White Privilege

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Source Getty Images

They question why I care

The stare

Deep within my soul of shame

Historical purgatory

Constructed theology

I cringe at the thought

Pegoritive

Nowhere to hide

To go

Exile deferred

My home

My place in time

My heart sublime

Can you not see

Beyond rhetorical  dysentery

My God I love

His lens I find

I look

Neglected child

Alone

Free from facist control

Racial hyperbole

I run

Respond

Race of grace

To find my own eternal place

Stare no more

Let’s leave our own mediocrity

Self obsession

Neurosis defined

And stand

Beyond the walls of bigotry

White Privilege

Burning cigarette in hand

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Between his bakkie and his “boys”

He stands burning cigarette in hand

Watching

Servile pick axes

Breaking open the red, red sand

Covenant in repose

Suspended moment in time

Cosmic dance

Floating liminality

Dream? nightmare?

His “boep”

Suspended above his belt of truth

Protected overhang

Chosen, from mother’s breast

A birth right

Watching

Pick axes digging in the sand

Burning cigarette in hand

Breaking open the red, red sand

Son of Africa

So grand

Can you not see?

Your “boy”

Is not your “boy”

He is a man.

Burning cigarette in hand

Women of Madagascar

He stands before you

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Source Pinterest.com

Just a man?

In the dust and in the sand

Oh women, so grand.

Your hope, your joy, your pain He sees,

Feeling the wind of uncertainty

Many nations sublime

Island in geographical design

A single destiny, one family

Today, I come to share a dream

Whisper in this space of time

Call upon your heart to believe enough to dream

South Africa your neighbour your friend

Sharing our destiny

Our purpose, identity

Reaching out together

To God in eternity

Oh women of Madagascar

Prophetic are your words

Called to bless, curse no more

Let the nightmare stay in the dark of night

Let a new day begin in the light

Oh women of Madagascar

This is your land

Will you trust enough to dream again?

To stand united with Him

In the dust and in the sand?

Women of Madagascar

We must choose between the nightmare and the dream!

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Picture taken in Saint Annes Hilton by Dave Rees 

As South Africans we have a choice whether we buy into the narrative that as a nation we are on the decline. It will seem that we are at this moment in time standing before a fork in the road. Either we prepare for the unfolding nightmare or we choose to believe in the dream. The narrative is something we must choose. Where we focus is where we will invest our capital: relational, spiritual, social, human, financial, technological, infrastructural. So are we going to focus and invest in the nightmare or the dream?

It is indeed a critical moment as we reflect on our present political discourse around patronage and personality. We as a society are in distress. Deep within our souls we know we are made of better stuff, better than telling, as did the leader of the opposition to President Zuma,  who has been democratically elected,  to “voetsek”. Surely the majority political party can decide for themselves. Let them express their interests choosing their own leader. Let the coming local elections then judge them, holding them accountable for the choices they have made. This is what democracy means.

The SA democracy, purchased off the lives of so many, must be now be protected. Our youth, talented, ethical, idealistic and passionate, not corrupted by cynicism, must join political structures and make the political parties the kind of institutions that we are proud of.

We must not allow a spirit of self serving violence and fascism to lead. They must not be allowed to steal the precious moral authority. They will abuse it and us.  Therefore, the time is now to decide who we are and what kind of future we want.

We have an amazing constitution, a legacy of the best that SA could birth. Now as the Constitutional Court steps into that legacy and makes us proud, we must also be as brave and reciprocate this magnanimity.

As South Africans we have to ask why we have allowed this path towards political corruption. Is it not because we have not addressed economic corruption where the ordinary person no matter how hard they work, if they have work, have not been able to get out of poverty?

It will seem that inequality is the root of our problem. What we are needing is a critical response and ownership of the NDP, the only real macro strategic plan that we have.

To see what we are doing have a look at www.james127trust.org

We must choose between the nightmare and the dream!

Sharing the Second Tunic

generosity-f5cd281b-8a2d-4ccc-b491-71e5db8ae1d4.jpgAs we face increasing global uncertainty with the election of a new US President, possible uncertain exit of the UK from the European Union, Brazilian presidential  and economic crisis, Syrian refugee flood and the implications of Turkey negotiating access to the EU, we as South Africans are also facing the greatest risk to our future.  If we do nothing many of our children will be mobilized into revolution with others going into “exile”. In all of this we need to embrace the Gospel and the Good News, the “Kingdom is at hand”. For me this means committing to right relationships because this is at the heart of righteousness and justice.  We as South Africans have to face sharing the second tunic. If we keep collecting more while our neighbour has none he will come one night and take for himself that which was not offered in love. In all of this we have a choice, we can either practice our faith or we can show our indifference and mask our fear. For example, if you are a student take more than one lunch to class and share it with a classmate who has none.  If you are a parent reach out and support another little child that seeks your gaze. If you are a church member ask the awkward question who is the church?  I think we all have tough choices to make in the next 3 months, the consequences of which we will have to live with for decades to come.

Sharing the Second Tunic

Celebrating 11 years: The James 1:27 Trust

Very few innovations and dreams make it beyond the imaginary stage. While just a few actually get born, even fewer deliver on their “mandate” or “vision”. Eleven years after its launch on 11 October 2004, the Trust while still carrying its dream is now also firmly rooted in reality with evidence to show that we are making an impact.  As with all social enterprises, there is however both encouraging and discouraging news. What we now know is that our model of family-based care within an Asset Based Community Development context works. We also know that holistic care is necessary if one wants to move children and families from emergency relief to rehabilitation, development, autonomy, and ultimately to reciprocity. We’ve learning that care needs are better managed within an efficient and integrated care management system that also controls budgets and sponsor relations. 

We can also see that a social movement is needed. We have to dramatically scale the number of people investing in social problems in society to match the scale of the problem.  The present student protests show that South Africa is ripe for its own type of Arab Spring. Furthermore, like Brazil, South Africa is at risk of a credit rating downgrade to junk status. If this should happen, such a downgrade will make our debt repayment costs more expensive, seriously harming our economy. The impact of which is to fuel an already deep rooted political and social dissatisfaction among our citizens in general and our youth in particular. The question is, what can we do? Do we just feed the nightmare by being passive and complain or do we take decisive action and invest in the “dream” of a new kind of society?

At the James 1:27 Trust, we believe that the ground is now ready for social innovation. It is perhaps a false narrative that in the long term, South Africa as a nation, is in decline. We have a purpose and a future, not for evil but for good. So what is this plan? We believe that the gap between resourced and poor is not just a measure of inequality: but is the very space for an emerging social market. It is the space where capital is transferred. Capital that is social, human and financial. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) bring to this e-commerce market a unique value offering, where their service offering can be packaged, monetized and commercialized. The main seller of the service being the community located social entrepreneur who takes care of the vulnerable and responds to the social problems in the community. The buyer of the service is a social investor, an ordinary tax payer, who recognizes that by giving a part of his tax directly to the delivery agents of welfare services he is able to better mitigate the social risk faced nationally. Social risk that is political and economic. This monthly subscription becomes a form of annuity buying a kind of social insurance. So in addition to budgeting for life, short term, care and health insurance, the consumer will also sign up for social insurance in the form of a subscription to sponsored private welfare services for a selected beneficiary or cause. In this “market” space, NGOs compete making for more effective and efficient “customer/beneficiary” focused care! As this kind of “social financial services market” expands it becomes the stimulus for economic growth.  Importantly the stimulus is funded through private as opposed to government funding.  This is good news given that our problem, globally, is unsustainable government debt!. Expectations on stimulating economic development through increased government expenditure without increased revenue through the tax base, is therefore just unrealistic.  

What we don’t know is what impact this kind of private, citizen based, economic stimulus could have on job creation and through growing the care industry service, on poverty. It may well be more significant that we imagine. The social market also lends itself to expanding concepts such as franchising and loyalty systems. The franchising models scales what is already working and through a quality service focus supports customer centric standards. The loyalty system just address the cost to the consumer after tax benefits are taken into account.  

What we are therefore seeing is the creation of new Social Enterprises that function off professional business principles within market fundamentals and at the same time serving the common good. Managing this value chain is the Trust’s “care management platform”. The Trust is the first NGO in Africa to run SAP Business One and is also probably the first globally to use PTC Windchill, a life cycle management solution. The Trust, located at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, seems well placed as a social enterprise to serve our many care-based partners and orphan and vulnerable children and youth.

So after eleven years, there is good news. We now have a more defined social and business innovation model. But what is the bad news? Our communities are more broken than we could ever have thought possible. In some areas the children that we work with, up to a 70%, present with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, behaviour change models are struggling to cope with teenage pregnancy. The power disequilibrium between older men and young girls make for a distressing fact that nearly two thousand young girls are infected with HIV weekly. Half of our homes have absent fathers.  Added to which are issues affecting the pace of transformation, ineffective delivery of basic services, unemployment, corruption, Xenophobia, violence against women and children, access to drugs and risks of human trafficking.

So is there hope? We believe that there is hope indeed. The game changer being leadership. While waiting for our political leaders to calibrate their spiritual compasses, business leaders also have an opportunity to respond.  The main focus being to mobilise the social capital (employees and customers) within their organisations. In so doing these social consumers (investors) buy social justice via access to a social market. In closing the gap, they address poverty and unemployment at systemic level. This, we believe, is the genesis of a positive social movement. One seed, becoming one tree, becoming a forest. Leaves bringing healing to the nation.  We don’t have to have a violent revolution fuelled by a fascist ideology to change.

So why don’t you start becoming an agent for change and as my one friend says, as “leaders are peddlers of hope”, why don’t you just do what you can! It may be easier than you think.

Celebrating 11 years: The James 1:27 Trust