We Carry the Cross Close to Us

Motlalepula Chabaku is a South African woman born under apartheid, whose life has been a difficult journey toward liberation for herself and for all people who know oppression. She worked in the women's division of the African National Congress and later began the Black Federation of South African Women, both outlawed by the government; she also helped to form the Voice of Women, which drew together blacks and whites. In 1975 she was elected national president of the International Women's Year for South Africa.

In May, 1976, she came to the United States on an exchange program. In August of that year, after she had returned to South Africa, she received a scholarship to study at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and was graduated in May, 1979. She later worked with the Presbyterian Church as a missionary to the United States.

Following are excerpts from Ms. Chabaku's comments in a conversation with members of Sojourners' staff. --The Editors

One who comes with the rain.
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the month of November, a peak spring month. Suddenly there was thunder, lightning, torrential rain, and I came. My parents gave me the name Motlalepula, which means, "One who comes with the rain."

My parents believed that God timed my coming into the world for a special purpose. Even though I may be critical of issues, like thunder and lightning, I must be like the rain. In our part of the world rain is a very scarce commodity. We look forward to it, because where there is rain there is water; where there is water there is life; where there is life there is growth, re-creation, hope. And so I have to come with hope, even in a hopeless situation.

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