'Greek Moments' in South Africa and Zimbabwe

By Nontando Hadebe 03-25-2009

During my studies in theology, my colleagues and I jokingly referred to particularly difficult concepts or issues that we had a hard time understanding as "a Greek moment," or say "this is Greek to me!" I had a "Greek moment" this week.

A peace conference scheduled this week to promote the hosting of the 2010 World Cup Soccer Tournament in South Africa had to be postponed because one of the key speakers, the Dalai Lama, was denied an entry visa. The reason given by a government official on national TV was that the Dalai Lama posed a "serious threat to the hosting of the 2010 World Cup Soccer Tournament in South Africa." The government's refusal to grant a visa to him resulted in the withdrawal of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and other international peace activists from the conference.

It was a "Greek moment" for me as I cannot see the connection between the Dalai Lama's presence at a peace conference and the disruption of a soccer tournament in 2010. Ironically, yesterday (Tuesday, March 24) a strike by taxi associations that provide public transport brought the city centre of Johannesburg to a standstill, causing traffic disruptions and widespread acts of violence, and prevented a significant portion of the workforce from going to work. The strikers have threatened to bring the nation to a standstill if their demands are not met within seven days. Tragic!

In Zimbabwe, "snail pace" progress is continuing to happen. Every small step brings promise of a better future. City services are being revived. A "Greek moment" in Zimbabwean politics is the continuation of farm invasions and land grabs with no action from the police. As an agro-based economy, these invasions threaten the sustainability of the country's economy and are a sign of lawlessness.

The period of Lent reminds us of the ultimate "Greek moment" in the crucifixion of Christ. A sobering and humbling event that reminds us of the tragedy of the human condition and the extent to which God was prepared to go to provide a way out for humanity. May our individual and corporate witness allow the light to overcome the darkness wherever we are. Bless you all.

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


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