Pieter Bezuidenhout who is a chaplain of the SA National Defence Force in Bloemfontein is of the view that the only way to heal the wounds of the past, is for more whites need to go back to Soweto where it all started and join a reconciliation campaign prayer.
The Chaplain who belongs to the Apostolic Faith Mission, encouraged congregants to attend a special reconciliation campaign prayer event that will be hosted by three churches (The Dutch Reformed church, Hervormde church and the Apostolic Faith Mission) to commemorate the 1976 student uprisings.
Members of the three churches involved in the event are expected to attend a June 11 prayer event at Orlando Stadium in Soweto under the theme, “Sing a new song”, while the prayer will continue on June 16 at the Hector Petersen memorial.
“South Africans need to put the past behind without ignoring what happened in 1976. This year marks 40 years since the 1976 incident – and 40 years is a generation. So we are going to Soweto where it all started,” Bezuidenhout said on Wednesday.
He pointed out that they planned on preaching about reconciliation and the need to plan for a happy future to South Africans from June 11 until December 16.
“The memorial and the day symbolizes much pain, violence, division, hatred and the disruption of education,” he said.
“On the day, we will be talking about healing and hope. We will also confront the past and think about the future. What happened 40 years ago really has a psychological impact on black people and in order for us to reconcile, churches and communities need to communicate.”
He pointed out the importance of letting the pain go and helping each other heal so that the past will not rule the present. He used the recent protests and violence in some SA universities to site an example of how the wounds from the past has eaten deep inside South Africans.
“South Africans should put the past behind, acknowledge the pain (and) it shouldn’t define our identity. We must help each other heal. The issues that we have as a country are now rubbing off on our children, because they are all unresolved.
“What happened at the University of the Free State and the University of Pretoria this year proves that we need a change of heart and attitude,” he said.
During one of the protests at UFS, EFF protesters vandalized a statue of Charles Robberts Swart at the university.
Students also staged protests at the University of Pretoria, over its language policy.
“The country needs to transform, because everybody is still carrying pain and we know that it is not going to be solved by one event, but we need to start reconciling. We should confess our brokenness and our past and present mistakes in order to build a healthy future,” Bezuidenhout added.
The reconciliation campaign prayer is a move in the right direction which every citizen should endeavour to participate in for a better tomorrow.