From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
End of Apartheid Does Not Mean End of Racism,
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
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
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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