Today, twenty years ago FW de Klerk
unbanned the ANC in a well-documented speech. I can’t remember
it that well. I was too young and
as a fifteen year old was just interested in one thing, rugby. What I do remember was that I was quite
excited that the sport sanctions could finally be lifted and that “our” rugby
and cricket teams could compete internationally.
I also remember the total fear amongst
white people after the unbanning.
I distinctly remember how white people became prophets of doom. People were saying that de Klerk gave
our country away – that he was a traitor.
Earlier this morning I opened the leading
Afrikaans newspaper’s website and saw a poll question. The question stated,
“Was FW de Klerk right in making his
historic announcement on the 2nd of February 1990?”
The results (which is definitely not a
scientific poll) showed the polarization amongst the readers of the
newspaper. 9400 People took part
in the poll. A whopping 4999 (53%)
voted NO. 3321 (35%) voted YES and
1080 (11%) were unsure.
I voted YES, and not just for rugby reasons. Since my life in High School I have
come to appreciate the heart of God for those who are oppressed, what is called
“God’s preferential option for the poor”.
As a follower of Jesus these statistics point me to the immense challenges
facing Afrikaans churches in helping people to cross boundaries and
immigrate into the New South Africa (I suspect a large proportion of the people
who voted would describe themselves as Christians).
Today, another South African website
published two letters to FW de Klerk; the first from Nelson Mandela and the
second from Desmond Tutu. In
Desmond Tutu’s letter (the second one) he describes the 2nd of
February 1990 as a day that he would call “Ubuntu Day”. He also says that the speech symbolized
“an African dawn for the Afrikaner”.
In South Africa there are different
versions of Afrikaners. To the far
left are those who celebrate Ubuntu and would like to become Africans as
Afrikaners. On the far right are
those who recently voiced that they would like to start a separate Afrikaner state
within South Africa. In between
are different shapes, sizes and hues.
I am interested in how the good news of
Jesus would interact with the 2nd of February 1990. I propose that it was a very positive
step in the direction of a grace-filled gospel movement for our nation.
Now, more than ever the church has a
responsibility to help South Africans become human again. Thank you FW de Klerk
for taking a bold step and freeing us all from, what Desmond Tutu described as,
“a cruel and inhumane system”. Now it is our turn to be bold as followers of Jesus!