The Rebirth of Allan Boesak
The Ashley KrielLecture last night at the University of the
The lecture eventually turned out to be a scathing criticism of present politics in the country, that is to say, that of the present ANC government but also of what is going on in the ANC in terms of power struggles on the whole. What made the lecture so powerful was his position as UDF founder. He could in an authentic way, speak to the crowd on non-racialism and on the need to make the fate of the poor a matter that concerns all: in injury to one is an injury to all.
And the crowds were there. The Great Hall of the UWC was packed to capacity (beyond 2,500). One could see that many of those attending had been there when UDF was founded, many were no doubt graduates of UWC.
It was a powerful dialectic that was performed: the ideals of UDF which were lived out in the 1980s despite the oppressive regime were set against what is happening today. The UDF calling was to deal with all, all South Africans without exception, here in this
He hits out strongly against those who at this time openly state that the reality is “that
Along the same lines South Africans’ relation to their land remains an unsolved problem. Homelands as well as group areas have all disappeared from the statute books, but remain effectively in peoples’ lives, economically speaking but also socially. Boesak reveals the uneasy truth about us in
He further branded utter failures by the present government, the alarming levels of corruption, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the rapidly growing distrust in the democratic institutions, including the criminal justice system.
A few days earlier prominent leaders from the ANC youth league as well as COSATU, had said they were prepared “to kill for Zuma”. Boesak: “We have been stunned, amazed and devastated by the senseless talk of violence by some of the present leadership.” Such talk has no place in our democracy. It is furthermore “a cruel and thoughtless inversion of commitment”. Mandela’s call for democracy and freedom at the Rivonia trial in 1963 was contained in his preparedness to die for the people “if need be”, not the other way round.
The rhetorical elegance and aptness were there for all to hear. Boesak is a divinely gifted speaker. A sample of such elegance to end with:
“A promise deferred is a promise denied. A promise not fulfilled is a dream defiled. A promise reborn is a moment recreated.” And he ends off with the following exhortation: “We must say this, not to the politicians, not to the world, but to ourselves … all the people of
He could have dwelt more on the sore point of xenophobia, still rife in our country and largely unsolved. He could also have articulated the role of ‘the whites’ in the country, who necessarily must be part of the new
Be that as it may, this was a great evening. It was Boesak at his best and at his best as Boesak the politician; and make no mistake about it (as Beyers Naudé often used to say), after the speech a number of people in the audience asked him to come back home (to politics in some form).
I can only concur. What we need now is a person of the calibre of Allan Boesak in some form of political leadership. If the ANC cannot stomach such a free spirit there should be other ways by which he could play a constructive role for the nation.
Maybe this evening was a moment giving a promise of a politics of hope after all. It can be seen as if this promise was reborn. In that case, what we were witnesses to was nothing less than the rebirth of Allan Boesak, a man of the church, who would do extremely well would he take the step, again, into politics, for the sake of the nation and the world.
Hans S A Engdahl, 2008-07-31
 Ashley Kriel was an anti-apartheid activist who died at the hands of the police in Athlone, Cape Town as late as 1989.