Thursday 30 December 2010

Letter to Minister of Home Affairs, voicing concerns for Zimbabweans in South Africa

The following letter was sent to the Minster of Home Affairs, the Honorable Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, on 30 December 2010.

My dear Minister

In the days following Christmas, Christians read how the child Jesus and his family were forced to flee their home and take refuge in a neighbouring country. This year, as I have seen on television the long queues of Zimbabweans waiting to register their presence in our country, this biblical account has held fresh resonances for me, and prompted me to write to you. I trust that my words will find an empathetic response from you, who have yourself experienced exile and were fortunate enough to find welcome in a foreign place.

I want to begin by commending you and the staff at the Department of Home Affairs, for making such efforts to ensure that as many Zimbabweans as possible complete the registration process before the end of year deadline. It is a vast undertaking, which has been tackled with great commitment. Yet I am also aware that because of the very great numbers, because of the need to apply when people can take time off work, and because many have faced problems in obtaining Zimbabwean papers, there are great fears that, for reasons largely beyond their control, not all will be able to complete the process timeously.

The government has of course made it clear that there can be no repeated extensions of the deadline, for those who continue to fail to get their act together. But my great concern is that no-one who is wanting and attempting to normalise their presence in our country should be penalised because of capacity constraints or delays that are not of their own making. My particular plea is for the deadline to be implemented with true humanity that allows for elastic interpretation across a transitional period of grace – perhaps as much as another 90 days – so that all who are striving to lodge their registration may be enabled to do so.

Alongside this, may I ask for continuing careful, comprehensive, public communication, not only aimed at the Zimbabweans themselves, but also to us, the South Africans among whom they live. In particular, we should all be informed clearly about what is to happen from the stroke of Friday midnight onwards. What are the next stages of the processes underway? What is the situation for those who have not completed registration – or who have failed, for whatever reason, to attempt it? What will happen to those who do not quality for permission to remain in South Africa? Clarity in all these areas is necessary, both for the greatest peace of mind of those directly concerned, and for easing good community relations.

What matters most is that throughout the period ahead, true humanitarian standards are upheld. Every individual must be treated – and feel themselves treated – with dignity and respect. Though I ask for gracious magnanimity in the processing of applications, I know that some will not be granted permission to remain here. We stand to be judged – but also have the opportunity to demonstrate best practice to others – on how we handle these cases, and particularly the enforcement of repatriations where these are necessary. I am assuming that you are in close and continuing contact with your Zimbabwean counterpart to ensure coordinated arrangements, should forced repatriations need to be made.

None of these tasks are easy, so let me assure you and your staff, of my own continuing prayers, and those of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, as you implement policies that have such potentially far-reaching impact on the lives of individuals – many who have suffered so much through the recent troubled history of Zimbabwe. In releasing this letter to the public, I invite all South Africans of faith to join me in these prayers, and in praying for a just and lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s political turmoil. May South Africa, through our government, not shirk the opportunities we have to promote peace and prosperity at this time of year – so that God’s promises of peace and goodwill may be truly known by all.

Yours in the service of Christ

+ Thabo Cape Town

Sunday 26 December 2010

Sermon at Midnight Mass, St George's Cathedral, Cape Town

Isaiah 9: 2-7, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-20

May I speak in the name of the living God, who is born this day in the city of David: our Saviour, who is the Messiah, Christ the Lord. As we celebrate once again the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, let me be the first to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas! May it be a time of peace and joy, of promise and hope, of shared love with family and friends!

And let me, on behalf of everyone here, thank the sub-Dean, Fr Terry Lester, the Canon Precentor, Fr Bruce Jenneker, Bishop Anthony Mdletshe and the rest of the Cathedral leadership team, together with the Director of Music, Mr David Orr, and everyone else who works so hard to sustain the varied life and ministry of the Cathedral, throughout the year, as well as in these wonderful celebrations of Christmas.

Though I risk being a little premature, let me also look forward to the New Year, and in particular to the coming of the new Dean. Regular Cathedral worshippers know this already, but let me announce to the wider Cape Town community that we have appointed the Venerable Michael Weeder to succeed Dean Rowan Smith. Fr Michael is currently the Rector of St Phillip the Deacon and St Bartholomew, Woodstock, and Archdeacon of the Groote Schuur area. A son of Cape Town, he is one of our most senior priests, with over 25 years in ordained ministry. Fr Michael brings together a deep spirituality, rooted in Jesus Christ, with a wide awareness of God’s world and its needs. There’s even a bit of the Barack Obama about him – in his experience of community mobilization, especially on behalf of the wounded and marginalised!

I am sure he will continue the great tradition at St George’s, of being ‘the people’s Dean’ – both serving the Cathedral community, and encouraging the Cathedral in its calling to serve God’s world. I am sure he will be a courageous and spiritual leader, who will take the Cathedral forward into a new chapter in its significant life within our church and city. It is my intention to install him as Dean on 22 May. Between now and then, may I ask you all to pray for him, and his family – his wife Bonita, and children Chiara, Andile and Khanyisa - as they prepare to take this new vocation and ministry.

But let me now return to our celebration of Christmas! What, for you, is the heart of Christmas?

In the famous passage from St Luke’s Gospel, just read to us, we heard how the shepherds came into Bethlehem from their fields, in order to find the baby Jesus; and how they told Mary and Joseph of their miraculous encounter with the Angel of the Lord. They repeated the words the Angel had said to them – words which held the key to understanding these strange and wonderful events. The Angel said ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’

And then we heard that ‘Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.’ In the days, the years, that followed, Mary pondered those words in heart, and wondered about what it all meant. So - what does it all mean to you?

For many of us, a lot of our Christmas preparations has been about hunting for the right presents. When you get home tonight – or perhaps when you wake up in the morning – you will find them waiting for you: under the tree, or at the end of your bed: presents like this: [placing a large, beautifully wrapped, Christmas present on the side of the pulpit].

Lovely, isn’t it! So beautiful to look at! Aren’t I lucky to have such a gorgeous present! And, you know – perhaps it would be a shame to open it – because then I’d have to tear off the ribbons and rip the paper, and spoil its beauty. Well, let me just leave it there for a moment and tell you a story.

There was once a man, a god-fearing man, who went to church regularly, and knew that the Christmas story is all about God the Father sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour. One day, terrible rains came – it just kept raining and raining and raining. The nearby stream began to rise, and rise and rise. The man began to get concerned, and he prayed ‘Lord Jesus, come and save me.’ And the man’s neighbour came by in his big 4-by-4, and said ‘Let me rescue you, before it is too late – come with me.’ Yet the man replied, ‘Thank you – I’ll just stay here – I’ll be OK. Jesus will save me.’ And he prayed some more, ‘Lord Jesus, come and save me.’

But the rain kept on falling and the waters kept on rising. The man was now sitting on the window-ledge, because the flood waters were inside his house, up to his ankles. And a policeman came past in a boat, and said ‘Let me rescue you, before it is too late – come with me.’ Yet the man replied, ‘Thank you – I’ll just stay here – I’ll be OK. Jesus will save me.’ And on he prayed ‘Lord Jesus, come and save me.’

And still the rain kept on falling and still the waters kept on rising. By now the man was standing the roof of his house, because the flood waters were way up the walls. And the emergency services’ helicopter came and hovered above him and one of the crew leant out, with his loud hailer, and shouted ‘Let me rescue you, before it is too late – come with me.’ Yet the man replied, ‘Thank you – I’ll just stay here – I’ll be OK. Jesus will save me.’ And he kept on praying ‘Lord Jesus, come and save me.’

Still it kept on raining, still the waters rose, and finally the man was swept off his house, and he drowned.

Being a god-fearing man, he found himself in heaven, though he remained perplexed that Jesus had not saved him as he expected. One day, he had the chance to speak to Jesus. ‘Lord’, he said, ‘May I ask you a question?’ ‘Go ahead’ said Jesus. ‘Lord’ he said, ‘when the flood came, why didn’t you answer my prayers and come and save me?’ ‘Well,’ said Jesus, ‘I sent a 4-by-4, then a boat, and then a helicopter – what more did you want?!’

What then is the moral of this story? God our Father’s greatest gift to us certainly is his Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. But we cannot merely receive him as the sweet story of a baby in a manger, and leave it at that. To do so is to keep hold of a beautiful present, but never open it, and discover the treasures within. Such a faith will be of little use to us. We need to unpack our faith – and get to know what it means for Jesus to be our Saviour and Redeemer – the one who calls out to us ‘come with me’ to us, every day of our life.

This can be a challenge. First, we have to let go of any beautiful romantic ideas about faith, and take up Jesus’ invitation to ‘follow me’, not knowing where he may lead us. His call is to follow his example – to live according to his standards – to turn our back on all that is destructive in human behaviour, and to strive for all that is good. We have to give up selfish living, doing things our own way, and do things God’s way instead.

This is not always easy – but there is good news for all of us who dare to put our lives into the hands of the living God. For, as we heard in our first reading, he promises to be to us a Wonderful Counsellor – guiding us in our choices about how we ought to live – so that we may be, as our second reading put it, ‘zealous for good deeds’. He will be the Almighty God, who encourages us with his own strength, to live the lives to which he calls us, so we do not have to do it on our own. He will be our Everlasting Father, who loves us and cares for us, far more than we can ever imagine – whose infinite love is for every single one of us here. And he will be our Prince of Peace, so that whatever life brings our way, we can have that deep assurance that he will see us safely through, if we hang on tight to him.

In these, and many other ways, we will find him meeting us, not only in churches and on Sundays, but – as my story, though a joke, illustrated – in the every-dayness of our lives. This is true, whatever we face in the world. Jesus will meet the people of Makhaza, as they seek dignity, health, safety through the toilet saga; he will meet the people of Sudan as they prepare for next month’s referendum; he will meet each of us, in every aspect of our personal, and communal, lives – if we will open our lives to him, and make him welcome, as we sung earlier.

This is a Christmas present worth unpacking – and, I can assure you, that no matter how long you live, you will keep on finding new treasures, as you ponder the meaning of those words of the Angel, in your heart. ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’ May this be to you the best Christmas gift of all. Amen.

Thursday 23 December 2010

More on Sudan

There are some useful resources for praying for Sudan, on the Anglican Communion website, at

Tuesday 21 December 2010

New Provincial Canon

I am delighted to announce the installation of the Revd Sarah Rowland Jones as a Provincial Canon of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, on 10 December 2010. Sarah, who was researcher to Archbishop Njongonkulu, and who continues now as my researcher, has served both our Province and Communion with distinction. She is a key member of the Bishopscourt staff, not least as part of the communications team, and in her weekly preaching in our chapel. In this work, and as many of us experienced in her recent homilies at Provincial Synod, she brings her evangelical heritage creatively to bear on the high church traditions within our Province, pointing to Christ in fresh ways that speak to our present times and contexts. May God continue to bless her, and bless many through her ministry, in the years ahead.

Monday 20 December 2010

Pray for Sudan

This media advisory was issued on 20 December 2010.

Anglican Archbishop calls for prayer for referendum in Sudan

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, has called upon the Anglican Church in Southern Africa to join in praying for a free and fair referendum in Southern Sudan, where voting will run from 9 to 15 January 2011.

Archbishop Makgoba said ‘I invite everyone else who cares for lasting justice and peace on our continent, to join in the special prayer which I have issued. I am commending it for use from Christmas through the entire referendum period, and then on until the results have been counted and announced, and a peaceful transition is set in motion to whatever future lies ahead.’

Dr Makgoba went on to say ‘One of the titles of Jesus which we remember at Christmas is his coming as “Prince of Peace”. So let us pray urgently that true peace may come to all the peoples of Sudan, who have suffered so painfully, over so many years.’

Archbishop Makgoba’s Prayer for Sudan

Lord Jesus, you who said, "I leave you peace. My peace I give you," look with mercy upon our sisters and brothers in Sudan during this Referendum period. Send your Spirit to guide them in choosing a future of godly peace and abundant life for all. May the voting be peaceful, free and fair. May the results be honoured by all. Grant healing from the agonies of the past, and bring a new beginning of lasting hope, harmony and justice to the people of this land. We ask this in your name, Lord Jesus, Amen

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town on 20TH December 2010 Inquiries: Ms Sisanda Majikazana on 021-763-1320 (office hours)

The following background note was issued to the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, giving information on the Referendum in Sudan, and sharing the perspective of the Bishops of the Episcopal Church of Sudan.

From 9 to 15 January 2011, the people of Southern Sudan will vote in a referendum on whether they should remain a part of Sudan. A simultaneous referendum will be held in the region of Abyei to decide whether it should become part of Southern Sudan. There will also be ‘popular consultations’ in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains on their future. The referendum is part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement reached in 2005.

There are many concerns around the preparations for, and conduct of, the referendum; as well as about how the outcome of the vote will be received, in both the predominantly Christian South and Muslim North. There are particular worries for the safety of Christians in the North and Muslims in the South, after results are announced.

The Bishops of the Episcopal Church of Sudan issued a statement at the All Africa Conference of Bishops in August 2010, which gives fuller background. It is available at The Sudanese Bishops particularly ask for the following support in prayer:

1. that all the churches of Africa stand firm with the people of Southern Sudan, Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, and support the choice they make in the upcoming referenda and popular consultations – whether for unity or separation.

2. for the Church in northern Sudan as it continues to face official persecution from the Khartoum government, with brothers and sisters who daily witness to faith in Jesus Christ experiencing suffering as they do so; and for the future of Christianity in northern Sudan.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Archbishop and Religous Leaders endorse Safely Home Campaign

This media advisory was issued on 15 December 2010.

Anglican Archbishop and Transport Minister Launch ‘Safely Home’ Road Safety Partnership

Today (15 December 2010), the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and Chair of the Western Cape Religious Leaders’ Forum (WCRLF), and Western Cape Transport Minister Robin Carlisle launched a road safety partnership between the Safely Home campaign and the WCRLF.

Minister Carlisle and Archbishop Makgoba were joined by other members of the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum. The WCRLF issued a statement in support of the Safely Home Campaign. The text of the statement is carried below.

Commenting on the statement, the Archbishop stressed the values of the sanctity of life, and described the commandment to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ as a basis for behaving considerately towards pedestrians, motorists and other road users. He underlined that this meant no drinking and driving, nor talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel, nor going without a seat-belt, and warned younger drivers against risky dicing. He wished a merry Christmas to those celebrating the birth of the Christ-child, and a peaceful and safe festive season to everyone.

Statement in support of the Safely Home Campaign

The Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum (WCRLF), representing all faith communities in the Province, welcomes the opportunity to support and fully endorse the Safely Home Campaign, initiated by MEC Robin Carlisle and the Department of Transport and Public Works. We pray that their efforts to reduce the tragic loss of life on our roads over this festive season will be successful.

However we realize that this is the collective responsibility of all South Africans. Each of us must ensure that our behaviour on our roads reflects not only the law of the land but our belief in the sanctity of all life. It is the responsibility of every individual to protect and respect the life and dignity of another. Our faith traditions emphasize that all life is sacred and that we are each created in a divine image. Therefore the safety of all South Africans whether drivers, passengers, pedestrians old or young, is of paramount concern.

This ‘season of giving’ should not be tainted by careless, inconsiderate and negligent behaviour which can only result in chaos on our roads and a needless loss of life. This holiday season challenges each of us to be aware of the dangers of alcohol consumption, drug abuse and road rage, all of which endanger our own lives, the lives of our loved ones and the lives of innocent South African citizens.

On behalf of all faith communities we endorse the efforts of the traffic authorities to react as vigorously as possible and call upon all people to co-operate when encountering road blocks, to adhere to traffic regulations and drive with courtesy and consideration at all times. The wearing of seat belts and the checking of vehicles for road worthiness must be the norm.

As people of faith we want to say that life itself is the gift of Christmas. It’s a divine gift that must be received, nurtured and protected. On the roads we hold the gift dangerously in our hands. Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran: ‘Do not bring destruction upon yourselves through your own hands and do good all of you.’ (Al Baqarah: Q2:195)

Life on our roads is in peril. But we do have a choice. In sacred text God says: ‘I lay before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.’ (Deuteronomy 30:19)

May we choose well this festive season.

Finally, the Religious Leaders are not trying to pour cold water on the festival spirit. Far from it - we want South Africa to celebrate, we want South Africa to enjoy a time of rest and relaxation, we want our Christian community to enter the full meaning of the birth of Christ, and above all we want reconciliation and reconnection to be experienced in all our families at this time. But we appeal for care, compassion, consideration for others as we strive together for safety on our roads.

May the one God bless South Africa, guard us, guide us, keep us and protect us and bring us all ‘safely home’. Amen

15th December 2010, Cape Town

Sunday 12 December 2010

Reflections on Murder of Anni Dewani

This statement was released on 10 December 2010.

As the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children draws to a close, many of us find ourselves shocked and stunned by media reports around the death of Anni Dewani, and the accusations that her husband Shrien arranged her murder during their honeymoon.

What is clear is that a young woman met a brutal death at what should have been the happiest time of her life. For her, and for those who loved her, it is the most terrible tragedy, and we hold them all in our hearts and our prayers. We commend the work of the police and the legal system, and encourage them to continue striving to ensure that the full truth is brought to light, and justice done.

Yet this highly publicised crime is just the tip of the iceberg of the huge number of acts of gender violence within our society, that too often go unreported, unremarked. While grieving at the senseless loss of life of this precious child of God, we should not neglect the many other women and girls who suffer abuse, even death, and all too often at the hands of men who claim to love them.

Though we do not know the full facts, the speculation around the role of Anni Dewani’s husband can only appal us. The bond between a man and a woman, most fully expressed in the sacrament of marriage, should always be one of the deepest trust, mutual respect, and unconditional partnership, through all the trials of life. Christians believe that, of all human relationships, it is marriage that at its best most fully reflects the limitless love and covenant commitment that God has for his people and his world. This is the ideal which we must always uphold and strive to achieve.

Therefore, I call on our nation’s men to stand in solidarity in opposing gender violence, indeed, violence of every sort. Violence is never justified, and all human life is sacred. I am appalled that, in ways that remain unclear, South African men should have been caught up in the killing of Anni Dewani. I condemn their action, just as I invite all other right-thinking people to join me in condemning every other act that brings physical or emotional harm to others, and especially to the weaker and more vulnerable members of society.

While I am proud to be wholly associated with the 16 Days of Activism, I am also deeply saddened that, every year, we must again make this call. Enough is enough. Gender violence must end, for once and for all.

Thursday 9 December 2010

To the Laos - To the People of God, December 2010

Dear People of God,

A very happy and blessed Christmas to you all! May you enjoy this festive season with those you love, and to share in celebrating together God’s most marvellous of all to his people – his gift of himself, to share in the realities of our lives, and to open for us the gateway to eternal life! May the Christmas promises of peace and goodwill to everyone fill your homes and your hearts!

One of my favourite Christmas carols is ‘O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie …’ Having had the privilege of returning to the Holy Land this year, with its many turmoils, I have been pondering again what the promise of God’s peace can mean for us, in the tumults of our lives. We sing about Bethlehem lying still – and yet, for most of us, the reality is that however quiet things may seem on the surface, there is always something going on at a deeper level within us. Often the things which most disturb us may not be directly visible on the outside – concerns about safety or health or relationships or work or money, for example, whether for ourselves or those who are dearest to us. These sorts of worries are common to human beings always and everywhere, and I think of them when I sing ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.’

Yes, Jesus, the Christ child, Emmanuel – God with us, is the one who comes to us and meets us in our deepest inmost beings. We have a ‘God with skin on’ who understands what our hopes and fears are all about, and comes to bring us reassurance. He is the one who will see us safely through the journey of life, from birth through death to the eternal home that awaits us, if we will only trust ourselves to him.

And so each Christmas we remember his advent, his coming, as a tiny baby. In weakness and vulnerability he trusts himself to the care of Mary and Joseph, into the care of human beings. God’s gift comes to us also as God’s invitation – that we should in turn trust ourselves to him, in the same unconditional way, relying utterly on him to shape and form and direct our lives. It is for us to welcome him into our lives, as the child in the manger, and as our Saviour and Lord, as we sing ‘how silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given’, and have confidence that Jesus will come to us. We do not need a big fanfare to announce his arrival, we just need to be open and dare to believe, for ‘so God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven’.

We know these lovely carols so well that sometimes we forget the deep truths their words convey. So this year, I invite you to pause and consider the words that you sing, and to join me in praying them for yourselves: ‘O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born to us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell, O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.’

As we come to the end of the year, let me express my deep appreciation, on behalf of us all, to everyone who has worked so hard in the service of the Province in the last year. It has been a particularly busy and demanding year, especially with our Provincial Synod, and I could not have come through it all without the assistance and support of a great number of people. As always, my first thanks go to Lungi and my children, who provide me with loving sustenance in more ways than I can count, and keep me human, with my feet firmly planted in the ‘real world’, should I be in danger of losing my perspective on life!

Bishop Paddy, as Dean of the Province, deserves particular thanks for all his support to me, and I also thank the Synod of Bishops for the mutually sustaining fellowship we share. Let me also pay tribute to the staff at Bishopscourt who do an unimaginable amount of hard work behind the scenes. I particularly give thanks for Revd Canon Robert Butterworth, who has long given unstintingly to the Province as Acting PEO, and who, just before Synod, had to stand down earlier than expected because of serious illness. Please hold him in your prayers as he continues his convalescence. We wish him and Alice a long and happy retirement. Thanks too, to Revd Allan Kannemeyer who has so ably picked up the reigns as PEO, as well as to Rob Rogerson and the finance team, and the others across the Province who support my work and ensure the smooth running of our Church.

Among these ‘invisible faces’ are the Communications Committee, chaired by Bishop Brian. Let me endorse their invitation to all Anglicans to take out a subscription to our Southern Anglican magazine. Four times a year you can read the latest news, as well as in depth articles about Anglican life in Southern Africa and around the Anglican Communion. It is a valuable resource for helping us keep in touch with one another better, across our vast Province, and for promoting our common life, our Vision, and how we express it in our mission and ministry. So please consider buying it, perhaps as a Christmas gift for yourselves, for friends, or for your Parish or other church-related institution!

I know that I am not alone in breathing a sigh of relief as I reach the end of this very busy and often hectic year. For you I especially pray for a time of rest and refreshment over the holiday period. As usual, my holidays will include a month off letter writing, so my next letter will be in February. So may I ask you to hold in your prayers both the elective assembly of the Diocese of George, and the Anglican Communion meeting of Primates in Ireland, both of which will be held in January.

Let me end by wishing you God’s rich blessing over the holidays and throughout the year ahead. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

Offers to Assist in Mediation in Makhaza

This statement was issued on 8 December 2010

The Most Revd Dr. Thabo Makgoba, who has been actively involved in attempts to find a lasting resolution to the conflict in Makhaza over unenclosed toilets, has again offered to assist in mediation.

Archbishop Makgoba has visited the site on two separate occasions with the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and has met with residents, community leaders, members of the ANC Youth League and Mayor Dan Plato. He has on numerous occasions publicly offered to serve as a mediator in the continuing dispute regarding the re-installation of toilets in Makhaza. To date, neither the City nor the ANCYL have accepted the offer.

During these visits, the Archbishop observed elderly and disabled residents forced to use toilets with enclosures hastily constructed from a few planks of wood. He saw the sites where the ANCYL had initially demolished the temporary structures, and where the City later demolished the remaining toilets and standpipes.

“The important issue is the provision of humane living conditions for the people of Makhaza who are directly affected. It should not be a political battle – it’s about the health and safety of our fellow citizens,” commented Archbishop Makgoba. “Anything I can do to resolve this conflict I will do gladly.”

It is evident that the people directly affected have been caught in the middle of a conflict between the City of Cape Town on one hand and the ANC YL on the other. The SJC has approached the Archbishop again, as it believes the impasse needs the involvement of a well-respected and independent leader and has welcomed Archbishop Makgoba’s acceptance of their invitation.

Despite a recent interim court order calling for the re-installation of temporary structures, the enclosures were this week rejected by some members of the community. This followed yet another apparent failure by the City to adequately consult the community and have its concerns heard, in addition to the ANCYL’s refusal to accept corrugated iron enclosures as a temporary measure. It is hard to see how the order will be implemented, without attempts to improve consultation and place the urgent needs of the community first.

The Archbishop calls on the relevant stakeholders to attend a meeting in the near future in which ways to resolve the situation – both in the form of temporary and long-term relief - can be discussed. Such a meeting would need to include representatives from the City, community leaders, the ANCYL, and the broader community.

It is hoped that consensus can be reached before the festive season, to allow for residents to enjoy this holy period with their family and community.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town on 8th December 2010 Inquiries: Ms Sisanda Majikazana on 021-763-1320 (office hours)

Address to MOT Courage2B Conference

The following address was given on 2 December 2010

Dear friends, thank you for your invitation to speak to you this afternoon. My theme is ‘Courage, Encouragement and Hope’. I want to talk about what this means for ourselves; as well as for the young people whom we hope to influence to live as positive, contributing, members of society. Yet if we want to be an effective influence on others, then we have to be prepared to walk the walk, as well as talking the talk – or perhaps I should say, to dance the dance! We have to do the same homework ourselves, looking at society around us, and our own contribution to it.

Now I shall of course be talking from a Christian perspective – but I hope to be able to speak in a way that makes sense to those of other faiths or of none. It seems to me that the fundamental question that we have to ask is what sort of life do we seek for ourselves, for our societies, for our young people and for generations to come. And to answer that question, we have to think about what it is to be human, and to live as humans ought to live.

Our starting point for considering human life within the wider world, is one generally shared by other theistic religions. We understand God as creator and sustainer of all that is. The Psalmist (Ps 95:4) wrote ‘In his hands are the depths of the earth – and the peaks of the mountains are his also’. You may have noted that this verse was written on the t-shirts which many of the Chilean miners were wearing as they were finally brought to the surface after 69 days underground.

My point is that there is nothing at all outside God’s ambit - God creates everything that there is. And therefore, if all of existence owes its being to God, then everything is of concern to him. This is the starting point for faith communities – and particularly churches – to take an interest in every aspect of our world, and to believe that we potentially have something positive to contribute.

This is particularly true when it comes to human activity. The Book of Genesis says, in its first chapter, that ‘God created humankind, in his image’ (Gen 1:27). There is thus something very special about being a human being – reflecting a spark of the divine life, carried within us. Human life is truly sacred. We all are intended to flourish.

By flourishing, I do not mean that we are all entitled to an opulent lifestyle. Not at all! Indeed, we know in theory – even if we have not acknowledged it yet in our behaviour – that our planet cannot sustain 6 billion people pursuing the capitalist, consumerist lifestyle which the advertising world implies is our right! Human flourishing is something far more fundamental, and must be a possibility for everyone.

This is why we also use the term ‘the common good’ – the rightful pursuit and enjoyment of what is good for us, that we all should share in common. This concept of common good, of flourishing, is rooted in what it essentially means to be human, and what, in such terms, are our basic human rights. These begin with a necessary standard of material well-being – adequate food and clean water, housing, clothing, health-care and so forth; with particular provision for the very young, the very old, the sick and disabled, and other vulnerable individuals unable to look after themselves. These human rights also include access to decent education, which opens up opportunities for employment, and brings each of us the dignity of having some choice in our own destinies.

The common good also entails a stable, safe, just, society which accords everyone respect materially, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. In this description of human existence as encompassing heart and soul and mind and physical embodiment, I hope I have reminded you of words of Jesus, who said that humanity is created ‘to love God, with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength’.

The teachings of Jesus give further instruction on how we should live: doing to others as we would have them do to us. This principle, often known as the Golden Rule, is of course shared among those of many faiths, and none. It is a principle that underlies all our understandings of what it is to live with fairness and justice – two of the virtues of ethical living, which we want to have the courage to uphold in practice in our lives, and to encourage our young people to embrace, in both their words and their actions.

This attitude of reciprocal justice and fairness underlies the second great commandment of Jesus’ teaching: that we should love our neighbours as ourselves. We should direct our lives – and encourage young people to direct their lives – towards ensuring that others are in receipt of what we would like for ourselves, especially where those others face any sort of need or vulnerability.

Within this ethical context of mutuality and reciprocity, Jesus came, he said, to bring ‘life in abundance’. This ‘abundant life’ cannot possibly be understood as the affluence only of some, at the expense of others. Abundant life consists of the fair and equitable availability of the material, spiritual, emotional and intellectual provisions which I have outlined. This is the potential we seek for our young people – and the potential we hope that they will work to bring for everyone within their own communities.

Surely this is what it means to be a good citizen, making a positive contribution to the well-being of the people of our nations, of our planet. Within South Africa, our Constitution reaches the same conclusions. It says that every citizen, every resident, of this country, should enjoy their full opportunities and rights, no matter what their gender or race or beliefs – and should live free of discrimination on a very wide range of grounds. It does so because we are committed to the common good, the human flourishing, of everyone – each in accordance with their own particular circumstances and free choices. Intrinsic human worth, lived out and enjoyed by individuals and in community, is the right of every citizen, every resident within our borders.

On this basis, we can always begin conversations around the essential question of what it is to be human and to live decently; and how we achieve it more fully for the people and societies of our countries. Furthermore, in such conversations, we must increasingly situate ourselves within this globalising world of ours. This means we have no option but to recognise that our obligation to be ‘good neighbours’, in promoting reciprocal flourishing, applies not only to those near by, but to everyone else: across both space and time. Therefore we must pay attention to, and take account of, both those who share our global village today, and those who will inherit our legacy in generations to come. Inevitably, one area in which this challenges us is responsible care of our environment.

Therefore, to sum up what I have discussed so far: when we ask ourselves, and when we ask young people, to consider the question of how we want to live as individuals in our communities, and what sort of society we want to be a part of, we must look to very basic questions of what it is to be human.

We must consider what it is for everyone to experience fairness and justice, in the pursuit of fundamental human rights, shared together for the common good; that is, to strive for the well-being of every human person, and for the good stewardship of creation. These are concepts rooted in – though not exclusive to – the faith communities. In consequence, since human well-being encompasses every aspect of human existence, there is no reason to consider that faith communities should confine themselves to promoting the common good in some artificially defined ‘private realm’ while the public sector is left to its own devices.

Let me now turn to what it might mean in practice for us to work with young people to create a world in which each of them can flourish, can reach towards their full potential ‘in heart and mind and soul and strength’ and ‘loving neighbours as themselves’. In other words – how can we promote growth and maturity in the emotional; spiritual; mental / intellectual; physical / material dimensions of our lives; and how can we best be ‘individuals-in-community’, where neither the narrowly selfish needs of individuality nor stifling group interests wholly dominate? How too can we ensure that people are first and foremost treated as fully rounded, and not, for example, as if all that matters is the competitive status that comes with wealth, or power, or fame?

Well, perhaps the next thing I must say is that one important source of courage, encouragement and hope, in tackling these questions, comes from the realisation that each one of us can make a difference. This is something that far too often we do not realise. But believing that what we do does not matter very much, can undermine our readiness to aim for the best for ourselves, and for our society and wider world. For it is true that not all of us can become successful in the way that is often portrayed to us by the media and the world around. Not all of us can become rich; not all of us can become famous; not all of us will get to the very top of the professional tree and have leadership, authority, and status.

But – here is the most important thing of all – all of us most certainly will be significant. Every single one of us here is already leading a significant life. We are significant in many ways, every day – through our attitudes, our words, our actions. We have an impact all around us, through what we choose to think and say and do; and through what we choose not to think and say and do.

Our choices affect those who are closest to us – families, friends, neighbours, and often through wider circles of influence through colleagues, and those we come across as we go about our daily lives. Whenever we interact with another person, either directly or indirectly, it is as if a stone is dropped into a pond of water. There are always ripples; and the ripples travel to the very edges of the pond.

So when we are faced, and when we face others, with questions about what sort of life we seek, we should be encouraged that we really can make a difference. We really can be either part of the solution, or, alas, part of the problem. We need to realise that by choosing to do nothing, we actually are making a choice – a choice not to help solve the challenges of society, but rather the choice to allow injustice and unfairness to continue.

For those of you living in countries like South Africa, there is additional reason to take courage, to be encouraged, to live hopefully. In young countries like ours, like most of Africa and much of the developing world, there are so many changes happening. And young people have very significant influence in ensuring these changes are for the good. Within South Africa, over 30% of the population is aged 15 or under. Across sub-Saharan Africa, that figure is 40%. In some places, like Angola, it is closer to 50%. Young people are our future – not a hypothetical tomorrow that is years, even decades away – but the future that is already on our doorstep, knocking to come in. Young people have far more potential to shape their own lives than perhaps they realise! It is as the poet Wordsworth put it: Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven!”

So how shall we help our young people aspire to be the best they can? At the heart of this is helping them to see that it is in their own interest to promote the well-being of the whole community. The principle of treating others as one would like to be treated and loving one’s neighbour as oneself requires us to pay attention to the needs of others, to their concerns and their aspirations. This is what true ‘respect’ is all about, whatever some rappers might say! Respect entails genuine listening in the way we interact with others. I love to remind people that God made us with two ears and one mouth – and so we should draw the conclusion that he intends us to do twice as much listening as talking.

We must also encourage one another to talk truthfully. In the Bible we are told that ‘the truth will set us free’. Or, to use a well-known proverb, ‘honesty is the best policy’. For honesty is the way to build trust – and trust is like the oil in the machinery of the life of society. Trust is what enables us to live and work in harmony together. Trust communicates to you that I truly do have your best interest at heart; and trust enables me to understand that you have the same attitude towards me. Trust enables us to live not in narrow competition with each other – but in what the Archbishop of York has called ‘gracious magnanimity’. It helps set us free to live, and speak and act, knowing that at a very fundamental level, we are all ‘on the same side’ – we are all on the side of wanting to promote human flourishing.

This leads me to another principle from Scripture – from the same book of Genesis, with which the Bible begins – and that is the concept of Covenant. Covenant is about committing ourselves to work together for the greater good of all – and through sharing goods such as love, friendship, trust, which are multiplied, not divided, when we give them to others. This is very different from money and power and influence – if I share my money with two of you, I am left with only a third. But if I share friendship with you, between us we have three times as much as when we started!

Living together guided by the principles of covenant is quite, quite, different from living according to the principles of contract. While contracts concern our interests, covenants concern our identities; and while contracts deal in transactions, covenants deal in relationships. In other words, contracts are interested in what we can get out of one another – covenants are interested far more fundamentally in who each of us is, and how we can thrive and grow together, for mutual benefit. Contracts are about competition – if I win, you lose; while covenants are about cooperation – if I win, you also win.

Covenant is the basis for encouraging our young people to create a society in which everyone can win, everyone can flourish. When we have the courage to live by covenant, we will find ourselves encouraged to grow into all the new opportunities that are opened up before us. To live by covenant is to live with hope.

My prayer for you today, is that you may have the courage to live lives of encouragement, and lives of hope – so that you may be blessed, and be a blessing to the young people you seek to influence for the best. And in the same way, my prayer is that God may bless them, and make them also a blessing to others, in all our communities, in the generation that lies ahead. Thank You.