TOESPRAAK DEUR PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA

TOESPRAAK DEUR PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA BY DIE 60STE SINODE –SITTING VAN DIE VOLKSKERK VAN AFRIKASTELLENBOSCH 23 SEPTEMBER 1997

Meneer die Moderator en Sinodegangers,  Meneer die Burgermeester van Stellenbosch en lede van die stadsraad.

Dames en Here

Vergun my om u van harte te bedank vir die eer om aanwesig te kan wees by hierdie geleentheid.  Dit is vir ons ‘n besondere voorreg om deel te hê aan die verrigtinge in hierdie geskiedkundige jaar vir u Kerk.  Ons is bewus daarvan dat hierdie nie slegs u sestigste Sinode sitting is nie, maar dat u ook vroeër  vanjaar die vyf-en-sewentigste  bestaansjaar van u Kerk gevier het.  Ons innige gelukwensing gaan uit na u, die Sinode, sowel as al u gemeentes en lidmate.

Vyf-en-sewentig jaar is ‘n lang tyd en ‘n belangrike baken in die lewe van enige organisasie of instelling.  U kan tereg met trots terugkyk oor die afgelope driekwart eeu, en besieling put uit die wyse waarop u Kerk gegroei het en voortgegaan het om sy gemeentes en gemeenskap te dien – op die geestelike sowel as maatskaplike terrein. 

 Ons bid u verdere krag en sterkte.

 Dikwels wanneer ek getref word deur die rykdom van goedgesindheid wat daar in verskillende gemeenskappe en dele van die land voorkom, word ek gedwing om te erken hoe sleg ek my eie land ken.  En in die voorbereiding vir hierdie geleentheid, het ek ook weer soveel nuut geleer oor die geskiedenis en die ryk  sosiale weefsel van ons samelewing.

 Die stigting en die ontstaan van die Volkskerk van Afrika is ‘n besielende stukkie geskiedenis van gemeenskappe wat self- verantwoordelikheid vir hul toekoms aanvaar het, en instellings en strukture geskep het waarin hulle hulself kon uitleef en die beginsel van selfhulp kon beoefen.  Hierdie geskiedenis van u kerk behoort baie wyer bekend te wees, want dit kan tot vandag as ‘n voorbeeld en aansporing vir ons almal dien.

South Africa today faces many challenges as we reconstruct our society after devastation of our apartheid past.  Central to that reconstruction is the restoration of the moral fibre of our society and our communities.

During the apartheid years the law was so perverted and corruption became so wide -spread, that it led to a profound loss of respect for law and a decay of moral authority.  The church has a crucial role to play in re-instilling that common moral core to our daily living.

The Volkskerk van Afrika has a proud history of conducting its spiritual task with concrete reference to the social conditions within which communities live.  In the founding statement of your Church in 1922, specific reference is made to the social, gambling, drink and dagga evils that had taken such a firm hold on the youth, and the Church sees itself as playing a role to combat these evils.

Seventy- five years on, and those evils are still with us, even more intensely and with far greater destructive effects on our youth and on our entire communities.  It is to that history of social involvement on the part of our Church and others,   that we now look as we strive to build a society in which women, children and men may lead safe, secure and decent lives.  Religion is an important part of the lives of most South Africans.  Religious bodies played a crucial role in both opposing apartheid and providing moral sustenance to people under those conditions of repression and dehumanisation.  We were struck and deeply impressed by the human solidarity demonstrated in the inter-faith and ecumenical nature of the work done by the religious community in those years.  Today we once more look to them to give moral and practical leadership in drawing South Africans together to combat the social evils threatening our society.

Misdaad, korrupsie en ander maatskaplike euwels is die gemeenskaplike problem van ons almal.  Dit is nie ‘n probleem slegs van die Regering nie.  Dit is nie die probleem van slegs wit of swart nie.  Dit tref nie slegs die rykes of slegs die armes nie.

As ons daardie probleem te bowe wil kom, sal ons dit gesaamentlik moet eien en gesamentlik moet aanspreek.  Die godsdienstige gemeenskap kan en behoort ‘n sleutel rol te speel om ons samelewing in hierdie morele en opheffingstaak te verenig. 

Meneer die Moderator, ons merk op uit die geskiedenis van u Kerk hoe ondubbelsinnig u kerk vaders in 1948 standpunt ingeneem het teen apartheid.  Daardie tradisie van vreesloos leiding  gee oor morele en etiese kwessies, stel u instaat om vandag in die veranderde  Suid –Afrika steeds die pad aan te wys.  Daar is ‘n verdere aspek van die stigtingsgeskiedenis van u Kerk wat wyer aandag verdien.  Die Volkskerk Van Afrika het sy ontstaan gehad in ‘n besondere deel van ons bevolking, naamlik in die Kleuringgemeenskap.  Uit die staanspoor het die Volkskerk homself en sy lidmate gesien en beskryf as kinders van Afrika.  In die stigtingsboodskap van Mei 1922, praat u kerkvader van die lidmate as “free sons and daughters of Africa”

There are these days frequently attempts to portray the Coloured community as being a dissatisfied and disgruntled group on the side line, not identifying or being at ease with the new democracy.  We are well aware that in all communities, whether it be African, Coloured, Indian or White, there will be anxieties and concerns when we face such a fundamental social and political transition.  The Coloured community is certainly no exception.  We, however, refuse to subscribe to the view that they regard themselves as more marginal to our rainbow nation than any other.  And this part of the history of this important church in that community, further gives the lie to such a portrayal.

This common loyalty to Africa, this view of ourselves as free sons and daughters of Africa, binds us as South Africans beyond what other  differences we may have.  It is this history of our various communities that needs to be celebrated as we build our united country.  As your Church commemorates seventy-five-years of its existence, it is worth emphasising its character as a church of and in Africa.  The founding fathers left you with a vision of a church for the people, by the people; a church striving to truly become the People’s Church of Africa.

We are aware of the concerted efforts by your Church to continue building bridges and contrast across the divides that our social and political past left us with.  We take courage and inspiration from your continued commitment to build a better society for all.  We remember the words of your founder, namely that the Church shall strive for “the betterment of the social, educational and economic conditions for all 

Meneer die Moderator, Dames  en  Here;  Dit was waarlik ‘n groot voorreg om vandag saam met u te kon wees.

Mag u Kerk van krag tot krag groei.

En mag u steeds die bron van morele leiding en sosiale opheffing in ons samelewing wees.

Ek dank u.