Jul 03, 2022 Last Updated 9:59 AM, Jun 29, 2022

South Africa: WSF reports back

Categoria: I Nostri Dicono
Visite: 1312 volte
{mosimage}Johannesburg Cathedral 24 March 2007
(Photo Gallery)

The event of the year organized by the team named GrOW (grain of wheat), on the 24th March 2007, at the Johannesburg’s Cathedral Hall, focused on the World Social Forum (WSF), celebrated at Nairobi (Kenya) January 2007.

There were about fifty participants from Pretoria and Johannesburg Dioceses.

Slides of the WSF were shown with a reflection taken from the words of the theological meeting and from the Prophet Isaiah chapter 11.

Then Fr. Albert Nolan OP, a South African, one of the 250 theologians, gathered at Nairobi, from 16th to 19th January 2007, introduced to the presents the WSF:


The WSF is five years old, the first one was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil and once in Mumbai, India. This year for the first time it was celebrated in Africa (Nairobi 19th –27th January 2007). WSF gathers together people from all over the world, it is a gathering of civil society, people of different ages, gender and religions, concerned people of the world, all wanting to have a possibility to live more humanly – free from wars, poverty and misery, people struggling for justice etc.

It is not enough to gather together to protest and to march, but it is important to become the voice of the ones that have no voice in this unjust global system.

In addition to the WSF there are Regional Social Forums in different countries and continents.
The WSF is something more than a movement and it is an expression of the 21st century.

Three panellists were called to give their testimony:

{mosimage}1. Zimbabwean Sr. Melta Thaka SND, missionary in South Africa, Diocese of Kroonstad:

She set aside all fears and defence mechanisms when she needed to interact with Kenyan people and to deal with them. She could communicate overcoming even the blockage of the language. The venue of the forum was situated a few kilometres away from the Korogocho slum with a population of about 120 thousand in an area of 1, 5 square km.
This people living in an unacceptable situation, without water, sanitation, electricity etc, reminded Sr. Melta of other similar realities in the world including those of many women considered as “things”, like in Iraq, and the abuses on them in South Africa, in Zimbabwe and in many other countries.

The word of God about the creation and the Gospel of John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” is encouraging to “start changing my life”, to allow people to meet, to discuss and to come out with solutions.

2. Mr. Philemon Tjeba, from Orange Farm and member of Justice and Peace Commission

Globalization has left Africa poorer than it was before.

Terrible situation in the slums: people without documents, no medical care, and no ambulance in case of emergency, criminality and in general no care for human dignity. Often human rights are violated in different ways and on different kind of people including tourists.

It is important to involve people in campaigns, to meet people and to hep them to be active.

The WSF meeting was done in Africa in an environment of poverty with many kinds of challenges; the presence of young people was poor considering their large population in the continent.

3- Chilean Fr Sergio Lorenzini, Fidei Donum in Johannesburg Diocese

Most of the participants (maybe 70-80%) at the WSF were African. This is very important because usually when there are movements and protests we see mainly European and Latin America people.

For the WSF it is not the church that unites people, but the same human situation that puts the people to discuss and to take decisions for a better world.

This movement of movements breaks the rule of fatalism: e.g. when some say: “we are poor and we accept passively this situation because for sure it is God will” This expression really is a blasphemy!

South Africa is a rich country, but 53% of the population earn R800-00 (or less) per month, also 40% are unemployed.

The WSF is a movement of movements that brings hope to the world, since there are many possibilities/alternatives to the present situation.

The will of God is that the people may have life abundantly (John 10:10)

Often the mass media manipulate us, but we must be able to choose what can help us to grow, to build our life etc.

Globalization is good if it is managed properly! Unfortunately we see that it is still manipulated.
It would be nice to have a South African Social Forum, so that we can plan also locally.

Some issues of the plenary were:

The media did not speak that much about the WSF because there was more interest in the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, held almost at the same time. The media remain a challenge for us, but we must use all the means to reach more people possible when we have to announce an important event like the WSF, starting using properly the simplest media instrument that is our mouth.

The Kenyan people encouraged South African not to be afraid to work with their hands, to make handcrafts and to promote local items as in Kenya they are tying to do.

“Nairobi/Nai- robbery” was the alert expression from some friends before we left for the WSF: often statistics are manipulated and through the messages of the mass media, people are classified unjustly. We never accept a priori statements to classify the poor as criminals!

The resolutions of the WSF and ours:

The participants in our discussion that morning were strongly motivated to commit themselves on the line of the WSF. A letter will be written to the SACBC and SACBC J/P Commission, informing them of the gathering done at Johannesburg and the will of all the participants to organize a Social Forum also in South Africa.

Finally Fr. Albert Nolan summarized the contents and inputs of the morning in a theological perspective, as follow:

- The WSF is a sign that God is at work among us.

- It is work of the Holy Spirit, the one who is in our hearts and brings people together.

- God is doing his work inside and outside the church.

- It is very clear in this WSF meeting the emphasis on poverty: “God hears the cry of the people”.

- The title “Another world is possible” and all the discussions and meetings with the people are expression of hope. Then the spirituality for another world, alternative world, is a “Spirituality of Hope”.

- In these kind of gatherings and in our plans there is cooperation and no competition.

- Mass media: many people don’t have hope because of the wrong information (e.g. crime). We have to spread the truth.

- Work, manual work and how we need to organize many things differently.

- If we work together we are participating in God’s work.


{mosimage}GRAIN of WHEAT

A group, now called GrOW (Grain of wheat) after the challenging teaching of Christ that a grain of wheat must die before it produces a bountiful harvest decided to reflect on the lives of martyrs who have lived in our lifetime.

Every year a special public event has been organized, celebrated at the Johannesburg’s Cathedral Hall:

The first event commemorated the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 2005.

Many of the martyrs of the 20th century have been great champions of social Justice and Peace as they lived the gospel values.

In 2006 we wanted to tell the stories of their lives so that many more believers can be inspired by their examples of life.

On the 9th September 2006 a second event was celebrated in preparation for the “World Social Forum” (Nairobi, Kenya January 2007) and also our booklet of the martyrs was donated to the participants.

On the 24th March 2007 there was a report back and discussion, focusing on the World

Social Forum in Kenya, and planning for the way forward in South Africa.


Fr. Sergio Lorenzini
Fr. Keith Gordon-Davis
Sr. Shelagh Mary Waspe
Sr. Nardine De Vaucresson
Fr. Laszlo Karpati
Fr. George Adiang (RIP)
Fr. Rocco Marra

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