Dec 10 2012
As far as I know, the role religion played in the peaceful hand-over of power by the white minority in South Africa to the black majority in 1994 has never been highlighted in the media. Maybe, because the church (as an institution, with its functionaries) was in the bag of the apartheid government. And a story highlighting the positive role religion played would simply have been too contradictory to be credible.
Or, maybe because “love thy neighbour” and the policy of apartheid were just too different to bring under one blanket.
Whatever the reasons, the fact is that religion played a big role then – and still today. Not so much the institution and its structures. More, the way many individuals (white, and of colour) “live” their religion from day to day in this “difficult” community (with its different races and big income inequalities).
Rather than try to explain what I mean, ie. how religion helps keep the different peoples in South Africa together, I want to ask you to read this blogspot. It was written by a prominent (white) winefarm owner, during the recent worker upheaval when vineyards and properties of white people were burnt down.
The blogspot goes a long way towards explaining why the whites didn’t blow the blacks off the map Bassar al-Assad-style as long as they had the weapons to do it, and also why the blacks didn’t chase the whites into the sea once they controlled the (same) weapons (including nuclear weapons).
This winefarm owner is not the only one who lives and thinks in this way. I know countless individuals in South Africa with the same “attitude”.
It would be nice if some of the hundreds of international journalists who converged on SA back in 1994 to report on the white/black war they thought was about to break out (but which never did), could now investigate the “as-yet-unreported role religion played in the peaceful hand-over in 1994 – and still today” and report extensively.
The white community can do with some international “understanding”. And it deserves it – 18 years after handing over power to the majority and “withdrawing quietly from public life”, so to speak.