By Ps Sipho Mahlangu, president Soweto Ministers Fraternal
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer; things fall apart; the
centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” – The Second Coming by WB Yeats
The illustrious Chinua Achebe famously quoted this passage as an introduction in his book, Things Fall Apart. This phrase illustrates the current spate of gender-based violence (GBV) occurrences in our beloved country. As men, we are biblically and traditionally tasked with being the spiritual and moral centre of our families, churches and communities in general. It is therefore frustrating when this centre cannot hold, and to a certain extent, collapses. WB Yeats correctly submits that if the centre cannot hold, anarchy ensues.
Over the past weeks, the Soweto Ministers Fraternal has observed with shock the overwhelming rise in incidents of GBV visited upon women and children in our country. We as a Church have had to face the reality that nationwide prayers and biblical platitudes are no longer enough in confronting what His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa called a “war on women”.
The Church cannot continue to bury its head in the sand when it comes to this issue; it is our belief that the Church is not aware of the amazing power it has to influence discourse, especially in a country that is predominantly Christian. Our interventions should move from passive, nationwide prayers to our churches developing strategies on how to combat GBV issues.
Just as we were able to be at the forefront of fighting the oppressive apartheid system, we should also be at the forefront of combating cases related to GBV and the overall abuse of women in our communities in general and in our churches in particular. We have observed with disdain that clergy has also been implicated in cases involving the abuse of women, and that the Church, in most cases, instead of condemning such pastors, resorts to the “attacks by the devil” argument in shielding one of their own. Churches in Soweto should come out strongly against these pastors and make sure they are never allowed to serve as pastors when they have been found guilty of any abuse of women and children.
As we celebrate Youth Month, it is also interesting to note that most of the brutal murders of women have been perpetrated by young men. For example, the alleged assailant of Tshegofatso Pule is a 31-year-old male. Churches are in a unique position to teach young men, especially, how to treat women but we feel we are missing this opportunity. Celebrating Youth month without shining a light on the spate of killings by our young men would not only be insensitive but grossly irresponsible.
Our churches in our men’s ministries, youth clubs and Sunday schools should create programmes that are specially tailored for the boy child. Issues of GBV aside, the Soweto Ministers Fraternalwould like to take this opportunity to wish our young people a happy Youth Month. We urge our young people in churches and any spiritual formations to become part of the solution and to refuse for anything to be done for them without them. We have an obligation as leaders in different churches to make sure that with time we as men are once again regarded as important centres in our communities. The centre must once again hold or anarchy will ensue!
Contact Soweto Ministers Fraternal via email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.