God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Wall down – challenge up…

30 year after the fall of the Berlin wall Germany is celebrating – somehow a bit strange as times seems to be tough and there is a sense that the lessons of history, Nazi Germany, Word War II and the divide for so many years seems to be forgotten. Fascists and Neo-Nazis celebrating within the AfD and the network around another spring – the ” we and them” theme is accepted as kosher again and there are not only those ” eternally right-wing” but normal citizens who are falling into the trap of a democracy allowing for parties which aim it is clearly to demolish exactly the system they use to get into power.

History is repeating itself – and whoever has pondered the question why people did not stand up before the firm manifestation of Nazi Germany and its grip on the citizens did not allow for any resistance anymore can currently learn lessons for life. A in big parts fascist, racist and anti-democratic party gets permission to run in a democratic system; Jews are attacked, politicians threatened, Muslims are called the real devils – and those in power currently are also not very creative how to challenge those dehumanizing tendencies carried by many ” braven Buergern” of the united Germany.

But it is not only Germany – looking at the USA and the experience of a liar and womanizer as president – and so many other countries walking dubious political and social directions –  it carries the question how we came to arrive at a point where humanity, human rights and the awareness of a planet being robbed of all resources are pushed on the backseat while madness is driving humanity in direction extinction.

It is an interesting political, social, psychological and also theological question. Is it the anxiety that the white dominant macho rule comes to an end? Is the answer to find in the overwhelming information stream which our rather stone aged brains cannot handle anymore? Is it the complexity of life we conceptualize but we are unable to deal with and to master? What does it mean for the concept of democracy to live in a digital future transcending physical borders?

Celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall is besides drinking champagne and dancing around the Brandenburg Gate as well as given sombre speeches a time to reflect on what it means for our challenges today. It should be a time to meditate how wrong decisions, how fascism, socialism and a political ignorance or even a limitless tolerance carries the penalty of suffering and injustices for generations.

 

 

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

And again: the race question…

South Africa experienced yesterday the drama of the resignation of Mmusi Maimane from the main opposition party in the National Parliament of South Africa. Comments before and during – and even now after the resignation – are a mix of speculations, indications, accusations and controversies –  add the resignations of Athol Trollip and Herman Mashaba and one could assume that a political party is in meltdown after a disappointing election result and lots of internal fights in the last year.

What really catches my attention is the bitterness and almost fundamentalism when it comes to the question of race, the question how to attract black South Africans to vote for a party which is portrait in debates and news often as too white. Party politics and the egos of those concerned are surely a factor, but I guess what really bring theses events to the forefront is another question which is indeed a decisive one for the whole of the country:

How do I eliminate the question of race for the future without forgetting the injustices of the past and the necessary redress in the current time?

It sounds like the squaring the circle – but this is the question it boils to at the end. While most political parties in South Africa put their focus on redress and correcting the past – claiming this the only way for the way forward – even if this  would create new injustices and hardship – little effort is seen in creating an atmosphere where all three aspects are coming together.
The frustration of most young people, the mood of most South Africans, the hurt of each and every South African in one or the other way, the pitfalls of corruption and state capture; the infighting in all political parties seemingly ignoring the plight of the people – it all creates a conductive scenario for quick fixes satisfying emotions in the short term using the tools of the past.

South Africa will only get it right, if politicians combine redress with a new vocabulary, looking back inter-twining it with striving for a just and non-racist future – creating the miracle of acknowledging hurt and healing in a just framework and creating tools and language, which overcome the perspective of the past without ignoring it.
If this realization is the result of the events of the last days and taken as a challenge for our society – then these events might turn into a blessing for South Africa

Filed under: Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , ,

City of Cape Town: Impound more taxis – enforce the law – we back you!

It is war between some taxi organizations and traffic officials in Cape Town, Dunoon, Joe Slovo and yesterday in the City of Cape Town. The reason being that taxi organizations demand from traffic officers to first consult them before issuing fines or impounding unsafe or unlicensed taxis. Yes, you heard right: Taxi bosses want to be ones deciding how much of the law applies for them and their drivers.  Drivers complain in front of cameras that it causes hardship to be forced to pay fines. This is clearly mafia style and defies common sense.

It is time to salute the brave traffic cops and the City of Cape Town to finally reign in and stop these gangsters of the road who believe that all others come second in traffic. It is time to stop the endangerment of people on a daily base. It is time to stop negotiating with people who have no desire to follow traffic rules. And it is time to take whole organizations to account when violence is spreading like two weeks ago in Dunoon and Joe Slovo. It is a slap in the face of every tax payer fitting the bill for destroyed MyCity Bus Stations and business lost because of road closures and destruction. I still wait to see when the City will take the Dunoon Taxi Organisation to court to pay for all the damage done; issuing an apology and telling the public that they forgot to warn us all that they want to go on rampage is simply not good enough.

Let’s strengthen the back of all City officials in Cape Town and in other places, where there is stand off between those thinking they are the law of the roads and us tax payers trying to make a decent living. Life is hard enough with the economic situation and load shedding and all the other challenges.
Let’s give them the thumb up when we see them enforcing the law, let’s report any transgression of taxi drivers – a united front against those rowdies will also help the few decent hard working taxi drivers who have the courtesy of caring for those in the bus and around the vehicle.

Photo: Rob Beezy / Twitter

 

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No shame

In South Africa we all still deal with the complexity oft the past – nobody seriously can deny this even if the new dawn stretches back to 1994 starting with the first free elections. Society has such has learned through the Truth- and Reconciliation Commission a major part of the Apartheid but there was never a real leadership in healing society – and if I say society I mean all parts of it – everybody I encounter of any skin colour has a story to tell, everybody has wounds to show and everybody is waiting for some more healing and soothing of hurt endured.
What is indeed mind-boggling is the sort of entitlement, many especially from the ruling party, but also smaller ones like the EFF and others bring to the table of society. It seems that wounds of the past, even if they were those of the last generation, are reason enough to be entitled to any kind of compensation one wishes for. And looking at the looting of state coffers and stealing from the poor, looking at crashing the VBS bank and take away the savings of so many poor people, I somehow always have the feeling that shame is at miss. Watching people like Zandile Gumede currently, but also Dudzane Zuma, Julius Malema, Flyod Shivambu, Hlaudi Motsoeneng or Brian Molefe – and you can go on and on with names for hours to come , it is amazing to see the confidence they show almost being certain that they need not to be fearful and anxious of being caught.

This no-shame-show filters through society and it makes it easier on all levels simply to copy it and destroy even more fabric of society.  If South Africa really wants to stay course to a better future there must a change of hearts and minds also on this level. People must be able to feel what is right and wrong, they must be people leading by example, especially those who have positions of power in politics and economics. The value system, South Africa is still maintaining deep down in most of its ordinary citizens, the moral compass, which is not gone totally but hidden under a mountain of blunt entitlement must come to the forefront again. We need leader with a sense for shame and a sense of social responsibility governing their very action.

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Amnesty?!

There are a lot of foreigners in this country – South Africa is for most people fleeing violence and persecution in Africa a safe heaven of some sort – and obviously the borders are so porous that it is much easier to flee to South Africa than to Europe. This has not always been welcomed in the last years – the periodically xenophobic attacks, most recently in Pretoria and Johannesburg, show how sensitive the topic is and how fast the mood can change. Obviously there is a lot of politics involved – be it quite insensitive comments of the Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba, be it economic considerations because immigrants often work harder to achieve their dreams opposite the entitlement and despair of South Africans in the perspective neighborhoods; or be it simply jealousy and opportunism stretching to pure criminality.

There is definitely no question that a country has the right to control influx of foreigners and to secure the borders – but looking at the current situation where there is a mix of illegal immigrants, unwilling Home Affairs officials, corrupt border officials and so many small or bigger injustices in dealing with those knocking on South Africa’s door my solution would be besides looking in a fair manner at all sides of the story to give a period of grace, an amnesty to legalize all those who are now in the country.

It would not only remedy  the situation but also would give those politically in charge and the administration a fair overview to know who is in the country. It would stop the hiding and the stress of those trying to make a living and it would undermine the often corrupt relationship between foreigner, refugee and those officially in charge of keeping them in or out for a good reason.

Flanked by a strengthening of the policing of the border and an effective system to avoid a further undocumented influx from the rest of Africa this would be the first step to calm down the situation and to be fair to all concerned.  It would show grace and mercy, but also a clear cut line for the future. It would make the lives of hundred-thousands of human beings acknowledged and valued – and it would show the rest of the world that there is a way to show a mix of mercy and justice mitigating a difficult past in the last years.

 

Filed under: Africa, General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
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