NORTH WEST PROVINCE
AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
SOUTH AFRICA'S NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT

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07/08/2017
STATEMENT OF THE JOINT MEETING OF PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES OF BOKONE BOPHIRIMA AND FREE STATE PROVINCES




OPEN LETTER ON THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH IN SOUTH AFRICA BY SUPRA MAHUMAPELO
19/04/2014
SUPRA MAHUMAPELO

Viva liberation, Viva justice, Viva the Church!

Today, the 19th April 2014, as I prepare to attend the church service at the Gospel of God's Church International "Mashona Church" in Signal Hill - Mahikeng, I reflected on the role of the church in the liberation struggle and the formations of the African National Congress in 1912.

The ANC was formed on 8 January 1912 by amongst others John Dude, Picley ka Isaka Seme and Sol Plaatjie along with chiefs, people's representatives, and church organizations, and other prominent individuals to bring all Africans together as one people to defend their rights and freedoms. The ANC from its inception represented both traditional and modern elements, from tribal chiefs to church and community bodies and educated black professionals.

The Church is in the business of liberation and that of transformation, particularly the role played by Independent African Churches, such as Ethiopian church, the Zionist church, Messianic church and the apostolic church. I say this without moderating the role played by the western churches in the liberation of our country.

The church in general played a significant role in the struggle for the liberation of South Africa, and for its transformation from an unjust, oppressive system based on race to a free, non-racial democracy.

The church institution played this role both in both the South African and the international arena.

After the banning in October 1977 of the Black Women's Federation - among many other organizations - church women in Germany in solidarity started organizing a boycott of South African food products, called the "policy of the shopping bag". Women would stand outside food stores with placards reading: "I don't buy apples from South Africa". And when other shoppers asked them why, they gave them information about what was happening here and engaged them in discussion about the evils of apartheid.

The famous apple boycott in Germany became the forerunner of boycott movements across many countries, and led to the boycott movement against German and Swiss banks doing business with the South African regime, thereby propping up the apartheid system.

The churches' pickets had another very specific purpose - to give publicity to the people in prison and being detained without trial, being tortured and being killed. So one placard would say: "I'm standing here for Nelson Mandela," another: "I'm standing here for Walter Sisulu," another: "I'm standing here for Steve Biko. and another: "I'm standing here for Frank Chikane." And the names became familiar to everyone, as the press photographs of the picket lines spread the word.

We could talk of the World Council of Churches in Geneva and its Programme to Combat Racism set up in 1969, with its awareness-raising around the situation in South Africa and its special fund to support the liberation struggle.

We could talk of the churches in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, the USA, who collected money from thousands of ordinary Christians, members of local congregations, and with that money funded project after project of churches and NGOs in South Africa working for freedom and a just society.

We could talk of the role of the churches here in supporting those who refused to serve in the white apartheid army, and the churches in Europe through the Committee on South African War Resisters and War Resisters International who supported the young war resisters who went into exile.

We could talk of the church-supported End Conscription Campaign, which effectively mobilized thousands of young white people and their families against the apartheid regime.

We could talk of the way the church in South Africa became the only open space left for organizing, as repression increased through the 80s, and of how it became a place where trade unions and activist organizations of many kinds could meet and organize with some protection.

And we could talk of more great people of faith who became beacons of the struggle:

  • of Archbishop Desmond Tutu;
  • of Reverend Bayers Naude;
  • of Father Denis Hurley;
  • of Father Trevor Huddlestone;
  • of Reverend Frank Chikane;
  • of Father Michael Lapsley;
  • of Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa,

And hundreds of thousands of extraordinary women and men across the world as well as in South Africa who understood that their membership of the worldwide Church called them to a solidarity of action with all people, and particularly with all who suffered or who were oppressed in any way, for whom the apartheid regime was a heretical contradiction of everything Christianity stands for, and who gave themselves to put their faith into action.

The ANC will continue to include the church in its work as it had been the policy of the organisation since its formation 102 years ago to involve the clergy in its activities and programmes.

We recognize that the church remains a significant institution in the South African context and we will harness its increased importance in addressing the moral fiber of South African public life, including, using the ANC Chaplaincy as an vehicle to ensure is sustainability with the ANC. We will do so, working side by side with government established agencies such as the Moral Regeneration Movement {MRM}, and all South Africans who remain committed to ensure that we together move South Africa forward.

SUPRA MAHUMAPELO
ANC NORTH WEST CHAIRPERSON

African National Congress
Getrude Mphekwa House
Cnr Molopo & Wareen Road
Mahikeng
2745

 


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