Thursday, April 23, 2009

Speaking truth to power: Post South Africa's 4th democratic elections

I would count it a great privilege, if I could speak to the leaders of my beloved South Africa. It would be a wondrous magical moment. I would seize the moment to speak truth to power. These 3 M’s and the big Z, I refer too are Presidents Mandela, Mbeki, Motlanthe and the projected incumbent President of the Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma.

President Nelson Mandela served South Africa in her first five years of democracy, followed by President Thabo Mbeki, who due to allegations and implication of his name in malpractice opted to step down as president, thus serving South Africa just short of a decade. President Kgalema Motlanthe has come into office since November of 2008. Motlanthe will soon be out of the office of the president as we tally up the votes of our 3rd democratic elections. As it stands the April 22nd, 2009 election results seem are pointing in the direction of the African National Congress and President Jacob Zuma.

Now, returning to speaking truth to power. I believe that prophetic voices of leaders in top level political, faith, non profit, development, and corporate sectors, must be conscientized to consciously and strive for the redemption and liberty of all our people.

Moral regeneration must be a project for people who live with their backs against the wall. Moral regeneration cannot be pimped by elite and uppity people, propelling their conservative pietism that has no social awareness for the plight of the poor and the marginalized.

While notarized people of positional and economic power must speak out and act with consciousness, leaders who remain the unsung heroes of our country must equally rise moving the masses from the bottom up to ensure that our democracy returns to being a hope for all our people, with an astute social concern.

In emotional exile missing out on being home for our 3rd democratic election, these following thoughts and remarks are what I have decided I would say to leaders of South Africa who have held the highest office in the land, and to President Jacob Zuma who will soon be the President of the Republic of South Africa.

To President Nelson Mandela:
Thank you, Tata Madiba. Thank you for being a beacon of hope to our people. Thank you for being such an exemplar of reconciliation effort and advocacy. Thank you for demonstrating at every turn grace, mercy, tolerance and acceptance, and always encouraging a united South Africa.

Thank for sacrificing your literal life, by enduring imprisonment for 27 years. Thank you for fighting for the freedom of our nation. Thank you for loving all people, and thank you for being the father of our nation. But! Why have you seized to speak in these times when our South African people are in dire need of a voice of authentic leadership?

I understand that you have fought the good fight. I realize that you gave your life to see our country free from Apartheid. But even within your life time we have created a new order of injustice, and sugar coated freedom with the window dressing of democracy. People who were poor within Apartheid for the majority they have remained poor. The democracy we have claimed and propelled is only good for people who can thrive and survive in a middle class to elite class reality.

Democracy to the hundreds and thousands of South Africans who continue to live in Apartheid constructed townships, and South Africans who live within post Apartheid “informal settlements”, continue to face harsh realities of a democracy that is a great idea- without any practical application and implications.

I ask respectfully, will you please speak again with the prophetic voice of reason that God blessed you with? Even in this hour when current African National Congress (ANC) politics has chosen to utilize you as a token voice of moral leadership, and masquerade you to monopolize votes in a competitive electoral season. Will you disband and speak out against the internal muck and mire of an ANC that is failing its people from the top structures cocooned in elitism to the bottom structures held ransom by loyalty to a political party that once was the saving grace for our people.

Honorable President Nelson Mandela will you speak once again as a voice of reason and guidance to our current and incumbent dispensation of ANC leaders?

To President Thabo Mbeki:
Thank you for your wonderful insight and great oratory skills. You brought to our nation the written consciousness of being African. Your wisdom and intellectuality has rekindled our collective memory as an African people of our Black intellectuals. You will forever be remembered for the great rhetoric and dynamic words of wisdom that you offered to our early democracy.

You took our young democracy and followed on very confidently as you came into leadership following Tata Madiba. I am grateful for your leadership and attempt at propelling the work of African Renaissance. The renaissance of our African-ness must be propelled, and I am not sure that this attempt as you spear headed translated into a national project of reclaiming our consciousness as an African people of South Africa.

But in your intellectuality there was disconnect, African consciousness was written but not displayed in delivery of intellectual ideas without practice. I am sure that this disconnect was not intended but it transpired in the rise of democracy that lost its social conscience and ability to mobilize the people’s freedom. Instead we have inherited an imported freedom, a freedom packaged and shipped to us immersed in western ideology and hegemony.

I understand your discontentment and disappointment, which lead to your stepping down. I am disheartened by the way you were treated by our ANC comrades, even in the wake of alleged discrepancies and information that points to your involvement in political sabotage of a fellow comrade. Polokwane and the historic moment which crowned Zuma the victor and president of the ANC, seems to me now a choice that placed our ANC card carrying members, and followers of the ANC between a rock and a hard place. Choice presented discomfort as our ANC was ripped into camps, but a choice was made for change.

In the light of our current day realities one could say that we are in an era of change for the sake of change, without a demand that change has meaning and purpose to enfranchise the disenfranchised. Change is not given the pre-requisite of being a positive change, a change for all the people of our land. For political change must be labored with the task to deliver economic change. Like my father would say, call me what you like but pay me my money. All people must have access to water, food, shelter, clothe and education for our children, for our future.

Why have you chosen to be silent in the current political day, where there seems to be a “Battle for the Soul of the ANC”. In some ways the ANC has been given over to the whims and fancies of politics that cannot deliver the core ideals of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society, and the liberation of Africans in particular and black people in general from political and economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor.

Will you come back to the forefront of speaking truth without the positional power? I know that you have been ridiculed and critiqued but is what you have to offer all spent, or can you live to see a new day in your political leadership, that spurs our people on in creating a just and fair South Africa for all people. Will you speak again even though your personal hurts and pains silence you to a minimized muteness?

President Thabo Mbeki in the midst of your own weakness and short comings, will you be a voice of reason and a sounding board for thought to the next season of proposed ANC candidates, and our incumbent President of the Republic.

To President Motlanthe:
Thank you for taking on the role of our interim care taker and being our President in these chaotic, troublesome, yet exciting times. You have been speaking and providing a voice of influence and advocacy of the new dispensation of candidates proposed to be the best suited to serve our people. Thank you for stepping in and holding the reigns, in what has clearly been a tumultuous time.

In my local area Lenasia it has been reported to me that you spoke about the principled leader that our nation will have in Jacob Zuma. You also addressed the youthful immaturity of Julias Malema. You mentioned that Julias requires grooming and tutelage. I respectfully question your notion of principled leadership when senior ranking officers have not silenced and discouraged, for example hate speech and rhetoric encouraging fanaticism, where people are willing to die for one person instead of remaining true to the course of freedom as propelled by the ANC.

I respectfully question the notion of youthful leadership requiring tutelage, when no such tutelage has been sought after, and no such tutelage has been offered and exercised, in the public eye. Youthful leaders like Julias and others speak out abrasively against seasoned elders such as Bishop Tutu, and no senior leadership of the ANC has reprimanded any of these younger generation of leaders.

I question leaders of the ANC when we nurture youthful bliss toward demonstrative politics, which does not push an agenda of politics for people’s liberation from political and economic bondage. Instead it is a politics of divide and conquers, only concerned with a one candidate victory even if it means the waste of a nation.

Will you remember where it is that we come from, and the struggle for freedom that was designed and intended to return power to the people? President Kgalema Motlanthe, will you speak truth and provide a sounding board for thought to President Jacob Zuma who is to be our 4th democratically elected President?

To President Jacob Zuma:
It is my hope comrade and esteemed President Jacob Zuma that you will take on the projected work of President of our beloved South Africa with a reverence and faith anchoring resolve. It is my hope that you will rise to meet the demand of a people in desperate need of a leader who will be for all people. It is my hope that you will address your short comings and claim your personal faults and acknowledge your moral and ethical failures, by ensuring people that the past will not dictate our future.

Our nation needs to know that our head of state will adhere to a standard of excellence in his conduct and practice as it relates to his personal life, which is a public matter as President. It is my hope that in your projected service of our nation you will be open to guidance and tutelage of Mandela, Mbeki, Motlanthe, and more especially the well of knowledge offered by several other seasoned leaders such as Bishop Tutu.

I believe that it would serve us well for you to bring alongside you people who are not yes boss kind of people. Instead gather people who are critical of you. It would be most dynamic if you would request of Bishop Tutu to consider being your spiritual advisor and spiritual mentor. It is of vital importance that you respond to the needs of our people who have not tasted the fruit of democracy, while maintaining the living standard of those who enjoy middle to upper class existence.

I am sure your task will be tough, but I believe that you can deliver beyond the critique and the flaws that many will hold against you. I am convinced that if you remain true to the spirit if Ubuntu , and drive the spirit of Ubuntu as a key factor for the fabric of our nation, you will be successful, and our country will continue displaying exemplary global leadership.

President Zuma it must be your agenda to seek out voices that are committed to justice, people who have a concern for those that are marginalized. You need these committed social justice activists in your midst and close by your side, if you are committed to being true to bringing authentic change! We need to see the soul of the ANC demonstratively and dynamically remaining true to the spirit of Ubuntu theology, and Ubuntu Politics.

We need to see our communal existence, our African hospitality and generosity restored. We need to see a country care for its youth and invests in its future. We need to see employment for our people. We need to see quality education for all our children. We need , we need, we need.

But equally there are those of us that can give, and as our president you have the platform to call on the generosity of our people who have, organizations who are making multimillions, churches, mosques and temples and other communities of faith to get active in seeing change that will be supported from the top down, but will be rooted in the heart beat of the people from the bottom up!

There are those who are skeptic and cynical. There are those who have lost trust and hope in the work of renewal, restoration and national reconciliation of our nation. But, I believe that we can see a new day in politics driven by tender conscience, and Biko like consciousness to proclaim and see the lived out beauty of all the people of our land.

I believe that no one is beyond grace, and with all the struggles you have faced, with all the shortcomings that you have displayed, you are in and through and above all else a child of God! It is your time to serve as a child of God, all God’s children and all our people of the country that you love. I believe that we can see a glorious future, and a day where our beloved South Africa presses on in the miracle that was birthed through our victory over Apartheid.

We are now facing new challenges and new crimes against humanity. It is my prayer that you will have your ear to the ground, and here the stomping of the people’s feet driven by the collective consciousness and pulsation of the beating hearts of those who still “cry give us - us free!

Dear President Jacob Zuma, please remain true to all the people of our land, delivering a path that will see South Africa go from strength to strength and stand strong as a nation. I congratulate you on your achievement and advancement to the office of the President. I thank you in advance for your service, and it is my hope and wishes to be true to serving my country in all that I am called to do.

Yours sincerely
Rev. Seth Naicker.

Power of Consciousness

In the work place of life there is great chaos, turmoil, and bad vibes. It is my hope to see people staying ahead of the game in their everyday workplace culture. We must not allow bad vibes to get us down. We must realize, believe and know that we have control over our emotions, and no matter how angry someone else may get us , we must be aware that when we respond to their bad vibes with bad vibes we are demeaning ourselves. It must become our modes operandi to stay clear of that negative energy within the workplace of life and choose to respond in good viby-ness.

In life one may not have positional power, economic or financial power, but any and every human being across the world has the blessing of consciousness power. This power is the power that Steve Biko propelled through his movement of Black Consciousness. Steve Biko told black people in the South African situation of legalized racism and under the systemic evils of Apartheid, that they were beautiful and wonderful. This message translates from consciousness of mind into the practicality of loving yourself as it relates to one’s nose, lips and buttocks and knowing that one is beautiful. It is consciousness power that Patch Adams had- watch the movie and just look into how he responded to people's negative vibes.

When you have the power of consciousness you are not afraid or feel intimidated by anyone or any circumstance. Consciousness power is however not a haughty power that seeks to place you over and above another, for at the centre of the power of consciousness (POC) lies the wonderful value of Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu- A person is a person through other people! POC allows you to see the human being even when the human being that you see may be distorted or acting with bad vibes. POC will allow you to humanize the discussion between I and the other.

POC will have you working with creativity and commitment even with the one who hurts you. You are not a weak walk over but strong in countering for example, corporate power plays of power over. People who choose to use 'power of position’, 'power of money’, as power over to dictate-deframe-demise-destroy & dehumanise. POC will allow you to make a play on the 'chess board' of life which defuses people who use power over tactics to dominate and dictate. You can apply POC with Gandhi style power of consciousness.

Gandhi resorted to a fast in the midst of Religious war , which caused people to stop for at least a time because he was fasting committed to going to a point of death if they would stop their warring . Gandhi's action was rooted in the POC and satyagraha- love force. Gandhi’s work may not have resulted in ultimate success , for upon Gandhi's death Pakistan became a independent country from India . But one cannot deny the power of consciousness, and the mystical and wondrous work that one can do of easing the pains of life and the chaos of the workplace - when one chooses to embrace POC.

POC can be seen in the actions of Madiba (Nelson Mandela) when he enacted the first act of reconciliation on Robben Island at the lime stone quarry of befriending young white male soldiers who were put in place to regulate and control him and other political comrades. Madiba found a way to reach the soul of these young men by treating them as human beings. Madiba refused to loose his humanity to the volatile situation political imprisonment. Madiba reached out and found a human being where others would just see a young white male racist . He found a 16 year old son that needed to be mentored. Madiba can see the shortcomings of our democracy and the turmoil of our country even in his life time but again one cannot deny the power of consciousness.

In 1999 I was in a small town called Eberswalde, former East Germany not too far outside Berlin. I was apart of a social justice theatre, ministry and youth work project “ithemba”- meaning hope . We were scheduled to do a program in this town, which was said to be built by Nazis. We had about a 100 young people who came to the program. In and amongst the group of young people was group of young men who were apparently an active Nazi youth group. They were obviously informed about ithemba, a team of young people who addressed reconciliation as it relates to matters of racism and other-ism through the arts of drama, dance and spoken word.

It was clear that this group of young men came to disrupt the program. But we stayed the path , beginning the evening and informing all people who attended to find a seat. We began with our opening dance and introductions. Back stage our team committed to prayer that would remove fear from allow us to journey on with boldness in presenting the message that we came to bring. We came to the time of our production "Images of Reality”, which pointed to the ugly social construct and reality of racism rearing its ugly head around the world. There were continued remarks hurled and slight disruptions which made it difficult in a setting for a drama and dance production , but as a team we journeyed on.

We came to the end, where as the leader of the team I was just so happy to know that within a few minutes we would be done. In my mind I was looking forward to us as a team getting the 'hell out of the hall and the town”. Away from what was already playing out in my mind as projected danger to my team. We as a team pressed on through the program and decided together from the get go that we would stay and deliver our message, within the midst of potential danger and disruptions. We were anxious and possibly on the border of fear , but we stayed the path knowing that we were not given a spirit of fear but a spirit of love and power and sound mind. So our work was done we could rap up now and leave with haste.

I had the microphone and was making closing remarks. I knew I would our team to say goodbyes to those who came and were open to us, but for the purposes of our safety I knew I was going to get us out as quickly as possible. As I closed off the program a boldness came over me . A power that moved from having the audacity to stay the path and show outward boldness, to a power to communicate further a message of "versonung und vergebung"- meaning reconciliation and forgiveness . A power came over me, in me , through me and from the centre of my being that propelled me further to communicate with passion, freedom and love. It was a power of consciousness.

As I was speaking I was well aware of the group of young men who were still being politely disruptive, but a moment came when a young was in the action of standing and about to shout something out. Just then another young man, who in my memory had a black jacket on, from a seated position extended his right arm across the chest of the young who was about to stand up . The young man was plopped right back into his seat. The young man's actions from a seated position caused a hush amongst the group of young men who were being politely disruptive. The hush was felt in the room, the atmosphere quieted. I had the full attention of every person, and propelled our message of "versonung und vergebung" further.

The program was over, and we were quite glad that we got through without any outrageous acts of violence, even though there was times when power went out, a banners removed and derogatory remarks hurled. So the polite disruptions were polite so far as not having caused any personal harm to any one person. But the danger was felt, and people who were open to hearing from us were equally captured by the thick tension.

The power I felt however drove me further. I asked to speak to the young man who silenced the room through his action. His name is Martin. I went with my fellow team mate who was German, serving as a translator. Martin and I spoke, and he expressed his animosity and hate for "auslanders" meaning foreigners. He had all his reasons for his attitudes, thoughts and behaviour.

I countered his arguments for with simple remarks such as "do you know we have Germans in my country as well, should I be saying like you get them out because this is not their land." I made remarks that our skin colour may be different but beneath our skin runs red blood. Our discussion continued on . I was afforded a moment to engage Martin about the rootedness of his hate. I asked questions following a path of countering his arguments, as to why he hated people who look like me, people of a darker hue- foreigners.

My soul investigative questions lead to a point of Martin communicating his personal hurts and pains. I learned of loss of his dad at a young age and being imprisoned in a juvenile institution. A reality and life caught in vicious cycles and complexity of one evil leading to another. We spoke emotionally about the loss of economic opportunities because of others, meaning foreigners who have taken away employment opportunities from his family. He pressed on and we listened, until he shed a tear that presented a moment where I joined my young friend with a tear as well. I am sure my fellow team mate was emotional too. In this moment Martin and I came to a place of understanding the rootedness of pain and anger, but equally to a place of understanding that what ever the circumstance no reason should allow one to dehumanize thee other. No right should give one a right to inflict harm upon another.

Martin and I shared a moment of coming together where we were both human in that moment. We were both young brothers in that moment; we were both children of God. The power of consciousness is a wonderful human and God given blessing to engage the disruptions and chaos's that we see in our worlds arrange. May you and I go about our work and ministry in the chaos and chess board game of life causing thee other to move in a direction toward realization of humanity.

May the power of consciousness as informed and impacted by our faith hope and love cause us to know "I am because we are ". When the I and the other are not at a place of being we , if there is an us and them social construct , even if one is a so called Nazi and the other is a so called justice activist - we can live to see people them together and be human. Like Bishop Tutu reminds us "My humanity is bound up in yours."

Grace and Peace!