MEDIA LUNCHEON BRIEFING: The winding road towards 2019 Elections

Rev Dr Frank Chikane will host a Media Luncheon Briefing under the theme: “The winding road towards NPE 2019 (2019 Elections).”

Initiated by KwaZulu Natal Christian Council (KZNCC), Members of the media are invited to attend the briefing scheduled to take place as follows:
Date:     Tuesday, 14 November 2017
Time:    12h00 for 12h30
Venue:  Dennis Hurley Centre (Durban)

RSVP :  Fr. Siyabulela Gidi  at sgidi@kzncc.org.za  OR Ms Xola Nkabinde at xolin@kzncc.org.za by no later than 15h00 on Monday 13 November 2017.

Theology on Violence, Abuse and Killing of Women

Introduction: The KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) organised a workshop on ‘Theology on Violence, Abuse and Killing of Women’. This workshop was instigated by the spate of rape and killing of women during the months of June – July August 2017 in South Africa. It is observed that besides the current killing of women the question of abuse of women is conspicuous in South Africa. In other quotas it is said that South Africa has become the rape capital of the world.

The province of KwaZulu-Natal has its share of the abuse and killing of women. In the backdrop of our discussion was the situation we are trying to describe in this introductory paragraph. This workshop was attended by students and a lecturer from the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary (SMMS), a contingency of ministers from the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (SKZNCC), ministers from the Midlands Christian Council (MCC), and the staff of KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC). We had an individual from Tromp Foundation, KRCC and Life and Resurrection.

Discussion:

Women Treated as Property: Though not all participants accede to the notion that women at one stage in human and Biblical history were treated as mere property by individuals, families, male counterparts and society, some hold to the view that women had always occupied a position of significance and recognition, in some cultures and societies.

Though women’s position of significance and recognition may not have been given the acknowledgement it deserved they were important players in those societies. The majority of the participants subscribe to the idea that women were not taken seriously in both human and Biblical histories till very late in the eighteenth century enlightenment and in modern times of the introduction of human rights.  The view that culture and religious systems were instrumental in suppressing women to date seemed to be welcomed.

South Africa is a Violent Society: The participants made an observation that South Africa is a violent society. It is perceived that it is in the public arena that 1 out of 3 women in South Africa experienced some form of violence in many shades such as sexual, emotional, cultural, social, domestic, psychological, political and economic. The participants said the violence against women is systemic and structural.

That the social structures are the embodiment of violence against women, conscious or unconscious. That the societal body-politic, laws and policies are made such that  women are marginalised and made dysfunctional in a society where masculinity is the dominant form of social expression against femininity.

Women who entre this masculine society are expected and so act as if there was no gender change in the system. Women are expected to conform to the system. Those who try to transform the social system are frowned upon both openly or clandestinely.

Socialisation: The issue of socialisation came up once more. Whenever a discussion is taken on the abuse, violence and suppression of women the concern about socialisation come up. In this instant a question arises as to which generation is prepared to stop the spiral of different ways in which society raises male and female persons.

The question has long been on the table but where is the national programme of action in schools and society which seek to correct the problem of inferiority and superiority complexes engendered by society – on notions of socialisation?

One could argue that: “Both men and women of all nations are made in the image of God. According to the theology of equality and gender, women and men are co-substantial, co-equal and co-existent just as the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit are in the God-head in the Trinity. Women and men are created in the image of the same God, as one flesh and one spirit (Gen. 1: 26 – 29; 2: 7, 23). Women and men are made of the same material substance. The choice of gender and human sexuality or sexual orientation is not a human privilege – meaning humans have no privilege of choosing their gender from conception.” (Ngoetjana L M, 2017). What happens then? Since it is observed that social structures have entrenched violence against women, the patriarchal complement of it destroys the ego and the confidence of women to take on the lower position of society. This is also done with the assistance of women who have been so socialised in the patriarchal system and it happens it looks like it is a women’s thing. Women are addressing the younger ones as to how to behave and take your feminine part in this ‘particular family, or community or society’. It is told this has always been the case from time immemorial and so it will stand.

Economic and Social Power: The participants then discussed the nexus between economic and social power. It was muted out that economic power supersedes social power. That the economic and the social power do meet at the interconnection. And yet social power is negligible without economic power. The same is the case that political power is insignificant and meaningless without economic power. Ultimately economic power for women will be ‘Good News as unto the poor, the powerless, the marginalised and the oppressed as women would be in our societies.

What is Good News to the women, the poor and marginalised? “Otherwise, what is good news to the sinners? Is it not to know that their sins are forgiven? And to the blind; that their sight is restored? And to the poor; that their spiral of poverty is broken? And to the marginalised; that there is equal opportunity for all? And to the homeless; that there is land available on which they can build their houses? Indeed, this led us to the radical reidentification of Christianity and the great commission. Formally, Christianity was identified with:  Laissez fair capitalism, individual initiative, fear of government control of the market, the power of the power of consumer in social and economic change, the upward mobility of class structures, democracy as the most suitable (biblical form of government, organisation as the key to maximum development, the inevitability of progress, the middle class as a source of class and the progress in society (Sider 1981: 64).

But, contextual theologies have made their point clear that according to their reading of the Bible, Christianity was a grassroots movement. The gospel was addressing social problems in the same strength as with all other concerns especially those that were affecting the poor and the marginalized directly. Jesus did not mince his words when it came to giving support and being in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed of his time. He set an example for us to be concerned about the plight of the poor and oppressed of our situations (In Ngoetjana L M 2014). The same Jesus was known to be on the side with of women in a very religio-patriarchal society which was excluding them in priestly religious practices in particular.

The Great Commission: It was further noted in the discussion that participants must not neglect the Great Commission. An input was made that participants must rise above the perception of the world and society in material terms only. The participants were persuaded to the direction that the issues we are discussing – of the abuse and violence against women have a spiritual dimension which calls for the application of the Great Commission and fervent preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This input was welcome and acknowledged as the very part and mission of the Church in the world as much as the church must not leave out the issues of Social Justice.

Way Forward

As a way forward the narrator as a reporter wants to bring in a caution which comes from the angle of Practical Theology. The caution says much that we have theologized we need to listen to the actual real stories of women who have suffered various form of violence and abuse. The participants must look at the specifics of every story teller in context and taking note of particular details in order to come up with a practical plan of action towards the transformation of the plight of women enduring violence from our society. It is called the narrative of social-constructionist approach.

 

“The narrative or social-constructionist approach on the contrary forces us to firstly listen to the stories of people struggling in real situations, not merely to a description of a general context, but to be confronted with a specific and concrete situation. This approach to practical theology, although also hermeneutical in nature, is more reflexive in its approach and method. It takes the circular movement of practice-theory-practice seriously and brings it into operation. Practical theology, according to this approach, indeed becomes part of “doing theology” and takes the social-constructions, within actual contexts, seriously. The practical theologian in this case, is not so much concerned with abstractions and generalisations but rather with the detail of a particular person’s story” (Muller, J).

The participants said as a way forward:

  1. We need a strong emphasis on the Gospel of repentance which is life transforming.
  2. The Councils of Churches must be the voice of influence by creating platforms of dialogue and campaign against violence towards women in the communities.
  3. The Councils of Churches must be visible in the communities were women are violated and just be in workshops.
  4. We must affirm women and encourage them to take positions of leadership.
  5. Let see and hear women liberate themselves.
  6. Stories of good men must be told.
  7. Influence media on positive stories of men.
  8. Men must be encouraged to neglect benefits of patriarchal systems and sacrifice in solidarity with women.

Collated: Dr L M Ngoetjana

Staff retreat hailed as ecumenism at its best!

retreat-2

The staff members of the ecumenical bodies including KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council, KwaZulu Regional Christian Council, Southern KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council, Thukela Amajuba Mzinyathi Christian Council and Midlands Christian Council were delighted at the opportunity to unwind and enjoy the allure of nature in Mtunzini, northern KwaZulu-Natal, while equally reflecting on the successful run of 2016.

The purpose of the outing was for stakeholders to take stock of achievements and challenges encountered during the year. This also presented an amazing opportunity for members to mingle and learn about each other better outside the confines of the daily grind.

Musa Zwake, Deputy Director at KZNCC, said it was a privilege for the organisation to be to provide an opportunity like this to interact with each for a common good. “I’m inviting all of us to seize the moment and be here in our fullness. This is a space for us to reflect individually and as a collective in a jovial mood and environment.”

It was important to use this time, not only to refresh, but also prepare for the tasks ahead. “As we retreat, we are not running away from the communities or the world, we are not isolating ourselves; but we seek to see the world from and without,” said Rev. Mathias Nkomo, KRCC Chairperson.

oRev. Nkomo put cherry on top by quoting the body theology used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 22, which explains that our talents and gifts are interdependent. As such let’s all be guided by the principle that “my talent needs your talent, your talent needs my talent”.

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International Aids Conference 2016

Faith in Action at AIDS 2016 – Spread the News!

10 March 2016

Planning for the 21st International AIDS Conference (1822 July 2016 – Durban, South Africa), is in full swing, and the AIDS 2016 conference promises to be an intense networking, learning, and advocacy experience for all.

The World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA) has now re-launched www.iacfaith.org, where information on faith-based activities at AIDS 2016, including the Interfaith Pre-conference, is being shared. The website will be updated regularly, with new information also highlighted through Facebook and Twitter (@e_alliance).

Together we can increase the visibility and positive impact of the faith-based response to HIV by actively participating in AIDS 2016 – physically in Durban and virtually through all our communication channels.

Please share your news about AIDS 2016 with us – new resources, articles, and activities being planned for AIDS 2016 – which can be added to the website. Send your news to Sara Speicher at sara.speicher@wcc-coe.org

Place a link on your website to www.iacfaith.org, and share the link with your network to highlight coordinated faith-based activities.

If you are on Twitter, use the hashtag #FaithAIDS2016 to share your activities, resources and news.

Participate in the Interfaith Pre-Conference – consider leading a workshop, exhibit materials, or just plan on engaging in the rich networking and learning experience.

Plan on communicating the events and issues at AIDS 2016 through your networks. News releases, blogs, resources, photos and video will be available in advance and during the conference for your use.

Latest news on Faith in Action: AIDS 2016

Interfaith pre-conference

The interfaith pre-conference will be held 16-17 July. The venue will be announced soon, with the goal to have the pre-conference close to the main conference venue so that people can stay in the same accommodation for both.

If you need accommodation, this should be booked through the main conference organizers at www.aids2016.org.

Global and local organizing committees established

The Global Organizing Committee was appointed by the WCC-EAA International Reference Group in January 2016. The GOC plans the Interfaith Pre-Conference and sets the overall direction, priorities, policies and related planning for faith-based activities coordinated and supported by the WCC-EAA.

The Local Host Committee was formed in 2015 and has helped enormously in the initial planning for AIDS 2016. The LOC plans and facilitates the logistical aspects of global faith-based participation in AIDS 2016, including the pre-conference, and facilitates South African-based interfaith input and advocacy during conference.

Committee members are listed at www.iacfaith.org/about

The WCC-EAA is very grateful for the commitment and willingness of GOC and LHC members to contribute their time and expertise to make faith-based participation at AIDS 2016 meaningful and effective.

Interfaith Prayer Room and Chaplains Programme

The WCC-EAA is working with conference organizers to provide an interfaith prayer room during the main conference. Ten chaplains from different faiths have been selected to lead services and provide pastoral counseling on request.

Ecumenical Media Team

A small, professional communications team will cover faith-based activities and issues at AIDS 2016. Follow the coverage at www.iacfaith.org.
If you have any questions, please contact

Nonceba Ravuku (Ecumenical and Interfaith Consultant for AIDS 2016), aids2016@cabsa.org.za

Francesca Merico (WCC-EAA HIV Campaign Coordinator), francesca.merico@wcc-coe.org

African Governments Colluding With Land Grabbers

African governments colluding with land-grabbers at the expense of the poor

Scores of Church related Organisations operating in SADC region have criticised the African governments for betraying people by allowing massive land grabbing by foreign multi-national companies. Church leaders and activists from six SADC countries (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, DRC, South Africa and Angola) who met in Durban from 16 to 18 October singled out national elites and African governments as the major actors in land- grabbing. They felt that lax laws were allowing the rich foreign corporates to displace the poor to pave way for mining, game reserves, golf estates and agricultural activities in pursuit of their own profits. The Durban based Catholic Cardinal Wilfred Napier, who was part of the workshop lamented that the poor people seem to have lost importance in eyes of their governments and the corporates. He said they only gain prominence during election times and are conveniently forgotten immediately thereafter.

One of the common issues which continued to emerge from presentations of participating countries is the governments’ slow pace or reluctance to protect people’s land rights. Most countries experience cases where ordinary people were given short to long term land leases that are subject to cancellations. While in other circles Zimbabwe has been commended for giving land to the poor through its fast track programme, the question of land tenure security is still contentious.

The 30 participants shared experiences showing that tenure systems in all Southern African countries are open to abuse and misuse by political elites, multi-corporates and traditional authorities. In Zambia local communities are being displaced to make way for mining activities, eg Solwezi district.

The participants strongly urged church leaders to redistribute church land and seek experts to offer advice on use of church land for food production and job creation. Bad governance and greed seem to have taken over in the distribution of God’s given natural resources. Speaking during the same land summit Methodist Bishop and Chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council Mike Vorster

called upon the South African government to abandon the willing buyer and willing seller land policy. Bishop Vorster said the policy was trying to balance two contrasting interests of the white landowners and the landless black majority, a situation he described as unworkable. The Church organisations resolved to lobby African governments to depoliticise and de-commodify land. As they plan massive mass mobilisation and campaigns in the entire SADC region, the group appeals to African parliaments to come up with laws that protect land owners, promote land rights and to criminalise massive land grabbing.

For any further inquiries please contact us on the details provided below.

Bishop Mike Vorster

Chairman of KwaZulu Natal Christian Council

072 4773618/0837353003