It’s not every year that one gets to share a birthday with a sitting president, and this year I happen to be that person.
I was born on the 17th November, the same day our current president Cyril Ramaphosa was born.
I first became a big fan of President Ramaphosa after I watched a documentary about the multiparty negotiations that took place before the dawn of our democracy.
I was much younger at the time and was fascinated by how he led the negotiations. He handled tense moments so well and often created light moments, despite the heaviness of the task.
He even composed a song about building a nation in between the breaks, whose lyrics I can’t remember but the melody still rings in my head.
So when I heard that his book would be launched on January 31 2008 at the Linder Auditorium, Parktown, I knew I had to be there.
I got myself a copy of his book which he also signed for me. Little did I know how the book would inspire me and shape my thinking going forward.
As I began to read his book, the first thing that I discovered was that we shared a birthday — and as can be expected my rating of him immediately doubled and the book became very personal.
But it was when I also discovered he was a radical Christian and president of the Student Christian Fellowship on campus that I nearly fell off my chair.
The thing is, as a student, I too had been a radical Christian and was deeply involved with our Student Christian Fellowship on campus.
Many miracles took place in front of our eyes and we experienced the power of God that even our minds couldn’t comprehend. On a mission we took once to the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal I saw people healed, storms calmed and impossible things happen as group of young students prayed.
So I knew exactly what it meant that President Ramaphosa had been the President of SCF. If we had been on the same campus at the same time, he could have been our leader.
However at the time of reading his book, all the stories of my student days were a distant memory and in all honesty I had begun to convince myself some of those thing never happened.
A different world
I was in a different world, a young professional, and it was known that to keep the peace in the office, subjects like religion and politics needed to be avoided if you didn’t want to fall out of favour — especially with people who contributed to your appraisal.
And as can be expected, my devotion, my passion and faith in God died a slow death. While I maintained a form of godliness, i.e. attended church whenever I had a chance, deep inside I questioned and even doubted if the Gospel still had power.
That same year the activist in me got awoken and I joined a political movement, partly influenced by the life of Ramaphosa and many others I had grown to admire.
Lo and behold, a few days before my birthday – “our birthday” — I bumped into him as he was walking out of a meeting with some executives, one being the CEO of the company I worked for at the time.
He greeted me with such warmth, like I was the only person around. I told him that I had attended his book launch and discovered we shared a birthday. We enjoyed some small talk, laughed a bit, and overall had a pleasant meeting.
This melted my heart completely and I couldn’t wait for Ramaphosa to become the president because I could tell he was destined to lead this nation.
Today, as I think about my birthday, I realised it is exactly 10 years since that day we met. A lot has obviously changed since then.
He has finally become the president, and in just nine months he has done a lot to restore confidence in the nation. There is now hope that what was lost in the past 10 years will be recovered.
On my side, since our brief meeting, God has mercifully delivered me from the deception of thinking I could find purpose and destiny outside of Him.
He has also restored the passion and love I had for Him when I was a student and begun the process of healing the brokenness of my life – a work no money in the world would be enough to pay.
I also discovered that while I took time off from God, nothing had changed with Him. His Kingdom has continued to advance, His Power never diminished and he continued to work miracles in the lives of many.
The president, in his drive to restore hope in the nation recently succeeded in mobilising foreign investment and managed to end the domestic investment strike in the nation.
The real problem
However I cannot help but wonder if all these efforts will turn things for our nation, since the problems we face require more than money to resolve. The real problems come from hearts captured by hatred, anger, pride, lies and greed among others.
As the country’s economy has grown over the years, so has the greed of many people in business. While our country cannot technically be described as a conflict nation, the anger, hatred and bitterness in the hearts of people has resulted in high murder rates comparable to those of conflict nations.
Our homes and schools have become high risk areas for violence against women and children. Drugs and alcohol abuse have destroyed many homes and communities.
As we watch the revelations coming of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, we see just how hearts have been corrupted – therefore money alone cannot fix our problems.
During the recent Its Time – Ke Nako prayer meeting held in Pretoria – Uncle Angus Buchan gave a word to the President based on the story of King Asa of Israel after he was crowned king 2 Chronicles 15:2 – The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.
A similar message was given in a prayer meeting that took place in parliament on the 18th May by Dr Emmanuel Kure, a respected prophet and ministry leader from Nigeria, who also prayed for the President calling him a remnant that God sought within the ANC to continue the work of redemption.
These messages cannot be ignored because we know that in the witness of two or three a matter is established. These messages demonstrate that God is still committed to fulfilling His purpose in the president’s life but they also are a warning that if he does not listen, he will not make it.
So my hope and prayer for the president, as he celebrates his first birthday as head of state, is that he will pay attention to these messages from the prophets of God like King Asa did.
The Bible tells us that after King Asa heard the words, he gained courage and implemented radical reforms and peace was restored in the nation — and our nation needs peace.
I also pray that God will restore that passion the president had for Him as a student and as the president of the Student Christian Fellowship, like he did for me – nothing is impossible with Him.
This could just be what is needed for revival to break out in our nation and the continent…. “for who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this”.
Happy birthday Mr President