January 15, 2017
Today, we went to church in a local township. Full Gospel Church Kingdom Works Ministries is a Christian church located in Khayelitsha, a Black township in Cape Town. The church service was similar to many I have been to. There was singing, offering, and the sermon. The sermon was interesting because, throughout the whole time, the preacher only made three biblical references. It seemed he was preaching about the community’s issues and how each person can correct them by saying “this is how God would want you to do it” or “this is how to have good Christian character.” I found it hard to believe his message since he made no references to why we must do this as Christians or what the Bible says on the matter. The preacher often switched between English and other African languages quite fluidly, which made some parts of the sermon difficult to understand. Everyone at the church was extremely welcoming and made the experience enjoyable.
Then, we took a walking tour around Khayelitsha. As I said before, this is a Black township that is characterized by poverty and an overwhelming sense of communal spirit (ubuntu). During this walking tour, I felt uncomfortable for many reasons. One reason is that our tour guide was encouraging us to take pictures of the township. I have not yet taken a single photo of a person’s living conditions, good or bad because this is their way of life. My visiting their neighborhoods is not so that they can be put on display or be regarded as tourist attractions. They are human beings.
Secondly, I was extremely uncomfortable with the general fact that South African men think that it is okay to stare and say crude things to women. My experience echoes the fact that patriarchy is still strong in South Africa which was confirmed by many of local women I have spoken to. Lastly, we were invited to walk into people’s homes so we could observe the living condition of the people of this township. I felt as though I was barging into people’s Sunday afternoon routines. I saw our tour guide slip one lady some Rand as payment for allowing us to see her shack. I felt as though I was on display just as their houses were on display. In both instances, however, it was only an opportunity to look and make a surface level observation rather than engaging in genuine conversation.
Our guide, Mpho, also provided a unique opinion on Nelson Mandela. From being here for the last two weeks, I was under the impression that Nelson Mandela was praised by a majority of Black South Africans. Mpho appreciated Nelson Mandela’s hard work for the liberation of her people. However, she said that “he [Nelson Mandela] sold us; with that constitution, he sold our people.” She was referencing the lack of land rights and workers’ rights that he dismissed to “avoid a civil war.” Mpho also noted that Mandela should have involved more parties in the negotiations with the Apartheid government such as the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and Black Consciousness Movement.
For many of these reasons, this is why she now supports the Economic Freedom Fights (EFF) as the next power in their government.We learned in parliament that a majority of the Eastern Cape region supports either the Democratic Alliance (DA) or EFF because people feel as though the African National Congress (ANC), the current party in power, is failing them. Lastly, I asked her what she thought about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that took place in 1995. She mentioned that many of the victims did not have time to forgive and were forced to testify. Also, she believes that many of the perpetrators did not tell the 100% truth. She was most disappointed that there were no criminal charges brought against many of the perpetrators that admitted their crimes.
Today, was certainly an enjoyable experience. Tomorrow is our last day in South Africa. It is a free day, so I am not entirely sure what I will be doing, but check back tomorrow to find out!