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The significance of justice for true reconciliation on the land question in the present day South Africa

By Tshepo Lephakga


This study is an attempt to contribute to the discussion on theology and land restitution. The researcher approaches it from a theological background and acknowledges the many contributions on this subject in other fields. Since this is a theological contribution, this research has the Bible as its point of departure. Black people are deeply rooted in the land. Land dispossession destroyed the God-ordained and created bond between black people and their black selves. Land dispossession also had a terrible economic impact upon black people. As result of land dispossession Bantustans were established. These black areas were economically disadvantaged and black people were forced to live in impoverished conditions. Land, which was a primary source of life for black people, was brutally taken away from them. Consequently, black people were forced to leave the Bantustans in search for employment in “white” South Africa. Because of this, they were made slaves and labourers in the country of their birth. The Bantustans were not considered to be part of South Africa; hence black people were aliens in their ancestral motherland. The black communal economic system was destroyed as a result of land dispossession. (The black communal economic system refers to an economic system where everyone works the land and thus benefits economically from the land.) The results of this are still seen in present-day South Africa. The majority of black people are still living at the margins of society because in the past, they were made subservient and dependent on white people to survive economically. Since apartheid was a system that was sustained on cheap black labour, this dependency on the white economy was systemic and generational. It is for this very reason that we see the very disproportionate face of the economy today. In an attempt to arrest the imbalance, the restoration of land to black people is inevitable. It is only then that black people will be liberated from being overly dependent on white people for their 3 survival. Land dispossession also had a terrible impact upon the identity and “blackness” of black people; black people internalised oppression as a result of the apartheid system, which was affirmed by the Dutch Reformed Church as a God-ordained system. This system officially paved the way and was used as the vehicle for land dispossession in South Africa; it destroyed black people and it is therefore not by chance that black people have become the greatest consumers. The identity of black people is deeply rooted in their ancestral motherland and land dispossession had a brutal impact upon the blackness of black people. Black people, as a result of land dispossession, started to doubt their humanness. Land dispossession also had a dreadful impact upon the relationships of black people with themselves and the relationships between white people and black people. These relationships were immorally and officially damaged by the apartheid system, which was deeply structural. Thus, when dealing with the land question in South Africa, the fact that it is deeply structural should be kept in mind. The church is entrusted with the task of reconciling the damaged relationships in a transformational manner. This can only be done when black people and white people engage and embrace each other on an equal basis. But black people and white people in South Africa cannot be on an equal basis as long as structural divisions which still advantage some and disadvantage others are not dealt with in a transformational manner. Therefore the need for land restitution in South Africa is necessary today because it does not only relate to the issues of faith and identity, but it is also economic. The consequences of the dispossession of land in the past are still evident in present-day South Africa. Land dispossession has had a terrible impact upon the faith of black people, whose faith is strongly linked to land (place). Faith and belonging are interrelated. The restoration of land to black people is necessary to reconcile black people with their faith and consequently with themselves.Philosophy, Practical and Systematic TheologyD.Th. (Theological Ethics

Topics: Apartheid, Land dispossession, Faith, Identity, Blackness, Restitution, Reconciliation, Justice, Unity, Belhar confession, 305.800968, Reconciliation -- Religious aspects -- Christianity, Apartheid -- South Africa, Restitution -- South Africa, Social justice -- Political aspects -- South Africa
Year: 2012
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