Prayers reaffirm ubuntu

At the risk of being accused of singing for my supper, I have to say I was impressed by the Anglican Church in Pretoria for organising prayers for Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang after her hospitalisation and much-publicised liver transplant.

At the risk of being accused of singing for my supper, I have to say I was impressed by the Anglican Church in Pretoria for organising prayers for Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang after her hospitalisation and much-publicised liver transplant.

Africans have always held a prayer service for anybody facing misfortune. They like to console, through prayer, those in distress. Significantly, the prayers took place during Heritage Month. This year's Heritage Day was marred by controversy. Some people want to turn it into a commercial event.

Crazy as it might seem, there are people who want to turn Heritage Day into Braai Day, arguing that braaing is their heritage.

It appears that black culture and heritage are under attack.

What makes the response by the Pretoria church, to the "trials and tribulations" faced by Tshabalala-Msimang so significant is that, firstly, it differs hugely from that of her political colleagues.

The service reaffirmed our spirit of ubuntu - that despite what anybody thinks or says about us in the eyes of the Creator we are all the same.

Their action reminded all of us once again of the critical role the church played during our darkest hour when the majority of the people faced the might of the apartheid forces.

Incidentally, even the young radical Steve Biko, the leader of the Black Consciousness Movement, noted this reality and took it into consideration as he went about conscientising black people. He included the church and the church leaders in his campaigns.

It was through this effort that black theology was born, which in turn, played a key role in galvanising the oppressed towards the destruction of apartheid.

Bhungani Mzolo

Deputy director of communication Ministry of Health

Pretoria

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