I was a student teacher in 1989 when the apartheid-based, Christian Nationalist syllabus was still being taught across South Africa. Any mention of Nelson Mandela or the other leaders of the struggle against the heresy of racial segregation was strictly forbidden. I remember being castigated by a senior member of staff for discussing the country’s then liberation movements with one of my history classes.
After South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 the syllabus changed, becoming more inclusive in its nature. It was a joy to finally be able to teach and speak about the truth of our nation’s divided past and to celebrate the ordinary men and women who had done such extraordinary things to help usher in freedom. Most of us who taught history were imbued with a passion to deliver the new content. However, a few were more concerned with hanging onto the age that was dying than with being midwives for the age that was struggling to be born.
The same could be said about my journey as a school rugby coach. Three decades ago the game here had many players of colour but they were largely ignored by the provincial and national teams that remained largely white. It took a determined effort by people from all sectors of the rugby community to ensure that the game was ultimately opened up to all. This was a long and sometimes painful road as old prejudices were challenged and new styles of playing discovered. Once again nay-sayers attempted to hold onto a blinkered and narrow vision but the talent, wisdom and joyful exuberance of the first black Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi, proved that transformation bore wonderous fruit.
So it is with the Kingdom that we are all called to. All are invited; many respond without fear and with expressed delight; others cling onto old certainties and the comfort of the known.
We are not called to judge those who are yet to join us on the road, rather we are instructed to live with joy that draws the entirety of creation into a perfect united whole.