God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

#ImStaying

Recently the news from South Africa and out of South Africa becoming more and more scary – the brutal murders of several girls and women, the new crime statistics with an increase of murders adding with the high unemployment rate and all the other social and economical uncertainties to the impression that is is wise to pack your bag and leave the country.

Having one of the most beautiful landscapes of the world, hosting mainly friendly and helpful people, having a floral and animal world which is so special seems not to count anymore much in this scenario. Add the racist rants of Julius Malema and other so called or want to be called politicians, the playing with the constitution regarding land reform and the sheer endless stories of corruption and missing shame for the wrongdoings on the part of those who are in charge of this country.

But nevertheless: I just signed up to the Facebook group #Imstaying – even with my privilege of double citizenship I have decided for now to put all my energy into the future of this country – one South Africa for all should become more than a slogan but a reality in our lifetime – at least the beginning of it – like Moses, before dying, seeing the promised land from far.

Giving up on this idea would kill the dreams of all the young people, born free and born even more free from the next generation – it would betray the millions of people who put their hope in a better future, it would curtail the dreams of a non-racist possibility to live not only for South Africa, but for the rest of the world.  Let us not underestimate that indeed the mix of challenges here on the tip of Africa are a mirror for the world as such – even at times more complicated and intertwined than at other places. So there is the challenge of being not only the result of a peaceful Mandela moment in time but remaining the beacon of hope for the time to come.

For this to happen we have to acknowledge the dark of the past on all sides of society – history is never purely black and white and we have to find a new language to avoid the fiction of race for  future generations.  We have to square the circle – an almost Sisyphean  task against the odds of hurt and pain, and feelings of revenge and all sorts of compensation in an infinite loop. Being hurt and being able to heal, being disappointed but able to produce hope, being human and at the same time outgrowing what we thought is possible in our lifetime and with our abilities.

Dreaming big – not letting go – focusing on what is really worth it – not giving into despair – that are the points of reference when it is said: #ImStaying

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

Corrective rape and murder

Lerato Moloi from Soweto / South Africa seems to be the latest victim of the so-called “corrective rape” , defined as a hate crime in which one or more people are raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The word “murder” does not need any further explanation. An explanation is indeed needed why South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world – including “corrective rape” used to “cure” lesbian women of their homosexuality.
It seems that in a country having lost the moral compass and moral leadership a longer time ago the ugly head of homophobia trends against one of the most advanced constitutions in recent history.
Added to this is surely also the message of religious institutions labeling same-sex love as not natural or intrinsic evil. Evangelical Christian Talibans from the USA adding the word “un-African” to this toxic mix and at the end people are hurt or die because they just live out their true identity.
It is time to stand up, as a society, as a church, as an individual and to get vocal against hate crimes, against violence specifically in connection with gender identity or sexual orientation.
A democratic society lives from the baseline that all its people have the rights stipulated in the constitution and that no ideology, no faith, no own opinion gives the right to violently “correct’ or “kill” the life, the lifestyle, the love, the commitment of the fellow neighbor. Where ever it happens we have collectively stand up, defend and at best prevent such incidents.
This is indeed also a call towards the police and courts in South Africa to act with decisiveness and not to delay or even shame those who fall victims to such horrendous crimes.
I am grateful to the Catholic Jesuit Institute – belonging to my church – that they are not silent on the crisis unfolding for our LGBTIQ brothers and sisters and all the vulnerable women and children falling victim to this crisis. Please read their statement here:

Press-statement: South Africas gender based violence-crisis/

Such topics need a presence in the media – here another recent article on the topic:

Corrective-rape-The-homophobic-fallout-of-post-apartheid-South-Africa

 

 

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

Prolonged Good Friday and hopefully Easter in South Africa

Tomorrow Christians around the world are celebrating Easter – feast of the resurrection. It feels odd to me on first sight as South Africa seems to “enjoy” a prolonged Good Friday experience – crucified by corruption, downgrading, political ignorance, state capture and witnessing an agonizing dead of a liberation movement trying to turn into a political party. And not only on the level of politics and society but also on an personal level Good Friday continues: poverty, lack of food security, high crime rates, xenophobia – maybe this inner connect of a religious celebration and reality brought so many people to churches all over the country yesterday; the sense and recognition of despair and sometimes the knowledge that alone one can’t stem the wave of all this negativity. And South Africa is not alone in this prolonged Good Friday experience when we look around in the global village.

For that very reason the message of Easter, the message of resurrection, the message of hope carried by more than a billion Christians is so important in our days – Easter does not negate or take away the pain of the past or the pain of the present times but it holds the promise of a turnaround and a better future. And more: it speaks not only of a promise but for us Christians it manifests a reality that this turnaround is possible not only in a far away future, but that Easter, that resurrection can and will happen in our days if people just find the courage to act on it, simply to live it.
Easter is not so much the promise of a life after death – it is the promise that things can be turned today – the bible tells multiple stories of people encountering the risen Christ, e.g. on the way to Emmaus and always after such an encounter life is not the same anymore.

Understanding the deeper meaning of Easter frees from many anxieties – it also brings to the forefront that we are at the end all part of one,of the divine – we call it in human language we are brothers and sisters in one family. There is no race except the human race being inter-connected in the divine mystery. The day people understand that we are part of one creation – as the Apostle Paul puts it – still developing through space and times – is the day we will move forward and that will be the day Africa will be rising within the global village.

Easter, the religious message of Easter holds so much for the situation South Africa is in today – and I hope and pray that those attending the Easter celebrations in any of the churches not only are filled with hope but also filled with the energy to heal and transform our South African society for the better – ambassadors of a reality ignited in the midst of darkness.

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

Mandela Day…

Nelson Mandela International Day was launched in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on 18 July, 2009 via unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly. It was inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made a year earlier, for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”. And obviously HOPE Cape Town is also celebrating Mandela Day with a special event taking place in Blikkiesdorp this year. But I believe Mandela Day should be almost every day – there is always and every day a possibility to better the life of somebody, to make somebody smile or why not take the opportunity to better oneself – learn a new skill, try out a new approach, learn something about those we call strangers or foreigners or even of the history of this beautiful and so troubled country South Africa.
To make Mandela Day an every days efforts: this is the reason for most NGO’s being founded and run over time. Whether it is in ecology or health or youth development or whatever field – it is amazing how many people are involved in doing exactly this and in my humble opinion it outweighs all the negativity reported in the various newspapers and media outlets. We only have to realize it. Especially in South Africa, where negative headlines from corruption via crime/violence to unemployment seems to have taken over and overshadow all the good which is done around the Cape of Good Hope. So maybe Mandela Day can also inspire us to look at those little and often small efforts of good forces in the world, but not only look at them but magnifying them, supporting them, cherishing them, talking about them and last but not least taking them on as our tasks and callings of today. Do good and talk about it, inspire others to follow in the days and weeks after the very day, this would certainly change this part of the world.

Filed under: Africa, General, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Violence and no electricity

Working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in South Africa isn’t for the fainthearted, keeping the work up to standard, adjusting to new developments, identifying the gaps government is not able to fill – not to speak about the ideological and dogmatic difficulties for a priest to work in this field. Recent days and weeks are making this work even more difficult as South Africa seems to go again and again through phases of xenophobia resulting in looting of shops of foreign nationals and the wounding and killing of those seemingly being more black than a South African skin. Xenophobia and racism against other African nationals is also prevalent in our days with Durban inner city looking like a war zone and violence spreading to Johannesburg and Pretoria and other places. King Goodwill Zwelithini triggered those incidents happening now through his comments asking Non-South African people to leave South Africa accusing them of creating problems. The press quoted him saying: “As I speak to you, you find there are unsightly goods hanging all over our shops. They dirty our streets. We cannot even recognize which shop is which. They are all blocked by foreigners… We are requesting those who come from outside to please go back to their countries.”
After the killing spree in 2008 ,various flames up of xenophobia attacks on a yearly returning base and the last ones recorded beginning of the year in Soweto,it seems that nothing has been learned by politicians or society to prevent an re-occurrence. It did not help, that Edward Zuma, son of the president, adds his public comments that foreigner are exploiting South Africa and that they should rather leave.
This all creates an explosive atmosphere in the township communities, where residents ask themselves what is next watching the pictures of killings and thousands of displaced people within their own country.

Adding to this situation is the ongoing Eskom crisis in the country which plunges again and again in a more or less systematic roll out of blackouts parts of South Africa into the dark. Load shedding now for days, for most of the country three times a day no electricity and the situation is self-inflicted: the government has messed up a great deal in not allowing the national electricity provider Eskom to develop. Cadre deployment, nepotism, incompetence , Black Economic Empowerment and ignorance added and is adding to the troubles we are in here in South Africa. According to Minister Brown, the electricity problems will continue for the next two years.

What does this mean to the work environment of an organization like HOPE Cape Town? No electricity no modern communication, and even if we have electricity in our offices it does not mean those have we are trying to contact – work is constantly hampered in the moment. No electricity means in Cape Town no robots functioning – in South Africa’s most congested city, when it comes to traffic it means that travel time doubles and rush hours become a nightmare similar to Bangkok. Xenophobia gives thugs and criminals a reason to exploit such a situation and one can sense the unease building up in black township communities. No electricity means closed shops, lost business, candlelight meals and much more…

Violence and no electricity, illegal land occupation and fighting the demons of history (and their statues), crime and corruption, nepotism and unemployment  – South Africa has more than enough challenges in our days and makes daily life not always a pleasure. But still HOPE Cape Town and all the other NGO’s and people of goodwill (punt intended) will continue to assist turning the tide in their respective area of expertise to give hope and future to those living in South Africa.

Filed under: Africa, General, Politics and Society, Reflection, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , ,

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
5 days to go.

Ball of HOPE 2020

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 23rd, 2020
6 months to go.
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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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