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The Black Preacher and Social Transformation

Seven social sins: politics without principle, wealth without work,

pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character,
commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship
without sacrifice
--Mohandas Gandhi in Young India, 22-10-1925

A preacher as transformer is material instance where words do make a man. As it is said, a preacher
without words is mute, a handless painter. Words are a vessel of verification to that clothed speaker
used to draw vectors of direction; words hanging in the air as colours seen depicting anguish,
expectations, hope of kairos, and healing. They open doors to possibilities of what has been and
possibly could be from canvas of what is. In them is a reflection of how life is and a shadow for hiding
what is best left unsaid. A man becomes a sum total of a fuller human being when his words whisk
thought into action. How people react to such words says sufficiently enough about acquired abilities
and organic blessings of the proprietor of words. Reactions are most often an indication of where
hearers are positioned in stations of life. For some they could hear a signpost of what has been an
honoured life of privilege by dint of metonymical make-up; while for others it is a poignant reminder of
their rights removed from a safety net of being a human being. A role of that preacher is immense if it is
to retain its urgency for the latter and deplorable in its provocative stance for the former. In those rare
breeds is a developed coherent worldview encapsulating the signpost and reminder mentioned above.
A people grow and develop to richer society if life is lived courageously*, as it should be for those
condemned to repression.
In crucible of material welfare the dream is action. The patriotism of such a man and support of people
then mobilised is compelled by conscience whose heartbeat mirrors collective liberation. Any idea of
death in pursuance of that dream-as-action, is sacrifice at alter of what makes a man fuller as a human
being. Most evident in struggle for political cause is a premise of principle. A wealth of freedom attained
would be the result of work clear in ambition, ambition as forged from knowledge of a man in his moral
deportment. Qualities of leadership delineate their purview of individual operation within radar of these
Gandhian seven social sins, and more. Needless to say, they are a garden of toil and reward and
require constant work of and for self-purification, valuing those scrounging in activity seemingly
mundane to an outsider.
In quintessence, it evokes Gramscian distinction of the ploughman and manure. Where most want to be
a ploughman, on the other hand humility in leadership would deem it a higher honesty to labour as
manure fertilising terra firma. On the same page, Desmond Tutu beheld us to beat our swords into
ploughshares. Those so depicted, as transformers, action men, moral leaders, have a need also for
possessing an intellectual discipline second to none which is not far removed from a beatific vision in
the present life. In this conflationary highway of reason (logos) and conviction-in-grace, the ideological
battle waged is thereby turned to be understandable not only for the leaders but most notably, those
who rely on words from transformative preachers. Ideology is taken to task with rational tools
sharpening consequent tactics adopted to fight the fight through liberation theology, whose

Some were dreadfully insulted, and quite seriously, to have held up as a model such an immoral character as A
Hero Of Our Time; others shrewdly noticed that the author had portrayed himself and his acquaintancesA Hero
of Our Time, gentlemen, is in fact a portrait but not of an individual; it is the aggregate of the vices of our whole
generation in the fullest expression, quoted from, Mikhail Lermontov, Geroy nashego vremeni. USA: Everyman
Library, 1995.

The kind of liberation Toni Morrison accords valiancy, when all the wars are over and there will never be
another one. The people in the shadow are happy about that. At last, at last, everythings ahead. The smart ones
say so and people listening to them and reading what they write down agree: Here come the new. Look out.
There goes the sad stuff. The bad stuff. The things-nobody-could-help stuffHistory is over, you all, and

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identification is crystallised in this offering, He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim
liberty to the captives (Luke 4:18-19). A word of explanation on usage of theology is pinched from
Theology: The Basics. What is theology? The word has been used by Christians since the third
century to mean talking about God[and] talking about God in a Christian way (2004: i). It could not
be any different to be an onlooker on words coming and carrying dreams of all into heartbeat of
conscience scrolled in Holy Book deliverance. A critique of the role of the black preacher operates in
background of capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, racism; and the tools to counter these will be
specified as analysis of modernism (reason, progress and science), theological charity and
What place is there to bring into play a Cartesian emphasis of separating what is known from the
knower while blending individual experience to the self, beliefs held and times consumed by the
individual? This paper attempts to reckon with this. The following discussion examines a role of
religious responsibility in social struggle. It focuses its geographic perspective on the North American
and South African contexts, in the 1960s and 1970s-80s respectively. For closer scrutiny here, is an
address of importance of those figures whose robes have covered the cause for justice, truth, and love.
Attention is paid on three discourses speeches by Dr. Revd. Martin Luther King (MLK) and a equally
three dissertations by Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu (DMT) representative of their virtue, love of
truth and passion for their profession. They embrace the oratorical and written genres of biblical
extemporisation. Common features take account of documents corroborating insistence on engaged
narration. It is submitted, there is no claim to biography or a hidden hagiolatry of these black preacher
men. In the main, it will be argued their mortalised fame stands on alignment of their destiny to shared
transformation of society. Indication of their seminal influence is manifestation of their ability to frame
goals and a desire of societys ills with their individuated gifts; cultivated endowments transcending
sectional divides, merging secular humanism and spiritual grace. And precisely because they
comprehended the gist of their time, its history and likely effect on the future, they acted accordingly. In
consuming their times, they consumed everything essential to their strategies; it meant aligning with
specific interests for particular purposes. To paraphrase Waldo Emerson, what is good for knowledge,
is good for virtue, their virtue as they so synthesized it with a) their religious convictions according to
the Holy Book, b) the objectives of their multifarious communities, c) political movements of the time,
such as the National Advancement for Coloured People in North America and the African National
Congress and Pan African Congress in South Africa. As a fact then, their faith was political, standing
between the truths of biblical rendition and virtue from struggle of the browbeaten. Most confidently,
these individuals sway and twirl kismet of language as a means to communicate what is uppermost in
their aims, with the seal of their individualism. A banner lifted aloft in their tongue and actions,
expresses throughout their lives this idea from the Verdas, in the midst of the sun is the light, in the
midst of the light is truth and in the midst of truth is the imperishable being.
In brief, engagement of these iconic figures seeks to highlight how they merely not name conscientious
character as much as define wills of their respective constituencies. In their cohesive messages, tacked
in sails of declaration for equality is an assemblage of wishes of millions, wretcheds of the earth. At the
same instance, one notes these black preachers retained a singular identity marking their greatness. In
considering the writings and speeches from MLK and DMT, we lay bare a glass darkly they intended to
till over: hypocrisy of their governments to being signatories of the United Nations Declaration of
Human Rights while practicing segregationist policies at home; paradox of group allocation of civil
liberties at wanton disregard of other social groups; immorality of placing under law exercise of lamour
relationship across supposed racial differences, which are nothing more than metonyms which Bantu
Biko, to be converse on later, fervently fought against. The instruments they used, nonviolent
everythings ahead at last. In halls and offices people are sitting around thinking future thoughts. Jazz. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1992, p. 7.

As DMT, says about him, He had a far too profound respect for persons as persons to want them under readymade, shop-soiled, secondhand categories (1994: *).

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resistance is a form of pacifism mixed with striving for peacemaking, as hallowed to a degree in historic
peace churches such as Mennonites, the Church of the Brethren and the Society of Friends. Moreover
is an acknowledgment of their character revealing audacious men with disciplined calmness in a face of
fatality and ominous signs of disillusionment in their communities. In essence, we pay homage to their
mutual unwavering deference to righteousness. Part of the explanation is located in their familial roots.
A podium in which they stood was decorated with passion for wisdom, vividness of wide-reaching
understanding of the human condition (warts and all), and range of subsistence in condition of absurd
apartheid apartness, an inert exertion to fortify economic control, maintain racial separation while
broadening white domination .
MLK: Martin Luther King Jr. was born, nine years after Armistice, into the family of a minister in Atlanta
extending a family lineage connecting him to an AfricanAmerican religious tradition. Even before, his
grandparents had transformed nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church from a careworn congregation in the
1890s into one of black Atlantas most prominent institutions serving not only needs of the immediate
congregation, but extending their generosity to all and sundry. It thus came to pass MLK saw his father
and grandfather illuminated as appealing role models who combined their rhetorical endowment with
social activism. It needs to be mentioned also, his family ties to the Baptist Church extended far back to
the slave era. His great-grandfather, described as an old slavery time preacher and an exhorter,
entered the Baptist Church during the period of religious and moral fervour which swept the nation
decades before the Civil War.
His birth was couched in a crib of portentous world events. A mere ten months after MLKs birth, the
Western world succeeded in mismanaging itself into a mammoth economic depression. Most obviously,
the depressions within the AfricanAmerican community was always more severe where you found
skilled blacks debarred from their trades and thus consign to underside of the labour pool. Like
everything in America of the 1920s, broad-scale segregation meant hardship had a pecking order. As a
counter-measure against this, black folks were constantly migrating, by mule and train-dance, to
different parts of the United States in search of personal dignity and financially viability, it is generally
estimated more than two million moved northward from 1890-1920. The benefits of American
urbanization and industrialization had bypassed most black people. Material contentment was closely
conjoined to racial stigma in a country where a majority had bulwark state machinery working for them
against a minority. While tired black adults yearned for a better day for their children. MLKs dream
world, coined in liberation for his people, began its steady march toward consciousness from
consequences of this period. An absurd dissonance from the drumbeats of racism fairly increased this
natural tempo of striving for black liberation. The contextual underpinning of MLK and the civil rights
movement are stark in their emergence. They surfaced as a result of criticising everyday acts of
discrimination. Reactions directed at singular indices insulting black dignity were isolated. People
simply demanded assorted rights of recognition without which their selfhood could be realigned into one
be-ing. It is a reason why such personal and autobiographical literary works as Notes of a Native Son,
Invisible Man, Native Son, Ann Petrys The Street, Chester Himes and uvres of Langston Hughes
became so fetchingly popular and announced arrival of voices from the margins. Vitally important is to
bear in mind that these texts by distinguished men of belles-letters of the eighteen and nineteenth
centuries, namely Phyllis Wheatleys Poems on Various Subjects (first published book by a person of
African-descent in North America, 1773), The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or
Gustavas Vasa, Written by Himself (first slave autobiography in American letters in 1789); Jacobs

The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast [of the Nigeria], was the sea, and a slave
ship, which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which was
soon converted into terror, when I was carried on board. I was immediately handled, and tossed up to see I were
sound, by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a world of bad spirits, and that they
were going to kill. Their complexions, too, differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they

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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself. All these justified as those, in the same way
possessing, indices of civilisation itself unlike the silence that isolated them from convention; you
taught me language, says Caliban to Prospero, and my profit ont is I know how to curse. In the
instance there was any such manifestation of political creativity geared to a cause, was in the Harlem
Renaissance of 1900-1940. At first there was no organised structure and goals driving this reactionary
cauldron. Most possibly, productive means of material life for black southerners stifled by an economic
depression and attendant dispossession of their goods, by banks and merchants, and coupled with
legislation outrightly antagonistic to civic virtues of black Americans, an upswelling of dissidence was to
be expected. One sees in a mind's eye what it meant to be expected to subsist on products of an
unsubsidised piece of agricultural land of forty acres and a mule, and then being forced to uproot and
trek to overcrowded industrialised settings where employment was scarce and largely reserved for
specific population groups. And where social welfare and state expenditure on some social groups was
disproportionate. It is a period far removed from the upswing decade of the 60s when there could be
utterance of an emerging black middle class, urbanised, relatively well-educated and skillfully
employed. The strongest argument for this from Cornel West in Keeping Faith, in this regard, the civil
rights movement, prefigured the fundamental concerns of the American New Left: linking private
troubles to public issues, accenting the relation of cultural hegemony to political control and economic
exploitation (1993: 278).
In her book Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Mary King offers the following comments on
the importance of the church to making MLK, Forged in the fires of southern slavery, the African
American church had been the main source of sustenance and deliverance for blacks stretching back
into the nineteenth, eighteenth and seventeenth centuries and was the one institution that was never
controlled by white people. The theology that was shaped under slavery stressed Gods beneficence
toward all people, and the equality of all persons under a loving God. A tradition of popular civil
resistance was fostered without any artificial separation of politics from religion. This mingling of
resistance and faith was the tradition that had nourished Kings grandfather and father, and then fed
him. When he stood upKing brought with him the collective vocabulary of the black church and a
legacy of fortitude that had been centuries in the making. (1999:98-99). Her view of a role of the black
church in America is corroborated by W.E.B. Dubois in The Souls of Black Folk (1903), three things
characterized this religion of the slave, the preacher, the music, and the frenzy. The preacher is the
most unique personality developed by the Negro on American soil. A leader, a politician, an oratoran
intriguer, an idealist, - all these he is, and ever, too, the centre of a group of men, now twenty, now a
thousand in number. The combination of a certain adroitness with deepseated earnestness, of tact
with consummate ability, gave him his preeminence, and helps him maintain it (1990:138). Given this
catholic responsibility borne on shoulders of a black preacher, we are called upon to appreciate MLKs
core values passed down generationally to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson who was similarly able to relate the
mandates of the faith to the mandates of the day (Ebony, 1993). The setting of where he came into
sight and operated is packed with earth-shaping events: ruling reversing school discrimination in Brown
v. Board of Education judgment, a period of frazzled nerves caused by disunity of national psyche from
aftermath of World War II and Korean War, McCarthy witch-hunts whose casualty included the
renascence idol Paul Robeson, diplomatic checkmate of USSR-USA over the Bay of Pigs and industrial
actions everywhere grounded by war-time high cost of living. Results were a decade of incendiary
assassination, the 1960s.
To champion his beliefs he promoted a stance of nonviolent resistance and used his speeches to
reveal a truth of racism. Above all, he believed in Christian principles of love, hope and forgiveness,
recalling, at an earlier period, his spiritual predecessor and mentor, Gandhi. His badge of honour was
earned in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. A crowning achievement of his eloquence and
articulate message is found in two pieces of homiletic lore, I Have a Dream and Letter from a
spoke (which was very different from any I had ever heard), united to confirm me in this belief, quoted from Arna
Botemps (ed.) Great Slave Narratives. Boston: Beacon, 1869, p. 27.

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Birmingham Jail which, in the main, sought to argue against an inequity of bigotry; as accentuated by
Jean Toomer in Cane (1969) O th sin white folks mitted when they made the Bible lie. In other words,
from this world, the Jesuit priest E. Mveng, specifies in Valentin Yves Mudimbes The Invention of
Unfortunately the West is less and less Christian; and Christianity, for a long time, has been a product of export
for Western civilization, in other words, a perfect tool for domination, oppression, the annihilation of other
civilizations. The Christianity preached today, not only in [apartheid] South Africa, but by the West as power and
civilization, is far, very far from the gospel. The question is therefore posed radically: what can be the place of
Third World peoples in such a Christianity? (172-73)

The former, I Have a Dream, is now certified in annals of speech-making as a definitive moment in
pronouncement on liberty and exhortation of humanness in all offsprings of Creation. The year 1963,
patented by the March on Washington and passing of W.E.B Du Bois comprised centennial celebration
of signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln in 1863 and signified passing of an
era with the death of Pan-African midwife, Du Bois across the Atlantic Ocean in postcolonial Ghana. He
delivered the speech before the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 as a major address of the March
on Washington for rights accorded to human beings. I Have a Dream unveils, as an invisible man, his
blueprint for transforming American society in a language steeped in inclusivity of integration. We have
here a positive epochal mania for turning hurtful laws of the state into fundamental nature of the
scripture praising potential of what it means to realise the good in each of us and law of love. How is
this law proscribed within paradigm of this discussion? Heraclitus offers a forward path of command in
Socrates to Sartre. Because God is Reason and since God is the One, permeating all thingsGod is
the universal Reason which holds all things in unity and orders all things to move and change in
accordance with thought or principles, and these principles and thought constitute the essence of law
(1993: 14). His Dream and the Letter are a tour de force virtuoso mastering of collective intuition. His
vision for transforming American society is rooted in hope and optimism which is not placed in a
rearview mirror of the past or future, I have a dream today (1986: 104); an optimistic visioning of a
society of racial harmony in recognition of a people existing peripheral in a social order. What is he
dreaming from? The Negro problem is similar to that portraiture penned by poet Langston Hughes,
Where is the Jim Crow section on this merry-go-round,
Mister, cause I want to ride? Down South where I come from
White and Colored cant sit side by side. Down South
On the train. There is a Jim Crow car. On the bus were
Put in the back but there aint no back to a
merry-go-round! (1970: 192)

The seeds for his epochal speech in Washington do not come from nowhere, by inclination this historymaking speech is not a case of ex nihilo nihil fit (out of nothing comes nothing). A path to Washington is
a journey whose genesis is in Alabama. His Letter from Birmingham Jail is a patent of his purest
enunciation of what is regarded as one of the most important documents in the international literature of
nonviolent resistance and philosophies of Gandhi, DMT, Toyohiko Kagawa, and Albert Luthuli. At the
time, this industrial coal and steel town epitomized arguably the worst the South had to offer, without
pretense to gentility of more established antebellum cities el Norte or what historian E. Franklin Frazier
termed cities of destruction. It had a history of violence, not introduced de novo, passing muster in the
eyes of authorities. From its smouldering flame, black liberation theology was born. The date is set,
December 1, 1955. If Rosa Parks had not sat down, Martin Luther King would not have stood up. I
would stressthe beginning of the contemporary black liberation theology can be traced towhen
Rosa Parks, tired from a days work as a seamstress, sat down in a bus reserved for whitesshe was
arrested, a bus boycott was begun, and theliberation movement began(1995: 90-91). And so,

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following her arrest, a practice of civil disobedience sprung consisting of sit-ins, consumer boycotts,
nonviolence or ahimsa (in Gandhian language) voluntary imprisonment. For MLK and his associates
held forth, in this way they could press for social justice as a focal pointin opposition to the patently
unjust system of segregationjustice was shaped by a higher goal of love, that is, justice became the
means of achieving love (106). It is a sign of the man he was to sacrifice his being for fair dealing in
hope of securing a palliative of love for his people and those denying him his right to be. In a caesuric
intricate tone,
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be
demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was well timed
according to the time table of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now
I have heard the word wait. It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This wait has almost
always meant never (1986: 88).

Although he was foremost a disciple of benign confrontation, evidenced though sit-ins, one cannot
ignore whiff of direct battle somewhere in the lines quoted above. In articulation it may not reach the
levels of his contemporary and sometime rival, Malcolm X, but it is inescapable. It is not too
incongruous with message suggested in Fanons Les damns de la terre (1961) which is striking in its
warning of limits to fight against racism and colonialism. We may well hear what he says. Nonviolent
direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has
constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it
can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister
may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word tension. I have
earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is
necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that
individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative
analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need for nonviolent gadflies (op.cit.). History
elucidates on this tension and necessity of tempering nonviolent resistance with confrontational
instruments, when circumstances dictate. In an edited volume of Christianity and Modern Politics, is
respectfully argued, The principal criteria of the just-war tradition evolved over many centuries,
beginning with Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine in the fourth and fifth centuries, and were
elaborated by Saint Thomas Aquinas and other moral philosophers in the medieval and modern
periods. A distinction was made between principles concerning the just resort to war (jus ad bellum)
and those concerning just conduct in war (jus in bello)
I. Just cause. A decision for war must vindicate justice itself in response to some serious evil, such as an
aggressive attack.
II. Just intent. The ends sought in a decision for war must include the restoration of peace with justice and must
not seek self-aggrandizement or the total devastation of another.
III. Last resort. The tradition shares with pacifism a moral presumption against going to war but is prepared to
make exceptions. Every possibility of peaceful settlement of a conflict must be tried before is begun.
IV. Legitimate authority. A decision for war may be made and declared only by properly constituted authority
(1993: 364-65).

DMT, in his Nobel homily would say, there is no peace because there is no justiceThe Bible knows
nothing about peace without justice. A test of limits to this tension is further elucidated by a second
speech MLK gave in the same year. Eulogy for the Martyred Children, delivered at a funeral for little
girls killed at a Sunday school a month after the successful August Mach to the Capital city. The tenor
of his thought in this tribute to loss of young life is a quest to find terms of coherent meaning to the act
and what it could spell for the civil rights movement. What restrictions exist in to derail nonviolent
resistance or stage for change of tactics? His voice weaves an invocation, stating the scene of his
delivery, the quiet of this sanctuary, Shakespearean tangible allegory for birth, life and death, the

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stage of historyin the brief years that they were privileged to act on this mortal stage, they played
their partsNow the curtain falls; they move through the exit; the drama of their earthly life comes to a
close (1986: 115). How is versification, nurtured by a bleeding heart, labelling the protagonists? They
are martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignitycompromised with the
undemocratic practices of southern dixiecrats. Disheartily, what then is disputed is impartiality of life
and mans actions, an unmerited suffering[based on] substitute [of an] aristocracy of character for an
aristocracy of color. Heady words for surviving family members. MLK offers a palliative soaring to
empyreal summit. But I hope you can find a little consolation from the universality of this experience.
Death comes to every individual. There is an amazing democracy about deathlife has its moments of
drought and its moments of flood (1986: 115-17).
MLK speaks with clarified candour to anxiety expressed by his brethrens whose eyes were watching
God for deliverance. He counsels to his detractors, eight clergymen and one rabbi, who issued a public
statement denouncing as unwise and untimely the civil boycotts of MLK and his followers in Alabama,
[t]he answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just and there are unjust
laws: I would agree with Saint Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all. Now, what is the difference
between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made
code that squares with the moral law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the
moral lawsin is separation. Isnt segregation an existential expression of mans tragic separation, an
expression of his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? So I urge men to disobey segregation
ordinances because they are morally wrong (1986: 89). His catechism for religious tutoring stands
alone for its unassuming tone, while insistent on what it holds high as lessons from Christian doctrine
merged with straightforward talk. The exceptional men of letters that he is, his retort avoids dry
officialese argot in favour of matter-of-fact speech terminology. We do well to quote him further, I am in
Birmingham because injustice is hereInjustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhereWhatever
affects one directly, affects all indirectly (ibid.). It is clear, thus, echo of such words boom as loud as
the Nile when the tide is high since their broadcast afterwards, spurred masses into action and
announced arrival of a Jeremiad prophet with a ray of sunshine in his brow.
He placed civil disobedience in biblical tradition of Hebrew resistance in ancient Babylon and in context
of early Christians with their violation of edicts of the Roman emperors. By dint of no exaggeration
chose to associate himself with Saint Paul, like him, an extremist in love. In a same political vein, he
asked if former United States president, Thomas Jefferson was not an extremist when he wrote of
seeing truth self evident to say all are created equal or the purpose of the First Amendment protecting
religious and civic liberty. As was whispered on Rev. Jeremiah A Wright Jr in Ebony publication, the
podium was an opportunity for discourse[as] a four-course meal: spiritual, biblical, cultural,
prophetic (Nov. 1993).
Yet he wrote down with disappointment of dashed hopes in Montgomery when white ministers and
rabbis refused to serve as a route through which state machinery could be challenged. Years of
oppression had drained AfricanAmericans of selfrespect; blacks were smothering in cages of poverty
while affluence surrounded them. However, his mission was not zealous self-motivated and centred. He
presented himself as being at the centre of a long spectrum of options in the black community. He
argued civil disobedience had a grace about it which endeared its practitioners to virtue. I wish you had
commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their
willingness to suffer, and their amazing discipline in the midst of the most inhuman provocationWhen
these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the
best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian Heritage (1986: 99).
These are not sentences beaming with ironical equipage. They speak squarely in the route of
frankness. After all, failing everything, what elevates discourse and action upwards is nothing more
than reconciliatory tact of exactness.
In both modern testaments, I Have a Dream and Letter from a Birmingham Jail MLK command
people to what is so fetchingly unique and abiding in promise of the Emancipation Proclamation of

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1863. He discourses impassionedly America has defaulted on promise of the proclamation and made a
nightmare of the American dream:
It is obvious that America has defaulted on this promissory note so far as her citizens of color are concerned.
Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has
come back marked insufficient funds. We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the urgency of
now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is
the time to make real the promises of democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of
segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice: now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial
injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now is the time to make justice a reality for all Gods childrenThis
sweltering summer of the Negros discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and
equality (1986:103).

Here the Right Reverend Doctor directs that every point has a turning, and to speak out for alteration of
the dream. It is a citizenship document which advocates social commitment to make real the promises
of democracy, to put into praxis sunlit path of racial justice, and gather together autumn of freedom.
In his passing, the dream could not be palmed off. Such an image was nearly totally destroyed with
MLKs assassination and riots that assailed urban metropoles. How possible could it then be for a
dream to be slayed? Long ago, Hughes, in Lenox Avenue Mural, deemed such eventuality, a deferral of
a blueprint. What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up? Like a raisin in the sun? / Maybe it
sags / Like a heavy load. / Or does it explode? It rewards to remember the dream is not all with the
dreamer. A dream as majestic as a societal dream, demands multiple hands. Others readily avail
themselves to burden themselves with the load; take a baton and run the racial marathon race as we
will soon appreciate when we look through the eyes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. As prescient as he
was, MLK foretold his death. He anticipated our hesitation on likelihood of his departure from the scene.
When a bullet coursed through his neck from an assassins rifle, in 1968, he guided those who would
mourn his passing indefinitely of the Gandhian social sin, worship without sacrifice. So in spite of the
darkness of this hour we must not despair. We must not become bitter. Nor must we harbor the desire
to retaliate with violence. We must not lose faith in our white brothers. Somehow we must believe that
the misguided among them can learn to respect the dignity and worth of all human personalityI hope
you can find some consolation from Christianitys affirmation that death is not the end. Death is not a
period that ends the great sentence of life, but a comma that punctuates it to more significance. Death
is not a blind alley that leads the human race into a state of nothingness, but an open door which leads
man into life eternal. Let this daring faith, this great invincible surmise, be your sustaining power during
these trying times (1986: 116-117). Faith as unshakeable belief springs from desire to understand. As
a St Anselm maxim goes - credo ut intelligam. An intonation, pained as it is, of a shepherd consoling
his flock in its hour of need. He projects death as, indeed, a great leveler of things. He evokes, without
doubt a strident tone resonating with courage; bald-faced scent which calls to mind a Busrayne
inscription, Be Bold, be bold, and evermore be bold.** On his corner he knew he had a cutman of moral
resolution. His vocation he prepared him for his final moment on the earth of a beautiful truth. Alas,
such gracious unassuming nature is sure to prick those wolves deeming it their proper to luxuriate in
basic privileges denied others. A price of performing his political duty premised on principle, enjoying
pleasure of sharing his offerings with conscience, and putting into service his knowledge with character.
From a mantle inherited from Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), MLK (January 15 1929
April 1 1968), the truncheon passed on to fellow Nobel laureate, emeritus Archbishop Desmond Mpilo
Tutu (MLK). As always, a distinguishing feature of such men, could either have been their self-willed
disposition or an intervention of predestined from Creation. Goethe, in his Daimon pearly verse
Urworte.Orphisch, identifies something else not too dissimilar.
As on the day that gave you to this world

DMT pierces with clarity, Yes, the God Jesus came to proclaim was no neutral sitter on the fence.

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The sun stood in relation to the planets,
So from that moment forth and forth you throve
According to the law that ruled your birth.
So you must be, from selfhood theres no fleeing,
So Sibyls, prophets long ago declared;
And neither time nor any power can break it,
The living pattern latent in all growth.


DMT: The struggle against apartheid required men calibrate in moral fibre of steel which could stand up
to police tyranny and territorial severance. Societies under its yoke had to be men whose action could
only proceed from brazen qualities. Its organisation compelled from those bearing its brunt personalities
that could clutch the monster of racism on its armada while retaining a sense of humour from this
enormous task. DMT is one of these individuals whose words do make the man who realise the dreamas-action; a patriot to be certain. It is indication of his worth that he was labelled unfavourably by the
Nationalist establishment as public enemy number one. Who is he? Where do his roots lie and where
is his umbilical cord buried? The Arch as he is fondly called by friends and nemesis, was born in
Klerksdorp, South Africa, two years after MLK and the same year of legislation of the Statute of
Westminster of 1931 equalising dominion of the British Empire with her Commonwealth colonies.
Klerksdorp was founded in 1837 when settlers based their trek in Schoonspruit (Clean stream) flowing
through the town; furthermore, connected to Krugersdorp during the gold mining boom of the
nineteenth-century. He comes from a humble environ, he is an offspring of a schoolteacher and
domestic worker, unlike his cross-Atlantic-cousin, MLK, whose routes are traced to his middle-class
At the age of twelve he first made acquaintance of Rabbouni Father Trevor Huddleston, an Anglican
cleric in the Johannesburg Township of Sophiatown and an outspoken early critic of apartheid whose
grand execution took shape in 1948 orthopraxis tapping into every conceivable societal aspects the
1950 Population Registration Act grading people into three teleological streams on basis of implicit
physiology, social bearing, descent, and deportment. On matriculation from the Johannesburg Bantu
(sic) High School, he chose to follow in the footsteps of his father. He took a teachers diploma at the
Pretoria Bantu Normal College and studied for his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of South
Africa. He was a teacher at the Johannesburg Bantu High School for a year and then moved to
Munsieville High School, Krugersdorp for three years. In 1958, following the introduction of Bantu
Education, the Archbishop decided to enter a Ministry in the Church of the Province of Southern Africa
and became ordained at St. Peters Theological College, Rosettenville. He says it is by default that he
connected with the church. It is explained in the Business Day edition, The Tutu family worshipped at
St Pauls in Krugersdorp, a mission founded by the Community of Resurrection, to which Father
Huddleston belonged. When [apartheid architect] Hendrik Verwoed introduced Bantu education, Tutu
decided he could not be a collaborator in this nefarious scheme and resigned in 1955 (2006). We
learn also that he became a first black Dean of St. Marys Cathedral Johannesburg, in 1975, but shortly
thereafter was elected Bishop of Lesotho. By this time South Africa was in the wake of turmoil, following
epochal Soweto uprising of 1976 and opposition to four created homelands systems regulated through
mocking carte didentite passbook. It is at this stage DMT was persuaded to leave the Lesotho Diocese
to take up the post of General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). It was in
this position, a post he held from 1978-1985, that Tutu became a national and international figure in the
crusade against apartheid in whose racial institutionalisation is made out the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act
substituting as starting point African self-rule in reserved homelands, for a population of nine million
South Africans, with option for nominal independence. The SACC was committed to cause of
ecumenism fulfilling the social responsibility of the church. Justice and reconciliation featured
prominently among its priorities. He managed to pursue these goals with his trademark vitality while

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building up this institution into lifeblood of South African spiritual and political life. Notably, it is a
commendation to disposition of the Arch to insist on political action beyond plain preaching. A snapshot
inspection of what apartheid policy and implementation meant is appropriate. We register
disproportionate treatment of the two main social groups in 1978 from an uncredited source: blacks
number 19 million and whites 4.5 million, shared national income for blacks stands at less than 20 per
cent and for whites 75 per cent; doctor/population for blacks is 1/44,000 and whites 1/400; teacher/pupil
ratio for blacks is 1/60 and for whites is 1/22.
He harboured no ground for neutrality when deed was needed. The Reverend Leo Duze takes us back,
But prominent in all this raging war, is the sin of neutrality, failureto decide on whose side to fight. I
am broken and deeply sorry to have learnt that the members of the Church of Christ are not exempted
from this calamitous weakness. From the local church to the South African Council of Churches there
is a strong flow of this neutral blood (reference**). Most eminently, he once held:
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot
on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will appreciate your neutrality (ref**)

We therefore note of him an itinerant black preacher in religious service to political liberation of his
people. During this period, the 1970s-80s, described as a watershed in South African politics a lot of
events unfolded as to require a man a of fortified resolve. By the same token as MLK a principled
gentleman, DMT managed to carry over his congregation of unionists, youths, ordinary kinfolk to
awakenings in service disguised as political treatises. By savvy handle of pulpits potential, his
message was institutionalised in popular parlance. His expressive elocution in township rallies,
cathedral churches, and any old podium which could carry the weight of his words. In his spirited chant
of Word of God was an allegorical linkage with experience of everyday local life functioning as exigency
critique. Since well the Word from the Holy Text was as encroachable as a Fibonacci golden mean, to
both authorities using it to justify oppression and as a resistance instrument for the oppressed, DMT
straddle the median between the two to reach at truth. More pointedly, for the authorities using bible
reference to give explanation for racism, he would call upon praxis, as a good preacher would, to
subvert this unsustainable thinking. A metrical weight of the spoken line could then assume a commonsensical feeling as it applied to just and unjust laws of everyday life.
The verbal timbre would rise to the roof of a cathedral or in dusty sky of a township rally in supplication
to armies of his listeners. An instance where his homily reached cold fever pitch, was witnessed at the
funeral of slain founding father of Black Consciousness (geared to repeal galling chain of suppression
for black pride, self-reliance) leader, Steve Bantu Biko (1946-1977), in a dirge entitled Oh God, How
Long Can We On? in a location called Ginsburg, in the then-Bantustan homeland of Ciskei. His gaze
looking deadpan ahead, he invokes in his trope Jeremiad forewarning. I do want to issue a serious
warning, a warning I am distressed to have to makePlease, please for Gods sake listen to us while
there is just possibility of reasonably peaceful changelet us move away form the precipice (1994: *).
His historical clarity, from other geopolitical incident is made known; his imperial vision has seen a dark,
dark light ahead. It stems not from a hackneyed devotion to all who belong to South Africa. A caveat
memo he was to repeat on occasion of his winning the Nobel lecture. To a distinguished audience, he
took them back to where he came from. In his images, was seen a disconcord of sensibilities
spotlighting wretcheds of the earth reduced to sitting on soaking mattressesGods childrencalled
to pay for apartheid. An unacceptable price[in what is, otherwise] a beautiful land, richly
endowedwith radiant sunshine, golden sunshine.

Jiddu Krishnamurti: Truth is a pathless land. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any
creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique.
He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through understanding of the contents of his own mind, through
observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection, The First and Last Freedom,


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We too, like the disciples of Jesus, have been stunned by the death of another young man completely
committed to the pursuit of justice and righteousness of peace and reconciliation. A young man
completely committed to radical change in our beloved land. Even his worst enemies and detractors
knew him as a person of utmost integrity and principle (1994:19). We hear a voice driven to document a
plight with unbridled articulacy of what it deems truth of reality of its surroundings: surroundings
recalling originators of black preaching, first ordained Minister Tiyo Soga in the nineteenth century. It is
a time when the black preacher was an only conduit to a written word (on embossed ream of paper,
gross of pens and bottle of ink) first printed in the Gutenberg printing press; masquerading as
intermediaries between the illiterate (in western norms) black mass and missionaries, colonial state
officials and mercantile classes; delivering catechetical memorandums to those who have forgotten
what it is to love and give of oneself. A word on the minister, translator and hymn composer Soga:
Soga (1829-1871) is an out of the ordinary man of letters translated into his peoples own
understanding John Bunyans The Pilgrims Progress into Xhosa language and the Bible; designed in
1856 in the Scottish Presbyterianism Church. He is someone whose sense of purpose defines itself
through recreating missionary message for a local unbelieving audience and ministering to those
already converted o the Holy Text. It seeks to transgress and reify a space between heathen and
fundamentalism representation, poor and rich functional processes, rustic and urban settings and
positively on sights across-denominations. In a ceremony attended by well over 15,000 persons, he
ingratiates his assertion, When we heard the newswe were struck numb with disbeliefnumb with
grief and groan with anguish. Whence is starting place for this numbing grief? What rang in the halls of
the gathering? A thud of dislocance identifies a young struck down in the bloom of youth, a youthful
bloom that someone wanted to see blighted. His exclamation is moral in fervour. He flinches not in
alternating a death of a Son of Creation with that of Bantu. The scripture offer him force of resolve, the
Lord hath anointed me to preachunto the meek; he hath sent me up to the brokenheartedto give
unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness
(Isaiah 61: 1-4).
His earnest effusion of what kind of society we have gone through and what future is there is a
solidified cap on South African history and legend, a country whose geoclimate is said to resemble the
bay area of San Francisco. Speaking on a different occasion drawn from Historical Papers from Wits
University is captured his forthrightness in full glow, telling of what eventually happened with the
glasnost in which the Berlin wall of segregation came down, on February 02 1990, and witnessed
formation of the African Union plus the continental renascence.
Our aim is the ending of a vicious and evil system and the emergence of a more equitable dispensation, where
black and white will live harmoniously together, where colour will be the irrelevance it is. It will be a non-racial, just
and democratic South Africa. Wont that be wonderful - when the enormous resources being invested to defend
or oppose apartheid will be used for more creative enterprises. Then our land wont be the pariah amongst
nations, for we be able to be a launching pad to propel not only our subcontinent but indeed all of Africa into the
21 century. Isnt that an exhilarating prospect? And it is going to happen (1989).

It is his tribute to requirements of his time. Nonetheless, as democratic regimes were to find out later,
DMT has almost always availed himself to provide satirical medicine for convalescence of his peoples
turmoil. Nonetheless his sight could see far across the distance. His humility before his foresight was
such that it could also hold still at the moment and observe what has gone wrong. He humbled himself
before the evil system by choosing to note what it denied even when it was disaggregating justness,
innocence, justice and love. He minded not only what his audience asked to know, a comment on the
times where colour was relevance, but far more significantly, in the same breath, zeroed in on
exaltation of an equitable dispensation, where black and white will live harmoniously together. It is
example of inclusivity in simplicity of his paramount message. We note this Socratian dialectic of
inclusivity symbolised in an arsenal to activism of black preachers public role of a unifier. In an article in
the Christian Century, is attested, To understand the black preachers lofty status among their own


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people and how they nurtured authentic participation with the majority on matters of public interest, one
must understand how the black preacher has played the role of double agent or dual interpreter, easily
a Manichean dualism on familiar terms with both good and bad. Simply put, black preachers are
socially bilingual. Their ability to communicate across racial lines and the cultural expectation that they
do so has given them social and political clout disproportionate to their numbers (1989: 817). In
accomplishing this role, there is of course threat of not fully representing one social group, more so
where the skewed reward are concerned.
He could not stick to the written script of the Holy Text, the present, vicious as it was at the instance
had to reckon with the future. It is therefore an ordered and harmonious future we hear, but as well a
cogent organisation of faith in humanity as it applies to South Africas in the continent. We trace good
judgment with no mechanical sentimentality. Humanity, ineffably complex as it is, is cited not ex priori.
DMT is unambiguous, until blacks asserted their humanity and their personhood, there was not the
remotest chance for reconciliation (1994: *) It was thus his licence to decree in his sermons moral
authority, launched at loft of historical consciousness, but a liturgical instruction; Ciceronian sapientia
(or wisdom). An oratorical quartet of ancients, Saints Golden Mouth (Chrysostom), Ambrose,
Augustine and Hilary would have concurred with him. What is this historical consciousness? From the
proficient classicm of A Theology of Liberation, we surmise:
Historical praxis as[i]n the first place, charityas an act of trust, a going out of ones selfa relationship with
otherslove is the nourishment and the fullness of faith, the gift of ones self to the Other, and invariably to
others. This is the foundation of the praxisofactive presence in historyFinally, the rediscovery of the
eschatological dimension in theology has also led us to consolidate the central role of historical praxis. Indeed, if
human history is above all else an opening to the future, then it is a task, a political occupation, through which we
orient an open ourselves to the gift which gives history its transcendent meaning (1974: 06-08).

Gustavo Gutirrez, founder of liberation theology in South America, is on the mark in stressing historys
ultimate responsibility, which translates to, if human history is above all else an opening to the future.
It partly what DMT was engaged on at Ginsberg, when he addressed those gathered to pay homage to
organic intellectual, Biko. It was not simply to offer his resources, and those of the church institution, in
service of a fellow traveller in perilous voyage of liberation, but to calm waters, so to speak. He would
fulfill this role countlessly throughout the ensuing 70s and 80s decades. A death of Biko, certainly not a
cardboard martyr, was a measure of moral bankruptcy of the apartheid government, since, as DMT
affirmed in his Nobel lecture, it is a moral universe that we inhabit, and a good and right equity mater in
the universe of the God we worship. Earlier on in the sermon, Oh, Lord How Long Can We Go On?,
DMT drew a topical thought of convergence between Biko and the Lord Saviours predicament to show
the persecution of those who stand for justice-love is nothing an old chapter. The powers of
darknesshad done their worst. They had killed the Lord of life himself. But that death was not the
end. That death was the beginning of a glorious life, the resurrection life. That death was the death of
death itself forChrist lives for ever and ever (1994:19). And to be sure, this patterned regulation of
what is ever-living in parametres of integrity and unjust in malevolence of political structure, arrant lies,
wanton murder of righteousness fighters, is a core tenet of liberation theology. During deliverance of
this dirge sermon, DMT was saying to his flock of combatants, his reasoned anguished cry, was a
foundation they were laying for defeating an illogic of racism. They would emerge from there at hand to
carry out meaning flowing out of the Word-as-truth, this from a man who lives in service of God and of
his people. In there would be a shelter in the Creators embrace of protection. How would this be
accomplished? In synthesis by innovative input into the Holy Book to suffering and lot of the black
mass, is a consistent theme of vocal exclamatory for taking to task bondage to an evil arrangement that
had lasted more than 340 years. Once again, DMT in his Nobel address is on par in epitomising reason
for this suffering. We have the capacity to feed ourselves several times over, but we are daily haunted
by the spectacle of the gaunt dregs of humanity shuffling along in endless queues[even though we


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were] created so that we should form the human family, existing together because we were made for
one another.
To preach for these black gentle-men of the cloth was more than exegesis, not merely interpreting the
Book for their period. It obligated of them and their listeners to have emotional investment which could
be channeled appropriately to immediate action. It is this quality in them, celebrating African allegories
and metaphors, which rendered them folksy, like your regular old-time preacher whose endearment is
all-drawing. We take home with us from the article, The Activism of Interpretation: Black Pastors &
Public Life, The roots of black preachers prerogative and power are in the soils of African
religionThe African reality of a wholistic as opposed to a secular and a sacred life, the place of the
black church as sole as well as soul refuge during [apartheid and Jim Crow iron curtain] made the
preacher the symbolic head and heart of his people (1989: 817). The preacher is a transformer,
transcend appellation of just spiritual caregiver. Therefore, MLK and DMT (and martyred Bantu Biko)
would be exemplars of those black preachers who circumvent boundaries of race and its negative
corollary, an inferiority complex. The other oracle they would get out of, live through would be the one
metaphorically laid down on Mount Sinai; Khephra Burns phrases this lyrically in Essence magazine, to
the Arch could with adequate modicum be said in him has traditionally been the prophet of vindication
for the oppressed, and our most eloquent expressions of Blackpower. Rather than wait for
Armageddon[he has] led the Lords advance guard - the downtrodden and oppressed - into the
battle for freedom, justice and equality (1992). Finding their potency in an African force of being, is
conduit to a return to the source, as Amilcar Cabral writes, from Manning Marable, call for blacks
involved in anti-colonial activismto recognize the resilience and transformative power of indigenous
cultural forms and practicesTo appreciate the collective lessons learned, to consolidate and archive
our voices and aspirations, is to construct the living the living architecture of a peoples collective
memory. From that architecture, newer, more hopeful and creative visions of freedom may flow
(website source). This is a given, at least until deliverance of parousia when the doctrine is made real
with the second coming of the Son. Until this parousia or second arrival is with us, these analytically
predictive words from Rev Allan Boesak in Walking on Thorns setting down indictment of Christianity in
the face of its role in history remain with us.
We have justified slavery, violence and war; we have sanctified racism and split our churches on the issue of the
preservation of white supremacy. We have discrimination against women and kept them servile whilst we hid our
fear of them behind claims of masculinity and sanctimonious talk about Adam and Eve. We have grown rich and
fat and powerful through the exploitation of the poor, which we deplored but never really tried to stop. All in the
name of Jesus Christ and his gospel. Now this same gospel speaks to us, and we can no longer escape its
demands. It calls us to love and justice and obedience. We would like to fulfill that calling, but we do not want to
risk too much. The Reuben option. The Reuben option: Take a stand, but always cover yourself (1984: 38 italics

The intended cogency of this is unassailable. We should not deny ourselves this prime memory on the
Arch and his role during the liberation struggle, when leaders of major resistance movements, like the
African National Congress and Pan African Congress, were either incarcerated in island prisons, on the
run from hunt of apartheid huntsman, or silenced to torture and turned mute with fear, DMT, along with
Reverend Allan Boesak, ascended the platform to lead their populace out of the desert for they knew
deep in their conscience the Lord would not forsake. They may have altered at times, assailed as they
were on all fronts by the Nationalist huntsman and their fatal trickeries, denounced even through
electronic loudhailers, vilified in the print media, but they never lost track of their destination from arid
landscape of separation. More than anything else that could be said about DMT, he never had room to
bite his tongue since he came from within the community and have had the communitys trust.
Andhad the courage of moral conviction, the power of moral persuasion, and the inspired eloquence
of the Bibles proverbial tongues of fire to recommend them to the highest ranks of leadership among
their people (ibid.,).


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What carried along DMT and the marginaliseds constant faith in him during the turbulent decades of
inarguably a civil war, was moral uprightness of his words and life. He did not, could not then and now,
patch up for what is incongruous with his corpus for,
what is expedient, self-serving or in the budget. Above allconfirmed our faith, to paraphrase Dr. King, that the
arm of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice (ibid.,).

Then again, this is not to portray him and MLK for that matter, as angels who could do no wrong. Their
physiological fibre, made of flesh and blood, could be tainted as Len Felipe attest in A Liberation
Theology. As we say of the Supreme One, Christ I love you not because you descended from a Star
but because you revealed to me that man has blood, tears, anguish, keys, tools to open the doors
closed to light. Yes! You taught us that man is Goda poor God crucified like you and the one who is
at your left on Golgotha the bad thief is God too (1974).
Seminally, Mpilo Tutu as a response to the Creators call and taking forth mandate from Biko and his
Black Consciousness proclamations, therein strived in his might to awaken in the black person a sense
of his intrinsic value and worth as a child of God, not needing to apologize for his existential condition
as a black person (1994:19). Many moons ago, H.I.E Dhlomo (1903-1956) in South African Outlook
journal, stated: I have an unshaken belief in the possibilities of Bantu [folks] provided the
Bantuthemselves can learn to love their languages and use them as vehicles for thought, feeling and
will. After all, the belief, the resulting literature, is a demonstration of [a] people's self where the cry:
Ergo sum quod sum [I am what I am]. That is our pride in being black, and we cannot change creation
(African Drama and Poetry, July 1, 1939). However, what about attitudes towards fatality of ones
actions? Is worship, founded on faith in the Lord and moral virtue, a sum of will to self-sacrifice a life?
Both men argued as if acting in response to the long-serving mayor of Martinique and Fanons
Rabbouni, Aim Csaire in an undated Lettre Maurice Thorez, There are two ways of losing oneself:
through fragmentation in the particular or dilution in the universal. In such a precipitous spot, where
would be a succour be found? Oh God, where are you? Oh God, do you really care? How long can
we go on appealing for a move just ordering of society where all black and white count because we are
human persons, human persons created in your mage? (1994:17). Then again, perhaps is admission
of a stand on a black and white mandate proficient to remove cloud from a rainbow of full human
potential, cosmopolitanism of complete citizenship. In other words, his definition of a dialectical
relationship to his position as Archbishop and relation to toiling masses nominates his name to
echelons of unsnooty preachers. At the same time, we should not ignore his all-embracing principles,
whose seed is planted in this memorable service. We who today still advocate peaceful change and
still talk about reconciliation and justice are in great dangerFor whilst we speak of peace and
nonviolence we have the quite inexplicable action of the authoritiesNothing, not even the most
sophisticated weapon, not even the most brutally efficient police, no, just nothing will stop people once
they are determined to achieve their freedom and their right to humanness. For Gods sake let us move
away from the edge of the precipice. We may, all of us, black and white, crash headlong to destruction.
Oh God, help us! We cry for our beloved country which has been so wanton in wasting her precious
human resources (1994:20). The brutally efficient police he decries was a product of the 1953 Public
Safety and the Criminal Law Amendment Acts empowering autonomous use of states of emergency
outside purview of civilised laws. These laws were put into effect intermittently until 1989. His theology
for reconciliation and peace is guided by these venerable principles borrowed from Christianity and
Modern Politics.
Every person of every race in every nation is a sacred being, made in Gods image, entitled to full participation in
the shalom of Gods good creation to life and peace, health and freedom; Peacemaking is a sacred calling of
the gospelGod, making us evangelists of shalom peace that is overflowing with justiceGods gift of genuine
freedom to humanity includes the possibility of humanitys self-destruction; government is a natural institution of
human community in Gods creationgovernment must be an act of justice and must be measured by its impact


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on the poor, the weak, and the oppressed not only in our own nation but in all nation; loyalty to ones own
government is always subject to the transcendent loyalty that belongs to the Sovereign God; the Gospel
command to love enemies is more than a benevolent ideal, it is essential to our own well-being and to our survival
(1993: 366-67).

Significance following this homily was to turn and focus attention of the world on the South African
problem. To crown a simile image, we hear him orate wisdom as old the Kalahari expanse desert. He
never made any bones about the following, from faith in the constancy of change if all else fail, There
is no doubt whatsoever that freedom is coming. / Yes, it may be a costly struggle still. / The darkest
hour, they say, is before the dawn (ibid. 21). This folksy idealism found equal favour in North American
landscape. In identical peaks of biblical parables is an equivalent resonance to words coming from MKL
in his Eulogy for the Martyred Children. At times, life is hard, as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak
and painful moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of a river, life has its moments of drought and its
moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of the
summers and the piercing chill of its winters. But through it all, God walks with us. Never forget that
God is able to lift you from fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate
valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace (1986:117). Or else, is it a matter of sheer faith (rising and
scenting to divine revelation) to extract St Aquinas, scribbler of Summa contra Gentiles)? An indication
of what Gutirrez referred to in liberation theology as comprised of not only solidarity and reflection but
martyrdom? The scripture to a certain extent has long lead us in this. Now faith is being sure of what
we hope and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). The sacrifice in believing in ones
conviction is a substance of character, morality, knowledge-as-wisdom, but seminally, the boldness of
standing apart, privileging integrity of footing steps alone. A degree of limits DMT will go to be a oneman band apart is denoted by an epithet of shooting from the hip with his lip. Certainly he has no fear.
Where did his source out his wherewithal? He recently bolstered his wifes confidence in him, recently
in the Sunday Times Lifestyle supplement, If Im doing Gods work He should jolly well look after me!
(2006: 17). As he was fond of comforting his longstanding life-partner reassuring But he is not alone.
There is something about the severity of apartheid judgment which invariably birthed a leadership
impervious to threat of death. It is an annotation of its matchless harshness which inscribed in Biko his
attitude towards life and his own death. In an interview he gave prior to his terminal incarceration he
speaks unquiveringly. You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you
cant care anyway. And your method of death can itself be a politicizing thing. So you die in the riots.
For a hell of a lot of them, in fact, theres really nothing to lose almost literally, given the kind of
situations that they come from. So if you can overcome the personal fear for death, which is a highly
irrational thing, you know, then youre on the way (1978:153).
The Stoic Epictetus offered an adage personalised by leaders since the ancient period, Socrates to
Sartre, I cannot escape death, but cannot I escape the dread of it? in the same way, demand not that
events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and you will go on
well (1993: 114). A comprehensive inference to this avers towards a literary interpretation, memorable
described by Toni Morrison, Thank God for life and thank life for death (1992: 101). All the same,
there are other multiple voices calling for quintessence of recognising worth of our lives whilst living
with other mortals, rules of governance, ethics of conducting ourselves in private and public office, and
meaning of suffering. My theological positionGood laws make human society possible. When laws
are unjust, then Christian tradition teaches that they do not oblige obediencewe accept
wholeheartedly St. Pauls teaching in Roman 13 that we should submit ourselves to earthly rulers.
Their authority however is not absolute. They themselves also stand under Gods judgment as His
servants (1994:144148). It is not simply the ancient war of a mutual exclusivity of religion and state
laws. It is more basic, devotion to personal reference of individual gods-as-ancestors; trust in promises
of a Redeemer whose core reunites believers with Creation. In African Religion and Philosophy, John
Mbiti points out:


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Wherever the African is, there is his religionAfrican people do not know how to exist without
religionreligion is their whole system of being (1992: 2-3)
From MLKs and DMTs vocation and sermons are examples of, to cite Henry De Pne in Max
Havelaar, arguably, collection of excellencesno more than is strictly necessarysufficient, for
common happiness, knowledge, character, morality and humanity (1987: 1). The model of these
religious scholars (whose early brethrens were called doctores scholastici) and witty storytellers, is a
strongly objection to immorality of unjustness, on religious and political grounds since they denied what
every human being is endowed with. Like a considerate shepherd he is, DMT saw bounty where others
were goaded by greed; enough natural resources counting fertile lands, strategic metals as gold and
platinum. There are enough of the good things that came from Gods bounty there is enough for
everyone (1994: 85). Moreover, this bounty applied to human relations. To keep watch over these
relations was an impossible misuse of ethos of self-preservation, since it was incongruous to do
encroach on inalienable rights. Power as an exercise in limitation and consent is an uninclusive
paradox. The rewards and penalties do not take into cognisance what nature deemed unbounded.
Entrenchment of hegemony whose modus operandi is nothing else but an implementation of denied
human rights is bound to cause resistance, sabotage, and tension MLK talked about. In the South
African prism legislation, using clout of Christian doctrine was accordingly drawed on to foster racial
purity. Two persons who have fallen in love are prevented by race, reflecting and distorting, from
consummating their love in the marriage bond. Something beautiful is made to be sordid and ugly. The
Immorality Act decrees that fornication and adultery are illegal if they happen between a white and one
of another race. The police are reduced to the level of peeping toms to catch couples redhanded
(1994: 89). This politicisation of women and mens bodies plus feelings in a name of racial
wholesomeness is skillfully rendered ridiculous by Lewis Nkosi in a thesis titled Sex and the Law in
South Africa.
A country perpetually on heat, but with no immediate prospects of relief. A country with enormous potential but a
country at war with itself, self destroying; wanting to be joyful, eager for ecstasy but trammeled by the need to
keep up its myth of racial purity and to uphold its lifedenying Calvinistic morals. This then is South Africa

As already postulated, DMTs refusal to remain detached from socio-political involvement is obedience
of imperatives of the gospel speaking out against misuse of power over unprotected folks while sparing
no effort to say what he means. It is his lifelong ethos not to do otherwise. We find restoration behind
his centrifugal force. His utilitarian ticket is cashed in just when justice is action. Like the
transcendentalism philosopher, Waldo Emerson cogently restates in his Essays and Lectures when
probing the DNA of great men,
He has a probity, a native reverence for justice and honor, and a humanity which makes him tender for the
superstitions of the people. Add to this, he believes that prophesy, and the high insight, are from a wisdom of
which man is not a master (1983: 643).

In this regards, it is reasonable to say a major aspect of Christian belief is found in the emblematic
importance given to the word freedom. Throughout history freedom has found a deep religious

Jiddu Krishnamurti says, the pursuit of authority only breeds fear. In The First and Last Freedom,
HarperCollins, p. 75.

There are words like Freedom / Sweet and wonderful to say. / On my heartstrings freedom sings / All day
everyday. / There are words like Liberty / That almost make me cry. If you had known what I know / You would

know why. Refugee in America, in Selected Poems of Langston Hughes. New York: Knopf, 1969, p.


Page 17 of 18
reverberation in the lives and hopes of those marginalised by power used for damaging ends.
Depending upon the time and context, repercussion of fights for freedom are derivative from faith
searching for liberation, that is, fides quarens liberationem. During slavery it meant release from
bondage; after emancipation it meant the right to be educated, to gain opportunity to be employed, and
to move about freely from place to place. In the twentieth century freedom meant social, political and
economic justice. From the very beginning of the human experience, one criteria connoting freedom
has constantly been sovereignty which might not compromise ones responsibility to a Creator. A notion
has persisted that if God calls your discipleship, God calls you to freedom and that God wants you to be
free because God made you for Himself and His image. How can it be different in bondage as it should
be in freedom? Although generations of missionary zealots and exhorters developed self-benefiting
complex arguments aimed at avoiding so obvious a conclusion, it was a dictum securely anchored in
the humankinds faith and indelibly engraved on his psyche. A wellknown black spiritual, in a blues
refrain key affirms that:
Before Ill be a slave
Ill be buried in my grave
and go home to my father
and be free

For liberalism freedom has bolstered the value of individualism; to be free to pursue ones destiny
without political or state interference or restraint. For African-centred gnosis freedom is communal in
nature. In Africa the destiny of the individual is linked to an intensely interconnected security system.
Hence, the communal sense of freedom has an internal African rootage curiously reinforced by hostile
social convention imposed from outside as a caste oganisational network***.
Hopefully, our celebration in carnival of democracy can remember restoration accruing from usefulness
of sincere testimony. Soon-to-be bestowed a laurel of national poet, Wally Serote, has apposite lexis in
a verse quoted from Gordimers Writing and Being (1995: 41).
What can we do for this world?
Which we share and shape
Whose corners you can touch if you stretch your arms
Whose roof you can reach if you stand up
Was and is
We make and have made it
Because all of us die from what we all have eaten and have done

By all means, man, even man (sic) of action, is a measure of things. What things, only of good and
evil, just and unjust laws, or secular and divine trials? We mention those distilled personages who are
sticklers for morality and setting great store by that morality; beholden beings to their scruples. In an
era of demand for global citizenship, it is seen the importance of universal brotherhood and universal
justice. From this arises a reexamination of the role of politics. Power put into effect, with integrity
certitude behind it, is homage to morality. Rights of all stakeholders in society should be protected even
if they challenge state sovereignty as the greatest sacrifice to the organic proviso that human rights

In the African communal group, ties of family and blood, of mother and child, of group relationship, made the
group leadership strong, even if not always toward the highest culture. In the case ofAmerican Negroes, there
are sources of strength in common memories of suffering in the past; in present threats of degradation and
extinction; in common ambitions and ideals; in emulation and the determination to prove ability and desert. Here
in subtle but real ways the communalism of the African clan can be transferred to the Negro American group,
implemented by higher ideals of human accomplishment through the education and culture which have arisen and
may further arise through contact of black folk with the modern world, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Dusk of Dawn: An
Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race. New York: Schocken, 1968, p. 219.


Page 18 of 18
outweigh state law. Insurance of this falls in ambit of universal suffrage and ultimate responsibility of
those in power to the electorate: equality and fraternity. Honourable belief is therefore tied to action or
orthopraxis. This praxis bounding life and thought into material gain, is not simply dialectic. In an
interview with Bishop Tshibangu of East Africa, Valentin Mudimbe (1988) alters us to the words of his
honourship. To date the question of African theology is largely one of principle. Existentially concrete
problems are perceived and felt specifically by African Christian communitieslife and doctrine
condition one another and act one upon the other (1988: 172). Understood differently, it articulates this
notion. In Africa the destiny of an individual is linked to a communal sense as a sanctuary arrangement.
For Amricain blacks, has been netted treatment seeing them seldom as individuals but
representatives of their pithy race. For this reason, a communal sense of freedom-liberty has African
routes curiously reinforced by hostile social convention. The cry of MLK, free at last, free at last, and
DMT, Oh, God How Long come back to an appreciative link with ways black folk have with a Creator
whose conception of freedom matches their own.
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