A Call for Critical Engagement – Study Document

Foreword

20 October 2016

Dear friends

Below you will find ‘A call for critical engagement – study document’. 177 people have endorsed this Call since Monday 17 October and we now distribute it as widely as possible. During the process of receiving endorsements technical problems resulted in the loss of certain names. We apologize to those affected and hope that you will resend your name.

This document should not be seen as conclusive but as an invitation to an ongoing conversation.

Since Monday some of the endorsers made critical and important contributions. In addition to what the Call currently articulates, we acknowledge that further attention should be given to the facts that

°the church is present on all campuses in the widest sense of the word – management, lecturers, workers, students and security staff – and we acknowledge our pastoral responsibility to care for everyone equally in a time of conflict, tension, polarization and uncertainty;

°the Call in its current format does not speak adequately and directly enough to government – calling it to provide leadership at a time such as this and to cease from fuelling further polarization.

We also realize that much of what is contained in this Call needs deeper collective reflection and the diverse insights of both those who have endorsed it and many others who did not yet have a chance. Therefore this is an invitation to go on deep journeys together in times to come.

Over the next days we would like to explore possible ways in which engagement can take concrete shape. Any suggestions or thoughts can be emailed to acallforcriticalengagements@gmail.com.

20 October 2016

A  Call  for  Critical  Engagement  –  Study  Document

We, a group of concerned theologians, working on South African University campuses that have become militarized by police and private security firms, as well as other concerned theologians, inspired by our heritage of prophetic engagement in public life and deeply concerned with the volatile conflict in our higher education landscape, hereunder articulate a call for critical engagement. It is arising from our on-going engagement with events unfolding on the ground during the current student protests, and being deeply challenged by the call from the #FeesMustFall movement for free, quality and decolonized education, ultimately envisioning a more humane society.

We acknowledge:

• With empathy, the deep pain, disappointment, anger and frustration of black students in particular, and all other students on campuses across our national landscape. This angst within our higher education landscape is symptomatic of the much deeper and festering woundedness of our people not adequately addressed with the dawn of the so-called rainbow nation in South Africa post 1994, until it has now burst open.

• That such pain, in particular black pain, disappointment, anger and frustration stem from unceasing systemic, economic and racist exclusion, perpetuating feelings of estrangement at institutions of higher learning, manifest in the lack of curriculum transformation, and the hierarchical institutional cultures at our Universities.

• That this woundedness further stems from the poor quality of basic education in the majority of public schools, leaving learners often unprepared for post-school academic engagement

• That the above are expressions of systemic violence and injustice, further perpetuated during the #FeesMustFall protests by the militarization of campuses; the often one-sided, misleading and untruthful reporting by the media and official communiqués of Universities; and the victimization of protesting students and academics and those showing solidarity with them

• That human beings are physical, emotional, rational and spiritual beings and when existential conditions are unbearable with social exclusion a daily and systemic occurrence, it is inevitable that emotive responses will spill over to the extent that we have seen in recent weeks.

We mourn:

• The growing arrogance of those in positions of governance – government, universities, private sector and even the church in response to this pain.

• That it is usually those in positions of power who demand ‘rational’ engagement unilaterally determining the rules of engagement, whilst they themselves close most doors for honest, inclusive, robust engagement, arising from below.

• The commodification of education from basic to tertiary level. Only those with resources can afford to ‘buy’ good, quality education whilst others are forced to put up with poor quality education that prevents them from developing their full potential.

• The bureaucratization of universities in South Africa, coupled with hierarchical institutional cultures, that prohibits and punishes dissenting voices instead of inviting and hosting spaces for critical intellectual debate.

• The way in which some of our South African institutions seem to be more concerned about their position in international rankings than to contribute to the socio-economic-political transformation of deeply unequal South African communities.

• The lack of decolonization at our institutions in relation to curricula, course content, pedagogical methodologies, and institutional culture.

We confess:

• Our own complicity as drafters and endorsers of this call to engage, for our silence in the unfolding events.

• The inadequate responses from Faculties and Schools of Theology and Religion, which show complicity in perpetuating the status quo, in silencing voices of dissent and frustration, in failing to create consistent and sustainable spaces for difficult conversations that could start to deal with our collective woundedness and anger, and in opening up possibilities for deeper, mutual and multiple transformations.

• Our inadequate witness to our rich tradition of robust theological engagement –reading the signs of the times, exposing the wrongs of the day and articulating the Biblical demands for justice without which lasting peace and reconciliation are but pipe-dreams:• our theological language can sometimes be used to white-wash wrongs and to override concerns of justice with a false call for decency.

• we have too often concentrated on reconciliation without demanding or doing justice, thereby ‘wasting’ the grace of our peaceful transition in 1994

• white ecclesial power still seems to dominate in some of our Faculties and Schools of Theology and Religion.

• we have often not lived up to the Biblical demand for restitution where we have wronged others, and commit ourselves anew to lives of reconciling justice

We affirm:

• That the events unfolding on our campuses are symptomatic of a nation ‘at war’ with itself – growing inequality, black pain and institutionalized racism, unbridled greed, public plunder, and compromised leadership, all colluded to create a national crisis.

• That the events unfolding on our campuses are symptomatic of a deeper battle for the soul of the university, questioning the very nature of our institutions of higher learning.

• The courageous students who articulated, in words and actions, the pain we would not see; the anger we dared not confront; the inequalities too ghastly to contemplate – we need to hear their voices, see their actions and respond!

• The civil society organizations, including churches, church leaders and Christians who in these times have stood in the gap as witnesses to peace, observers, mediators and prophets. Now is the time for us to rethink, re-imagine and re-assert our roles as theologians and Faculties and Schools of Theology and Religion within the context of a deepening crisis in Higher Education in South Africa.

Instead of condemning students’ reactions as merely emotional reactions of anger and frustration, it is time to listen and engage – we have been deeply moved by the rigorous and reflective way in which students engage each other, debating the issues at hand both rationally and emotionally, constructing visions and strategies together, expressing their deep humanity whilst refusing to be dehumanized or prescribed to by others coming from positions of aloofness and privilege.

Therefore we commit ourselves

  • to deeply listen to and collaborate with one another as we seek to build a new society

  • to initiate honest new conversations as theologians and churches to confront the ways in which we have maintained old vestiges of power without sufficiently decolonizing our institutional cultures and curricula

  • as whites, to embrace the grace afforded to us in the 1994 settlement in South Africa,

  • as those who are privileged with money, institutional positions, intellectual knowledge, or practical skills, to be good and responsible stewards of our resources, given to us to share in ways that will be redistributive and restorative

  • as those of us who are poor, or excluded because of gender, sexual orientation or disability, to reclaim our God-given dignity and assert our inherited wealth simply by virtue of being born; to confess the ways in which we have seen ourselves, and allowed others to see us, as subordinates or sub-humans; to bring to bear our wealth of experience, knowledge and life resources on situations demanding transformation and freedom, both in our own communities but also in the national landscape

  • as those of us who are in positions of institutional power, to embrace a servant posture.

Therefore we plead for the following:

• That University managements immediately demilitarize campuses since it violates the humanity and rights of all who share these spaces: it is not conducive for the vocation of academics to teach, do research and community engagement, or perform administrative tasks; it is not conducive for an optimal learning environment and the success of students; it contributes to the escalation of violence and traumatizes the public exposed to it.

• That, whilst we respect and support the right to protest and acknowledge the deep anger and pain of students engaging in it, students desist from any actions that might jeopardize what we regard as their noble vision for more just and inclusive universities, and indeed, a more humane and just society.

• That churches, church leaders, people of different faiths, civil society groups, and those belonging to university communities, will continue to provide sanctuary and counselling to traumatized students, engage with them in prayer vigils and do theological reflection to discern the signs of the times, to reflect on appropriate strategies to sustain the quest for freedom, to collaborate in building a society of peace with justice, and to find ways for supporting the pursuit of the #FeesMustFall movement.

• That black and white students and academics will do all they can to listen to each other and to enter each other’s worlds, allowing for processes of mutual liberation and healing.

• That the challenge to decommodify and decolonize education, for the sake of our collective humanization, will be made a priority, reclaiming education as a public good, or a commons, to be shared by everyone.

• That we, from all sides, will do everything we can, to open up spaces of deep engagement, and honest conversation, with the possibility of discovering ways in which we can co-author a new story for our universities and our nation.

In humility we pose these questions of invitation for on-going dialogue and reflective engagement:

What should the role of theologians at (public) universities in South Africa be today, particularly in relation to the call for quality education that will be free, decommodified, and decolonized?

How could theologians and churches contribute to the reclamation of education as a commons, to be shared in the interest of the public good?

What can theologians and churches learn from, or how could we participate in or support, the #FeesMustFall movement – and similar movements for justice – rising up across the national landscape?

Endorsement:
The following people endorsed this document in their individual capacity:

1. Mervyn Abrahams, Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA)
2. Melany Adonis, College of Transfiguration Grahamstown
3. Ghislain Agbede, Francophone University of International Development
4. Benjamin Aldous, St John’s Wynberg, University of Stellenbosch
5. Valerie Anderson, The Justice Conference South Africa
6. Noelene Arends, All Saints Anglican Church
7. Roger Arendse, Director at EagleCoaching
8. Edwin Arrison, Kairos Southern Africa
9. René August, The Warehouse, SACLI, Restitution Foundation
10. Garth Aziz, University of South Africa
11. Eugene Baron, University of South Africa
12. Zuze Banda, University of South Africa
13. Tracy Bell, Anglican Parish of Prestbury
14. Allan Boesak, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana
15. Annemie Bosch, Dutch Reformed Church
16. Jaco Botha, Stellenbosch University, Dutch Reformed Church
17. Nico A Botha, University of South Africa
18. Nadine Bowers-Du Toit, Stellenbosch University
19. Nigel Branken, Neighbours, Hillbrow
20. Sue Brittion, Anglican Diocese of Natal, Parish of Pinetown
21. Mark Butler
22. Felipe Gustavo Koch Buttelli, University of KwaZulu-Natal
23. Ntozakhe Cezula, Stellenbosch University
24. Juliana Claassens, Stellenbosch University
25. Stephan de Beer, University of Pretoria
26. Wilna de Beer, Tshwane Leadership Foundation
27. John W. de Gruchy, University of Cape Town
28. Jana de Lange, Dutch Reformed Church Universiteitsoord
29. Gino De Peers
30. Rudolph de Villiers, University of Pretoria, Dutch Reformed Church
31. Fouché de Wet, University of Pretoria, Dutch Reformed Church
32. Khegan Delport, Stellenbosch University
33. Philani Dlamini, Methodist Church
34. Nozipho P. S Dlodlo, University of Kwazulu Natal
35. Joseph Duggan, Borderless Press and Postcolonial Networks
36. Wayne Eaves, The Warehouse Trust, University of Pretoria
37. Helen Efthimiadis-Keith, University of KwaZulu-Natal
38. Kolade Fadahunsi, Kairos Foundation of Nigeria
39. Dion Forster, Stellenbosch University
40. Willem Fourie, University of Pretoria
41. Maria Frahm-Arp, University of Johannesburg
42. Laurie Gaum, Centre for Christian Spirituality
43. Daniela Gennrich, University of KwaZulu-Natal
44. Allen Goddard, University of KwaZulu-Natal
45. Brenda Govender
46. Lisa Grassow, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Methodist Church
47. Alphonso Groenewald, University of Pretoria
48. Sibusiso Gwala, Pirie Mission
49. Vernon Hammond, St Mary’s Greyville
50. Deborah Hancox, Stellenbosch University
51. Elina Hankela, Research Associate, YOMA Research Project
52. Melissa Hansen, University of the Free State
53. Richard Holloway, Dutch Reformed Church
54. Theo Human, Dutch Reformed Church Pinetown
55. Morgan Jacobs, Seth Mokitimi ‎Methodist Seminary
56. Johan Janse van Rensburg, Dutch Reformed Church Maclear & Ugie
57. Nicole Joshua, The Warehouse, University of Pretoria
58. D. H. Kajom, Kaduna State University, Kaduna, Nigeria
59. Chammah J Kaunda, University of South Africa
60. Vicentia Kgabe, College of Transfiguration
61. Sphiwe Khumalo, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa
62. Ben Khumalo-Seegelken, Carl von Ossietzky Universität, Oldenburg, Germany
63. Ubbo Khumalo-Seegelken
64. Teboho G. Klaas, Robinson Temple AME Church
65. Mirirayi Knowledge, University of KwaZulu-Natal
66. Lerato Kobe, University of Pretoria
67. JNJ (Klippies) Kritzinger, University of South Africa
68. Toni Kruger-Ayebazibwe, St Augustine College, Metropolitan Community Churches (correction)
69. Joel Kuvuna, University of KwaZulu-Natal
70. Mercio Langa, Anglican Social Action
71. Clint Le Bruyns, University of KwaZulu-Natal
72. Maikeleng Ledimo, University of Pretoria
73. De la Harpe le Roux, Dutch Reformed Church, Bloemfontein
74. Tshepo Lephakga, University of South Africa
75. Sidney Luckett, Anglican Church
76. Joe Lüdemann, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, ELCSA
77. Llewellyn LM MacMaster, Stellenbosch University
78. Paledi P Magopa, Center For Civic and Democracy Education
79. Sipho Mahokoto, Stellenbosch University
80. Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Church of Southern Africa
81. Moganetsi Makulubele, University of Pretoria
82. Nadia Marais, Stellenbosch University
83. Francis Marimbe, University of KwaZulu-Natal
84. Rachel Mash, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Environmental Network
85. Henry Mbaya, Stellenbosch University
86. Duncan McLea – St John’s Parish Wynberg
87. Siyabonga Mdluli, St Augustine Umlazi
88. Richard Mee, Muizenberg and Tokai Methodist Church
89. Dave Meldrum, St Peter’s Church, Mowbray
90. Wilhelm H. Meyer, University of KwaZulu-Natal
91. Jacob Meiring, University of Pretoria
92. Kamogelo Modisane – Lutheran Theological institute
93. Leepo Modise, University of South Africa
94. Zack Mokgoebo
95. Wendy Mollink, St George’s Anglican Church Parktown
96. Marthie Momberg, Stellenbosch University
97. Lois Moyo, Lutheran Church
98. Lungile Mpetsheni, Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, University of Pretoria
99. Nina Müller van Velden, Stellenbosch University
100. Seth Naicker, Indiafrique, Bethel Sanctuary
101. Joey Naika, Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary
102. Thulani Ndlazi, United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, South Africa Synod
103. Gabriel E. Nduye, University of KwaZulu- Natal
104. Reggie Nel, University of South Africa
105. Damazio Ngoma, University of KwaZulu-Natal
106. Abraham J. Niehaus, University of KwaZulu-Natal
107. Jana Niehaus, Izwe Lethu, Durban
108. Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, University of Johannesburg
109. Dikgang Kgosi Moseneke Jr. – Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary
110. Ntuthuko Nkosi – Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa
111. Lillian Notayi, Stellenbosch University
112. Ezekiel Ntakirutimana, University of Pretoria
113. Jacob Nthakhe, University of South Africa
114. Siyabonga Ntombela, Methodist Church of Southern Africa, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
115. Selina Palm, Rondebosch United Church
116. Cheryl Pearce
117. Trevor Pearce, Anglican Church, Growing the Church
118. Walter Philander, Stellenbosch University, URCSA
119. Graham Philpott, Church Land Programme
120. Rubin Phillip, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Diocese of Natal
121. Stephen Phiri, University of KwaZulu-Natal
122. Sakkie Potgieter, Uniting Reformed Church Carnarvon
123. Caroline Powell, The Warehouse Trust & University of Pretoria
124. Tristan Pringle, University of Pretoria
125. Jane Quin, University of KwaZulu- Natal
126. Duduzile Radebe, Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action
127. Wayne Renkin, University of Pretoria
128. Michael Ribbens, Institute for Urban Ministry
129. Ryan Saville, Jubilee Community Church
130. J.D.F. (Deon) Scharneck, URCSA Beaufort West-East
131. Wesley Seale, Rhodes University
132. Heidi Segal
133. Earl September
134. Laura Singh, University of Pretoria
135. Mathews GJ. Shabele, Lutheran Theological Institute
136. Michelle Shrader Central Methodist Mission, Cape Town
137. Xolile Simon, University of Stellenbosch
138. Johannes A. Smit, University of KwaZulu-Natal
139. Tom Smith, Rhythm of Life
140. Gerrie Snyman, University of South Africa
141. Rob Stegmann, Stellenbosch University
142. Craig Stewart, The Warehouse
143. Alan Storey – Central Methodist Mission – Cape Town
144. NK Tenai, North-West University
145. Christo Thesnaar, Stellenbosch University
146. Janet Trisk, St Alphege’s Anglican Church
147. Rothney Tshaka, University of South Africa
148. Sandeep Theophil, University of KwaZulu-Natal
149. Christi Thirion, Dutch Reformed Church Kendridge
150. Luthando Tofu, Christ Legacy Centre, University of Pretoria
151. Loraine Tulleken
152. Calvin Ullrich, Stellenbosch University
153. Jakub Urbaniak, University of the Free State, St Augustine College
154. EAJG van der Borght, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
155. Carusta van der Merwe
156. Johan A. van der Merwe, Dutch Reformed Church George
157. Stiaan Van Der Merwe
158. Louis van der Riet, Stellenbosch University
159. Hendrien van Vliet, Dutch Reformed Church Pretoria
160. Michael Van Niekerk, University of South Africa
161. Cobus van Wyngaard, University of South Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Pretoria
162. Johannes N. Vorster, University of South Africa
163. Robert Vosloo, Stellenbosch University
164. Nastasia Vosloo, University of Pretoria
165. Vuyani Vellem, University of Pretoria
166. Paul Verryn, Methodist Church
167. Mike Vorster, Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Natal Coastal District
168. RS Wafula, Borderless Press and Postcolonial Networks
169. Andrew Warmback, St Pauls Anglican Church, Durban
170. Shantelle Weber, Stellenbosch University
171. Michael Weeder, St George’s Anglican Cathedral, Cape Town
172. David West,
173. Jeremy G. Wyngaard, Stellenbosch University
174. Sandisele L Xhinti, Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, University of Pretoria
175. Gosnell L. Yorke, University of South Africa
176. Goodwin L D Zainga, Churches of Christ in Malawi
177. Skhumbuzo Zuma, Church Land Programme

 

  Download >> a-call-for-critical-engagement-study-document

similar initiatives and developments:
°South-African-religious-leaders-warn-of-constitutional-crisis
°Holy Trinity Catholic Church: No Peace, No Space

 

2 Kommentare zu diesem Artikel bisher »

Kommentare zu »A Call for Critical Engagement – Study Document«

  1. I hope there will be less violence and more engagement from all sides involved in the free education debate. Drs Sears Appalsamy, Netherlands.

  2. Dear comrade Ben

    Thanks for this document and to see that so many people in the church have endorsed it.
    The critical engagement must take on concrete organisational form.

    My own view is that the academics, religious leaders workers on campuses must in addition to calling for the withdrawal of security put in place our own peace committees to petrol campuses so as to safeguard lives and property and mediate between admin and students.

    That we should move towards the establishment of a NECC type structure to ensure that the student demands get maximum support and to ensure that in unity we approach the long term programme for education reform .

    Fraternally yours

    Omar Badsha

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