Gospel of the ANC ‘saviours’

2011-04-23 10:04

Few things are more hateful than the self-righteous, arrogant and deliberate manipulation of the minds of the broken and destitute in the name of liberation.

We know well how the logic of apartheid greed encouraged its religious ministers to read the Bible to suit the needs of the regime.

The defence of the preposterous idea that the Bible is compatible with apartheid is what occasioned the heroic rebellion of Beyers Naudé.

It is so absurd that one can quite rightly ­wonder whether those allegedly endorsing this interpretation were in full command of their ­faculties.

I doubt they were and I think it is fair to describe apartheid as a whole – including its representatives of God on Earth – as a regime of collective white-supremacist insanity.

Black consciousness supporters thought that black and white minds must be liberated from their respective inferiority and superiority complexes.

And, crucially, they thought one could only be liberated by struggling for liberation rather than by waiting for some kind of saviour, be it God or, one could speculate given the current ANC election campaign, Jacob Zuma.

He and his party are being portrayed as the representatives of God on Earth.

Indeed, Zuma himself has audaciously claimed that to vote for the ANC is to vote for God.

As apartheid benefited from the pathology of white supremacy and the deep inferiority complex widespread among the black population due to centuries of humiliation, so too is our current government benefiting from the psychologically oppressed.

Disgracefully, they are benefiting for their own selfish advancement projects from the brokenness of the poor, who are waiting, as the broken tend to, for divine deliverance rather than taking it upon themselves to be the makers of their own destinies.

One cannot be blamed for suspecting that having a large proportion of the electorate in a state of brokenness can do nothing but benefit the regime.

It is not the meek who are taking to the streets today and rebelling against the crushing power of the state and the financial interests that it represents.

They, rather, are waiting sheepishly for a second coming; for someone to liberate them as opposed to fighting for liberation. For this reason, they are ideal election fodder for the ANC.

And it seems a new sort of theology, which contrasts markedly with the teaching of black theology, is taking hold of our current crop.

It seems not only that Zuma has acquired the power to extend Madiba’s life, but that the ANC is the embodiment of the holy trinity.

When we vote for the ANC, we are being told, we vote for God. Either those making these incredible pronouncements believe them and hence are unfit to rule or they are lying for votes in which case they are unfit to rule.

The second interpretation is more likely than the first, and, if it is the correct one, what follows is chilling. For it shows to what extent our rulers use the living legacy of apartheid – embodied in the servile desperation of many of the poorest of the poor – to their advantage.

Basil Moore, one of the founding leaders of black theology, gave an eloquent lecture at Rhodes University as part of this year’s graduation ceremony.

One of the important things he highlighted was the intimate relationship between black theology and black consciousness.

According to Moore, advocates of black theology rejected the idea of God as an authoritarian figure which, in his words, locked “human beings into a permanent childhood” and instead they proposed a much more active role for the black majority.

Humans were conceived by them as potential liberators of themselves no longer waiting for an omnipotent god to save them. God, for them, is not a “person”. Instead, in Moore’s words, “God is love, peace and justice”.

In a curious move on the part of the ANC’s spin doctors, the conception of God as king is being appropriated for the purposes of political gain. As was the case during apartheid, the poor are being treated as children.

And the ANC is posing as the god that will save them, the ­almighty father on Earth.

It is far easier to manipulate children than it is to manipulate adults.

By appealing to the image of God as saviour to describe itself, the ruling party is contradicting its basic claim that it is the party of the liberators.

» Tabensky is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rhodes University

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