Sunday, May 25, 2008

The horror of racism

Sadly, just weeks after I wrote fear in context, Zimbabwean refugees are fleeing back to their country. South Africa's unexpected racism, which I wrote about in Africa-as-everything-bad, has led to South African blacks attacking refugees from ofther African nations. You can read about the current crisis in this BBC news article. You can also read some commentry at Inside South Africa blog. Meanwhile things are hardly growing better in Zimbabwe, with many opposition supporters in hospital.

This latest flare up of violence will, of course, do nothing for the image of South Africa. I've already had a number of people ask me about it. They generally seem to have no understanding of the context, but it reinforces their perceptions of South Africa as a highly dangerous place. One person suggested that there was little difference between Zimbabwe and South Africa. While this is untrue, it natural that people arrive at this conclusion if they only listen to news snippets. The huge differences between the countries are not "newsworthy" in terms of radio or TV news.

I know enough about Africa to realise just how little I do know. Often, TV news and the radio gives us the false impression that they know what is going on in certain countries. I'm sure I've made this mistake many times in the past. Now, after being married to a South African for just a short while, I realise just how simplistic and/or distorted impressions of a country can become. I'm trying to be more wary, and more informed, in my comments about the world. I know next to nothing. Even though I'm constantly learning, that will probably be the case for a long time.


  1. Thabiti Anyabwile gave a powerful explanation of how God views race at the recent Together For the Gospel Conference.

    It's session 2 ... here's the link:

  2. Hi Sherrin

    Yesterday (25 May) was Africa Day, a day meant to celebrate being African. Sadly the last few weeks have not been a celebration of a shared African identity or a unified Africa. I am always very positive and patriotic, but I feel deeply saddened by what is happening. It is devastating. Africa and South Africa need your prayers.

    It is a sad day when Zimbabwean refugees would rather return to their own country to die from political violence than face the xenophobia they have recently encountered here. That said, as you mention in your blog many people are informed only by the bits they pick up in the media. There are huge efforts to provide safe places for the refugees and to supply food and blankets. Many communities are reaching out to help. A lot of the recent crime and looting has been opportunistic, taking advantage of the current climate and disguising crime as 'hate crimes'. No matter though, it is still unacceptable.

    Please keep South Africa and Africa in your prayers.

    Cape Town

  3. Thanks Christine . . . I don't download talks due to slow Internet, but others may want to take advantage of the link. It is wonderful that God breaks through our racism and gives us the life-changing information that we are all "one blood" and we are to love one another.

    LH, I really sympathise with your pain. I'm starting to identify more and more with the troubles in Africa, as I never have before, and it hurts! It must be so much harder for those who have grown up there.

    Dave and I pray daily for South Africa, and even though he is away right now I've been continuing with our prayer cards. Yesterday our prayer point was "relationships between people groups in South Africa" and today it is government.

    I am really encouraged to hear of the efforts to provide sanctuary for people, as I read nothing about that on the BBC news site.

    I'll keep praying, no matter what! God is our hope.

  4. The rainbow nation is a wretched disaster except that, its the truth and its not going to change.
    For people like us who truly loved our country its unforgivable that a once thriving first world
    country has been ruined in such a short time. Especially since they have no clue how to fix it.

    Sites worth visiting will give you a world of information on the truth about South Africa.

  5. ZeroTolerance, I was unsure about whether or not to publish your comment. It clearly does not promote love, since you have linked to a number of racist sites. You also give no identifying information at all. ZeroTolerance is not a name, and your site does not give one either. Due to this, I will not publish any further comments I receive from you.

    I have published your comment and chosen to engage with you because I want to plead with you, just this once, to repent. You claim to be a follower of Christ. Please consider his love for all people, and the fact that all are made in his image. Repent of your racism, and recognise that the sin you are most in danger from is your own. Jesus Christ died to reconcile us to himself, and to one another. Please determine to live out the implications of this transforming gospel.

    Please choose to work constructively to do what you can to love others. I recommend the excellent National Initiative for the Reformation of South Africa for your consideration. Further racism will not contribute anything positive to the future of South Africa, or to your own personal future.