Becoming Chris Kamalski

"There's a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us" ~Don Miller

15 Years Of Freedom?

Fascinating article on about the national presidential elections happening today throughout South Africa.

I’ll post more tomorrow on the results, and my own experience walking down to our local polling station at Emily Hobhouse Park to see the voting process unfold, but for now would love for you to click on these links and spend a few minutes learning about the complex process of ‘liberators’ (the ANC) becoming those who in the eyes of an increasing number of South Africans, have dramatically failed in delivering the promises they were hailed for back in 1994 when Nelson Mandela led them to freedom and the dismantling of the apartheid system.

We have seen this disillusionment play out within our own community, as my roommate Johannes had to be talked into voting by Curtis, a fellow South African apprentice who highly values the political process and has had many good things to say about the political season concluding (as governing prepares to begin!) here in South Africa.  Johannes lives in Soshanguve, the local township I’ve been speaking about recently, and has witnessed the ANC fail to deliver on its promises of housing, improved infrastructure, and other forgotten things.  And yet there seems to be such a deep-seated loyalty to Nelson Mandela and the freedom fighters who served selflessly, that many older South Africans continue to believe that a vote for the ANC is a vote for Mandela’s legacy.

Complex to say the least.

To the links:

The ANC is expected to win a fourth consecutive term in South Africa’s parliamentary and presidential elections on April 22. But for the first time since it came to power with the end of apartheid in 1994, that result is not guaranteed, and by any measure — popularity, membership, moral authority — the party is in decline. Its leaders are embroiled in a series of scandals involving both corruption and ineptitude. As a government, it has failed to stem raging violent crime and the world’s largest HIV/AIDS epidemic. It has presided over an economic boom that has made millionaires of a well-connected élite but left countless lives unchanged. As a party, it is accused of politicizing the police and the bureaucracy and showing contempt for the constitutional democracy for which it fought so long.

My Own Worst Critic, Part II.

Not entirely proud of this entry, but I said I would post it.  My unfinished thoughts about my Submerging Experience this past week: 

How are you supposed to encompass such a profound experience within the context of a few scripted words?  A more apt question might be how I am even able to tap into the wide range of emotions that I felt days after this experience, particularly in light of the fact that I tap out these sentences in the comfort of a local House of Coffees in the midst of a bustling shopping mall on an early autumn Saturday.  I feel so removed–already!–from the raw emotions that sweeped through my soul during our Submerging Experience in Soshanguve.  And yet, that’s how life must be lived, is it not?  We are unable to remain within the crucible of an emotional experience, whether we wish to or not.  This inability actually creates the beautiful longing that allows us to fully enjoy what we are experiencing, for longing (some may say, hope deferred) builds the anticipation of what may be coming at any unexpected moment.

A short rabbit trail may illustrate this.  The story of Susan Boyle, a 47 year-old British woman who wowed Simon Cowell and co. on “Britain’s Got Talent”, went viral on the web this week after her stunning rendition of a Les Miserables song blew everyone away.  As she began to sing through the audience’s derisive whistles and laughter at her outward appearance, scorn was transformed into unabashed joy (and a standing ovation!) as she continued to belt her lungs out. The point is simple: Would we tear at the sound of her voice if we expected it?  The beauty is found in its unexpected nature, and emotion wells within our souls as we welcome what was never anticipated: joy.

Poor attempt to illustrate aside, this is the sort of experience that I had living in Soshanguve, the local township about 20 minutes outside of Pretoria North, this week.  I fail even now to adequately sum up the emotions I felt.  Even listing them feels sterile, yet possibly hopeful in helping me continue to type.  

I felt:

  • welcomed as family into a stranger’s home; 
  • overwhelmed by the lack of boundary and possession (All of Lawrence’s possessions were mine, down to the sharing of his twin bed, and yet I deliberately left things at Pangani that I didn’t want abused); 
  • mind-numbingly bored (to the point of an exhausted stupor much of the day) at the lack of ‘things to do,’ especially for boys/men within this community who were not working; 
  • forced into a time warp of gender roles that I was uncomfortable to act within (as men, we were to stay outside of the house, unable to participate in chores, cooking, or cleaning); 
  • helpless at the sight of poverty becoming personal (“the poor” is no longer an economical classification to me; rather, I have friends who are poor now, over which I feel a mixture of happiness, guilt, pity, and self-condemnation for the previous feelings).
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