This reflection flows from the debate on Antjie Krog’s Begging to be Black, organized by the Centre for Public Theology at the University of Pretoria, in which Jurie le Roux, Klippies Kritzenger and Rodney Chaka participated. Tom Smith wrote a brilliant critical overview of the debate, which I’m not even going to try and repeat. However, I’ve been journeying with my own being Afrikaner since July last year, and would like to continue this journey with reference to the current conversation.

The responses at the above mentioned debate again made me realize how much more thorough I still need to think about my own being, my own Afrikanernes. The detailed and critical analyses of Krog’s book, pointing out some of her own indebtedness to being an Afrikaner, as well as some naiveties in her approach forced me to think about by own almost naively positive reaction to Krog’s work.

One thing I think we have almost consensus about. Krog’s use of Black wasn’t the best choice of words. We might differ on our reason for saying this, but maybe Begging to be African would have been a better choice. For me, however, this quest has found words over the past year in becoming an Afrikaner. I, the naive reader of Krog and Jansen, want’s nothing more than to reclaim being Afrikaner. I want to claim being Afrikaner, being born from Afrika, wanting to be from Afrika, while being white and Afrikaans speaking, but I want to be that other white African, not the Afrikaner from the Voortrekker monument pictures, not the Afrikaner from the April 2010 letters to daily papers in South Africa,but the new kind of Afrikaner, the one who has no identity other from being part of a democratic South Africa.

And yes, Krog help me with this. I have called Jurie le Roux “one of the unsung heroes of my life” in the past, and I’ll stick to this, althouh I have realized years ago that we differ when it comes to how we understand our own being part of Africa. As a brilliant philosopher and exegete, he was able to point our some of the problems in Krog’s approach. Using French philosophers one could say he, and others, is able to “break” Krog’s work. But just because it’s broken, doesn’t mean it’s broken. Somehow Krog seem to fail the deconstructionists, whom I love – the little I understand about them, and then in my eyes get up and become helpful in spite of messy formulations, lack of philosophical depth, and lack of theological understanding.

And I think it’s something on a more emotional level that really get’s me into Krog’s work. The way in which she attempts to deny her own European heritage at some stages, but then have to admit her comfort in Germany, they way in which she are uncomfortable with her white Afrikaner tradition, but at times are forced by others to admit her own being advantaged by exactly this which she fights against, and the way in which she simply goes out there, and attempt to live relationally with a broader South Africa.

Through messy formulations and all, I find in Krog’s work something which missiologists called interculturation, an exchange of concepts, ideas. Krog might make it sound as if her attempt is simply to become more African, but in her person she really learn from different cultures, and in her story also give of what she is back to those black’s whom she so easily identify with Africa. Maybe I’ll not beg to be black, not even beg to be African, as if there are some ideal form of African out there which I should strive to become. But please let me be that different Afrikaner.

I want to be the interculturated Afrikaner, the Afrikaner that are actually able to listen to my fellow Africans, to allow them to deconstruct who I am, to deconstruct my own whiteness, to help me become more Afrikaner. No, I cannot deny that I also feel this connection with European and white thoughts, that is part of me. But I want to see that part of me through the eyes of my fellow South Africans. I don’t simply want to continue existence as an Afrikaner, but I want to understand my own being white and being Afrikaner, and understand it in relation to other around me, and through this become more of a white African.

Krog would call this something different. She’ll call this becoming black, maybe. She will sound different when she speak about this than I do. But I see in her work how she finds a reinterpretation of her own identity in relationships with black, colored, indian South Africans, South Africans of different languages and backgrounds. She struggles, she’s critical, and yes, in the end we’ll agree that she remain a white Afrikaner, but she’s more and more of a white Afrikaner that finds identity in relationship to others, and in spite of brilliant critique against her work, in spite of the fact that her work could be broken, it’s not broken for me, because on an emotional level, and in spite of critique also on an intellectual level, she helps me along this journey of becoming that white African, that Afrikaner that’s not the Afrikaner that we know.

I know I’m not blogging that often at the moment. Something I believe we should give ourselves freedom to do: sometimes not blog! And I was at the point of writing something on Revelation and preaching, but that will have to wait. When I opened my dashboard, I saw the amount of people searching for stuff on the “evangeliese initiatief” (EI)*, and I decided that maybe it has become time that I write some thoughts on this.

First of all. I did not attend the EI event at moreleta yesterday. I was lucky enough to attend Arthur’s birthday party, and have some great conversations with Cori and some of the Nieucommunities people. About allergies, beer, God, poverty, South Africa, Rugby and some other stuff. But really, I did not want to attend this event! Usually I’m all for listening to everyone, and I would have said that actually I should go, even though I don’t agree with them. But then they came with the whole idea that if they get enough people at their event, then they can proceed with their cause, knowing that the church supports their ideas. Since when are we back to a democracy? Why, if I get 10000 young people in our church together to say that… well… to say anything, does that add weight to my argument? Come on, really, can’t anyone see where this is going?

And when are the church going to learn to talk to each other. I’ve been studying theology at TUKS for 5 years. I’ve been chairman of theological students for the past year. When will the EI, and all these other people stop talking about how bad it is for the poor students that get indoctrinated by lecturers, and start talking to us. Start really listening. And listening is only listening if it’s possible that both sides can change their point of view. So please, don’t come to theological students with the idea that you have all the answers and that they simply need to confirm your ideas of heresy in the faculties or something, we have had enough of that kind of thing!

So, you want the inside info? I like my lecturers (sorry for those of you whose classes I skip from time to time, if you were to read this, I know I’m not that good an example for other students:-)). I respect my lecturers. I respect them as academics, they are brilliant people. But I also respect them as fellow believers. They taught me some greek and hebrew (although I’m not always so sure how successful that was), they taught me theology. Theology which helped me through some difficult times. But in them I also saw fellow believers, in different ways some of them have been mentors for me.

But this happened in relationships. It happened in relation with lecturers, together with the rest of the theological students. So I just wish all those supposedly well meaning people from the EI who are so worried about the theological students and their lecturers would just keep quite for a while and act like Christians and take the conversation where it is supposed to go on: with the people it is about. You are really hurting students! Have you ever thought what you are doing to theological students when you tell them that the lecturers whom they like, respect, and learn from, are supposed to be heathens or heretics of whatever? Do you really think you will call them closer in the proses? Come on, stop the joke, all you are doing is making us more and more uncomfortable with the type of theology you are practising, since we see the bad side to it. You are reminding us to keep up with that which we have been taught: To search for better, more biblical, ways of being followers of Jesus in this world we live in today.

I dream of a church where we listen to each other

I dream of a church where we make room for each other

I dream of a church where we live in the way of Jesus, acknowledging that not one of us have the final word on this

I dream of a church where God is central, and we realize that sometimes our words are simply not enough, that the words of another might be necessary, and that sometimes we should all just shut up… be quite

The direct translation for Evangeliese Initiatief would be Evangelical Initiative, although I not sure if this will do justice to there cause. I understand that they want to link with the Reformed Evangelical tradition, rather than the more American Evangelical tradition, which is what people generally think about when they hear the word evangelical. They started a few months ago, have been talking a lot about a literal physical historical resurrection, claiming that this is the way the Bible portray the resurrection, and