Johannesburg, South Africa
As Women’s Month draws to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on the events of the past month.
The month started with a national shutdown march, where women marched across the country against the rape and abuse of women and children. Many women responded, sending a strong message that women are concerned.
However, the suicide of rape victim Khensani Maseko a few days later demonstrated that it will require more than a march for things to change in our nation.
Khensani was buried on Women’s Day, the day when the official celebration of Women’s Month took place. While the celebrations continued as planned nationwide, Khensani’s family was in mourning.
At the same time, another family was having to come to terms with the fact that their son was a rapist, and that someone else’s child died because of his action. They had to start preparing themselves to see their son, a Rhodes University student, being sent to jail – their hopes for his life dashed.
The horror reports of violence against women didn’t stop with Khensani. We heard of more cases of rape of children and grandmothers, gruesome murders, and violent acts. A child was killed in Daveyton by necklacing — a horrific act of placing a tire over a person and setting it alight.
And there were many violent incidents that didn’t make it to the media. All of them happened after women had taken to the street to raise awareness of the plight of rape and abuse victims.
‘Death has crept through our windows’
The situation in our nation can be described by the words of Prophet Jeremiah when he said: “Death has crept in through our windows; and has entered our mansions. It has killed off the flower of our youth: Children no longer play in the streets, and young men no longer gather in the squares.” — Jeremiah 9: 21.
It was therefore not surprising when, during a prayer meeting, an intercessor shared that she received a word from the Lord that women of South Africa should come out of their complacency and begin to wail to the Lord for the lives of the children of this nation and ask themselves some questions.
If children truly are a blessing from God, how is it that they turn out at some point to become rapists, murderers, and drug addicts and we seem to be fine with this?
What happened to the values of Ubuntu – where we understood that it takes a village to raise a child?
When did we change into people who only look out for themselves and turn a blind eye to injustice, to lies and the pain of others around us?
This is the same position that the nation of Israel found itself in during the time of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 32:9-15). The women of the nation were complacent, they were at ease, well-dressed and living comfortable lives. They had a sense of safety and security despite the destruction that was looming over their nation. They could not discern the spiritual climate of their nation until the prophet warned them.
The story of Queen Esther is an example of a woman who was initially complacent when she learned her husband, the king, had approved a strategy that would have dire consequences for a people. She was a queen in a very comfortable and safe position and knew that speaking out had the potential to rattle her own comfort — until the words of Mordecai stirred her to action. She then fasted and called the people to fast for three days, and the Lord intervened and turned their fate around.
The truth is that there has been a lot of complacency from us as women in South Africa. We have turned a blind eye, and chosen not to rattle our homes when we knew our husbands or children were involved in crime. We have protected the rapists and vilified the victims – like we did in the case of the young woman Khwezi, who accused President Zuma of rape. It was women who were dancing and rejoicing at Zuma’s victory, and today we act surprised and outraged when we see that rape has increased.
Our country has become a hub for women from all over Africa to come and kill unborn babies because abortion is not permitted in their countries. Many countries still understand that this practice is an abomination to the Lord and that shedding innocent blood calls for vengeance which gives the spirit of violence and death more legal right to keep on taking innocent lives.
In our beautiful land, children as young as 12 are permitted to kill unborn babies without their parent’s knowledge – yet we do not allow them to vote until they reach 18. Somehow, we understand that they are too young to understand politics, yet consider them mature enough to abort — and sadly many have died in the process.
Abortion is not only allowed but it has become a big business – this can be seen by the number of adverts we see on every street corner.
The violence and trauma to families caused by young people who are hooked on drugs – whether its called "nyaope, tik or cocaine – is just too painful to watch. These are the very children we celebrated as gifts from the Lord when they were born, but today we shout that they must rot in jail. When did the blessing change into a curse?
Indeed, death has crept through our windows and has entered our mansions in the suburbs, our homes in the townships and villages, killing off the flower of our youth.
No one is safe anymore – this evil has affected both black and white, rich and poor alike. The case of Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pretorius is one example. While in the end, people rejoiced that the sentence Oscar received was just, the truth is that as a nation we ought to be mourning because we lost the lives of two young people whose potential was never fully realized.
This is a time to begin to wail to the Lord over our condition. There are times when we talk among ourselves about our problems. At times we go looking for help elsewhere. But I believe we have reached a crisis level that calls us to lift our eyes to the hills because that is the only place we will find help — in the Lord. (Psalm: 121).
While some may want to argue that we have already prayed, I believe there is a need for more prayer and specifically a need for the women to wail. When trouble loomed both prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah called the women to wail.
Perhaps Khensani’s funeral on August 9 was to help us to rethink how Women’s Day needs to be spent. Instead of us having celebrations, parties, and conferences, we as mothers and our daughters ought to come together to wail every year for the women and children who got raped, killed and abused in that year — until we see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will bring an end to this and bring healing to our land.
Isaiah urged the women to wail until the situation changed, so we too cannot afford to get weary, we ought to keep praying until …“ until at last the Spirit is poured out on us from heaven. Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops. Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.” — Isaiah 32:15 – 18.
About the Author
Rev. Linda Gobodo is the founder and leader of Vuka Africa Foundation which calls on Africans to rise up and take responsibility to rebuild the continent.