God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

If a “gangster” calls a “gangster” a “gangster”

This was my spontaneous thought when I heard EFF’s Julius Malema, the man who once defended and desperately wanted to die for Jacob Zuma rose on his feet at the opening of South Africa’s Parliament to scream and shout at the giggling President before being forcefully removed. Later that eve I could not find any compassion with Mr Julius complaining that he might not be able to hold a pen when having an exam the next day because he felt injured during the scuffles broken out when pushed out of the chamber.

Why should it matter to ordinary South Africans?

Because yesterdays calamities mirrored the downfall of the New South Africa in a way which revealed how the struggle for power, the lack of healing within society, the inability of changing the mindset from struggle to democracy and the lack of education and ethics in the cadres and the consequence of repetitive learning instead of thinking outside the box creates a framework for every decent South African in which survival is the first and nation building comes at the end.
The show of force, the intimidation of public, journalists and politicians by an almost authoritarian lock-down of a whole city to protect one man and his cronies is indeed a treat to the future of this beautiful country.

So, next question: Why does this all matter to a blog of “God, Aids, Africa and HOPE”?

The work of HOPE Cape Town, as most other NGO’s does not stop in its defined portfolio – in our case HIV, Aids,TB and related illnesses. It is in its holistic approach assisting those marginalized and as such a tool  supporting nation building. Looking into the social circumstances, allowing for a healthy development of life, taking away the tread of dead, reassuring people of their worth, showing compassion and in doing so leading by example – all those little mosaic pieces are needed to fill the bigger puzzle picture of a prosperous South Africa. Like in a motor-block the smallest screw is important to make the entire motor run round.
The backbone of such an adventure to make South Africa a shining example of a functioning democracy where every citizen counts and is appreciated is Parliament where members should explore and decide with dignity and reason on the framework for such a way forward. In a highly demoralized society which still licks the wounds of apartheid the role model function of MP’s and the institutions concerned is even higher than usual.

Yesterday evenings’ events show the promise of more dark hours for South Africa to come – and as long as the ANC is not able and willing to let go of a president having lost all credibility and recall him demagogues like Malema will have easy play with harsh consequences for this country. It’s up to us all to stop this in its traces and to work even harder to transform and heal this country – and important is this combination. “radical transformation” will not work – because healing needs time and dialogue and if we want to use the word “radical” in this context then only “radical compassion” and “radical dedication” towards our goal will bring the wanted outcome for every South African.

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

Every struggle hero a good politician?

The ANC manifesto will tell South Africans exactly who to vote for, says President Jacob Zuma and I guess he means it. He means it differently as I or others will understand it. And I have to admit that elections in South Africa posses tough choices. The problem of the ANC is a problem also churches face: Glorifying the past and telling people how good one has been at times does not qualify for office in these times. Or to phrase it differently: Not every struggle veteran is a good politician – what wisdom could the ANC gain if they would acknowledge and honor those having been in the struggle but also being honest that most of them not qualify to run a country or a province. This assessment is does not lack respect – the opposite is the case: one respects the achievements while acknowledging the limitations. Every period of time needs people up to tasks of the specific time. It’s up to an organization to acknowledge that and up to the wisdom of people concerned to step aside as “honored elderly”. Because this is not happening in South Africa and only people in line with any statement made by the senior officials and struggle heroes can climb up the carer ladder we are in the predicament as it unfolds today. Exactly because of that, “Malemas” can rise and try to destroy even more the future of South Africa.
The ANC will rule forever says the president and shows very bluntly, that he has not understood what democracy means. It is not about a party – it is about honoring those who brought freedom and give this generation the chance to develop a country by democratic means and with the eduction and freedom attached which is needed to develop into a healed and healthy society.

The South African society needs healing more than anything else – and even for that we need people able to heal instead of singing struggle songs and showing clearly that they are not willing to see this as their proud history with no prominent role in our days. And no, I am not anti ANC at all – I really hope that this party, like also others by the way, can meet that transformation for the better good of the people. Because only then the state will function without corruption; only then health services and fundamental service deliveries will take place in a fashion suitable and acceptable for the masses. Only then politicians will understand that they serve the people and not themselves and their families – only then people in power don’t have the urge to compensate for lost gains in the times of struggle.

History comes in chapters – it’s time that we allow for a new chapter, memorizing the past without letting ourselves and our action been poised by the blame game. Only reconciliation and healing will bring the future. So once again: let’s honor the heroes of the struggle and let’s form a new generation of politicians able to overcome the divide plaguing our country years into democracy.

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

South Africa not in good shape but there is still hope

Christmas time and New Year, also time for the matric results to be published and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will praise the improvement of the pass rate from 60,6% in 2009 to 76,6% in 2013. Not spoken will be about the grim realities surrounding this result:
* The low pass rate: pupils must achieve 40% in their home language and in two other subjects, and a minimum of 30% in the remaining subjects. They can fail in only one of their seven subjects.
* Extra exams for tertiary education: more and more universities ask for extra entrance or literacy tests and compulsory enhancement programs because they do not trust the matric certificate.
* Drop outs at school level: the total number of matric pupils who write the exams is half of those starting education – the other half is gone, be it through economic difficulties or for other personal or social reasons.
* Drop outs at University level: over 50% of those starting to study will not graduate, so a report of the Council for Higher Education chaired by Professor Njabulo Ndebele
It seems like in many other instances that the assessment of realities tend to differ sharply in South Africa and it is not only the fire pond baptized swimming pool of Nkandla. 20 years into democracy this society has not found its feet somehow and is still struggling to meet the dreams of those being liberated with the end of Apartheid.
I am not thinking South Africa is doomed to fail but I hear and notice things which indicates that there is still room for improvement in many ways and I don’t mean the remaining high crime rate, the lack of service delivery, worker unions which want to be government, representation of workers and capitalists at the same time, Malemas and there-likes  etc. Coming from Germany, where I was born in a city where US Americans ran a major airbase in Europe, in my childhood “black people” were rich people because they had the dollars. Moving to South Africa I learned how different worlds can be and I had to adjust to open and hidden conflicts between races and ethnic groups on a level not known before. Even thinking that I keep an open mind and a hopeful outlook, I catch me out at times to have doubtful thoughts indicating a deeper problem: Driving often to Parklands Mainroad I see all those youngsters standing there waiting to be picked up for a day’s job. Often I thought, it would be nice to employ somebody when help is needed but one reads so much about crime and spying out opportunities that I simply don’t have the courage to stop and give one of them the livelihood for today. It shows how deep mistrust is sewed into the heart and mind of people including me.  The same applies when it comes to the suspicion of corruption: Seeing not so talented drivers in big new shiny cars often brings up the thoughtful question whether hard work or corruption has brought this car on the street. I admit: it is a shame, but such thoughts are crossing my mind and with all the obvious corruption, from hungry police officers in Johannesburg asking for chicken wings at a police control up to Nkandla and all those politicians, people in power and the tiny group of multimillionaire turned BEE applicants it might be even excusable.  And I am sure I am not the only one having such thoughts.
Flying often from Cape Town to Johannesburg return and seeing the attitude of many at destination taken away by government cars I must hold on not raising my voice and telling those people what “service” in democracy means.
Despite those observations are all the positive points South Africa can show off with: besides breath-taking nature and mostly friendly and compassionate people with a smile on their face, natural resources, a young generation willing to take the challenge if society and education gives them the equipment needed. So there is so much positive to cherish in this country.

I sometimes have the feeling that our society here has come out of the truth and reconciliation commission process knowing most of what happened in the past, but had no time to heal the wounds of the past. A government blaming Apartheid for every own failure does not help to let wounds close and scarfs appear, which are still present as a reminder, but they do not hurt anymore. I honestly think South Africa is in need of better leaders on all levels, showing an example how to serve a nation instead of milking it in many ways. And for me, there are in every political party people who could rise to the challenge. I had the opportunity to speak to politicians of different parties and I am convinced that South Africans can take on the challenge of transforming this country to be a beacon of hope for all of Africa. We just have to escape the spell of corruption, lies, dishonesty and the devils circle of senseless violence marring this country. Healing is for me the miracle word, healing of a collective nations psyche.
Churches can play a big role in this – furthering the process of healing and being the needed conscience of the nation if and when they put aside they own agenda and just being willing to serve the people without the intention to proselytize or forcing their own believe system on a nation. There is an existing ethos we all can agree of – be it the golden rule or the principles of world ethos as described by Hans Kueng and his world ethos project. The justice and peace projects of the Roman – Catholic Church is another example of trying to support and assist this process. Other churches have similar portfolios. So there is hope for me – and I hope that this hope will be carried through to a year of elections which can be won or lost by any party; and there is no entitlement of owning certain parts of this democratic process – a good government, a strong opposition, separation of powers and the goodwill of all people should prevail and bring us a step forward. A blessed New Year to all.

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A bit of spring cleaning…

Just a little bit of spring cleaning for the blog, here and there some changes and off we go – ready for all what will come in the coming month. Marikana and all the other strikes indicate that South Africa is going into a rough time – also thanks to Zuma, Malema and the question who gets the top at the ANC conference.

We must take good care not to lose it – that 3000 illegal striking people with partly new weapons (watch the footage) stop 21000 other people willing to work – and that all outside the unions – shows what potential for trouble we have. Stoning and killing people who want to work, endangering lives like now in Gauteng with the truck driver are alarm bells for our society.
It time for our politicians and those in power to stop to look for themselves and their families and clans but deliver to those in need. Just not only pay lip services but mean their Sunday sermons. Crime rate, corruption, unemployment, a rotting health deliver in parts of the country despite new buildings – its time that everybody does their spring cleaning and start afresh.

South Africa has so many possibilities – lets work together to create a future for all. Everybody in his or her environment. And please, for the bigger part no apartheid excuses anymore – the rainbow nations is full of South Africans, right?

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

Munich..

Second day in Munich with quite some contacts. Meeting with representatives of the Bavarian Staatskanzlei and discuss matters interesting for both sides. Lots of phone contacts and a discussion for a participation on a brief documentary piece for German TV. Preparation for the meeting tomorrow with the Kath. Stiftungsfachhochschule as well as some sponsors and politicians. Emails and other correspondence are waiting for replies. All in all a full day and a great beginning for the third week. This trip is a blessing indeed and I appreciate the talks, discussions, encounters and communication because it shows that HOPE Cape Town is on the right way and still attractive to many supporters and sponsors. But it is much more than only the question of money – it is good to see that people engage with South Africa and its problems, that they really try to understand our situation @ the Cape of Good Hope. The political turmoil within the ANC, the Malema Saga and much more is of concern for those who want to support South Africa and its NGO’s. So for me this trip is not only about HOPE Cape Town but also about being a bridge and trying to explain the situation which looks from far away so different from the one we living in South Africa can see and experience every day.

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
5 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2017

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 13th, 2017
The Southern African - German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and HOPE Cape Town looking forward to celebrate this event with you - more info: admin@hopecapetown.com

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