“Giving birth to a new people” - Jaco Botha


"I am ordained in the Dutch Reformed Church. It is the Church that is at the origin of apartheid, the Church of the old rulers of this country. They are the ones who thought about and developed the ideology of racial division. Our story is a story of segregation. This is the truth in which we as a church has to serve, both coming to terms with our sin and becoming a true part of Africa. This ghost continues to haunt us even until today, more than 20 years after our first democratic elections. We are still far from a true democracy in South Africa. Access to education, adequate health services, employment and sanitation still remain elusive for many South Africans. This fuelled the anger that led to 2016’s protests known as the #feesmustfall movement. Black students demanded institutional reform in lower tuition fees, access to university and a more inclusive language policy.

How to accompany young people so that they take in hand their destiny, their history and free themselves of structures which robbed them their dignity? I am beginning to understand that giving birth to a new people is a difficult struggle. Here at Legacy, we offer security to people, we support them, we accompany them to heal trauma and violence. I am here because I need to be delivered from an ideology that was transmitted to me by my forefathers. I am not here to talk about God, but because I seek God to be cured of racism and xenophobia. The people I work with contribute to my healing. I cannot write or preach without the stories of people here. Many people come from abroad to save Africa. We do not need the United Nations or the big aid agencies to save us. The love we need is here. We are on our way, on a long road, to love each other despite new wounds. We do not need money, we do not need a plan, but we need people who love us, who help us to become ourselves, who are in solidarity with this birth, who carry with us the traumas, the cross of Christ to live the resurrection that escapes the control of the human being. This is where I see hope!

Louis Van Der Riet, Zanele Kumalo, Ntobekhaya Sibene, Wynand Marc Breytenbach and Jaco Botha, April 2018 in Taizé

During the passed years, we faced a massive looting of public resources by those in the authority of the state and those in politcs. Yet we have seen the South African Council of Churches play a prophetic role in advocating for justice and public accountability for the government.

Ubuntu - "I am what I am because of who we all are"- is Africa’s gift to the human family, an hybrid theology. My hope is that we can create a society where we can consider that the other helps me to become more myself. I would not be myself if there were no other Africans. Not recognizing this leads to arrogance. The Afrikaners live a similar path to that of the Germans after the Second World War. The fault must be assumed. But there is more, there is the image of God in every human being for all. It’s a path. "

Jaco Botha, PhD Theology, Stellenbosh.

Last updated: 15 May 2018