Monday, 22 May 2023

Ad Laos - to the People of God - May 2023

 As published in the May issue of Good Hope, the newsletter of the Diocese of Cape Town:

As we look ahead to Youth Day on June 16, when we celebrate the contributions of young people to winning freedom in our country, I want to extend the “Archbishop's Ballot Challenge” which I issued to the youth at Easter, and urge Rectors, all our clergy and Parish Councils to take a lead in this campaign.

Please make our houses of worship “voting sanctuaries”, where young people can be inspired to follow the example of previous generations, and use the freedom denied to their forebears to transform South Africa into the country we want.

As I said at Easter, I understand the attitudes of young people who are disillusioned with politics and public life, and scornful of the self-dealing and corruption of some of our politicians. But most of us neither can nor want to leave the country, and the only way to turn the situation around is to do something about it ourselves.

So in the lead-up to next year's national and provincial elections, I urge parishes to adopt your Archbishop's Ballot Challenge (ABC) and to provide voter education for young people. Perhaps using the slogan, “Registering to vote is as simple as ABC”, you could facilitate voter registration for both those who have become eligible to vote since 2019, as well as those who have not bothered to register in the past. You could also host workshops on voter education and provide instruction on our electoral system, if necessary partnering with local businesses to finance such an effort.

Then encourage young people to campaign for the parties, the candidates and the policies of their choice, and help them get to polling stations. In that way we can bring about a peaceful revolution in which we eliminate corruption, ensure good and efficient governance and save our country.

This month I also urge clergy to take care of themselves by joining “Caring for the Shepherd”, clergy wellness meetings being organised by our Safe and Inclusive Church initiative on May 20th. After the devastation and intense pastoral pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to say to our clergy in particular, “Sawubona! We see you and we are anxious for your welfare.”

And of course, load-shedding now brings its own pressure to bear on clergy, causing serious disruption and emotional distress to many of us. At Bishopscourt, we have assumed our Sawubona Archdeaconry teas, to which we invite the clergy of the Diocese to meet and share tea with one another and their archbishop. Please come and be welcomed when you receive the date for your Archdeaconry tea. I look forward to seeing you.

Looking ahead to an important Provincial event, the College of the Transfiguration in Makhanda celebrates its 30th anniversary from August 2nd to 6th this year. Please pray for the College, and visit them if you can make it. If you are a New Testament scholar and feel called to share your expertise, there is a vacancy for a lecturer there, so you might offer yourself to teach.

But whoever you are, clergy or lay, please donate generously to CoTT for their 30th anniversary – residential theological education is a powerful instrument of our church, and the College needs your financial support.

As we celebrate our Lord's Ascension and look forward to the celebration of the empowering of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, please keep in your prayers those who have been bereaved this Eastertide, including the family of Dean Michael Weeder, who lost their mother, Sheila (Sarah) Weeder at the age of 90 on May 6th. May the souls of the departed rest in peace and rise in glory.

God bless you.

† Thabo Cape Town

Monday, 15 May 2023

Opening remarks for “Existence is Resistance” - An Exhibition of Images from Palestine

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop and Metropolitan

Opening remarks for “Existence is Resistance”

Images from Palestine

Sunday May 14th, 2023


Sisters and Brothers, Friends,

A very warm welcome to the launch of this exhibition, which, with its illuminating photographs documenting the plight of the Palestinian people, is a fitting commemoration of Nakba Day. Our congratulations go to Jimi Matthews for this important contribution to publicising the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the process in which Palestinians have been uprooted from their homes, forced to flee as refugees and continue to suffer in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere.

Jimi, there are many in Cape Town who recall the courage you and your fellow television journalists displayed in Cape Town and elsewhere in the 1980s, when you sent out into the world graphic footage which exposed to an international audience the oppression of apartheid. This exhibition reflects your continuing commitment to documenting the truth about oppression, one which is in the best traditions of the craft to which you have dedicated your life. 

As men and women of faith who are concerned about the injustices of the Middle East, who are distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and who long for a just peace for Palestine and Israel, the people of the wider Cathedral family have been on a long journey. It goes back many decades, to the visits of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to Palestine and Israel in the 1980s and 1990s, to my own visits to the Holy Basin, and more recently to the declarations of the ruling bodies of the Anglican Church. During Lent this year, we heard a series of very good Bible studies which led us into a deeper understanding of the relevant theological issues. 

Both our Anglican forums and the South African Council of Churches have highlighted the situation in the Holy Land, firstly because, for Christians, it is the place where Jesus was born, nurtured, crucified and raised. Our hearts ache for our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine, whose numbers are rapidly declining. If Palestinian Christians disappear from the Middle East, what does that say about our commitment to our heritage? We dare not allow the agenda of Christian Zionism, which seeks to conflate the Biblical Israel with the 20th century political state of Israel, to prevail, the more so because many Christian Zionists envisage the ultimate demise of Jews as well as Muslims. 

But of course our concern for Palestine and Israel goes beyond the narrow interests of Christians. People of all faiths in South Africa have both a deep understanding of what it is to live under oppression, as well as experience of how to confront and overcome unjust rule by peaceful means. And so people of all faiths can identify with the words of Desmond Tutu: “People of religion have no choice... Where there is injustice and oppression, where people are treated as if they were less than who they are, those created in the image of God, you have no choice but to oppose, and oppose vehemently... that injustice and oppression...”

In expressing our concern for the plight of Palestinians, we have experienced push-back from both Jewish and Christian Zionists. But as Desmond Tutu reiterated time and again, we are opposed not to the Jewish people but to those policies of the governments of Israel which oppress Palestinians. 

I think particularly of the growth of Jewish settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan. Last year at the Lambeth Conference the world's Anglican bishops endorsed a statement by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East stating that a two-state solution remains the best hope of ending the occupation and fulfilling Palestinian aspirations for self-determination. But speaking for myself, I have to say that the expansion of settlements, combined with changes to Israeli law, are increasingly rendering the idea of a two-state solution as one that is unattainable.

As a civil society consultation organised by the United Nations concluded just a few weeks ago, the Palestinian people continue to experience, and I quote, “increasing levels of dispossession, displacement, violence, human rights violations and insecurity.” Indeed, the consultation described their current plight as “an ongoing Nakba”.

Faced with such a situation, if we stand by and keep quiet, we will be complicit in the continuing oppression of the Palestinians. Last year, our church's Provincial Standing Committee urged Europe and North America to take stronger action to ensure that Israel is held accountable for its actions and that Palestinian rights are upheld. In the spirit of the PSC resolution, I urge the government of the United States to ensure that Israel is held fully accountable for the killing a year ago of the Palestinian American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh of Al Jazeera. The statements of Democratic senators in the U.S. Congress suggest that the Biden administration is an accessory after the fact to a cover-up of her shooting by an Israeli soldier. As Senator van Hollen of Maryland has said, “we need to make sure that this isn’t swept under the rug.”

Will we ever celebrate peace for Palestinians in our life time? If we are to do that, we need to pray and work for the land we call holy, for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and for full recognition of their inalienable right to self-determination.

We yearn for the peace and wholeness of God to be made manifest in Palestine, in Israel and among their neighbouring countries. And so I conclude with a prayer we adopted at the last meeting of our Provincial Synod:

Lord God,

Bless the people of the Middle East;

Protect their vulnerable children;

Transform their divided leaders;

Heal their wounded communities,

Restore their human dignity,

and give them lasting peace.  Amen



* * * * *

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Address to the 2023 Western Cape Synod of the Ned Geref Kerk

 Address to the 2023 Western Cape Synod 

of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Monday May 8th, 15h30


Voorsitter – my vriend, Dominee Nelis,

Ondervoorsitter, 

Aktuarius, 

Skriba, 

Ander lede van die Moderatuur, 

Susters en Broers in Christus:

 Ek groet julle in die heilige naam van onse Here en Verlosser, Jesus Christus: Goeie Middag! 

Dit is vir my 'n besondere groot voorreg om hierdie nege-en-veertigste sitting van die Sinode van Wes Kaapland aan te spreek. En dit is nie net 'n groot voorreg nie; as 'n mens die lang geskiedenis van verhoudings tussen ons twee kerke inagneem, is dit miskien 'n historiese gebeurtenis. Baie, baie dankie vir die uitnodiging. Namens die hele Anglikaanse Kerk van Suidelike Afrika, ons waardeer die uitnodiging meer as wat ek in my swak Afrikaans kan sê. Ek is net jammer dat ek nie fisies by julle kan wees nie. Alhoewel hierdie nuwe tegnologie ons help om meer verpligtinge in ons skedules in te pas, kan dit nie persoonlike kontak tussen ons vervang nie.

Saturday, 22 April 2023

Thanksgiving Service for Dr Brigalia Bam OSC

 The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba

Metropolitan of ACSA

Thanksgiving Service for Dr Brigalia Bam OSC 

on her 90th Birthday (April 21 2023)

St Alban’s Cathedral - Pretoria

22nd April 2023 @ 09h00


Readings: Acts 6: 1-7; Psalm 33: 1-5, 17-21; John 6: 16-21

May I speak in the name of God, who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

It is good to be with you again at St Alban's. I am always grateful to be here, but no more so than at a celebration such as this, a celebration of the extraordinary life of one of the great South Africans of her generation, Ntombemhlophe Brigalia Bam, OSC. 

Thursday, 20 April 2023

Homily for St George's Grammar School 175th Anniversary Service

 The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town

St George's Grammar School

175th Anniversary Service

St George's Cathedral, Cape Town

20th April 2023


May I speak in the name of God, who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. 

Wow! Our school is 175 years old! What an extraordinary achievement, from your humble beginnings – which I learn were in a shoe shop – through the years when you were housed in this Cathedral precinct, to your campus in Mowbray. On behalf of the Diocese and on my own behalf, warm congratulations on this anniversary. Thank you, Mr Cameron, teachers, staff and learners for all that you do in the school and in our community, and especially for inviting me to this prestigious occasion, and thank you to everyone, including the Cathedral staff, who have helped to plan this service.

Ad Laos - to the People of God - April 2023

As published in the April issue of Good Hope, the newsletter of the Diocese of Cape Town: 

A happy and blessed Easter to you! 

As I said in my homily at the Easter Vigil in St George's Cathedral, we in South Africa today can draw hope and courage from the Easter story. The reading from Matthew's Gospel about the women at Jesus' tomb related how, after hearing the baffling news that the tomb was empty, the women overcame their fear and conflicting emotions to pluck up the courage to defy the religious and political establishments who had crucified Jesus. As the women grew in confidence, they began to shape an almost defiant narrative of new life emerging in unlikely places, encouraging others with the good news of Jesus' resurrection.

Translating the hope of Easter into tangible form for our country, the key to our future is the potential offered by the young people of South Africa. They are, like the women at the tomb, eminently capable of defying the forces of greed, corruption and stagnation, and of bringing about real transformation, a transformation which will bring about equality of opportunity and realise the promises of our Constitution. In my Easter homily, I used a phrase coined by the American civil rights leader, Bayard Rustin, to urge young people to become “angelic troublemakers”. 

What would angelic troublemakers look like in South Africa today? They would be young men and women, of all races, who would come together and organise at all levels of society, beginning in their own communities. They would register to vote, and they would campaign to rejuvenate our politics on a sound ethical and moral basis, guided by the highest ideals of our religious convictions. To this end, I invite representatives of all our youth formations to ask their executives to engage with this challenge. 

It is not only South Africa that has the capacity to bring people to despair. I was shocked to read recently that there are around 40 armed conflicts being waged across the world today. Some nations such as Ethiopia and Myanmar are plagued by numerous conflicts in different regions of their countries. If you are in a church youth or student group, I urge you to look up the Wikipedia entry “List of ongoing armed conflicts“ on the web, to choose a country in which there is fighting and to soak that country in prayers for peace. 

Another source of hope for me recently was visiting the families of those who were killed in the violence at the Marikana mine in North West Province in 2012. Sibanye-Stillwater, the new owners of the mine – with the support of others – are committed to providing housing, education and jobs for the families of victims. A few weeks ago I travelled to Gauteng and rural areas of the Eastern Cape and Lesotho to visit widows and families, where a delegation  representing the groups involved handed over the keys of new houses to widows and families. It is a commendable effort which has generated hope out of tragedy. 

You will know from the past that one of my passions – and a real source of hope – is giving our children a good education. So it always pains me when parents miss the deadlines to apply for the placement of their children in public schools, causing the children to suffer anxiety and tension until they get placements much later. The initial deadline for admission to Grades 1 and 8 in the Western Cape has just passed, but since there is provision for late applications, I ask parish leaders to please urge parents to act soon, and to help parents with applications. 

One of our own historic schools, St George's Grammar School in Mowbray, celebrates a very significant anniversary this month – it is their 175th birthday! School records show that it is our oldest school, established at St George's Cathedral when Bishop Robert Gray came to Cape Town as the church's founding bishop. Warm congratulations to St George's, the learners, teachers and staff and parents! You can expect to see coverage of their anniversary service at the Cathedral next month.

As you celebrate the Season of Eastertide, I pray that you, in the words of our Lectionary, will encounter the Risen Christ, and that your encounter will help you discover the new life which Christ's victory assures.

God bless you and God bless your families and communities.

† Thabo Cape Town

Sunday, 9 April 2023

Archbishop's Homily for the Easter Vigil

Homily for the Easter Vigil

St George’s Cathedral
8th April 2023

Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10

Dear People of God, on this most holy of nights, let us echo the words of the angel: Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed! Again! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia!


It is good to be with you, sharing this celebration of Easter in the Cathedral, the mother church of the Diocese and Province. Thank you for being here. Thank you to the Dean, the clergy, the church-wardens, the music director, organist, choir, verger and staff, the flower arrangers, and especially the regular worshippers who maintain this beautiful site of worship, this iconic landmark which speaks in this city of God's presence and God's glory.

In our Gospel reading tonight, it's interesting that Matthew does not specify, as Mark does in his telling of the Easter story, why the women came to the tomb. Mark says they were carrying spices to anoint Jesus’ body, but Matthew leaves the reasons open. His account allows that the women, like those of us here tonight, come to the tomb for many different reasons. Some come overwhelmed by a sense that promises, hopes and dreams have been irreparably broken, that trust has been severed, that anxiety has been deepened, that they have suffered losses too great to be measured, or that the future is bleak. Whatever the reasons that brought the women to the tomb, and whatever the reasons that have brought you here tonight, take heart from the angel's assurance: He is risen!

It is notable that Matthew records that the women feel both fear and joy at hearing the angel's news. That's easy to understand – even tonight, absorbing the meaning of such earth-shattering news as a grave that is empty and a Lord who is risen, forces us too to explore a range of conflicting emotions. Just like the women at the tomb, it is only after we acknowledge and engage with the radical meaning of the Resurrection that we can move on, into the new life of Easter.

Matthew goes on to make a profound point through meticulous use of language. He says in verse 2, “suddenly there was a great earthquake” – some translations say “behold there was a great earthquake”. Note too that in verse 9 it says “suddenly Jesus appeared to them”. Again the translations that use “behold” in verse 2 use it again in verse 9. In using the image of an earthquake, Matthew suggests that things beneath your feet literally shift, they change and consequently the things around you change. By using the same word, Matthew is reminding us that when we meet the risen Lord, “on the road” of life’s journeys, with all its fears and joys, its hopes and anxieties, things change. Perceptions change.

In the case of the women at the tomb, despite the fear, despite the  conflicting emotions, despite the fact that they cannot explain fully what they have seen and heard, what begins to grow in them is courage: a courage that empowers  them to defy the religious and political establishments who have crucified Jesus. Growing in confidence, they are not intimidated. Instead they begin to shape a different, almost defiant narrative of new life emerging in the most unlikely places. They reaffirm the need to encourage others with the good news. Indeed, they resist and defy the culture of death.

So too can we in South Africa today draw hope and courage from the Easter story.

Looking around us, it is easy to despair. Too many South Africans cannot find a way out of the tomb of poverty to live lives of dignity and hope. We are experiencing a near biblical vortex of greed and corruption in which the unscrupulous steal from the poor and swallow the hope of ending inequality. Incompetence leads to bad governance, and money that is available to improve people's lives goes unspent. Too many South Africans are shut up in tombs of community violence, gangsterism and fear, while others are trapped in toxic relationships and live with the horror of domestic violence perpetrated against women and children.

Do our politicians offer any hope? You would think that if they were truly focussed on the well-being of their constituents, they could overcome their differences enough to collaborate in coalition governments to put an end to corruption and provide decent services to our communities. But instead they play in-again-out-again revolving doors, changing mayors and speakers the way other people change their socks. The trickle of disconnected announcements on investigations arising from the theft of money from the President's Phala Phala farm still hasn't explained satisfactorily why such large amounts of money weren't banked, and the ANC's refusal to allow a parliamentary inquiry is reminiscent of the cover-ups of the Zuma administration. If we are to build the nation we want, one based on transparency and honesty, the President needs to give us a single comprehensive account of what happened and why it happened.

The hope of Easter is represented by the rolling of a stone away from a tomb, and we can seize on that hope in South Africa today by rolling away the stones that entomb our society in order that we might have life, and have it abundantly. I like to think that the radical American civil rights leader and gay activist, Bayard Rustin, had this in mind when he wrote that “every community needs a group of angelic troublemakers.”

Who could step up to be the angelic troublemakers of South Africa today? I believe we should be urging the young people of our country to dig deep into the radical roots of the old struggle against apartheid, and to take up the New Struggle, a new struggle for a new generation, a struggle to regain our moral compass, a struggle to end economic inequity, a struggle to bring about equality of opportunity and realise the promises of our Constitution.

History is replete with moments when people failed to read the signs of the times and paid the penalty, sitting on the sidelines watching their societies fall apart and become  ungovernable failed states. But it is also replete with moments when active citizens, especially young people, seized the day and brought about real transformation. We saw it during the North African spring of a decade ago, when the people of Tunisia rose up and others across the region followed them. We saw its potential when students campaigned for fees to fall in South Africa. Recently I have been encouraged to see how young people such as the writer Panashe Chigumadzi, supported by the philosopher Cornel West, have been rediscovering the radical roots of Desmond Tutu and his support for the black consciousness movement of the 1960s and 1970s. I know that some of us fear that talk of revolution implies violence, and most of us deplore the rhetoric which we heard before the EFF's attempt to shut the country down last month, in which tyres displayed on social media ahead of protests were described as “tools of trade”. But, as earlier generations of South Africans demonstrated in the defiance campaigns of the early 1950s and late 1980s, it is possible to wage a revolutionary struggle in a disciplined and dignified manner, one that is all the more powerful because it is waged peacefully. There is no place for violence in a constitutional democracy.

South Africans do not have to continue on our current path. By adopting the New Struggle, we can inspire the multitudes of disillusioned young people who despise politicians, who spurn politics and who won't even register to vote, but instead pursue a rampant consumerism because we have failed to give them a vision which would attract them to public service. Let us urge them to organise in their communities, as well as regionally and nationally; let us urge them to register with the Independent Electoral Commission and to campaign to rejuvenate our politics.

The resurrection account in Matthew's Gospel challenges us to work for justice unceasingly. Once we have rolled the stones of our many graves away, we have a commitment to ensure that the poor, the exploited and the misgoverned are never dragged back to tombs, to history’s worst examples of people’s inhumanity to others. Last week I travelled to Johannesburg and rural areas of the Eastern Cape and Lesotho to visit the widows of those killed by police at the Marikana mine in 2012. There, I am pleased to say, a delegation representing Reimagine SA, the Sibanye-Stillwater mining house, the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute and the mine labour group TEBA – supported by kings and local chiefs, especially King Ndamase Ndamase of the AmaMpondo – have  implemented a programme to provide various forms of assistance to those widows and their families. That is commendable.

As people of faith we also have a commitment to work unceasingly for peace in the 40 or more places in the world ravaged by war, unsettled by hatred and denied a future by the greed and power-lust of a few. I have visited some of those areas of war and violence, notably Ukraine last December. We need to continue calling on all those caught up in conflict to give peace a chance, since the only people who gain from war are those who manufacture and supply weapons. Everyone else suffers to the point of death.

A final point. Both the angel and the risen Lord instruct the women at the tomb to tell the disciples to go to Galilee. They are instructed not to stay trapped in the past but to return to the places that marked their lives together, that were infused with energy, where they learnt important lessons, opened their hearts to fresh expressions of faith and had their hope restored. We all need to return to such places for a fresh outpouring of the resurrection life, and to make our congregations and our communities places where those who have been hurt and let down by life and history can find healing and new hope; where those who have been released from tombs can begin again, renewed and restored. That is what an Easter Church needs to look like.

Like the women at the tomb, may we have the courage to go out, not only to proclaim that Easter message but to work tirelessly to make it a reality so that the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and our Messiah.

May God bless you and may you and your families experience richly the joy of Easter. God loves you and so do I.

Friday, 24 March 2023

A prayer for the unveiling of a statue of Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba delivered the following opening prayer at the unveiling of a bronze statue of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at Century City in Cape Town on March 23: 

I greet you in the name of the loving, inclusive God whom Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu worshipped: Good morning! 

Archbishop Desmond was a deeply devout, spiritual and prayerful person, whose alpha and omega was his relationship with our Creator. He believed that each of us was made in the image of this loving, inclusive God, and so he put the happiness and well-being of God's children at the centre of his outreach to the world. If you visited him while ill in hospital, you found that you, not he, were the subject of his prayers. If you arrived early for Mass at his home, you found him deep in silent prayer for the world and its people. In that spirit, we begin the unveiling of his statue, recalling his love for South Africa and the world. 

We thank Mama Leah and the Tutu family for sharing Tata with the world. We also give thanks for Dali and the Tambo family, for the benefactors of this project and for the public servants dedicated to the well-being of our people who have joined us today. 

Adapting prayers that Archbishop Desmond collected in his African Prayer Book, let us pray: 

Lord God, we thank you for our grandmothers and grandfathers who taught us to believe in liberation;

For all those who are great names in our country now, many represented here in this heritage site. 

Many are named with our own names, treasured in our hearts, honoured in our memories, resting both in South Africa and in graves in other lands. 

We thank you for our democracy, for the human rights promised us that we celebrate this week, especially for the right to peaceful protest and to political agitation; 

And we pray that you will strengthen us for the difficult times to come as we respond to the call to be the best that we can be; 

As we engage in the New Struggle, the struggle to realise economic as well as political liberation, to establish equality of opportunity, and to build a nation which will improve the lives of the poorest of the poor, so we end with Desmond Tutu's hymn of hope: 

Goodness is stronger than evil; 
Love is stronger than hate; 
Light is stronger than darkness; 
Life is stronger than death; and 
Victory is ours through Him who loves us. Amen


 

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Sermon preached at Trinity Church Wall Street, New York

 ARCHBISHOP THABO MAKGOBA

PRIMATE and METROPOLITAN OF THE ACSA

Trinity Wall Street, New York

12th March 2023

Readings: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5: 1-11; John 4: 5-42

May I speak in the name of God, who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

Sisters and brothers in Christ, it is such a privilege to return to Trinity so soon after I was with you at the institution of Father Phil just over a year ago. I am always grateful for the opportunity of being among such firm friends of Africa as yourselves. On behalf of Lungi and myself, thank you, Father Phil, Page and the Church-Wardens for inviting me to be part of this service and for your great hospitality . 

It has been exciting to hear of and see the work that you are doing in this part of God's vineyard: of the ministry to high school students here in lower Manhattan; of your work to grow new leaders; of your initiatives to bring improved understanding among Anglicans internationally; and of your record-setting grant-giving to empower the people of God in this city, this country and around the world. The philanthropy which your patrimony enables is truly the gift which keeps on giving, and those of us in nations which are economically less well endowed will always remain grateful for it.

The references in today's readings to gifting God's people with water are particularly appropriate in our circumstances here today. In my mother tongue, Sepedi we have a phrase “Sekgo sa Metse”.  Literally translated, Sekgo refers to a vessel and metse is water. But the phrase has a much deeper meaning, just as living water, the Holy Spirit, does in John's Gospel.  Sekgo sa Metse not only provides a drink for the thirsty; it also transforms various ingredients into sustaining nourishment; and having done so, it provides thlabego, the yeast, which catalyses the next meal to come. So when you empower other churches in the Anglican Communion to do more on their own, when you help them see how, for example, they can develop their properties into income-generating entities, you not only provide them with something to drink; you provide the yeast which helps them to grow into the future. 

In the story of the Samaritan woman, the image of Jesus sitting at Jacob's well is one challenges me profoundly. Even a cursory reading of the Bible underlines that wells are symbols of thriving communities, of potential for abundance, for life, and in times of famine there is an instruction from God to re-dig the wells, to rediscover what gives life, and to make our broken communities thrive again both in those territories that surround us and those Samarias that are within us. Wells are also places that mark the threshold of new futures, of shared futures. Jacob meets his wife Rachel at a well. When Moses fled from Pharaoh to Midian, he sat by a well where he met his wife Zipporah. They are places rich in new beginnings,  providing hope in the midst of the Samarias that surround us, hope for the Church, hope for the world,  hope for the communities within which we live and hope in our own individual lives.

The Church

First the Church. The very fact that Jesus was in Samaria is powerfully instructive. Jesus's presence there challenged destructive beliefs that had for centuries held neighboring communities hostage to tragic histories. At Jacob's well, Jesus affirms that His life and ministry, the church’s great mission and our discipleship, all begin with a commitment to start a dialogue at the places that speak of human thriving.  He calls a woman to be the best version of herself, and in doing so he challenges taboos, unjust cultural and religious practices and embedded racism and patriarchy. He starts a new conversation, creates a new narrative and opens history to a new direction. 

John would later capture it well: he or she whom the Son sets free is free indeed. In the witness and ministry of this parish in New York and your national church, and in the witness and ministry of my church in the nations of Southern Africa, we dream together of a worldwide Communion which breaks boundaries, enters into deeper relationships with one another, church to church and country to country, nurturing the world. We too like Jesus have to find the wells of our times.

The World

In my conversation with Fr Phil in Jacksonville, Florida at the Episcopal Church Network on Friday, I said that, country to country, we need to address the wider implications of the war in Ukraine for Africa and the world. At home I have come in for a lot of criticism for my outright condemnations of Russia's war of aggression. I visited Ukraine in December to see the consequences of that war, and what I witnessed there was deeply upsetting. Given the support which our struggle for liberation in South Africa received from the United Nations, and the reliance we placed on the UN Declaration on Human Rights to support our demands for justice and democracy, it is galling that my government proclaims neutrality when Russia has flagrantly breached the UN Charter by invading a sovereign country. 

At the same time, those of us living in the Global South have reason to fear the escalating words of war coming from world leaders. The warlike rhetoric coming out of Europe raises the dreadful prospect of Europe and the West dragging us into yet another world war, with all the untold death and suffering it would bring. Many Africans died in both world wars of the last century, and our continent was then dragged into opposing sides of the Cold War. As a consequence there is great suspicion of NATO and of the motives of Western armaments industries. When I returned from my visit to  Ukraine, I was asked: is Africa suffering from grain shortages because American elections are around the corner? 

The issues around the invasion of Ukraine are difficult and contested, but on one thing we must be clear: as the Church, our calling as those who aspire to inherit the Kingdom promised by the Prince of Peace is, no matter the circumstances, to be active peace-makers, and constantly to refrain from being carried along by events into supporting death and destruction.

Our Communities 

To return to the Samaritan woman: although she is never called a sinner in the story, she seems to have been labelled as such because she had five husbands and the man she is with is not her husband. However, scholars today suggest this might have been a remnant of a custom in which the widow of a deceased brother would have to marry the next surviving brother. The scholars now ask whether, when Jesus offers her new life, new possibilities, it is not so much about a sinful woman needing salvation, but a survivor, one who has had to find a way of carrying on in a society that excluded her, a woman who had to look insecurity and prejudice in the face. Such a story is also the story of millions of women in our times who live under the yoke of gender-based violence, human trafficking, exploitation in places of work, disrespect and toxicity in their relationships. Just as Jesus welcomes the Samaritan woman and restores her dignity, so women in our own time are finding ways of surviving the ostracisation, exclusion and discrimination and living thriving lives. 

It is such transformation, such liberation when it is seen in our communities, that is so contagious. As those who suffer come to Jesus at Jacob's well, receive the same release, the same hope intensified and the same inner peace, they are liberated from their places of limitation and confinement, their emotional ghettoes and cultural dead-ends. 

Our own lives

Jesus does the same in our individual lives, healing us inside our deepest recesses, reaching the areas that are out of sync, helping us overcome the obstacles that block us from realising our potential. It is a wonderful statement of the grace of God that the power which can redirect the course of history can also touch those inner areas and redeem us to be what God designed us to be.

Conclusion

It has always been one of the most powerful truths of our faith, that Jesus reveals Himself, shows compassion, reveals His identity to the marginalised, to those at the edges, to those who feel they do not count or have lost their way. It is thus to them that we must give very special attention, if we are going to encounter the Jesus who walks through deeply contested territories, who opened dialogues with the most neglected people and is generous in offering dynamic opportunities.

This same Jesus waits now not at the well but at the altar to do for each of us what he did for the Samaritan woman, to change our lives around, excite his Spirit within us so that we can announce good news, not so much by our words but by our transformed lives. Again He says “it is I” to which our overflowing hearts can only answer “Amen”.


*  *  *  *  * 

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Launch of Lenten Bible Studies - “The Bible And The Land Called Holy”

Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Launch of Lenten Bible Studies

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop and Metroplitan

28th February 2023 @ Synod of Bishops 

A very warm welcome to the launch of these Lenten Bible studies this evening: to the facilitators and advocates, to my brother and sister Bishops, and to all the faithful people of God who are joining us.

A special thank you to the team which has ably put them together, headed by Bishop Luke Pato: Canon Janet Trisk, the Rev Edwin Arrison, Ms Dudu Masango, Ms Nonhlanhla Shezi, Archdeacon Andrew Warmback and Bishop Charles May.

As Anglicans who are concerned about the injustices of the Middle East, who are distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and who long for a just peace for both Palestine and Israel, we have been on a long journey. It goes back many decades, to the visits of our Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, in the 1980s and 1990s, to my visits to the Holy Basin, and more recently to the declarations of our Provincial Synod, Provincial Standing Committee and Synod of Bishops. 

Time and again, both our Anglican forums and the SA Council of Churches have emphasised that the situation in the Holy Land demands our concern because it is the place where Jesus was born, nurtured, crucified and raised, and because our own church has both a deep understanding of what it is like to live under oppression, as well as experience of how to confront and overcome unjust rule by peaceful means. 

In expressing our concern, we have experienced pushback from both Jewish and Christian Zionists. Some of the critics within our church imply that because the Jewish people are a nation chosen by God, we must take the side of Israel in the current conflict in the Middle East. But as  these Bible studies show us, the nation state of Israel established by Western powers in 1948 and the Israel of the Bible should not be confused with one another. And we are opposed not to the Jewish people but to those policies of the current government of Israel which oppress Palestinians. I think particularly of the growth of Jewish settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan, an area which is designated as part of a Palestinian state if there is to be a peaceful solution which will allow for the creation of two states, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians. 

As the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Archbishop Hosam Naoum, who is Palestinian, said at the last Lambeth Conference, Israel is a state that deserves the security and protections of a free state, but just like any other state it is also subject to the demands of international law. And for their part, the Palestinian people have the right to self-determination under the  United Nations Charter. 

So please pray for the land called holy, for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and for lasting peace in Palestine and Israel. It is my hope that these Bible studies will deepen our understanding of the issues of the Holy Land and unify Southern African Anglicans in our desire to see both justice for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis. 

We yearn for the peace and wholeness of God to be made manifest in Palestine, in Israel and among their neighbouring countries. So, as we commit our Lenten journey to God, seeking the mind of Christ as we work for a just peace, let us pray the prayer we adopted at Provincial Synod:

Lord God,

Bless the people of the Middle East;

Protect their vulnerable children;

Transform their divided leaders;

Heal their wounded communities,

Restore their human dignity,

and give them lasting peace.

Amen.


*  *  *  *  *


Saturday, 25 February 2023

ACSA wishes Church of Nigeria successful national elections

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has wished the Church of Nigeria well and assured Nigerians of our prayers for their national legislative and presidential elections, being held today, Saturday February 25. 

More than 87 million Nigerians are registered to vote. They will elect a new president, vice-president, 109 senators and 360 members of the Federal House of Representatives. 

Ahead of the elections, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) called for three days of intentional prayer and published a list of minimum demands of political parties and their candidates >>

Yesterday (Friday), Archbishop Thabo sent the following message to the Most Revd Dr Ali Buba Lamido, Dean of the Church Of Nigeria, Archbishop of the Church's Kaduna Province and Bishop of Wusasa Diocese: 

Dear Archbishop Lamido,

On behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, myself and my wife, Lungi Makgoba, we send you and the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and all the people of Nigeria strength and best wishes as you go to the polls tomorrow to elect a President of the country.

May the elections be free and fair, and whoever is elected, accepted, supported and held to account as they serve all Nigerians. Finally we pray that the elections will be peaceful even as the Prince of Peace soaks you in love and His grace. Send my greetings the Primate too. 

Thabo Cape Town, Southern Africa

Thursday, 23 February 2023

A Homily for Ash Wednesday

 ARCHBISHOP THABO MAKGOBA

ASH WEDNESDAY EUCHARIST 

St George's Cathedral

22nd FEBRUARY 2023

Readings: Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 51:1-17, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

May I speak in the name of God, who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

Thank you Mr Dean and your team, together with the Cathedral Churchwardens, for preparing for this service so well. I am always encouraged to be with you in this service as we begin a new season in the calendar, ending the season of the Epiphany and beginning that of Lent.

Every year, Ash Wednesday and Lent give us the opportunity to re-consider our dependence on God’s grace in transforming our lives for the better. This year our lives as South Africans have been turned upside down, so much so that it is hard to focus on what it means to work to transform them for the better, other than to pray for a quick solution to load-shedding and for relief from the effects of the floods that have displaced so many. 

Nonetheless, the size of the challenges that face our worshipping communities, our places of work and our families as a result of the scandalous gap between the rich and the poor underlines how totally dependent we are on God at this difficult time in our and our country's lives. 

Today's passage from Isaiah, written in captivity in Babylon, as well as the passage from Matthew, and the context in which we read them, remind us as never before the importance of discerning the times as we embark on our journey through Lent, Passion-tide and to Easter.

Ash Wednesday and Lent this year invite us to dig deeper, and to attempt to imitate the Holiness of God in our moral and ethical living in our society. As we contemplate how we should be working for the common good in our democracy, it is – perhaps as never before – a time for stock-taking, for deepening our faith, for repentance and renewal, and for focusing on God rather than seeking praise or affirmation for ourselves. 

Our efforts to fast and pray during Lent are important and necessary. But both of today's passages ask us not simply to reduce our consumption but rather pose a deeper question: to what end are we fasting and praying? They challenge us to move out of our comfort zones, and to repudiate conceit. They call on us to put God first, and in South Africa today to speak up and speak out against the abuse of God's children, the corruption which is disrupting our society, the exploitation and oppression of the powerless and the inequality of opportunity that afflicts the poor. And not only do they demand we speak up and speak out, they demand that we then do something about it.

To be more specific, the abuse we are called to speak out against this Lent includes in particular the scourge of gender-based violence. Against the backdrop of the surge in activism on this issue, it is deeply disturbing to see how many so-called celebrities are not adequately being called out for their misogyny. We are also called to speak out in particular against the corruption which plagues Eskom and the energy industry, such as in the supply of coal to power stations. 

In the international arena, we must remain relentless in speaking out against nations pursuing their national interests through aggression and war. After my visit to Ukraine at Christmas, of course we have to repudiate all aggressors but I reject the view that because we distrust the strategic designs of the West and especially of NATO, we should overlook the flagrant breach of the United Nations Charter by Russia's invasion of a sovereign nation. 

At the same time, those of us living in the Global South have reason to fear the escalating words of war coming from world leaders. As the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, has said, it is not as if the world is sleepwalking into a wider war, we fear that it is doing so with its eyes wide open. The warlike rhetoric coming out of Europe raises the dreadful prospect of Europe and the West dragging us into yet another world war, with all the untold death and suffering it would bring. 

The issues around the invasion of Ukraine are difficult and contested, but on one thing we must be clear: as the Church, our calling as those who aspire to inherit the Kingdom promised by the Prince of Peace is, no matter the circumstances, to be active peace-makers, and constantly to refrain from being carried along by events into supporting death and destruction.

This Lent, let us recommit ourselves to being restorers and repairers of human dignity as we strive for the common good. Let us condemn violence against women and children with renewed vigour. Please pray for an end to political polarisation and for a common understanding of what it will take to renew our society. Pray that we will recognise that the chasm between the rich and poor cannot be tolerated any longer, and that we will act on that recognition.

As South Africans our New Struggle must seek to regain our moral compass, end economic inequality,  bring about equality of opportunity and realise the promises enshrined in our Constitution.  

Let us also re-dedicate ourselves to the struggle against greed, corruption, nepotism, and the lust for power; to the struggle against the pursuit of narrow self-interest, personal gain, status and material wealth – in short let us commit ourselves to the struggle for true justice, including economic justice. 

Put simply, as we enter Lent I invite you to turn to loving ways and become conduits of His peace.

God loves you, and so do I. God bless South Africa. Amen.

*  *  *  *  *


Friday, 17 February 2023

To the Laos – Message ahead of Lent 2023

Dear People of God

Returning to my office on February 8th after my post-Christmas leave, and going through some of the correspondence on my desk, showed me at what a fast pace the world is moving, with some issues appearing urgent when they came in now overtaken by events.
    I don't usually share personal matters in this space, but please join my intercessors in praying for our son, Nyakallo, who – battling with adjusting to life as an independent adult – misjudged his medical and basic food needs recently to the point where he was detained by police. Thank you for your prayers for travelling mercies when I went to Ukraine just before Christmas. The escalating words of war coming from world leaders in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine is very worrying. The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, says it is not as if the world is “sleepwalking” into a wider war: “I fear it is doing so with its eyes wide open.” Some fear a possible third world war, which would lead to untold death and suffering, as if there is not more than enough already, from Cabo Delgado to Somalia to Palestine and Yemen. All of this underlines the need for us to be active peace-makers, and constantly to refrain from being carried along by events into supporting death and destruction.
    Towards the end of my holiday break, I started the year with a visit to the United Kingdom, where I spoke at the London Stock Exchange at the launch of a new initiative to reform the mining industry so that it does not harm people and damage the environment. This arises from concern at, for example, the impact of tailings dam failures such as we saw at Jagersfontein in the Free State last year, when one person died, people lost their homes and property and livelihoods were disrupted. In 2019, in Brumadinhno in the eastern part of Brazil, about 270 people died following a collapse of a dam. Tragedies such as these bring home to us the reality of ecological injustice, which is a consequence of the poorest in our communities facing powerful mining companies with deep pockets to pay for litigation to avoid reparation. As we pursue economic justice, it cannot be business as usual for the mining companies which continue to be a big employer of black South Africans.
    Returning to work last week, I gave the concluding remarks at a forum of leading lawyers which discussed how to reform our legal tools to enable the successful investigation and prosecution of crime, especially cases of corruption, and to protect whistle-blowers. I repeated my call for the protection of whistle-blowers in remarks read for me by Dean Michael Weeder of Cape Town at an event in St George's Cathedral, entitled “The Real State of the Nation Address” the day before President Ramaphosa gave his State of the Nation Address. I am glad that in SONA, the president seems to have noted the cry by South Africans of the need to protect whistle-blowers and that key polices will be in place to do so.
    Hunger and desperate poverty are real in South Africa. Our parishes are taking strain but continue to give and enable us to feed the hungry and to preach and live a message of hope. Thank you for your sustained giving, which also enables us to send students to the College of the Transfiguration, ensuring that we have pastors and teachers of faith even in the midst of suffering and global challenges. Please continue to pray for those affected by natural disasters and conflict in Turkiye, Syria and Mozambique at this time.
    Please also pray for the land called holy, for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and for lasting peace in Palestine and Israel. This Lent, we will be focussing our Bible studies on deepening our understanding of the issues of the Holy Land. Please do join in and engage with the Lenten Bible studies. I know we have different understandings and views on this issue, but let us study together and pray together. The Bible study can be downloaded here [PDF] >>
    Pray too for the Anglican Consultative Council meeting, ACC-18, which is taking place in Ghana at present. The ACC is a Communion-wide consultative body which comprises a lay person, a priest and a bishop from each of the world's Anglican provinces. We are represented at ACC-18 by Senzo Mbhele, the Revd Natalie Simons-Arendse and Bishop Stephen Diseko of Matlosane, Dean of our Province.
    Finally, pray for the Synod of Bishops, which is to be held in person for the first time since before the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March 2020. We will apprise you about the outcomes in next month’s Ad Laos. In the meantime, “hold fast to what is good”- 1 Thes. 5:21


God bless,

††Thabo Cape Town



The Real State of the South African Nation - Address to 'Defend our Democracy'

Defend our Democracy: The Real SONA

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Remarks 

8th February 2023

Defend our Democracy @ St Georges Cathedral, Cape Town 


Comrades, 

Colleagues and 

Fellow defenders of democracy! 


I wanted to start with, “Amandla, Awethu!!” But nowadays, we have delegated our power, the peoples’ power, to a few, most of whom appear self- serving. 

Thank you for the privilege of asking me to share some  thoughts with you today. It's important that you have rallied together in this, the People's Cathedral, to examine the real state of the nation, a nation in which we have won political but not economic liberation, a nation in which we are still haunted by the scandalous gap between the rich and the poor. In these days, when too many of our leaders, tempted by the lure of quick wealth, have become sell-outs to the struggle against apartheid, it's important that we step up our activism to stop the slide downwards into becoming a failed state. 

My message today is simple, and it is this: 

To save South Africa today we need to embark on a New Struggle to replace the old struggle against apartheid, a New Struggle for a new generation, a struggle to regain our moral compass, a struggle to end economic inequity, a struggle to bring about equality of opportunity and realise the promises of our Constitution. 

Three quick points:

Firstly, we must recognise that the fight against corruption will be as tough as that against apartheid. It will take the same level of courage as our mothers and fathers displayed in the old struggle, for it is becoming clear that the criminals responsible for the plague of corruption which threatens to engulf us will fight hard to stay out of orange jumpsuits, deploying even death squads to silence us, just as the criminals who enforced apartheid did. 

But, Amandla Ngawetu!! In this real SONA, we must commit to securing much better protection for those who blow the whistle on corruption. We say to President Ramaphosa: “Mr President, in your State of the Nation address, you must spell out practical action to achieve protection for whistle-blowers, and we demand that your  commitment be acted upon immediately.” 

Secondly, at the bedrock of our democracy is the promise that those in public life will pursue the common good so that everyone can flourish. But that has not happened. Load-shedding or rolling black-outs have revealed South Africa’s gross inequalities once again; those with means have inverters, batteries and solar power, and can dine out; but those without have no lights, their food rots in their fridges, thieves steal their electricity, many are jobless, and worst of all their children can't study most nights. And so I believe it is our sacred duty at this real SONA to ensure that WE CALL as loudly as we can for an end to the blackouts, or at least to have spelled out a clear, practical timetable detailing the steps which will be taken to end them.

Lastly, a challenge to ourselves at this real SONA, and that is this:

We need to create a multi-stakeholder forum to pursue the New Struggle. As I have said before, an uncoordinated constellation of independent movements is not enough. We need a coalition that embraces all voices, from the poor to the spiritual leaders of our country, to the leaders of business and labour. We need an alliance of leaders and forces to say: “Enough is enough!”

That alliance must include the youth and one of its primary objectives in securing the future should be registering young people to register to vote, then they must be motivated to vote and help change government policies.

It is time to heal our political polarisations and to recognise that the chasms between rich and poor cannot be tolerated any longer. The New Struggle cannot be for a new, multiracial middle class to live as the white elite lived under apartheid. No, our struggle now must be for a new society, a more equal society, a society of equality of opportunity in which the wealth that comes from new economic growth is shared equitably among all. Our country's future, the futures of our children, our grandchildren and the generations to come, depend on it.


*  *  *  *  *


 

Monday, 6 February 2023

Reforming Criminal Justice Administration in South Africa

 Reforming Criminal Justice Administration in South Africa

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Closing remarks 

6th February 2023

Accountability Now @ University of Cape Town Law Faculty 


Distinguished Judges,

Academics, 

Campaigners for human rights and clean government,

Sponsors of this event:


Thank you for the privilege of inviting me to join those who are giving closing remarks to this important forum. 

I am here to deliver a simple message, one that I've been preaching since it became clear that too many of our leaders had become sell-outs to the struggle against apartheid, tempted by the lure of quick wealth to put us on the road to a failed state.

As I said during the Zuma administration, “It sometimes feels as if some of our leaders stopped their fight for a new South Africa at the point at which they joined the ranks of those who corruptly and immorally amassed wealth under colonialism and apartheid.”

The root of our problems lies in the scandalous gap between the rich and the poor. We won political liberation nearly 30 years ago but we have not achieved economic liberation. However, we cannot do that without doing a reboot of our politics and our instruments of governance.

So my message is this: to save South Africa we need to embark on a New Struggle to replace the old struggle against apartheid, a New Struggle for a new generation, a struggle to regain our moral compass, a struggle to end economic inequity, a struggle to bring about equality of opportunity and realise the promises of our Constitution. 

Only by adopting this New Struggle can we inspire the multitudes of disillusioned young people who despise politicians, who spurn politics and who won't even register to vote, but instead pursue a rampant consumerism because we have failed to give them a vision which would attract them to public service. 

And at the heart of the New Struggle must of course be the fight against corruption to which you have devoted today's proceedings. I won't try to cover the ground you've already discussed today, but allow me to make three points:

Firstly, make no mistake, the fight against corruption will not necessarily be easier than the fight against apartheid. As we have so movingly heard today, and read about in recent weeks, it takes tremendous courage to stand up against a prevailing miasma of self-serving wheeler-dealing in an institution. The criminals who have engaged in and benefitted from corruption will fight to stay out of prison, deploying death squads just as the criminals who enforced apartheid did. 

But human progress is never guaranteed without struggle. Progess requires sacrifice, it often involves suffering, and most of all it requires struggle. And part of that struggle must be securing much better protection for whistle-blowers, whether from loss of income or from killers who attack in the night. That needs to happen almost immediately, and President Ramaphosa should spell out practical action to achieve it in his State of the Nation address. 

Secondly, I want to endorse the call to protect law enforcement from political interference. People of all faiths share the belief that our Creator calls us to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves, and that our priority in society should be to pursue the common good so that everyone can flourish. To pursue the common good, we need to hold one another accountable for our actions. In our national life, Chapter Nine of our Constitution gives us instruments which help us to do this. And so I believe it is actually our sacred duty to ensure that we take the steps necessary to insulate the investigators and prosecutors of crime from being undermined and subverted by those in power who want to cover up corruption.

Thirdly, we need to create a multi-stakeholder forum to pursue the  New Struggle. As I have said previously, an uncoordinated constellation of independent movements is not enough. We need a coalition that embraces all voices, from the poor to the spiritual leaders of our country, to the leaders of business, labour and legal services. We need an alliance of leaders and forces to say: “Enough is enough!”

That alliance must include the youth and one of its primary objectives in securing the future should be registering young people to register to vote, then to vote and help to change the government's policies. The young can also use their energy for advocacy, lobbying banks and international organisations in the campaign mentioned by Lord Hain to expose kleptocracy and highlight corruption in South Africa.

It is time to heal our political polarisations and to recognise that the chasms between rich and poor cannot be tolerated any longer. The New Struggle cannot be for a new, multiracial middle class to live as the white elite lived under apartheid. No, our struggle now must be for a new society, a more equal society, a society of equality of opportunity in which the wealth that comes from new economic growth is shared equitably among all. Our country's future, the futures of our children, our grandchildren and the generations to come, depend on it.

*  *  *  *  *




Saturday, 28 January 2023

Archbishop helps launch new initiative to clean up mining

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba interrupted his summer leave this week to attend the launch at the London Stock Exchange of a new initiative to reform the mining industry so that it does not harm people and damage the environment. 

The new "Global Investor Commission on Mining 2030" is also supported by Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and by the global investor network, Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). It is being advised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Reporting on the launch, Reuters news agency observed: "As well as high-profile disasters and the displacement of communities, the mining sector has been responsible for widespread damage to nature and biodiversity worldwide, such as to forests which absorb planet-heating carbon dioxide emissions," 

Now, Reuters reported: "The commission hopes to achieve wide-ranging reform in the industry so that it causes no harm to people and the environment, aligning investors and companies behind best practices to handle risks like social conflicts and nature loss."

More background:

Mining Review Africa: New commission launched to raise mining sustainability

New UN-backed investor commission aims to raise mining sustainability standards by 2030

The full text of Archbishop Thabo's address follows:

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen; it is good to be at this summit, and thank you for this opportunity to speak to you.

Thank you to Adam and his team, who are driving so much positive change in the mining sector, to the chief executives who are joining us today, to the NGOs, investors and the miners; to everyone gathered today, thank you for your attendance and your commitment. Our deliberations are critically important, since we all share a common interest – namely to improve the world we live in. To have brought together a gathering reflecting such great diversity but with a common purpose of shared success based on a new model of shared values, makes today a special day. 

Thank you also to Archbishop Welby for the wise words delivered to us through my colleague and friend Bishop David today, for bringing the contribution of faith into this important conversation, and for opening up crucial avenues for reflection.

It's a particular privilege for me to join you, since the Courageous Conversations that we've held in a South African context have taught me an appreciation and a respect for the complexities, the joys, the sadness and the opportunities which come with the field of mining. Put in the language of faith, we are faced with the task of mining for society’s moral minerals and the morality in a minerals world.

In the foundational literature of my faith tradition – shared of course with the Jewish tradition – there is an insightful line describing days such as this as being days which the Lord has made, days which invite us to respond by rejoicing. A close reading of our texts reveals that the day is fit for rejoicing precisely because impossible dreams have been realised, historical absurdities have been overturned, a different future is now being envisaged and fresh energy is being poured into the project of making all things new.

The cluster of psalms in the Bible which include those words find purpose in asking for the good, and today, in these deliberations, I believe that we are on the cusp of a day such as that and retrieving a purpose such as that. (Ps 118, v24) I want to suggest that part of what we are seeking at this time, all of us together, is developing and nurturing solidarity, that key social virtue that has in recent times become the underpinning of engagement amongst so many varied voices and competing standpoints. 

Extending Archbishop Welby’s contribution, I want to underline my reflection by turning to a traditional tool used by people of faith, a tool which helps us to discern a way forward which will give a public face and understanding to our privately-held beliefs. I am referring to the tool of “See, Judge, Act”, which helps us to stop, stand back from a situation and reflect on it before we take action. 

The thelogian, Christine Firer Hinze, has described working to achieve solidarity as discerning “the interdependency of all peoples within earth's habitats” and working “collaboratively for the shared good of all people and the planet.” She adds: “In a world of radically unequal power and opportunities, one way towards justice and a better life for all, is... about cultivating these practices of solidarity, which is indeed using the power and capability of all of us.” I believe that the tool, “See, Judge, Act”, offers us a way of looking at key social concepts and especially at concepts that speak to the mining sector’s contribution to this better world, with an emphasis on the sector's commitment to what we call “just sustainability”.

The central importance of mining to human life cannot be overstated. Mining is quite simply a major basis for our existence as we know it, and it behoves all of us from our various disciplines to ensure that it works for the common good. George Orwell, the author best known for his book Animal Farm and a lifelong socialist, once said of mining that it is “part of the metabolism of life.” Indeed, key periods of history are known by the minerals which dominated their ages: the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, for example. 

But as the 21st century unfolds, all of us who recognise how mining underpins our societies need to ensure that it develops in ways that are in harmony with, and do not conflict with, new patterns of human thought and behaviour; that it is a welcome and valued partner in society, accepted as promoting the common good. In our fascinating discussions I hear people talk of the thinking of Gar Alperovitz and Steve Dubb about a political economy that emphasises sustainable, economically and democratically healthy local communities that are anchored by wealth-democratising strategies, policies and institutions.

In such an environment, mining needs a social licence to operate. What is a social licence to operate? It is fundamentally a compact, an unwritten agreement, between a company – faceless, filled with individuals who each have their own objectives and desires – and a society - faceless, filled with individuals who each have their own objectives and desires. 

In the case of mining, the company manifests physically as an operation; a hole in the ground, a series of tailings dams and waste rock dumps, such as those in Soweto, Johannesburg where I grew up. Negatively, it can manifest as dust and noise, and the immigration of strangers into the area. But it also manifests as employment, as opportunity and economic activity. Similarly, it can manifest as disappointment over broken promises, as anger over lost land, changed lives and livelihoods. But it can also manifest as joy over improving infrastructure and services and as hope for better lives. 

Society too manifests itself with difficult faces. Human progress and the potential to flourish are dependent on mining and minerals. But social media amplifies voices opposed to mining. As the push for green energy continues, the minerals which enable the transition become ever more scarce and critical. Mining companies must seek out minerals and invest in regions which are often unstable, often violent, so the scramble for mineral-based wealth can increase the instability and violence. 

Africa, my home, still suffers from the effects of colonisation, when colonial powers built their enormous wealth through exploitation, and then left behind fractured countries and broken people. It has been said that we are starting to see a second colonisation now, as the need for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Green Energy minerals drives exploitation again – where the minerals and money go to the northern hemisphere to drive their green, “just”, transition, and all that is left behind is infrastructure and development without the means to maintain it. 

The social licence teeters continuously on a knife’s wedge for the individual mining company. To overcome this, to achieve lasting stability, I believe the mining sector as a whole needs to work for something more. If we are to see a more peaceful, more just, and more prosperous world in the future, we need a social compact that revisits the very nature of capitalism and value.

The American philosopher Naomi Zack has asked, “If our government has broken the social contract and no longer serves the interests of the people, can citizens have faith that they are better off with government than without it?” She advocates that when that happens, perhaps it is time “to shift our focus from the idea of a social contract — between the government and citizens — to the idea of a social compact — direct interaction and agreement among citizens and social institutions for the common good.”

This is an investors' conference, so why all the talk about social compacts? Because the era of exploitative capitalism is coming to an end as people discover increasing agency to create change, whether through democracy, advocacy, or violence. The tightrope that any mining company must walk in order to maintain their social licence is increasingly tied up with whether they have a working social compact with the communities they exist in. 

At our Days of Courageous Conversation, as I listen and try to understand the wisdom, the concerns, the anxieties, the fears and the hopes and dreams of those who take part, I hear thoughts such as these emerge. As I leave them with you for your reflection and consideration, allow me to conclude by reiterating that the world needs you to safely produce the minerals critical to life as we know it. But to ensure that you fulfil  your God-given roles, we must all work together to find ways of ensuring positive change and to pursue the common good so that the mining sector meets the weighty demands of our time.

On a pragmatic ending, if I have sparked a degree of curiosity in you regarding mining the moral mineral,  I offer these two invitations: first, support the Investor Commission and the Global institute launched yesterday, and second, I invite you to one of our SA conversations when next in South Africa.

I thank you. God bless you and God bless the whole mining industry and its broader communities.


Wednesday, 18 January 2023

On Eskom's rolliing power blackouts

A report from Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who interrupted his leave to join a virtual meeting including President Ramaphosa, interfaith leaders, MPs and the Eskom board and CEO to highlight South Africa's crisis:

In the light of my Christmas message, faith leaders did not mince their words but attempted to spell out the desperate situations our people face  because of the rolling blackouts. We pressed upon the government the urgency for load shedding to end, albeit recognising the reality of corruption, criminality and technical issues. We listened and felt heard. The president understood the need for action and also committed to coming back to us.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba  


Friday, 6 January 2023

To the Laos – Message on the Feast of the Epiphany, 2023

 Dear People of God

On behalf of our church, I have sent our condolences to the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Catholic Archbishop of Cape Town on the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. We pray for the repose of his soul – may he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Compliments of the season, and a Happy New Year to all! It is my hope that in 2023 Anglicans will take a lead in our various societies in Southern Africa in wrestling with the question of how we can put aside personal greed and self-advancement, and work together with others to pursue with vigour that which will help us to become part of something bigger than ourselves.

I refer of course to what you have heard me consistently advocating over recent years, and that is the New Struggle – a new struggle for a new society, a society of compassion and caring, a society in which we end inequality of opportunity and improve the lives of the poorest of the poor.

Looking beyond the weeks of joyful celebration of Christmas and the New Year, looking beyond the wishes of goodwill generously shared with one another, the pursuit of the New Struggle has the potential to establish a new basis for our spiritual, economic, political and social lives: a morally virtuous framework that could and should unleash a sustainable wave of real change, or – as some describe it – a movement of transformative improvement and a re-prioritisation of the needs of our diverse communities.

To express the hope for such a movement is not wishful thinking. Hope, as I have said before, is not a nebulous, pie-in-the-sky concept. No, hope is the driving force which which motivates our determination to name our problems, to identify solutions to them and to mobilise people to overcome them. Hope must be what drives us to work to fulfill our Constitution’s promise of a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.

In recent days, the sad, racist attack on black children – including family members of retired Bishop Meshack Mabuza of Swaziland – at the Maselspoort holiday resort outside Bloemfontein once again brought home the urgency of dealing with the hate and prejudice which still pervades South Africa. Just as urgent is the need for civil society, including the Church and other faith communities, to refuse to surrender the human rights of the most marginalised: shack dwellers, refugees and economic migrants from other parts of Africa and the LGBTQI community.

When I was in Ukraine just before Christmas, the Jewish community was celebrating the miracle of Hanukkah, the eight-day festival which commemorates the miracle of olive oil, which was supposed to burn in a lamp for only one day, actually keeping alight for eight days. Similarly, in so many ways, by so many means and at so many times in our recent history, civil society has kept alight candles of hope to lighten the darkness in our societies in Southern Africa. And as we move into Lent soon, we will make Bible studies available to help Anglicans to light candles of hope for our Palestinian sisters and brothers, that they too may share the freedom, security, peace and justice we desire for all those who live in the Holy Basin.

In South Africa, civil society has been at the core of the New Struggle, a major contributing factor which prevented the dismembering of democracy as our Constitution came under assault in recent years. In this struggle, Christians have held out the hope of what we might describe as a Pauline renewal, offering to society a vision of the abundant life promised by Jesus.

Now we are facing profound new challenges in South Africa. As we’ve seen others ask, “How do you shame a shameless government and political parties into being movements of the people, committed to the common good rather than existing for their own and their families' self-advancement?” How can we say that the voices of the people are being heard and acted upon when we see our political leaders living the high life while claiming there is no money for service delivery, basic education and healthcare? Where does this societal deafness and social arrogance come from?

Ukraine reminded me that it is possible to have key leaders who are capable, authentic champions of civil society, leaders who can create an infrastructure that will not allow populism, public violence and violet extremism to define 2023 and the years beyond. In South Africa we need leaders who can fulfill their constitutional obligations, ensuring that social problems are addressed, ensuring that the new era of African democracy becomes a reality in South Africa too. Such leaders will recognise that our future is not just in the hands of politicians but that all the country's economic and social formations must be brought into the narrative so that everyone, including the poor, is listened to for their ideas, insights and solutions.

Sadly, we are coming to the collective realisation that if our current government is incapable of self-correction, then a new coalition of forces is essential. Here are the realities that such a coalition will have to face up to:

1. Poverty is not by accident, it is by design — lower-income, less educated, voiceless people are so much easier to control.

2. In the social context, South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the world — with 66.5 percent youth unemployment,

3. In the Human Development Index compiled by the United Nations Development Programme, South Africa ranks in the second-lowest quartile. Half of the adult population lives below the poverty line and 19 million of our 60 million people are dependent on social grants. No less than 47 percent of households ran out of food during Covid-19 lock downs.

4. With the highest Gini coefficient globally, South Africa is the most unequal nation in the world. The richest 10 percent hold 71 percent of the wealth and the poorest 60 percent hold seven percent of the wealth.

5. People in sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing acute food insecurity.

6. In the larger context, the world is moving away from financial stability, predictable financial markets, low interest rates and low inflation. The world is now characterised by unpredictable external shocks and increased volatility brought on by climate change, worsened by the Covid pandemic, and now amplified by Russia’s unprovoked, unwarranted and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and climate change.

We must come together to address these realities. A plethora of independent movements is not enough. Whether under the umbrella of the New Struggle, or some other vehicle that embraces all voices, from the poor, to the spiritual leaders of our country, to the leaders of business and labour, we need an alliance of leaders and forces to say: “Enough is enough!”

Your futures, our countries' futures are in our hands. It is time to heal our political polarisations, to recognise that the chasms between rich and poor cannot be tolerated and that overcoming inequality of opportunity is the solution to unemployment. We are so blessed to be living here in this century. It’s in our hands to shape the future and to give our children and grandchildren their best possible futures.

In 2023, how will we leave behind personal greed to become part of something bigger than ourselves? The answer: the New Struggle!

As I prepare to go away until 9th February on my post-Christmas break, my warmest wishes go to you at this Epiphany. And remember: God loves you, and so do I.

God bless,

††Thabo Cape Town