The history we are making


The books of 1st and 2nd Chronicles in the Bible are named such because they chronicle the history of the kings of Israel. Each king’s reign was measured against the standard that was left by his predecessor. For instance King Solomon’s reign had to be contrasted against that of his much-loved and revered father, King David. Although it is not always possible to emulate a person’s personality and charisma it is however possible to follow his values.

2 Chronicles chapter 14 tells us of King Abijah who died and was succeeded by King Asa. Abijah was a God-fearing man and a warrior. Regarding King Asa his reign is summed up in this verse, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 14:2). In other words King Asa was not judged by factors outside of his control but by his own moral aptitude. 

Click banner for more info

As South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy we are forced to reflect on its short democratic history. The period of 1994-1999 was when we were governed by the late president Nelson Mandela and most of us felt as if we were dreaming during this time. We were the darling of the world, a paragon of virtue and offered hope to the hopeless. Mandela made us famous and taught us to love each other.

1999-2009 we saw the entrance of a philosopher in former President Thabo Mbeki. Mr Mbeki was a realist and under his tenure the dream was tempered with the realization that we have to work hard in order to achieve greatness. He once delivered a State of the Nation address under the theme ‘Business Unusual’ to drive home the point that we still have a lot of work to do. His ‘I am an African’ speech showed us that being an African was not a curse.

He pioneered African Renaissance and made Africans believe that they can be equal with other citizens of the world. Mbeki sought to correct misconceptions about Africa and perhaps was overzealous in this regard. His distrust for the West is perhaps the reason why he dragged his feet in approving the use of life-prolonging ARV’s and many HIV positive people needlessly died as a result. He was a hands-on leader who often got accused of being a control freak.

President Thabo Mbeki never finished his term because he was recalled (to use the euphemistic term) under dubious circumstances. To this day we are yet to be made privy to the spy tapes that were instrumental in his dismissal from office. After Mbeki’s was ‘frog marched’ from office we saw a brief stint of Kgalema Motlanthe who was a caretaker president until the rightful heir took his  place.    

Now we are under the presidency of Jacob Zuma and he continues the narrative that is the history of a democratic South Africa. For me the dream has now turned into a nightmare. The leader of the UDM, Bantu Holomisa recently made the point that Jacob Zuma is embroiled in almost every scandal that has engulfed South Africa. Even ANC veterans like Trevor Manuel and Pallo Jordan are beginning to raise a caution about the country’s current course under Zuma. 

When in 20 years time we read the history of South Africa we will read about Mandela and his connection to reconciliation, Mbeki and his belief in the potential of Africa, and Zuma and the many scandals that dogged him. Our history will not be read without mentioning the Arms Deal issue, Guptas, Marikana, Nkandla, and much aberration that characterises the presidency of Jacob Zuma. We look at this time in history to remind ourselves of when we lost our bearings.

We will have to remind ourselves that never again shall we allow ourselves to sink this low. Personally I am dejected and consider that God is our only hope now. This is despite the fact that even He is being denigrated in the desperation to garner votes. Under Zuma we have seen the spectre of blasphemy raised up and also superstition and many things that are uncharacteristic of a head of state.

Look Mandela and Mbeki had their own flaws just like the different kings who led the nation of Israel but today we are seeing the refusal to take personal responsibility for mishaps. President Zuma’s ready answer for anything is ‘I don’t know or it is not my fault.’ 2 Chronicles 13:22 says, “Now the rest of the acts of Abijah, his ways, and his sayings are written in the annals of the prophet Iddo.” So are President Jacob Zuma’s. 


  1. Rev Ian Karshagen

    Thanks Afrika. It’s a pity that the majority of SA citizens choose to be so religious as to “turn the other cheek” regarding this state of affairs. You are so right in your assertion that as a nation we have sunk to the lowest depth of the pit and the only answer is Christ. It is a possibility that many people will be stubborn enough to drown in the filth, but I am confident however that many will humbly admit that He truly is the Way, the Truth and the Life! The month of May will indicate the extent either way.

  2. I am confident that this low will cure us of the arrogant ecstasy we experienced with Madiba and the complacency we adopted under Mr Mbeki. Your comments reflect our short history of democracy very accurately and unfortunately we did not heed Mr Mbeki’s advice when he said there was much work to be done. We expected him and his government to do the work and as a nation did not accept the responsibility that we had as citizens to make real changes and build our country as Madiba challenges and encouraged us to do. Mr Zuma is pulling us all together in being unified in the fact that we as common citizens are waking up to the fact that we cannot expect the government to determine our future. God has a plan to bless us and do good things for us. The low that Mr Zuma is taking us to will ultimately stir us as a nation to turn to God for a solution. Just a different perspective. Afrika – I look forward to hearing you live at KMMC.

  3. Margaret Ferguson

    As a non voting resident from the UK, I was a UK regional politician as a Christian and always made my Christian commitment clear to the electorate.There are 2 issues that I have come across here that particularly concern me for making constructive change in S Africa
    1)The lack of voter education for there to be an effective growing democracy and the misuse of this ignorance in order to attract votes by politicians. I changed around the mind of a young disillusioned person from Khayelitsha who did not intend voting(young people need to understand the importance of their role in voting ) – because she was not happy with the ‘status quo’ and but would not vote for an alternative because we are told ‘others will bring back apartheid’. I explained that the Constitution prevented this and that only if there was a very significant majority for one party could the Constitution be changed. Also a no-vote is an indirect vote for the ‘status quo’. And that I personally hope that no party would get such a majority as it was not healthy for creating a maturing democracy. Her realization resulted in her saying – she was going to vote! WHAT ARE THE CHURCHES DOING TO EMPOWER PEOPLE IN THIS REGARD? I SEE VERY LITTLE EXCEPT FOR SOME PASTORS IN CHURCHES MOST NEEDING VOTER EDUCATION USING THEIR PERSONAL PARTY PREFERENCE TO INFLUENCE THEIR CONGREGATION. The people need voter education – not party political education.

    Talking to a pastor friend of mine from a previously disadvantaged area about voter education he said that the people in hois congreagtion say ‘I vote for jeus’out os a lack o awareness of their resonsibility as Christian for the governmemet of the country/ignorance.

    2) The voting system that fails to enforce individual accountability to the voters in the politicians’ constituency constituency and encourages too much accountability to a collective party mindset. Also individual politicians using superstitious practices to influence people or unsubstantiated comments inferring superstitious practices on the opposition for the same purpose

    Both 1) and 2) uses the ‘politics of fear- – that will not grow a sound democarcy

  4. Hugh G Wetmore

    Thanks for your succinct overview of our 20y democratic history – well summarised, wisely commentated on. Margaret Ferguson is right: we need to educate our voters through the churches. Before the 1994 elections, the Evangelical Fellowship of South Africa published a concise voter education booklet for church leaders: “Prep[are Your People to Vote”. Surprisingly, it went through many reprints, putting many thousand into circulation, and was even serialised in a national daily newspaper. It is a pity that such voter education is not being done on a regular basis. My observation is that most Christians are naive when it comes to their role in politics. I value the contribution Afrika is making.

  5. Thanks to the Author of this Article, 1st we had an International Statesman(Dr R N Mandela); African Renaissance (Honourable Mr TM Mbeki) and then Scandalous(President GJ Zuma), cause Former President Kgalema Motlante, was caretaker there is not that much to say. Our country is in realy crisis, we need mass media to reach each and everyone. @Margaret Ferguson, we realy lack voter’ education, for there b an effective growing democracy(noted). We need to teach our Families as well, not to vote by heart. Being loyal does not pay any one bills. Thanks Ps Mhlophe for the platform.

  6. Pingback: The history we are making - News Watch