Wednesday 29 November 2023

Impala Platinum disaster "a profound wound on the heart of our nation"

To all those touched by the heart-wrenching tragedy at Impala Platinum,

In this moment of profound sorrow and uncertainty, I extend my deepest condolences to the families, friends, and communities affected by this devastating incident. The loss of lives in such tragic circumstances is a profound wound on the heart of our nation, and the pain of those left behind is immeasurable.

As we collectively grapple with the aftermath of this tragedy, we hope that the ongoing investigations will be pursued with the utmost urgency and diligence. It is crucial that every effort is made to understand how this tragedy occurred and to ensure that those impacted receive the support they need to navigate through this incredibly difficult time.

In these trying moments, we are reminded that we are our brother's and our sister's keeper. We are called to stand in solidarity with one another, to support and uphold each other, especially in times of hardship and loss. It is a reminder that our destinies are intertwined, and that in supporting others we uplift ourselves.

I want to assure all those affected by this tragedy that you are not alone in your grief. The church offers its unwavering support and prayers. We stand with you, we mourn with you, and we commit to walking alongside you through this valley of shadows.

May the grace and peace that surpasses all understanding be with you all during this time of mourning and reflection. Let us hold fast to each other, find strength in our unity, and trust that through our collective support and prayers, some measure of peace and solace can be found.

With heartfelt prayers,

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town   

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Acceptance Note upon receipt of the AACC Human Rights Award

Acceptance note by Thabo Makgoba

All Africa Conference of Churches

November 20, 2023

The award was made in Abuja, Nigeria, during the 12th General Assembly of the AACC. The citation for the award can be found here >>

To God be the glory! Thank you so much, I am humbled and deeply touched by the affirmation and honour of being the recipient of this prestigious AACC Human Rights Award.

Congratulations to the AACC on your 60th anniversary, on this 12th Assembly and on establishing this award. Thanks to the President, the Secretary General, the Awards Committee in particular and for those who nominated me and interviewed me. I receive this honour and award on behalf of the many whose rights are trampled and the many in our churches across this great continent who work tirelessly to ensure democracy, governance, human rights and the rule of law are upheld.

In one of my responses to the interviewers, I said that “At the heart of the church's advocacy of Democracy, Human Rights, Good Governance and the Rule of Law is our care for God's people, for their welfare, their safety and their inclusion in the kind of economic and social development which will ensure the abundant life which our Saviour promises them.”

For me, my public ministry over the years has centred on carrying out walks of witness, and working within a prophetic theological framework which I call the new struggle.

Walks of witness entail literally walking together with my fellow pastors through places where people live in squalor – amongst the excluded, those on the periphery of society. In the latest example, I joined other church leaders in Johannesburg on a walk of witness to the scene of a devastating building fire which killed more than 70 people. The people in that overcrowded five-storey home lived in a so-called “Mnyama ndawo”, a “dark place”, an abandoned, dilapidated building without running water, electricity or sanitation, where rubbish piled up and rats ran through stagnant water. Many of those affected were migrants from other parts of our continent, drawn to the so-called “City of Gold” by dreams of a better future. Their plight highlighted the sin of xenophobia in South Africa, where foreigners are often forced to live in run-down ghettos because they are not welcome in our communities. The church should be a safe space for all the nations, yet we often find that people of other nations are not welcomed.

Then, in the spirit of the old church struggle against apartheid, we have adopted the concept of the new struggle to call upon political elites to be accountable to voters and, instead of pocketing the wealth of their countries, to govern in the interests of the poorest of the poor. In South Africa, we say that the new struggle is a new struggle for a new era, a new struggle for a new generation, a struggle to regain our moral compass in the face of the corruption that now plagues our country, a struggle to end the economic inequality we inherited from colonialism and apartheid, and a struggle to ensure that the promises of our Constitution are kept. And I am hopeful that if the churches, other religious bodies and civil society join this struggle, we can succeed in turning South Africa around and putting us back on the path on which Nelson Mandela set us.

My concern is not limited to shouting from the rooftops. I also urge those who hold economic power to conduct their business in the interests of the communities in which they work, for example by getting mining houses to build toilets in schools without sanitation.

In a number of cases, my advocacy has concerned situations outside South Africa. Just before last Christmas I visited Ukraine to express our solidarity with that country in the face of an external invasion. In the last few weeks, in my own Diocese of Cape Town, where we also have large Muslim and Jewish communities, we have seen a number of protests over the war in Gaza. I have condemned all violence against civilians, whether it is in Gaza, the West Bank of the Jordan or Israel, and called for a solution in the Holy Land which will bring justice to the Palestinians and security for all who live in the region. I have also advocated boycotts of those who supply arms to the Middle East, including those in the West.

But it is also important that we speak out on issues in other countries on our own continent. Analysts tell us that people are in armed conflict with one another in more than 40 countries in the world, and – as a number of those attending this assembly can tell us – a number of those are in Africa. Right now, as the Global North focuses on conflict in the Middle East, the world is not giving enough attention to Sudan, where fighting between the regular army and the paramilitary RSF is devastating the country. The United Nations tells us that this war has killed more than 9,000 people since April, and has forced more than five-and-a-half million to flee their homes. We have also seen the re-emergence of military coups, especially in West Africa, starting in Mali three years ago, and spreading since to Chad, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger and Gabon. Sadly, some of those countries have been subjected to multiple coups, and even more sadly, we are told that some of the coups are a result of the failure of civilian governments.

To conclude: As pastors concerned for the welfare of God's people, the new struggle, our neighbours far and near, we are constantly challenged to ask: Where is the body of Christ when our sisters and brothers are in pain?

It is my hope that as recipient of this Award, I will continue to play my part, and that the existence of the Award will ensure that we all continue to give a high priority to working to ensure that the God-given rights of all God's children, in Africa and beyond, are respected by governments and other actors in society.

Africa, my home and my future, I thank you.

Friday 17 November 2023

Ad Laos - To the People of God – November 2023

Dear People of God

I write from the Eastern Cape, where amidst the challenges faced by our country and our world, we held a joyous celebration of the 100th anniversary of the building of All Saints Church, Mbokotwana, in the Diocese of Mthatha, a church built to commemorate the martyrs of the same name.

In my sermon, I asked for prayers for the places in the world, more than 40 in all, where people are in armed conflict with another, and especially for Sudan, where 9,000 people have been killed in civil war this year, and for Palestine and Israel. After the service a nun – the Mother Superior at a convent in nearby Tsolo – came up to me and appealed, “Arch, we dare not give in to evil and war, please let's pray without ceasing.” In similar vein, the former Eastern Cape health MEC, Dr Bevan Goqwana, spoke of how fear leads to hate, and that we dare not give up love. Their words, the worship of the congregation, and the example of the Martyrs of Mbokotwana, all helped to reinforce my determination to continue praying and speaking the truth in love as best I can.

In that spirit, I call upon all to pray and work for a solution to the crisis in the Holy Land which will bring justice to the Palestinians and security for all who live in the region. The cries that are coming from Palestinian mothers in Gaza – “I have nothing, I have no hope either, all I know is that I won’t die alone but will die with my family” – are deeply distressing. Are we deaf to the sounds of grenades and blind to how power is being exercised? Are we hearing the cries for life, for the silencing of guns and missiles so they can be turned into ploughshares?

The tensions which the conflict is generating in South Africa – and especially in Cape Town – are worrying, and I appeal for magnanimity and tolerance from everyone who is expressing varied views on the violence in Gaza and the West Bank of the Jordan. In a message to a Palestine solidarity rally read for me last week by Dean Michael Weeder of Cape Town, I said the war crimes in which children, women and men are killed indiscriminately, no matter who commits them, must stop, and stop now, not just for a ceasefire but forever. I also called for hostages to be released and for us all to learn the painful lesson of the last month, which is that war does not resolve human conflict.

So please, help me elevate the call to stop this war, and all war! Even as we go on our knees to pray, we need to boycott those who supply arms to the Middle East, including those in the West who are fuelling this war by providing weapons even as they pursue partisan diplomatic initiatives. Help our church to move beyond calling only for ceasefires in situations of conflict, but to elevate the need for peace anywhere and everywhere war occurs, so that the world will instead focus its energies and its passions on fighting inequality, hunger and poverty.

Meanwhile, in parishes and dioceses across our Province, pastoral work continues. After the service in the Diocese of Mthatha, I travelled to Makhanda to attend to issues at the College of the Transfiguration and for the funeral of a dear former parishioner, Colleen Rippon. There I also interred the ashes of Canon Suzanne Peterson, formerly Sub-Dean of the Cathedral in Grahamstown Diocese and later my Public Policy and Advocacy Officer at Bishopscourt. As this issue is published, I am heading for Nigeria for the 12th General Assembly of the All Africa Conference of Churches, which this year also celebrates its 60th anniversary.

As we enter Advent, may our prayers be of repentance, forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. And as we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace, be assured that ultimately we are destined to live in the salaam, the shalom, the peace which our God promises us. 

God bless

††Thabo Cape Town


Tuesday 14 November 2023

Sermon for the Commemoration of the Martyrs of Mbokotwana, All Saints Parish

Diocese Of Mthatha

143rd Commemoration of Martyrs of Mbokotwana and Centenary of All Saints Parish, Mbokotwana

Sunday, 12th November 2023

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:4b–14; Matthew 10: 16-22

Holy Disrupters: Interview on HIV and compassion

From the UNAIDS website:

13 November 2023

Holy Disrupters: Interviews with religious leaders and advocates on HIV and compassion

Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town

UNAIDS speaks to the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba about his work on HIV and his hopes for the future

What was your experience working on HIV in the early days?

I first started working on HIV in around 1998 when I was a rector in Johannesburg and it was a scary time, I remember the South African television adverts saying ‘AIDS kills’ with a coffin that banged—we were all terrified. Everyone was scared, there was a lot of stigma, parishioners were also dying from fear and lack of knowledge.

"There was an immense fear that life had come to an end…."

Through Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others we knocked on every door and established the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s AIDS programme called ACSA. We hit the ground running but there was an immense fear that life had come to an end….

How has your work changed today?

Today our work has evolved—from fundraising, to incorporating HIV messages in the liturgy, in the prayers and in the readings. Today we make sure we don’t work in silos, we work with the mining companies, with the other churches and we work from an interfaith context—challenging our governments to do the right thing.

Much has happened in recent years and things have changed. There’s a sense of trust that has developed and partnerships now are much easier. As leaders, we have learned to work together, we’ve learned to work together on the ground, but we’ve also learned to work with our international partners. I’m hugely grateful to PEPFAR. Initially there was a degree of suspicion but once we realized, through UNAIDS, that PEPFAR is there to help us check our own resources and to strengthen our resolve to help people – a great deal of trust has been developed.

“There is nothing more pro-life than PEPFAR.”

I pray that PEPFAR will be reauthorized to ensure that the commitments that we have made are realized. There is nothing more pro-life than PEPFAR. Millions of mothers and children have been saved from dying because of PEPFAR.

UNAIDS has also been essential. UNAIDS has showed us how important numbers and record keeping are, how important data is. We have to be systematic, we have to be thorough in our interventions, understanding that evidence-based interventions are critical.

“UNAIDS has showed us how important numbers and record keeping are, how important data is.”

In faith communities you can drown in the tsunami of problems, you throw yourself into your work without really knowing whether the intervention is working. But through praying, partnering with others, looking at the numbers and seeing the impact on people whose viral load has been reduced has been a great experience—we have learned a lot through working with UNAIDS and PEPFAR.

What does the faith community bring to the response to HIV?

It’s the fact that we are there. We are in every corner, even where governments can’t reach with their 4x4’s we have a little church there, we have a mosque there, we see God’s people every Sunday at the very minimum. We marry we bury we baptize, and we do this work not because we want to be paid or we want constituencies, it is our vocation and our calling.

“We marry we bury we baptize…. We are in every corner, even where governments can’t reach with their 4x4’s”

Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, a Jew or a non-believer, you are a child of God and you need healing. We don’t exist for ourselves, we exist in order to show the love and care of God in the communities.

“We smile at you so please smile at us, because together we have made this possible.”

We must ensure that no more children are born with HIV, we must work together to ensure that every child living with HIV has immediate access to treatment and we must ensure that those children will be alive and thrive. That way in 2025 they will come here saying “you have allowed us to live, and we smile at you so please smile at us, because together we have made this possible.”

Sunday 12 November 2023

Archbishop's message to Palestine solidarity march

The text of a message read for Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at a march in solidarity with Palestine in Cape Town on Saturday November 11:

The unspeakable violence we are seeing in the land which three religions call holy is a result of the denial of people's rights and the failure of their leaders to work out a just solution for governing the land which they now occupy. The war crimes in which children, women and men are killed indiscriminately – whether in Gaza, the West Bank or Israel – must stop, and stop now, not just for a ceasefire but forever. Hostages must be released and all parties must learn the painful lesson of the last month, that war does not resolve human conflict.

And much as statements and marches should continue for their moral power, we need to elevate our interventions to stop any nation which supplies weapons to parties in the conflict from doing so. We need to call out the shameful partisanship of Western powers in this conflict, to commend countries which have suspended diplomatic ties with Israel and to call on those countries to review diplomatic ties with countries which are supplying arms. If only the world leaders would invest half as much money and energy into peacemaking as they invest in war, we would have peace. It is time to end violence over the Holy Land. It is time to end Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories along with all of Israel’s unjust policies against Palestinians.

We commit ourselves as a church to praying and working for an end to apartheid in the Holy Land and for a just and sustainable peace. And we will not forget others elsewhere who suffer, such as in Ukraine and in Sudan, where a church was bombed on All Saints Day, and where 9,000 have been killed, five-and-a-half-million have been displaced, almost wiped off the face of the earth.

Sisters and brothers, in spite of the apparent hopelessness of many of the situations we face in the world, we must take assurance from our holy books, that justice will prevail and that ultimately we are destined to live in the salaam, the shalom, the peace which our Creator promises us.

Monday 6 November 2023

Sermon preached at All Saints, Plumstead, Cape Town

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

115th Anniversary Service

All Saints Anglican Church : Plumstead

5th November 2023

Revelations 7: 9-17; Psalm 34: 1-10,22; 1 John 3: 1-3; Matthew 5: 1-12

May I speak in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is an honour and a privilege to have been asked to share with you the Word of God as you celebrate 115 years of service, witness and ministry through God’s love and grace here at All Saints. Many thanks, Archdeacon Mkhuseli Lujabe, your leadership team and to the whole community of All Saints Parish for inviting me. Thank you everyone for your warm welcome. Thank you too to those who worked to prepare for today.