God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

GBV horror

stop-gender-based-violenceIt seems to explode after easing the lockdown a bit in South Africa: Gender based violence. So much so that President Ramaphosa used his last address on national TV to call it a war against women, not to forget children.
The news of victims being raped, killed, burned, thrown away next to roads and motorways are piling up while social media is used by the police to celebrate having arrested another load of cigarettes on their way to the consumers during prohibition of sale.
It is a fact we also know from other instances:
While stealing millions gives you a free pass surfing the waves in lockdown sets whole cohorts of policemen in motion. More than 250 000 South Africans became criminals during the first weeks of lockdown while thieves enjoy their time as Members of Parliament seemingly untouched.
And there lies also the problem with Ramaphosa’s appeal to wage war against the war on women: he lacks meanwhile often the political authority let alone moral credibility to be really heard and listened to.

The South African society has first to start much more reconciliation and healing before this war can be won – and for this to happen it needs credible leader and generally a leadership which does not use the past as a weapon to keep wounds open, BEE as a Ponzi scheme to enrich the connected and allow for corruption to fester and poison further an anyhow potentially volatile situation.

South Africa’s past lingers unhealed in the presence, not only apartheid, but the Boer war, the British concentration camps and not to forget the influence of faith and religion as a driver for freedom and injustice at the same time. South Africa is in so many ways a concentrated and painful mirror and an example of the woes and traumata societies and countries are going through looking at their suppressed past. A global phenomenon so visible at the moment.

Now add to this poverty and desperation and the feeling of powerlessness of many South Africans to change their situation.

This mix of unhealed historical burden and current impotence to escape renders the problem of alcohol in our society  explainable – alcohol is a very human way of trying to sooth the pain and relax the mood, but it is also a way of trying to escape reality and at the end it leads to irrational behaviour and dependency. Or addiction which is close to unruly behaviour and often violence.

To overcome, to heal, to reconcile, to move forward as humans, as society, as a human race we need moral and impeccable leadership, fellow humans whose interest is the well-being of all instead of a few and whose actions bring people together. People who then see themselves as equal, who thrive on the idea of complementing each other to move forward for the benefit of all.

To end GBV does not come cheap – but it is worth every effort and sacrifice.

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

The shadows of the past come to bite back…

Psychologists can get carried away talking about the shadows of the past – the déjà vu of things coming back and the bible speaks about the sins of the forefathers still haunting the generations to come.
Somehow this came to my mind listening the announcements of the lady, who once fought to keep antiretroviral treatment out of South Africa, then wasted millions of money on a play which never took of in the ages of HIV and now seamingless transitioned into the teacher-for-small-kids-style bearer of bad news, being inconsistent and partly making no sense at best.

The news given came from the “COVID-19 Command Council” – a structure deemed suspiciously absent in the constitution and the laws of the land – created by the President without visible and clear discussions in the National Parliament. In a way it feels like emergency laws of some sorts are back and looking at the divide between suburban with people following the rules and becoming upset social media snitches in WhatsApp groups and in real life while scenes of brutality by law agencies and military in townships even trigger the concern of the UN.  Does that not sound familiar for those living all their lives in South Africa?

And there is the President, sweet-talking once in a while and trying to build momentum for the crisis to be tackled meaningful – but let’s be honest: Don’t come to mind the many crisis commands and war rooms from Eskom to whatever where a certain Deputy President was tasked to solve problems – anyone present to vouch for meaningful results in all those cases?

And last but not least the inconsistency in announcements, the forward and backward within formalising the rules – sold to us as part of the process guided by science and data we were never privy to see – so much about transparency – and in truth the turf war between those trying to abuse the situation for a so-called new economy-not-for-all South Africans, but spiked by race consideration, add RET mixed with socialist and communist recipes – aiming at bringing down a country out of ideological considerations.

So here we are now:
Having been sold a way out of lockdown only to realise that the new rules are again have inconsistencies and partly don’t make any sense.
Jogging outside and walking the dogs is allowed under strict conditions, but please when certainly no sun is shining early in the morning before sunrise – being out in the sun after 5 weeks of been completely locked away would indeed be harmful for health.
A complete curfew from 8 pm – leaving the chefs of the restaurants offering dinner-to-order scramble to clean the kitchen and be home at that time – and giving those delivery-services no time to really do their job – because they have to be home when business is needed to perform: dinner time.
Cigarettes are banned again after being the promise of sale allowed – the black markets are in delight and surely a certain political party too if whispers is to believe that this trade financed political activities and leaders too.

But not all is doom and gloom – some beauty products are now allowed to be bought by the desperate citizens of this country – and personal computer equipment after 5 weeks of digital homeschooling without the luxury of exchanging broken equipment: at least now the broken mouse can be replaced.
People, who were caught up not at home when lockdown was announced have now one opportunity to get home – if and when transport is available. And obviously police and military manning roadblocks are on the newest level of updated information, because that seems to be another constant weakness of the system: the uncertainty and grey areas of what is allowed and what not and the often reported ignorance of law enforcement making up their own rules.

Shadows of the past coming to bite in the current time – Covid-19 is showing clearly how much of the “old” is still prevalent in the country, the system, in the agencies and the behaviour of people. The new democracy has less been embraced than many have thought, the danger and temptation of authoritarian rule  is present and the complete lack of remorse for the years of state sponsored looting and its appreciation when talking about the 500 billion rescue package triggering the fear of corruption doesn’t promise an easy future for South Africa.

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

#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, , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , ,

History prevails – South Africa after the #NoConfidenceVote

There was hope, there were prayers, demonstrations on the streets to voice the displeasure – but even all the news about the Gupta’s and state capture was at the end not good enough to beat history:
the lesson that most struggle and liberation warriors cannot be transformed into democratic politicians – the gaps are simply to big and the mindsets are simply to different. Paired with the cadre deployment of often not very well-educated and trained people whose only credential are faithfulness to the party and the respective leadership with no own thinking makes it even worse. Add a leadership who still is in battle and sees an opposition as “the enemy” – the second miracle of the rainbow nation did not happen today. So the outcome was to be expected by those being realistic even when hope sometimes took over for some lucky moments.
History shows that those coming from the struggle first have to damage and hurt the liberated society almost to the point of no return before things can change. Countries in South America, but also neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe or Mozambique are good examples of what to expect.

Ideology trumps common sense – and if you have a streetwise clever president who uses the structures of the organisation to enrich himself and to escape justice – South Africa will have to learn that the Madiba magic was a once off and that there is nothing special about the country. The often-heard entitlement of young people – born out of the motion of being a special breed of people – mixed with the disappointment of the majority seeing that most of their own leaders are only looking for their own advantage –  will not prevail and fail the test of time. The “fat cats” promised not to be seen under an ANC led government according to Mandela now harvest the goodies while most people still struggle and the economic is spiralling down.

The Andiles and Malemas of South Africa are not helping either – and as long the terms of “white” and “black” are common weapons to attack each other – nothing will change, but society will play into the hands of those in charge and taking away the riches of the country or handing it over to an Indian family and other friends.

South Africa will have to come to grips with the fact that it is not at rock bottom yet – and that more pain and more suffering will come before there is a turn for the better. Yes, history prevails but this also means that after defeat comes victory – it also means that nothing lasts forever and that hopefully more and more people speed up the process of changing course for a better and more prospect South Africa. And for that reason – and for the sake of those suffering from their own brothers and sisters now in government – we have to continue working for a better and just society so that South Africa is seen again as an example of hope and healing for the whole continent.

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

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