The Common Good

Murder and Militant Songs Betray Mandela's Legacy

As millions of Christians celebrated Easter this past weekend, their celebrations were interrupted by events in South Africa and Zimbabwe that reinforced the relevance of the message of Easter for the stability of this region. The two events were the murder of Eugene Terblanche, leader of a right wing white group in South Africa, by two of his employees, and the visit to Zimbabwe by the ANC youth leader Julius Malema.

Related Reading

Take Action on This Issue

Circle of Protection for a Moral Budget

A pledge by church leaders from diverse theological and political beliefs who have come together to form a Circle of Protection around programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world.

Terblanche's right wing group consists of less than 1% of Afrikaaners (Boers) and had become almost redundant. However, Terblanche's death came at a time of rising racial tensions triggered by the singing in public by the ANC youth league of an ANC liberation song "Dubul' ibhunu," which means "shoot the Boer." A court application was made to ban the singing of this song as it was against the spirit of democracy and had the potential to fuel racial tensions. A court ruling was issued that banned the singing of the song. However, the ANC decided to challenge the court ruling because they felt that they had the right to sing their songs.

Malema was even more defiant and vowed to sing the song even if it meant defying the court order. The death of Terblanche in this context merely fueled the already existing racial tensions. President Zuma called for calm. This is something South Africa cannot afford, not only because of the hosting of the World Cup, but more importantly because it represents a betrayal of their values embodied by Mandela. They need an "Easter moment."

Malema visited Zimbabwe and praised the government for their land and economic policies which he felt were good examples for South Africa in spite of their failure in Zim. In a surprising move Malema castigated ZANU (PF) for their use of violence in elections and offered to teach them how to win elections peacefully through ideology not violence. He also dismissed the opposition party and refused to engage with them. It is perplexing because as mediators between the two parties in Zim, South Africa must be unbiased. It feels like a "Judas" moment -- a betrayal of the principles of democracy and unbiased mediation. These events happened during Easter, to remind Christians that Judas' action did not stop the resurrection and the plan of God to reconcile people to God and to each other. Therefore the Easter message in the context of these events is for Christians to be reconcilors and ministers of justice and peace. Pray with us too!

Nontando HadebeNontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories

Resources

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)