God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

Thanksgiving Day – some maybe unusual thoughts

A day of joy and celebration with family and close friends – Thanksgiving Day is a big day in the USA and the Macy’s driven parade in New York a classical destination for locals and tourists alike. Not sure though that this year Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with an open heart by all invited to do so. Trumps’ America does not give a lot of reasons to celebrate – the swan song of an old white and racist macho era embodied in this president hurts many – “ars moriendi”, the art of dying is celebrated by him in the most cruel way possible.
But maybe exactly this is to celebrate – that the ugly face of a time where racism was silently tolerated or even promoted; a time where sexism and indecent behaviour or rightfully named sexual misconduct was overseen and ignored at will has been unmasked and from the abuse scandal in the Roman-Catholic Church to those in Hollywood are laid bare open for all to see. And all the denial takes a last stand represented by this white womaniser in the Oval Office – but even for him – at the end – thanks to social media – no place to hide anymore.

There is power in the digital revolution – giving the man on the street new weapons with recordings via cellphones and other devices.  Power to the people and power by the people – the slogan has taken on a new meaning in our age and time. But the discussion in the USA about Russian meddling into the last election, the fake news all over the world show the danger which always goes with advances in the hand of human mankind.

Here in Africa we celebrate the advent of a new era for Zimbabwe – Uncle Bob has finally resigned and also here: at the end there is no hiding anymore. And listening to all the enquiries taking place currently in the South African parliament  – screen shots of whats-app messages play a role and the time where politicians could act at will without being caught is getting less and less. Well, I am not blind to the fact that there is still lots under the radar, but it is getting more difficult to avoid public scrutiny and keep dirty little secrets behind a cloud of power. In South Africa the Guptas and Zumas are learning it in the moment the hard way…

This is indeed – even counting all the dangers coming with it – a reason to celebrate and enjoy thanksgiving day this year with our US American brothers and sisters. To celebrate the end of a chapter in history and the advent of a new era which will change the way we live, we think, we organise us and we do politics. I am sure that there is lots still to come which we haven’t even anticipated when we started the digital revolution. Living in such times of upheaval is a blessing as it opens up new opportunities to grow as a person, as a faith community and as a society. True, there are also sacrifices to make – but you can’t have light without shadow.

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

Know your history

Travel time is not only time to connect with people, but the seemingly endless time in a plane is also an excellent time to read – to be able to undisturbed venture into interesting fields of curiosity as well as beefing up knowledge on the working environment. As I live in South Africa, it is indeed interesting to dig into the history of this magnificent country but also the so-called heroes of the struggle, so often quoted at political or social events, at demonstrations and public outbursts of frustrations and lack of service delivery.
Especially students love to quote their heroes like Steve Biko or Chris Hani; often they even see themselves as the qualified successors of those being killed during the struggle or directly thereafter in the chaos before the first democratic elections.
Reading about the two just mentioned I realize how much our youth in South Africa would be able to learn from them, if and when they would take the time out to study them – to really understand their struggle credentials and their thoughts about a South Africa, free of racism, corruption and nepotism – and free of the entitlement seemingly earned as a result of often a false historical narrative of the ruling party – leaving out the essence of real struggle – the internal struggle, the dreams and aspirations hard-worked for in times of hardship and discrimination.

How much easier would be to deal with questions of land reform, of free education, of racism and obviously with it on all other pressing issues –  if before using the buzzword decolonization and so-called radical economic transformation a part of shown energy would focus on learning from the struggle heroes how to seriously deal with the injustices of the past. But this would mean also to open up to the part of the struggle history which isn’t pretty but ugly and which does not fit into the narrative of some veterans.

The example of Zimbabwe and its struggle to rid itself from uncle Bob shows how difficult it is to maneuver through complicated matters if one does not honestly face the truth and reality of the presence and the past. The nepotism and corruption within the South African political elite shows what all can go wrong if one bends and distorts history and sell it to the next generation as the truth. It seems no society is willing to learn on the long run – it’s a pity because at the end it betrays the revolution and liberation people fought hard for and a lot ultimately died for. And it betrays those hoping for a better life now, promised again and again and often failing to appear in their lifetimes.

And one does not need to sit in an plane to have time to read – the libraries established all over the country give enough material and any quiet summer night will do to read and learn – for the better good of our society. And a knowledgeable society becomes automatically also a more healthy society – and that is what we all should strive for – healthy physically and mentally which is inter-connected as we all know.

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

Speechless

South Africa:

969 murdered children in the financial year 2014/15. The shocking figure has been revealed in a written Parliamentary reply from the Police Ministry.  2013/14 financial year, there were 846 murder cases reported against children. That statistic rose by 14.5% the following year.  Over 600 children were killed with a knife, while firearms were used in almost 400 cases. Other causes of death involved poison, a booted foot, an axe and boiling oil.

Almost 900 children were murdered in South Africa from 2015 to 2016, the Institute of Race Relations has revealed. The new 2017 IRR report revealed that almost 500 000 South Africans have been murdered since 1994, with children being the most affected. Over the past decade almost 10 000 children have been murdered.
These are some of the findings from the 2017 South Africa Survey released by the IRR last month.

67 murdered children alone in the Western Province this year.

Speechless …

 

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

Prayers needed! Really?

It seems that prayers are in high demand in our days:
In South Africa ANC representatives are making the round in churches and asking for prayers to get their house in order.
In the USA politicians are praying for the victims of Las Vegas and on Facebook and social media the call for prayers is all over, from Orlando to Paris and now back in the USA we are called to pray again. Prayers are needed indeed when one sees the state of affairs in many parts of the world, when one notices the despair of people and the craziness of terror and politics and sometimes it seems terror and politics are exchangeable in the sense that people are hurt, lives cut short and common sense buried.

Maybe it is time to mention that prayers without the appropriate action will fail to do anything good except comforting those trying to  escape responsibility. Contemplation and action, prayer and deeds are interlinked as human mankind is interlinked in the spirit of Ubuntu. Sending good thoughts only work when there is the reflection what I can do to change a situation.
We could pray for hours for the well-being of the ANC here in South Africa – as long as those in charge allow for corruption, state-capture and stealing in their own midst without acting against the perpetrators no prayer will heal this situation. We can pray for hours for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting but as long as those in charge in the USA refuse to take action against the gun lobby being able to do business as usual those prayers are empty and the expression of sympathies a blunt lie.

And it is not only those who are in office – those who have elected people into office are equally guilty if they only pray instead of making sure that those voted in power are doing their work correctly and making responsible decisions. No one, not even the ANC in South Africa has a privilege to be in power – and Jesus might come earlier than expected to Mr Zuma (my South African friends will know…)  – all those in higher offices are there for a time and with a responsibility. And in a democracy the power lies with the people.

Prayer can bolster this responsibility, prayer is making this responsibility more visible as it connects to the divine, to the source of humanity and to the foundation of why we have rules and regulations and a political and social system with certain values and ethics. It is not a fix for failures, the divine does not pop in to plaster over ignorance. But prayer can be the beginning of redemption and turning around a situation. It is certainly as a connection to all beginnings a means to reflect, if necessary repent and try to do better.
Let’s hope that is meant when politicians ask for prayers or pray themselves in the public space and in front of TV cameras. And that people asking for prayers on social media also turn into themselves to look where their responsibility lies besides sharing a call for prayers.

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

South Africa: Miracles still happen

South Africa has in the moment a lot to worry about: from corrupt political leadership via rising political killings to the complete lack of moral leadership in major parts of society with all its consequences the portfolio of negativity is growing by the day. And not to forget the economical downturn and the threat of being a complete junk state on this note. Did I forget the danger to abuse pension funds to fill fiscal gaps or selling the table silver of Telkom to bail out – for the – I can’t count anymore – time to short-term fix the disaster of SAA created by a very close friend of the president, not wanting to leave till “ubaba” is gone. “Gupta” and “Statecapture” – thousands reasons to be negative adding to despair and hopelessness.

But in all this misery and after a peaceful transition in the early nineties from the inhuman Apartheid system to the dawn of democracy there is once again a shimmer of hope:
South Africa, with all its trouble and all its misery has the guts to expose big international companies on what they do best: floating best practice and just looking where the money is while throwing all ethical considerations over board:Bell-Pottinger, KMPG, SAP, McKinsey – and it seems the list will go on. It is amazing that a wounded country living through the agony of democratization and the fight to end racism and achieve equality for all its citizens is able to be a leader in forcing companies to come clean and stop hurting people, nations and basic ethical standards supposed to govern the global village. This is a ray of hope we can hold on and be proud of – especially being proud of those journalists, activists and politicians who are going for the truth as wounded healers.

And this ray of hope is the reason to I hope for another miracle: that the history of liberation movements turning into wanna-be political parties and failing their own people up to the point of destroying again what they fought for – because they can’t transform from the military battle ground to the party political debate acknowledging that the opposition parties are not the enemy anymore but part of the dynamics of democratic decision-making – that the ANC somehow finds a way to defeat this seemingly automated historical process of self-destruction and rise to the occasion of the new and democratic South Africa.

Let’s not only hope, but actively participate in all political and social processes to become what we have been in 1994 under the leadership of Madiba: a beacon of hope for the global village that human mankind can learn and evolve peacefully and meaningful for the benefit of all.

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

13th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 27th, 2018
10 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
5 months to go.

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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