Thursday 15 February 2018

Siki Dlanga

What’s in a Name?: Reflections on #CapeTownRain

The original name for Cape Town is said to be a Khoi word, spelt often as “Camissa” by early colonial writers. It means “the place of sweet waters.” However, knowing how colonials always misspelt our African languages- my mother is furious each time she reads something about her culture that has been written by colonials because it is always mis-informed-  leads me to believe that the place known as “Camissa” may in fact be the word, Ncamisa, misspelt to better suit the tongue of the colonial writer.

Ncamisa is a Xhosa word- although much Xhosa vocabulary is from Khoisan languages anyway. In actual fact, the word “Xhosa” itself is not a Xhosa word but a Khoisan word. If “Camissa” is supposed to mean “The Place of Sweet Waters” then the Xhosa meaning of Ncamisa is not far from that interpretation. Ncamisa means “to taste”, usually something good.

As we know, Xhosa words often have 3 meanings.
Ncamisa means: firstly, to taste something good, secondly it means “to kiss,” lastly it means “to completely defeat/overcome.”

The meaning “The Place of Sweet Waters” in a land that is now suffering great drought is interesting. The Place of Sweet Waters was renamed as Cape Town as a sign that colonialism triumphed and apartheid flourished, and subsequently, the waters became bitter. Democracy did not lift the bitterness of colonial history and signs of apartheid still operate in various forms all over Cape Town.

The sweet waters became bitter because the people of the land were forced out of the city. Sweet Waters were made bitter because of self-seeking violent settlers who eventually created forced removals which have led people to self-destruct in gang wars. They say stolen bread tastes sweet, but stolen land, racism and elitism have been stirring bitterness and anger for a while now. Sweet Waters have been made bitter until even the bitter waters have dried out.

NCAMISA: To Kiss - To Worship
In the Bible, the word ‘worship’ often means “to kiss towards” (e.g. John 4:23,24: Those that worship Him shall worship Him in Spirit and in truth). Do you remember the woman that Jesus said would be famous because of her worship? What did she do? She kissed His feet (Kiss the Son Ps 2:11-12). She poured expensive perfume on His feet, that cost her a whole year’s worth of wages. This was a sacrifice of love. Worship is sacrifice, not mere lip service. She did not merely sing but she poured tears of repentance and love on His feet. She became a living sacrifice at His feet. Jesus also bemoaned how Simon did not welcome Him with kisses. Kisses are worship and Judas’ kiss was false worship that led to death.

Flirtatious kisses are not worship: The Cost of Worship
There have been numerous prophetic words about Cape Town being a city whose calling is to become a worshipping center. The symbolism of worship as “to kiss” is that it is also a symbol of love and reconciliation. True love. Love that is not lip service. Love that is not blind to injustice and the suffering of God’s children. Love that is not self-seeking or self-preserving or cowardly. There is no reconciliation without justice in Cape Town. There is no love without sacrifice. Therefore, there can be no cheap worship.
King David once refused to take a free offering to God. He insisted on paying for it because he said; “I will not give to God that which costs me nothing.” True worship is costly because it is an act of deep love. It cannot come from lukewarm hearts, hearts that are lukewarm about justice, hearts that are far-away from God and therefore far from God’s people that He wants to feed. (Peter do you love Me? Feed my lambs).
True worship is costly and the worshipper worships gladly. She brings a year’s worth of wages if that is what her heart tells her to do. God already owns everything and a true worshipper worships with this knowledge and without fear. God does not ask for anything He has not already given or already provided.

The story of Cape Town is around water and land. Jesus is the Living Water and as my young brother Nkosi would say, Jesus is on the cross and He is thirsty. The thirsty Jesus represents the suffering poor.

To Kiss: to taste Reconciliation:
We know that when Jesus spoke about His thirst, He went to Samaria. Samaritans and Jews did not get along, but it is there that Jesus offered His Living water. It is there that Jesus revealed that He is the Messiah. Many had been asking and He would not reveal who He was to them regardless of their high status. Yet Jesus chose to reveal Himself to this woman who supposedly belonged to a “lesser people,” an enemy tribe.

Ncamisa: To Kiss is to End Apartheid
Jesus went where she was. He did not stay separated from her simply because that was the system of the day. In fact, Jesus humbled Himself before her, and asked for something He knew that He could offer her. The Creator asked a human being for water, a substance He created. Here Jesus models the profound humility written about Him in the book of Phil 2:6. Jesus also crossed racial and gender stereotypes which still exist today in Israel. Modern day Israel has even built walls so that it does not interact with Palestinians. The book of Ephesians calls these the walls of hostility. Jesus came to destroy those walls and even tore the curtain that separated us from God, with His last sigh on the cross. Priests do not talk to gentiles or women in Jerusalem to this day, and yet King Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, is not interested in apartheid. He came to destroy the hostile dividing walls of gender, race or class.

Ncamisa: To completely overcome, to completely defeat:
Worship brings about the complete defeat of the enemy. King David’s life shows how a worshipper completely defeated Goliath.

Ncamisa also means “to defeat:” I don’t have to spell out all that needs to be defeated in Cape Town for it to become a Place of Sweet Waters again. The secrets are in plain sight. The story of Cape Town is written in water and land. Ncamisa. Overcome, Cape Town. Overcome.
Overcome the hostility of the dividing walls, and with your worship, make Cape Town the place of sweet waters again.

Ncamisa, even as Elisha turned bitter waters to Sweet Waters. This is my prayer for Ncamisa (Camisa), Cape Town. Be sweet again. Be sweet again for the people who have been marginalized and the people living in gang violence. Be sweet again. Be sweet for the people whose land has been stolen and the people who have been forced out of the city and forced into poverty. Be sweet. Kiss. Overcome. In Jesus Name.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Colleen Saunders

We Can Still Avoid Day Zero!

As Day Zero threatens and panic rises, let’s bear the following in mind: Day Zero is not a certainty; it’s merely a probability. It can still be avoided or at least delayed, but only if we stop all the negativity and use our collective power. Here are some ideas:
• Use even less water than you are currently doing. The suggested 50 litres is still high. Aim for 20, 15, 10 litres per person per day (our household uses 10). You can easily keep clean on 2 to 4 litres if you wash in a basin using a facecloth. A shower or bath once a week is enough.
• Catch every drop of rainwater and save it. Place buckets wherever there’s a drip, be it from the gutters, trees, your neighbour’s fence or that part of their roof that might fall onto your side of the fence. If you don’t have jo-jo tanks, transfer the water you catch into other larger containers. Filter the water using any spare clean cloth you have, and it’s suitable for washing or laundry. If you have or can afford to buy extra buckets, buy them for those who have not and cannot.
• Save all grey water for flushing or re-using.
• Use only soap when bathing or showering (and not bath oil or gels that contain oil). That water can then be used for laundry as well. After washing you can use skin lotion to add moisture or nice smells to your body.
• Use small plastic basins in hand basins, or remove the u-pipe from hand basins and place a bucket underneath so that all water used is caught to be re-used. Even schools and businesses can do this. All grey water generated in this way can be poured into the toilet cisterns, especially in places like schools where there are multiple users.
• Avoid stockpiling bottled water if it’s bottled in the Cape and not sourced from a spring. Check this on the label! Already the demand for bottled water is extremely high, and if we are using our own water, we’re defeating the whole purpose.
• Collect spring water if you are able and have the means. And if you are able and have the means to collect or buy spring water, make sure that you include some for others who may not be able or do not have the means. We’re all in this together.
• Say good-bye to your lawns and flowers. Love them and leave them. You can grow them again once the rains return. It’s sad but is a necessary sacrifice.
• Pray, and never cease to give thanks for what we do have.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Craig Stewart

Choosing #DayOne

Cape Town has been shaken up during the past few months. Our city faces a severe drought and unprecedented water shortage. Capetonians are profoundly aware of a crisis that has been facing us for decades; we are potentially about to have such low water supplies that the taps across the city will be switched off on #DayZero, and the city will be declared a disaster area.

I worked as a research assistant in the Freshwater unit at the University of Cape Town in 1990 and remember the head of the unit repeatedly telling me that Cape Town would run out of water in my lifetime. Now, in 2017, we’re on the brink and the city is filled with fear, anticipation, urgency, anger, confusion and hurt. We’re a divided city with unjust foundations and practices. For many, not having access to water is nothing new, with hundreds of thousands of Capetonians living in informal settlements that do not cater well for sanitation and water access. This crisis has the potential to reveal our deeper selves - will it drive us towards deepening division and injustice, or will we choose another path?
Our city has some similar moments in its past. In August 1989 we had been living with generations of colonial oppression and apartheid rule. In order to control the population, we were living under martial law, a state of emergency, and seemed to be sliding towards overt civil war.  In August of 1989 Archbishop Tutu and Rev Boesak led a series of beach protests to highlight the racial segregation on South African beaches, and these were violently broken up by the police. The following month, a protest in the city centre was broken up by the police using water cannons and purple dye in what became known as the “purple rain” march. Cape Town felt like it was on the brink, and though perhaps we didn’t know it then, we faced a choice. Would we cower and withdraw, or would we choose a deeper good? What would the crisis reveal?  In 1989 a choice was made, and tens of thousands of people marched against the Apartheid state over the following week, and within months, political liberation movements had been unbanned and the journey towards a post-apartheid South Africa had begun. A tipping point after years of struggle, preceded by a moment of collective decision.
I came to faith in Jesus on a Friday afternoon, early in my Grade 8 year in high school.  My faith journey since then has included multiple other “conversions”, as I’ve had moments which deepened my understanding and renewed my commitment.  Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has invited us to consider the idea of #DayOne rather than #DayZero.  #Dayzero is about a temporary avoidance of a very real crisis for part of the City, whereas #DayOne can be about faithful conversion to a way of living and being that makes #dayzero less likely for all our fellow citizens- especially including those who have lived with #dayzero for their whole lives. 

At the Justice Conference last year, Sivuyile Kotela said that we don’t make a choice when we are standing in front of the fiery furnace, but that this moment reveals the choices we’ve already been making. 
Choosing #DayOne does require repentance. Not a moralistic self-flagellation but a genuine willingness to admit that a change is required and turn towards that which is more aligned with the Kingdom of God.  #Dayone will require a few journeys of repentance for us all:

  * A turning from fear to hope. A hope that embraces who we are as a city that is South African and African. A hope that recognises we can be something more than that which the Apartheid and colonial planners of this city intended. A hope that opens us up to all of this city, including its problems. 
  * A turning from selfish consumerism to communal sustainability. A move that overcomes the inertia of being environmental consumers, to the growing urgency to live a life that nurtures and sustains our environment. 
  * A turning from isolation from our neighbours to solidarity with them in all the injustices we, and they face. This requires of us to respond to Jesus’ call in the story of the good Samaritan to expand our notion of neighbour. 
  * A turning from apathy and self-doubt which allow a tolerance of conditions for large numbers of our neighbours that we ourselves would not be willing to live with. A turning to anger and action that no one should live like this.
A long-term crisis precipitated by ‘purple rain’ led to bold repentance and action in 1989. Presently, a lack of rain offers a similar invitation. God’s invitation into embracing #Dayone is not simply restricted to avoiding #Dayzero but is an invitation to choose a life shaped by the Kingdom of God and His shalom for all of His beloved creation.