-eating-rattex-during-church-sunday-service-with-pastor-monyeki/

‘I Just Wanna Yell at God’

I just wanna yell at God, Yell at Him just to pour out my heart like candle wax that drips down the lengthy structure without timid. I wanna yell deep into his nerves and irritate the righteous in Him so He can interpret my illiterate emotions and peruse my childish feelings that profusely poke me with thorns of insensitivity. While reminding Him of His gospel of truth and love, I wanna yell and spell out the reality that untangles my joy and molest my smile to fall in the slippery of life’s perversion. I wanna yell and probe Him on the trap set forth for the ageing ones who desperately present themselves to living with a daunting savage red shaped love. I wanna yell and clean His ears with negative yet perpetuating pesters till He says “LET ME CARRY YOUR LOAD”. I wanna yell to catch a glimpse of His annoyance, to feel His heart beat, to relate to His empathy for me, to dip my soul in His well of love so I may gratitude until I’m not only healed, but made whole. So, for my peace’s sake, at God I just Wanna yell.

*Original Picture of Author* 

‘Bad Is Relative!!’


I believe I grew up knowing poverty and pain just on a practical plain. I just didn’t know ‘poverty’ or ‘pain’ were the names. Also, I wasn’t really sure whether they should have names, or whether they had substitutes such as rich/wealthy or joy/happiness. To me they appeared to be part of life at its perfect scene with no need for alteration. Neither did i see anyone at fault for the experienced or observed poverty within various communities in South Africa. I used to visit my cousins and friends in their homes and all I could see was different lifestyles presented with greater effort. I witnessed people going to bed after supped porridge with only cooking oil sprinkled with salt. Or just bread alone. Though shame was often reflected, it appeared to me that it only mattered to a selected few who were fairly older than any clueless seven or 10 year old child. I believe when such age group becomes ashamed of poverty at home, a particular socialisation pierced through the art of observation of the young from the old. Such may also be a result of deception orchestrated in a manner where a particular people considered to be ‘well-off’ step down from their throne to convince others that they are underprivileged. The speeches often goes through the lines of one deserving better and the government being responsible to provide that very same ‘better’.

In his text “On the Postcolony”, Achille Mbembe concedes on how the settlers arrived in Africa with the intention of bringing civilization to the primitive continent. So they stepped down from their throne of Europe to come help the ‘uneducated’ [according to the Western standards] define wealth, poverty and live a more western conventional life. I partially believe deception was employed through the use of modern culture while the reality of occupying political and economic power was the main focus. I also believe that Africans were taught to be shameful of who and what they are, such is observed through our everyday life; how we try to fit in by expressing ourselves through an obscure Western culture while failing to make sense of our very own African identity. But that’s an argument for another day. Let’s chew on the bone of poverty. The different levels of poverty among the families of my cousins and friends and my very own revealed the relativity of ‘bad’ on the term poverty. In one of her narratives, Chimamanda Adichie posited on the relativity vested in the word ‘bad’ in relation to poverty. She maintained that when someone outside Africa say the global recession hit them so hard such that they cannot afford eating at a restaurant anymore, someone in Nigeria [or even Africa] goes to bed on an empty stomach due to the very same global recession. That is sad reality. I also realised I learn every day about this relativity and reality. I recently met two young black South Africans from Tembisa [A Township in Johannesburg]. Thabo (Approx 22 of age) and Busi (Approx. 20 of age).

Thabo lost his mother about 10 years ago and does not know his father. He is the only son to his late mother and his mother was the only child to her parents. As a result Thabo has no close relatives. From accurate calculations it seems Thabo lost his mother when he was still in Primary school. He is currently doing undergraduate degree at one of South Africa’s best Universities. Drawing from informal conversations with him, he is enthused by his background and not having anyone to help him pull up after he lost his mother who was his breadwinner. He also depended/s on government welfare to survive life’s contests. On the other hand, there is Busi, a Xhosa young lady originally from Eastern Cape. Time did not afford me the opportunity to know her more like it did with Thabo. Now, I heard lots of definitions of poverty and many anecdotes aimed at depicting focus and dedication. Careless I was in seeing the contemporary South Africa still having people who are dedicated and focused to cannot afford betraying their dreams. Busi refreshed my memory on the definition of focus. She literally tracks approximately 10km only going to school. Every weekday, whether ready or not Busi walks to school. She does not wish to remain confined and/or conscripted to the current culture of having a ‘blesser’ or ‘blessee’ (similar to sugar daddy and sugar mama) in order to survive. Drawing from informal conversations with her, God is her strength, comforter and protector – which is why she does not fear walking a long distance and passing through bushy areas not friendly to young women walking alone. If she can walk such a distance (from deep in Tembisa to Midrand), It is apparent that Busi is surrounded by walls of poverty. Mind you that after her long walk to school she still needs the energy to focus in class. For me, both Thabo and Busi’s stories and experiences present the relativeness of the term ‘bad’ in the following manner;

• Though Thabo experiences poverty and receives welfare from the government as an orphan, he does not walk approximately 10km to his university same way Busi does.

• Busi’s vulnerability is not only because she walks a long distance but also that she is a black young lady who can easily fall a victim of rape and other unforeseen circumstances than Thabo.

• Both of them have stories to tell, but their motivations are their own personal stories. They do not look at their lives through the lens of other ‘poor people’ who believe to be underprivileged.

• Let’s say for argument sake that Busi also depend on the government for some resources to pull through, I believe they both do not alienate their potential and abilities by seeking empathy from neighbours and/or casting blames to every next person. Instead, hardworking they become.

• Though I may not know more about Busi’s parents, as for Thabo, though he does not know his father, he therefore cannot declare him as ‘dead’ as he now and again wakes up with the hopes that one day he will show up. His reality is different to the other young person out there who knows both mom and dad are gone and have to live with that reality.

I can go on and on about the relativeness of bad and poverty. However, I do want to posit that though Thabo and Busi’s stories sound relevant and severe, it should be borne in mind that people experience poverty and ‘bad’ differently. Primary Socialisation (family beliefs and teachings) often shapes our view about the world and prepares us for what lays ahead. People can either choose to betray Primary Socialisation based on what Secondary Socialisation (societal beliefs and teachings, also drawn from different institutions such as schools, religion etc) offers them. But the consequences of such betrayal may transcend to the coming generation in a form of poverty. However, I believe a bit of what Max Weber calls ‘Verstehen’ (empathetic understanding) should be employed when making sense of those who seem to be having all support around them but fail to make it in life. They may in actual fact be the ones who deserve more attention than those who learnt the art of accepting what they cannot change. In the same way, people in situations same as that of Busi and Thabo or in worst case scenarios deserve support, credit, love and the very same ‘Verstehen’. It is also worth noting that even though one’s definition of poverty and ‘bad’ might differ to that of the next person, the differences should not disqualify each other’s prowess nor locate each other far to reality, moreover, they should now and again be highlighted through narratives with intentions to motivate, inspire and bring forth change in the lives of both the old and the young.

 **Picture from Pinterest.com**

When the Rainbow Rebels!!

  

“We are the rainbow people of God, we are free, all of us, black and white together” – Desmond Tutu (8 May 1994)

The 8th of May 1994 marked exactly two days away to the inauguration of South Africa’s first democratic president, Nelson Mandela and his deputies, Thabo Mbeki and Frederik Willem de Klerk. On the very same day South African Christians hosted a thanksgiving interdenominational festival where the Archbishop, Desmond Tutu spoke and endorsed freedom through his words “we are free, all of us, black and white together”. It was then that the term ‘Rainbow nation’ was coined. However, it was further endorsed by President Nelson Mandela during his inauguration speech at Union Buildings on the 10th of May 1994. He postulated the following;

“We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation which is at peace with itself and the world” – President Nelson Mandela (10 May 1994)

The term ‘Rainbow nation’ was used to distinguish the ‘New South Africa’ of peace and a bright future from the past engulfed with war mongers who perpetuated violence and oppression of one by another. The South Africa of White supremacy. When Bishop Tutu spoke on the 8th of May on South Africa being a Rainbow nation, the response of the crowd exhibited unpretending jubilee. Everyone sounded unwavering in celebrating and upholding diversity. By then, pretension and stratagems could not be leveled with suspicions. People foresaw a peaceful South Africa – a ‘Rainbow nation’ that conforms to the norms and speeches delivered by freedom fighters. Mandela sealed and affirmed South Africa’s hope through this contention;

“Let there be justice for all, let there be peace for all, let there be work, bread, water and salt for all,… never , never , and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another…” – Nelson Mandela (10 May 1994)

Though my mind cannot fathom what transpired then, drawing from narratives given by elders who were involved in the struggle, it is ostensible that the rainbow was cooperative in reciprocating love and unity. It is with no reasonable doubt to concede that a lot has changed today. The colors of the rainbow seem to be going separate ways. They tend to decide when to be good and when to be bad. In fact the rainbow is polluted. Though it may seem easy and unfair to harp on the weakness of the current government, it should be borne in mind that more failures are conveyed in this current time. Some of the failures may be a result of policies or acts from the Mandela and Mbeki administration. But some are failures caused by the current leadership. The rainbow is currently polluted by many things – just to name a few; empty promises, corruption, unaccountability, electioneering. It is through undelivered promises of ‘free quality education’ at the exchange of votes that afforded the country the unrelenting ‘fees must fall movement’. It is corruption and unaccountability that afforded the country movements such as the ‘Zuma must fall’ and the ‘Pay back the money’ campaign. It is the ruling party that molested citizens while gaining votes through empty promises of faster basic service delivery such as free housing, schools, clean running water for all deserving citizens etc. Such promises afforded the country protest movements and demonstrations characterized by the burning of state symbols such as clinics, schools, and busses etc. It is through such acts that the rainbow has become insensitive. It rebels to the extent of quelling trust on the justice system whereby the public raise racial contentions on cases such as the Oscar Pistorius murder trial and the Molemo ‘Jub Jub’ Maarohanye trial. It rebels to expose true feelings and views of racists like Penny Sparrow, Ntokozo Qwabe, Andre Slade, and many more. It is now that we understand whether we truly are an authentic Rainbow nation or a pretentious Rainbow nation. It is now that we understand whether most blacks were pleased with the arrangements made by Mandela and Tutu with their kind words – putting ghosts of the past to rest through speeches. After 20+ years of democracy, South Africa still grapples making sense of racial differences. There is justice, peace, work, bread, water and salt, but not for all. The economic difference between the bourgeoisies, proletariats and lumpenproletariats does refute that South Africans are receiving better services form the State on an urgent pace. We also get to reckon that democracy and freedom mean different things when put on paper and on practical application. The rainbow continues to rebel and gets polluted at the escalation of social-ills.

What then should we do when the rainbow rebels?

I believe there is never a single and simple answer to how the rainbow can be brought back to conformity and the South African society to cohesion. Policies have already been put at place, people had become more hungry, the state has leaders who are determined to rule irrespective of whether they are liked on not. Such keeps social movements more active and people more angry for being avoided or not being heard. However, such should not bring a total despair to humanity. It should not proscribe the fight for what is rightfully theirs. It should not hinder people to have the race debate as it continues entangling the tongues of angry white South Africans who see it fit to use the ‘K’ word when they want to express their anger and dissatisfactions. When the rainbow rebels it should prove and promote conversations between the blacks and the whites. In her Book ‘Laying ghosts to rest’ Dr Ramphele suggests the sitting and talking about race differences. She talks about accepting fault and the willingness to move forward and redress the past pain though it may not be reversed. Also, not far from Julius Malema, the Commander In Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF), who kept positing in concurrence to Mandela and Tutu on South Africa belonging to everyone who lives in it – black and white. His tune is remixed with the gospel of ‘sharing’ through which he defies white people to share the wealth, much more – the land. Malema though portrayed as racist reckoned the ‘fake sympathy’ projected by most white and rich South Africans to the black and poor South Africans. It is somewhat upright to some white South Africans when the blacks speak of freedom of speech, or any kind of freedom – but economic freedom. It was impressive to them for Tutu and Mandela to shout ‘we are free’ while their slogans only guarantees freedom to vote, freedom to have a choice on whom to put in power while there is no freedom of placing leaders accountable. I think the rainbow’s rebellion and pollution is a result of both the black and the white. The few blacks who possess power fail to liberate some of their black brothers and sisters in a fair and meaningful way. In their escape from accountability, they and the state assure the black and poor citizens that their only worst enemies are the rich and white people. In South Africa today, when one embark on a protest against the state and/or other institutions attached to the state, political leaders and the police distort peaceful protests and label them as violent and unruly to defend the violent responses used by the police when dispersing protesters (see https://africacheck.org/2015/06/15/comment-politicians-and-police-are-misusing-unrest-figures/). Since there is a need for economic emancipation for most black South Africans. Sharing should not be part of negotiations if the rainbow is to remain clean and well behaved. Neither should willingness to share be contested. Lastly, I think need to continue having dialogues that helps review and trace the developments aimed at keeping the rainbow healthy. 

Achieving a Masters’ Degree: Things to be Prepared for

 

After completing my Honours studies at the University of Johannesburg in 2012, I decided to pursue my Masters of Arts studies in Sociology. The transition felt like a huge jump. At the same time for those highly qualified, getting employment was/is somewhat a challenge in the contemporary South Africa. The decision to further my studies was never threatened by the then ±25% of South Africa’s unemployment rate in 2012. Neither did I resort to further my studies as a way to quell the fear for job-seeking as many would contend. I simply had greater ambitions and had to work beyond the classification of Undergraduate or Honours graduate. I was challenged by the wise words posited by Dr Wayne Dyer – “[g]o the extra mile. It’s never crowded.” I was also inspired by the words of the Nigerian Novelist, Chimamande Adechie who said “[a]llow your first degree to remind you that which you still do not know.” I had to be honest to myself. With the vast majority of young graduates in South Africa, the extra mile seems to be getting crowded on a daily basis. The amount of new information keeps growing at an uncontrollable pace. It is no more about the first degree, but, about searching for more knowledge so you can identify the lacuna within produced knowledge and making sure you cover the niche with more knowledge production.

My wish was and is not to have a long résumé stating the qualification(s) I have while failing to contribute to social change. I am certain I will pursue my studies further again, just so to tap in the ‘other’ extra mile which will soon be crowded and to re-assure I still have more to learn. I do want to contribute to social change – helping others get to where I am. But first, I ponder at how I made it thus far. The journey to attaining my Masters’ degree was not as easy as I expected. I had to let go of friends whom it was apparent they are not a part of my success. I had to be selfish – fail to compromise my studies with the relationship I was to be ‘committed’ to. Such a decision was carefully taken with the knowledge that it will hurt me and my loved ones, hence selfish i was. I had to miss some family gatherings while busy with fieldwork in a foreign land. I had to endure being called by names, not only good, but also the bad such as; selfish, unreliable, useless, failure etc. Dear reader, you don’t have to justify and qualify me. Yes I was selfish, but to me, being selfish while trying to attain that which is good in an honest and respectful way is the best that one can and should afford themselves.

Let us face it; people can call you selfish just to build a wall of delay while you remain conscripted to their criticisms and conforming to their senseless norms. Moreover, not everyone enjoys having you as a competitor, nor as the example used in narratives of success. They may smile and congratulate, but know when it is authentic. Let me borrow these wise words by Tony A. Gaskins Jr. “Your success will confuse them. They’ll wonder why it happened for you and not them. You can’t slow down to spare feelings. You can’t shrink to make them comfortable. Keep doing you, regardless of who celebrates you”. Yes, some will celebrate you, but some will ridicule you even at your best achievements. I do not suggest that one should neglect or refrain from having fun or relationship(s). But, I do suggest that every now and again, one should isolate himself/herself from the world of noise and the visionless to the gang of greats known by their achievements and contributions to social change. Much will be said about your ways of living and the choices you make, but be smart enough to determine, distinguish and separate the meat from the bones.