Inequality

The South African Nightmare

(A poem of lament for this beloved country)

I hate this country in which one’s race is the single most significant determinant of one’s fluency in funeral songs
Because Death is racist and blackness requires being prepared for him in and out of season

I hate this country where rain means different things to different people
How some can celebrate the filling of the dams, while others’ homes, belongings and belonging get washed away

I hate this country where nothing makes any sense
Where people talk about a housing crisis, while multi-million rand mansions stand unoccupied for most months of the year

I hate this country that too often feels like a knotted mess that cannot be undone
Because the oppressor/oppressed dynamics are so entangled within our beings that in the process of untangling it feels impossible not to lose pieces of ourselves

I hate this country that means vastly different things to different people
Simultaneously occupying lists of the best places to live in the world, and the most dangerous places to live in
the world

I hate this country that is so two-faced in its reception of people into its borders
Welcoming some with open arms, while perpetually making others feel like the unwanted stepchildren who don’t belong

I hate this country that doesn’t even bother to hide its idolatry of capital
Where money can buy you education, healthcare, dignity, and even humanity, but if you can’t afford it you can forget about it

I hate this country that doesn’t even bother to hide its racism
Where white peoples’ right to play golf is prioritised over black peoples’ rights to health, food, housing and sanitation

I hate this country where having a vagina far too often represents a death sentence
And penises are weaponised to maintain the oppression of womxn and children

I hate this country where the church is just as dangerous a space for womxn as anywhere else
And theology is twisted to uphold the strongholds of patriarchy and violence

I hate this country where proximity to whiteness is proxy for the amount of attention one’s murder is given
And the brutal violence experienced daily by so many is deemed unworthy of outcry

I hate this country that is too often the stuff of nightmares
Where you can become as woke as you like, but there is no waking from this mess

By Thandi Gamedze

If you would like to read more of Thandi Gamedze remarkable poetic laments, visit https://www.warehouse.org.za/author/thandi-gamedze/page/2/

Grace, Alan

 

Truth and grace lead to resurrection

Grace to you

Two weeks ago 2x Olympic Champion Caster Semenya lost her appeal against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Accordingly if Semenya is to compete in distances from 400m to a mile she will be forced to reduce her natural levels of testosterone. History will show this to be a terrible act of discrimination. As some have said, this decision is the “Sara Baartman” moment of the 21st century. Thankfully organisations like the World Medical Association have come out against the judgment and warn that any doctor who complies with the (IAAF) regulations, in relation to any athlete, will be breaking their oath to “do no harm”. Hopefully it does not take long for sanity to prevail so that people like Semenya can be free to do what they love – run fast.

In these days of Easter I was struck by a resurrection story that is connected to Caster Semenya. A story not dissimilar to the resurrection of Saul that we reflected on last Sunday: Remember Saul’s breath? He had a murderous breath towards those who were different to him. He wanted to correct, change and control other people who were worshipping and praying in different ways to himself. For Saul, difference was to be “regulated” rather than “celebrated”. His Damascus road resurrection took a while because it not only involved hearing heavenly truth but also personally meeting the people he believed should be corrected, changed and controlled. Deeper truth and grace-full relationship finally unlocked Saul from his tomb of deathly prejudice.

The two ingredients of grace and truth continue to resurrect people. Take for example of the resurrection of Madeleine Pape from Australia who competed against Semenya at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin. Pape said: “I was sore about losing to Caster Semenya … her performance [was] unfair”. Four years later she was doing her PhD in Sociology and began to learn the “heavenly” truth about women with naturally high testosterone. This deeper truth brought her to question her previously held convictions. Then, “critically, during this time I also befriended some women with high testosterone. [The question arose for me] “Was I willing to recognise my friends as women outside of sport yet deny them the right to compete alongside me on the track?”, reasoned Pape. Now she declares what is unfair is not Semenya’s performance but the way she is being treated. Truth (PhD) and Grace-full relationship (Friends) have resurrected Pape from her deathly othering of Semenya.

Now as we work and pray for the resurrection of the (IAAF) what about the church? The (IAAF) is an organisation that prevents Semenya to do what she loves – namely run. The Church is an organisation that prevents Semenya to love who she loves – namely Violet Raseboya – Semenya’s wife. Surely the Church is in far greater need to be resurrected?

Grace,
Alan

Picture: OkMzanzi  |  EPA/John G. Mabanglo