10/05/2017 03:57 SAST | Updated 10/05/2017 03:57 SAST

Africa Month's Best Gift: An End To Xenophobia

The anti-xenophobia crusade must be owned by all Africans; rich and poor, white and black, coloured and Indian to seek the divine intervention we need.

Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters

This is a call for renewed spiritual effort by the Church and civil society.

Our beloved country, South Africa stands at a crossroads regarding the scourge of xenophobia and self-hate among Africans. Even as we gear up to celebrate Africa Day, which is a reminder of the sacrifices we have made as a people in Africa against a rapacious colonial system, we still face a catastrophic precipice that if we continue to stand idle as civil society in general and faith leaders in particular and trusted custodians of our future generations, the foundation of those generations will be destroyed forever.

Instead of waiting for government, our collective conscience as the faith community and concern for the future should drive all of us to take responsibility for the wellbeing of our beloved country and continent. It is an indictment on us as children of God that we have not been actively visible in the fight against xenophobia and the time is now for all of us to join the country in a collective prayer coupled with efforts for the austerity and survival of the African nation.

As children of the Almighty and restorers of His eternal faith we have the confidence "that in approaching God and that if we ask anything according to his will, He hears us and if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him."

Asking for His divine intervention at an hour of need such as we find ourselves in is our last resort because the numb efforts of our leaders alone have left us cold.

The church in particular must lead this crusade and get the country and all its citizens to pray for the end of this inhuman behaviour among ourselves. The crusade must be owned by all Africans; young and old, rich and poor, white and black, coloured and Indian to seek the divine intervention we need to get our country and continent back to their moral standing. Uppermost in our list of prayers should be the restoration of the morality of our African leaders especially those who are in positions of power.

The enduring confidence that the African people have placed in these leaders be they in church, political office, business and civil society in general demands that we reciprocate with ethical and morally sound leadership. If leaders respected themselves and the powerful positions they hold in society, it would be easy to follow their example and embrace each other as responsible citizens who share a common future.

As Africans from all walks of life, we face a common enemy: underdevelopment, poverty, unemployment and general neglect and subjugation. The least we can do is collaborate on efforts to ameliorate these unfortunate conditions and the church has a huge responsibility to galvanise society towards that goal. This simply means that we must, in action, participate jointly in developmental efforts to raise the standard of the African instead of denigrating one another and in the process destroying the very future we want to build.

There is a need for the Church to do more in building these bridges across the nations and not stand idle to rise only once there is an outbreak of xenophobia.

If we do not take matters into our own hands as leaders to fix our social and economic ills today, we will bestow to the next generations a bankrupt society without morals and one that we will never be forgiven for.

Recently, it was encouraging to witness and be part of efforts of those who gathered in Kempton Park to deal with the thorny issue of higher education funding in South Africa. Meeting under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher education and drawing from community and civil society activists, clerics and leaders across the spectrum of business, public sector, youth and women, these men and women were united in their quest to save South Africa both from embarrassment and its seemingly unstoppable downward slope.

Though a bit late in the context of the Fees Must Fall debacle, the coming together of societal leaders and the honesty and openness to admit our shortcomings and commitment to build the future together was a great effort towards restoring the dignity of our nation and securing our future. We can do the same with xenophobia and show the resilience and steadfastness displayed by these leaders in Kempton Park.

Our nation needs to pray for sanity to prevail. The moral regeneration movement, which seems to be a buzzword but only in the mouths of populist politicians must find resonance with our renewed effort of bringing Africans together as brothers and sisters. Genuinely and not for political point scoring, leaders must congregate and ask for the divine intervention of the almighty to save us from the enduring crisis of self-hate. Prayers connect us with God not only during election times but also in times when societies bleed and are thirsty for true freedom and deliverance.

We must ask God to deliver our nation from the clutches of rapacious and selfish leaders who ignore the most pressing matters of the day because they are concerned only with their own welfare. We must ask the almighty to bless us with wisdom to see and correct our wrongdoings without seeking to revenge and sacrifice others for their own selfish needs. Our country needs to wake up to the reality that if we do not take matters into our own hands as leaders to fix our social and economic ills today, we will bestow to the next generations a bankrupt society without morals and one that we will never be forgiven for.

The South African liberation movement knew the power of prayer and the role that religious leaders have played during the difficult time of the struggle for liberation in our country. Just as we did during those trying times, it is possible that we can close ranks even at this hour of our democratic freedom to call divine intervention to complement our efforts to restore the dignity of our nation and continent. As we approach the Africa Day celebrations, which is a moment of reflection for the relentless struggles we have waged as Africans, we must make a call for a national closing ranks especially among the faith communities to take the lead in saving our African nation from self-destruction.

I am happy to join the courageous crop of our society's leaders in holding hands and praying for the good of our nation and its future generations.