Monday, 16 June 2014

Youth Day

Public Holiday! To commemorate the Soweto uprising in 1976 when school children took to the streets. I know that there are some gatherings held around the country but I haven’t seen any in Pietermaritzburg. So my own commemoration will be this blog post.

When I switch on the radio I hear about the Youth Employment Accord, which was signed by government, labour, business and civil society in April 2013. But I don’t see a lot of energy in this. Not even today.

There are two other things I would like to highlight. First of all the ending of the mourning period for Nosizwe Graca Mandela and Winnie Madikizela Mandela. Both the wife and the ex-wife of Madiba have been wearing black mourning garments for six months and they have not been allowed to make public appearances. It is reported by among others SABC News.

This coincides with the release of the memoirs of Madibas former secretary, Zelda le Grange. eNCA news writes that she has written about how the family of Madiba treated his wife Graca. I am not going to comment but I think I will need to buy the book and read it. Sadly there are a lot of conflicts in the Mandela family. As in many other families, of course. Reconciliation is never easy. But generally speaking I wonder if the mourning tradition is helpful. In an article written by Mercy Amba Oduyoye I read about this tradition as an expression of a thought 
… a husband’s soul will not rest until the widow has completed elaborate mourning rites and has been purified.
Widowers on the contrary are encouraged to get a new sexual partner as soon as possible. Oduyoye writes about traditions in other parts of Africa, I am aware of that. But as far as I know the rules are the same in South Africa. Men do not need to go though the same mourning rituals as women. (The article is: Oduyoye, Mercy Amba. 1992. ‘Women and Ritual in Africa’ in Oduyoye, M. A. and Kanyoro, M. R. A. eds: The Will to Arise. Women, Tradition and the Church in Africa. Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications. 9-24). 

Another area where reconciliation is tested is in the mining industry. The strike in the platinum belt has been going on for  five months. Now it seems as if the parties are coming closer to an agreement. The churches have been involved recently.

In a press relaeas from the South African Council of Churches Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, acting General Secretary of the SACC, says:
Since the minister’s intervention has not yielded the envisioned results, we are offering our physical presence to the process in order to create a fresh, neutral space within which to try and build on the work done thus far to bring the two parties to agreement for the sake of the starving families and the economy of the country which is in distress.
A year ago Hans S A Engdahl and I wrote an article in the Ecumenical Review. "Ecumenical Space. Expanded for Whom?" (Engdahl, H. and Göranzon, A. 2013. Ecumenical Space. The Ecumenical Review, 65: 258–277.) In that article we worked with the concept of " ecumenical space". It is therefore interesting to read about the "space" concept being used by the SACC.

Another Church leader who has engaged himself over this issue is the Anglican Archbishop, Thabo Makgoba, who prays on his blog:
May each put themselves in the shoes of the other and move forward together for the sake of the common good and the safety of all, especially the employees.
It is Youth Day in South Africa. As a couple we celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We are thankful that we can live in this wonderful country and we also pray that the sacrifice those school children made in 1976 will not be in vain.

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