From the Worldwide Faith News archives

End of Apartheid Does Not Mean End of Racism,

Date 04 May 1996 20:43:26


95340     End of Apartheid Does Not Mean End of Racism, 
                 South African Church Leader Says 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
GENEVA--Though apartheid has been dismantled in South Africa, "racism as an 
edifice in the world still stands," South African church leader Frank 
Chikane told the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee here 
Sept. 16. 
     Chikane, who was general secretary of the South African Council of 
Churches at the height of the antiapartheid movement from 1985 to 1994, 
praised the WCC for its longstanding opposition to apartheid.  "The WCC 
deserves special credit," he said, "for its courageous stand at a time when 
it was dangerous to do so."  Chikane said the WCC's creation of its 
Programme and Fund to Combat Racism "was the turning point, a catalyst for 
international efforts" to bring down the apartheid system in South Africa. 
     But, he continued, "the greatest problem we face now as a world 
ecumenical community is the temptation to equate the end of apartheid with 
the end of racism in the world."  Though apartheid is "politically dead" in 
South Africa, Chikane added, racism has "sought refuge in the economic 
system of the country." 
     So the antiapartheid movement has begun its "second phase," Chikane 
said, of seeking to restructure social and economic conditions in South 
Africa so that the black majority is fully involved in decision making. 
"Now we have to learn how to work with the government after all those years 
of only opposing the government." 
     And churches are the key to such economic restructuring, Chikane said, 
because "they are the only institutions represented everywhere in the 
     The problem of racism is not just confined to South Africa, he said. 
"The gap is widening globally between the haves and have-nots," Chikane 
noted, "so the walls of security are growing higher and higher, making 
billions, mainly women and children, expendable." 
     In South Africa, he continued, "God spoke to the world to convict the 
world of the sin of racism. Racism is an international scourge -- the only 
difference is that apartheid was stupidly legalized and professionally 
organized in South Africa." 
     Racism is more subtle than apartheid in its global form, Chikane said, 
"but is supported by highly advanced technological and economic tools."  So 
it will take more sophisticated tools and international effort to eliminate 
     The church's responsibility, Chikane concluded, "is to keep the 
struggle wherever racism raises its ugly head.  We can win because we won 
in South Africa." 
     Chikane delivered his remarks at a time when the WCC is trying to 
develop a new statement on racism.  The current draft of its "framework 
document," still under discussion,  calls for a dual approach to attacking 
racism that involves action on both the local and global level. 
     The Rev. Eugene Turner, one of two Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 
representatives on the Central Committee, said the paper needs to be 
strengthened in addressing economic repression and in calling churches to 
task for their own racism. 
     He said it will be a "momentous task" to get churches to acknowledge 
their own racism and that skilled communication will be the key.  "The 
paper falls short of that concern," Turner concluded. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
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