Saturday 16 April 2016

Of exiled heroes and arguing Anglicans - Blog from ACC-16 in Lusaka

In our Bible study on chapter 4 of Ruth on Friday, verse 10 was the one which stayed in my mind. The equivalent for me is the need to keep preserved, beyond my tenure, my and our heritage at various levels: family, clan, ACSA and the Anglican Communion.

At the family and clan level, my Makgoba heritage remains a burden and privilege—a heritage I hope will continue, since we survived our near extinction in the 19th century as a result of brave resistance to settler incursions. In ACSA, our Province has had amazing primates and I can't ignore the joy as well as the burden of following in their footsteps and keeping the faith alive in a time such as this. Here at ACC-16 in Lusaka, one of the sessions on Friday was devoted to workshops for Communion “networks”. I attended that for the Lusophone Network because of course the Portuguese-speaking dioceses in Angola and Mozambique are very much part of our Province. (Anglican churches in Brazil and Portugal comprise the other members of the network.)
At the cemetery with HC Sikose Mji
Between 10:30 and 14:00, I excused myself and continued the journey I began on Thursday. The South African High Commissioner's driver arrives and Father Jerome Francis, our clergy rep at the ACC, and I hop into the back of a jeep and are taken to the High Commission. From there we go in an entourage of two four-wheel drive vehicles to the Leopards Hill graveyard. The grass is tall, taller than I  am but we find the graves of stalwarts and well-known leaders of the South African liberation struggle who died and were buried in Zambia. There are hundreds of mourners viewing graves or burying family members there, but the South African graves need much more care. We end the visit with midday prayers at one of the graves, and I offer the adaptation of Trevor Huddleston's prayer for Africa which I used at a rally outside Parliament in 2014.*

We return to the home of the High Commissioner,  Sikose Mji, feeling all upside down, and share a meal with other guests who joined us after our visit, including the daughter of former President Kaunda. I am grateful to Ms Mji for her time and generosity, and also for showing us the dilapidated house where Oliver Tambo and his bodyguards used to live. It must really be reclaimed and made into a monument, a process she hopes to pursue.  There is also a policy gap in South Africa around the repatriation of the remains of these fallen heroes.
OR Tambo's Lusaka home.

We rejoined the ACC after lunch, and I offered a brief reflection and prayer after an informative presentation on the Communion's Environment Network. What I took in from the presentation is that the issues are complex and the crisis we face is not just about the climate but also about access, justice and equality. Climate justice is a moral and spiritual matter and the issues are urgent if we are to flourish together.

After a solemn Evensong with an orchestra and choir—angelic voices and instruments leading us with Handel among other pieces—we listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury's presidential address. Archbishop Justin shared with us the twin themes of religiously-motivated violence and climate change, ably and persuasively using them to explain the need for courage, wisdom, human flourishing as well as true reconciliation. I heard him loud and clear as saying that we are as Anglicans called to be and contribute towards something bigger than ourselves in service to God, creation and our fellow human beings. He affirmed that we are alive and present as Anglicans and the very fact that we argue and disagree is testimony to our reality.
With Fr. Jerome.

The hospitality here at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka has been beyond words to describe. Yesterday morning we each received each a Bible from the diocese and last night an event which was introduced as a simple relaxed reception turned out to be a great feast with singing and dancing.

Today, Saturday, is  going to be beautiful day, we are having a conference at which we will interact with members of congregations from the Diocese of Lusaka. Bishop Trevor Mwamba, the former bishop of Botswana, will also take me to see and award President Kaunda with ACSA's Archbishop's Award for Peace with Justice. This is in thankfulness for the role he played in liberating Southern Africa. I am writing this early in the morning, and the crows and, I think, the hadedas (ibises) are making a noise outside, urging me to get going.

Adapted Prayer for Africa

God bless South Africa
Heal her present wounds and of the past,
Guide her with values-based leadership
Lead her into the way of truth,
Rekindle her levels of trust,
Until all shall be equal
And all shall flourish.
For Christ's sake, Amen.

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