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Does God Love Football?

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It is clear that we love football. I saw a statistic that over 1 billion people are watching the world cup. The record for tweets posted during the world cup was broken by over 10 million. The world almost comes to a standstill in this month. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to focus on any other sports. Many a birthday party or celebration was either cancelled or “merged” with watching a world cup game.  Football brought about emotional highs and lows that touched many hearts. When Netherlands lost in the semifinal against Argentina, the picture that sticks in my mind is of a boy sitting in his mother’s lap crying his eyes out. Arjen Robben went over and tried to console him. Whether that was his son, I cannot say. What is certain though is that this boy was distraught by the loss of his team and only the arms of his mother could comfort him, somewhat.

It’s clear that we love football. The question I think about sometimes is does God love football? I don’t believe God necessarily created football. I don’t get the picture of Him playing a one – two with Eve around the tree and then clinically finishing past Adam in goal.

God might not be passionate about football the way you and I are, but I do believe that He is passionate about you. The way we get excited about people, sport or things, God gets excited about us. I think God gets excited when we accomplish something we thought we couldn’t, whether that’s scoring a goal or passing an exam. He knows the potential within us so I get the picture of Him air punching when we do something that surprises us. I don’t think he is ever surprised though.

I almost hear God saying,

 

“Son, I always believed in you, I’m Glad you found belief in yourself”.

 

When we start to see ourselves the way God sees us, we have better picture of who we really are.

So, Does God love football? Yes and No

He loves and is passionate about you and because God loves you, and you love football, God loves football. If you loved chess, He would feel the same about that. God’s desire for our lives is that we will grow to love Him, and we will learn to know Him. God already knows everything about us. He loves us with a love that can’t be fully summed up in  words or thoughts.

The one thing He is waiting for, is for you to accept that love and enter into a relationship with Him…. So I guess now, the ball is in your court.

Soccer World Cup Update #2

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I know spain was knocked out two days ago but I still feel its worth
exploring their journey(all of two games) in the world cup.
Maybe its a good idea to backtrack to 86 games ago.
Their coach Del Bosque was in charge of the spanish squad for 86 games. They have a phenomenal
record with only losing 9 of those games.
They have dominated world football for over 4 years. Their style of
play, called “tika taka”, has been copied by many many teams, including
bayern munich who won the bundesliga by a mile.
Coming into the tournament, the football federation promised each
player an astounding 7.5 mil rand.
With all their amazing success and the monetary rewards not to mention
the reward of being crowned world champions a second time in a row, my
question is why  after going down 2-1 to netherlands, spain looked like
an average team who lacked so much confidence? It was as if, their was
a mental and emotional hurdle in most of the players that they were
unable to jump.
It was really sad to watch especially from a team that gave us and
football so much.
It could be argued that their players are ageing but the same could be
said about netherlands.
My conclusion and the question I would like to pose:

Are accolades and monetary rewards enough of a motivator to sustain and

carry you through the tough times of life? Are they able to equip you

when life gives you a knock, like spain experienced in this world cup?”

SOCCER WORLD CUP UPDATE #1

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There was a great excitment before the opening ceremony. Friends planning World cup parties. We had our own world cup party which added to the magic.
The ceremony was a bit dissappointing for us but the anticipation of the game kept us glued.
Good win for brazil with Neymar coming to the party under enormous pressure. It seemed as if the hopes of an entire nation was resting on him.
Oscar was my man of the match with Him putting in a consistent performance.
Croatia didn’t create much chances but they put in a disciplined team effort.

Brazil went down 1-0 in the first half!”

How do you think they reacted to this?

BLOG SERIES: Demystifying the Refugee (Part 2): The Increase of Refugees is still an African phenomenon

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A UN official says that every time you blink someone is displaced in the world. The United Nations Agency for Refugees official Tina Ghelli was confirming a new UN report that documents that 45.2 million people in the world were displaced by the end of last year.

The United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), Global Trends 2012, which estimated increase of 7.6 million people worldwide who are now “newly displaced” due to persecution and conflict.

REFUGEE part 2

Benjamin Moshatama spoke to Tina Ghelli about the report.

Tina Ghelli said that these new findings show that more people are now refugees than any other time since 1994.

According to a new report, Kenya hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa, while South Africa continues to have the most new individual asylum applications registered recently in the continent. Kenya ranked fourth in the world as part of the top ten countries that hosted the most number of refugees with 564,900 refugees, while South Africa ranks first in the registration of new asylum seekers, with 61,500 new asylum seekers registered in 2012 alone.

Ghelli said the individual asylum application increased, in 2012 compared to 2011, by over 100,000 new applications. However, Ghelli outlined that in Africa the situation is more complex because not every host country records application.

In our next blog, we will wrap up the series by looking at solutions for refugees such as repatriation, resettlement and local integration.

 

SERIES: Demystifying “the refugee”

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Refugees are aliens, sub-human and don’t have the same rights with those they live with, in the countries they flee to for asylum.

This false perception feeds xenophobia and intolerance for those who don’t understand the reasons why people are given the legal status of being called “refugees”.

In Africa’s current climate of civil wars, persecution and discrimination there are many individuals leaving their country of origin to seek refuge in other countries.

Now imagine being in a situation of war, famine or are being discriminated against and having to flee your place of birth. You are likely to flee without essential belongings, such as identification documents, maps or money.  This is the kind of desperate situation that most people leave their countries of refuge in another country.

To understand the status of refugee, we spoke to the Head of Office Patrick Kawina Male who is from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town, South Africa.

As we continue to speak to Mr Male, we unpack what it means to be a refugee and how we can demystify the stereotypes attached to the term.


Male said that earlier that seeking asylum is regarded as a human right. We expanded on this idea on the rights of refugees, using South Africa as an example.

For more info and news on refugees check out: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home

Exposing corruption

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Ben:

Corruption is invisible.  It is a backdoor activity. It’s a bank transaction. It’s that meeting that happens when the rest of the employees have left the building.

Although we don’t daily see corruption as it happens, it is visible in how it impacts all of us.  Political corruption can be witnessed when there is lack of service delivery. In business we see the effects of corruption when our economies are crippled.

It is no doubt that corruption is a moral issue that we all have to face. None of us are exempt. We all need to pay our taxes and traffic fines correctly. If you are an employer, the question of whether you employ an inexperienced relative or someone who is qualified for the job is a moral choice.

The dynamics of corruption range from nepotism to even buying a pirated DVD; so none of us are exempt from taking part in this moral question.

Recently, I attended the launch of a campaign launched by a non-governmental organization Micah Challenge that aims to tackle corruption titled Exposed. I had the opportunity to speak to various individuals who are passionate about curbing this problem in Africa and who were adamant that the church should pay a bigger role in exposing corruption.

Micah Challenge’s international director Joel Edwards says that the church has a moral mandate to challenge itself, business and government.  

“We have to ask practical questions about where our values come from. When our faith talks about honesty of the heart and how upright behaviour lifts up a nation then how do we begin to interpret that in our behaviour?” says Edwards.

So it is the responsibility of believers and responsible citizens to shine a light on corruption and to take the moral action to do so.

Below: Listen to the conversation with Joel Edwards on the campaign:

Xena:

When I think of corruption and particularly the EXPOSED campaign I often wonder if corruption should be the churches’ (church’s) responsibility?

During a discussion on this subject with the Reverend Moss Ndla, I started to question if corruption sometimes isn’t seen as corruption because it is an age old custom? In some countries it has always been a traditional way of doing things so it is difficult to single out and it is difficult to distinguish what counts as corruption and what does not.

 Particularly in areas where the normal order of things have been blurred. When you are living in an unjust society and when democracy is a luxury. Also, in countries riddled with dictatorship and war, bribery, secrecy and underground dealings are often the only way of fighting the system.

So what is the benchmark that we can look at to rectify our dealings? How do we identify the values we really should have?

I asked Rev. Moss Nthla this question and this was his answer:

‘For me it is a simple matter, I look at all corruption as a failure by those who are entrusted with power to hold it in stewardship and therefore they abuse it. It could be anyone from a priest… to a politician, a policeman or a man who is stronger than a woman and abuses their power

Corruption is whenever power is abused to serve self-interest…’

He goes on to say ‘Jesus showed us how to use power. Whenever you have power the best way to hold it is to serve’

Below: Listen to the conversation with Reverend Moss Nthla on the campaign:

To get involved and to find out more go to: http://www.facebook.com/Xposed2013 or go to http://www.exposed2013.com/ and sign the Global Call.

The election of Kenya’s new President Uhuru Kenyatta could be a problem

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Kenya’s new president has been announced; however this final result contains many surprises and contradictions. The man who has been appointed as president is Uhuru Kenyatta – the same man who been charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. The new president of Kenya has been accused of being involved in the violence that took place after the 2007 elections.

There are questions to ask in the playing out of events here. Despite the fact that Kenyatta hasn’t been found guilty for the ICC case, how does the population of Kenya trust a man who is accused of such an immense crime?There is more to this story though:  a recent headline states that the charges on Kenyatta’s co-accused have been dropped and this outcome could  impact the outcome of Kenyatta’s case. The plot thickens with the outgoing president Raila Odinga questioning the outcome of the results, claiming fraud. This drama is also layered with claims of attacks in parts of Kenya during the elections, some which led to the death of citizens. There are those who question the integrity of Kenyatta’s wealth inherited through his father, who was the country’s first president.  This inheritance makes the current president the richest man in the country.

The idea that the people of Kenya would trust a man who is still under investigation puzzles me. Surely as citizens we want a leader that we can put our confidence in?

Or is it the power that a leader may have that draws us as Africans to believe they can make our lives better? I can understand why the charisma of a rich man can be appealing to Africans; some may think that if he has made a success of himself he may be able to do the same for the rest of country.

Others may argue that the election of Kenyatta is a “positive” on the subject of the independence of Africa. There are those who have criticized the ICC for solely charging African leaders while there are leaders in other continents that have a bad track record regarding atrocities. Some will argue it is good that the population of Kenya was not influenced by a court that has been viewed by some as an institution that is aligned with “western interests”. In fact, some analysts have claimed that the charges were the very thing that assisted Kenyatta and his election campaign to strengthen his strategy and kept him in the news –   the showcasing of a man who needed to make a point of victory overWestern powers.

Aslong as Kenyatta’s case is pendingthe country willbe in a dilemma, as its future is dependent on the outcomes of the ICC case. What happens if the current president is found guilty? Will they hold another election or does Raila Odinga automatically reign as the runner up in elections? Such issues are contentious and this could be fertile ground for an uprising or a civil war. Even  a positive outcome still raises questions. Willa man who isknown for plundering the wealth of his country have the capacity to build the lives of ordinary citizens?

I guess only time will tell.

Lack of African leadership should awaken Ubuntu

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Africa has a history of courageous and inspirational leaders. We have a list of individuals who have exemplified the African spirit to overcome adversity, to champion the cause of humanity and to celebrate the importance of community.

We have leaders from Patrice Lumumba, who was a crucial leader in the independence of the Republic of Congo, to Steve Biko, whose voice asserted the importance of affirming self identity in order to overcome evil.  We have seen the likes of Nelson Mandela, Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Krumah and even modern leaders such as Thabo Mbeki who have embarked on the path of shaping a progressive future for the continent.

It is unfortunate that in modern times, when Africa has so many possibilities, I still hear complaints about how the continent has a lack of leadership and that there is a void in direction and vision in the continent.  In the 21st century we may have overcome the injustices of colonialism and slavery but we still face the obstacles of unstable or corrupt governments, civil war and human rights violations.

Recently the Prime Minister of Tunisia, Hamadi Jebali, resigned after he failed to appoint a new government, resulting in political stability in the country. In the same region, Egypt suffers with similar political turmoil, as protesters continue to gather at Tahrir Square and protest domestic issues relating to government leadership.

Another government which seems to have lost its favour in the public is that of Zimbabwe. One of the many things that have discredited the country’s President Robert Mugabe is that past elections have been marred with irregularities and human rights violations. We could face many other pending cases of non-progressive leadership in Africa, from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Nigeria, Sudan and even ‘progressive’ countries such as Nigeria and South Africa.

However, as much as we might list the problems of Africa, that’s not a solution. The path to an answer lies in the citizens themselves.

The Arab Spring has been an unfortunate example of how the power of citizenship is more important today than it has ever been before.  Especially with the case of Egypt, we saw an uprising against autocracy and witnessed the fact that citizens are the most powerful force of any society.

In South Africa, we witness this even more through the strong media presence that holds government accountable through vigorous journalism. They constantly check in with President Jacob Zuma’s government to ensure that it is accountable to its citizens scrutinizing its financial integrity and transparent governance.

Citizenship is not just about voting but it’s about being involved in our society to hold those in power accountable. For those of us who live in the mothership called Africa we have an innate awareness of the concept of “ubuntu”, translated as “humanity”. Ubuntu simply upholds the value of the collective and the power of community.

This is how Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts it: “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.”

Leadership starts with you. Whether you are a nurse, a doctor, lawyer, a mother, a son or daughter, you have a responsibility to the community you find yourself in. The biggest challenges in our society can be diminished through the simple realization of the individual’s impact on a community. The future in our nations lies in the power of the collective. It means that leadership starts from community level.

The ubuntu philosophy reminds us of the importance of the realization that individuals do not live in a vacuum but that we are members of a society that is challenged to reach out to others. Ubuntu invites you to be the leader of your own conscience and to awaken your senses to care and share with others. It means that you are not a voice for your own interests but you can raise your plight for the sake of others.

Gone are the days when we wait hopefully for a super hero to rescue us. It’s time to look around us and within ourselves to realize that most of the answers to our hardships lie right here in our own communities.

Desmond Tutu sums it up beautifully:

 

Africa, you ARE beautiful

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I have been faithfully watching this year’s biggest sporting spectacle hosted in Africa; the Africa Cup of Nations. The soccer event has been a sensation in both colour and drama, and I cannot help but highlight the new talent that has been unveiled during the games.

What has been surprising for me is that during the reporting of the event little has been shown that reflects Africa as the “dark continent”.  Instead, we have seen a positive perspective and a bright reflection of the continent.

We have seen  sixteen African nations sharing a platform on which various soccer players have displayed their talent.  More than that, we have seen the spectators in their regalia and masked faces raising their voices ceremoniously in African dance and song.

I can only imagine what it was like sitting in a stadium, hearing the many people from different parts of this earthy, unpretentious and brightly coloured continent, jubilant in their support for their home teams. Just watching the scene on my television set and seeing the various national anthems being sung, I was so moved and was only left in awe of the beauty of Africa’s human spirit.

It is amazing to see the participation of countries such as Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Cape Verde and others, some of which still face political turmoil and social challenges. However, we see the players on the field wholeheartedly representing their countries with so much passion and drive, hoping to take home the trophy.

South Africa has been a brilliant host and has once again proved that the continent, which is so often portrayed as backward, regressive and “struggling” can maintain an international standard, in terms of organizing a huge event that showcases the talents of the continent.

Seeing the current success of AFCON, there is so much we can marvel at instead of focusing on the poverty, suppressive governments and conflict. There is a powerful spirit of endurance and a diversity that makes us more unique than any other continent in the world.

At AFCON we see Africans from different cultures, religions and countries coming together under the banner of sport and celebration. We are able to see, through the various ceremonial dresses amongst the spectators, that we are a continent full of creativity, imagination and originality. We see that Africans have the ability to make ‘it’ happen and we can coordinate an event to show the world how to ‘pull off’ a world class show.

At the end, we should be more convinced than ever that Africa, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

Adele’s Skyfall could offer tips to start the New Year

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To start off the New Year Benjamin Moshatama learns a thing or two from the Golden Globe prize winning song by Adele. 

Adele seems to have a recipe for success that most of us are not using. Once again, she has scooped another award, winning the Golden Globe for Best Song for the James Bond theme Skyfall.

So, not that I am a fan of the James Bond 007 franchise as I have always found it hideous and the plot too repetitive but I have to admit that I  actually like Adele’s music. Forget the fact that if you listen to her latest album too many times it may make you feel a bit low but the truth is this girl is seriously talented.

Well, thinking about it, Skyfall seems like an appropriate theme song to begin the year with. No, not because it is attached to a violent and popular movie but because it has some powerful lyrics to consider as we begin the New Year.

Usually, when the New Year begins, conventional wisdom states that we should re-evaluate the previous year in order to “improve” ourselves and there is an expectation to do “better” than the year before. I don’t know about you, but all this new resolution stuff overwhelms and scares me. It’s as if there is always an expectation for us to be “better” and there is never a point of contentment with who we are. This scares me.

Well, as I mentioned in the beginning of the year I relate with Adele’s Skyfall. Adele starts the song in her usual dramatic style, with a minimalistic piano in the backdrop. The dismal introduction of the track expresses for me how it feels to come to the end of the New Year dreading the bore of the new expectations, resolutions and the changes that will impose themselves on us in the coming year.

“This is the end? Hold your breath and count to ten/ Feel the earth move and then/Hear my heart burst again/ For this is the end/ I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment/ So overdue I owe them/ Swept away, I’m stolen

This first verse could also be that bloated feeling you get when you look back on the year and see the failures of 2012 and wonder if you could ever have a chance to recover be where you know you are supposed to be in 2013. Sometimes it’s really tough to look back at the time lost in the year where you may have not accomplished all your dreams. Some of us in the last year have lost friends, family members and have dismally failed in the attempt to fulfill the dreams that we thought we could capture in our careers, relationships and spirituality.

With all that said let’s move on to the second verse, which seems to have an element of hope.

Skyfall is where we start /A thousand miles and poles apart where worlds collide and days are dark/ You may have my number, you can take my name/ But you’ll never have my heart/

Every year, conventional wisdom teaches us somehow to start from the failures of the previous one, as Adele puts it “Skyfall is where we start/ A thousand miles apart/where worlds collide and days are dark”. Each year we have to reconcile ourselves with our dark days and find a way to get out of the atmosphere of discouragement and being downcast.  As dismal as things may seem in Skyfall’s second verse, it contains a light, hopefulness and a positive note:  “You may have my number, you can take my name/ But you’ll never have my heart.” The sentiment for me in this line is a brave one and one that we all need to adopt. You and I may have been hurt by some people and may have been torn to pieces by hard situations but we should never give our hearts and emotions to the things that seem to have defeated us over and over again. We should never let life take us over. We should never let dismay and the reality of disappointment stop us from believing.

Let the sky fall when it crumbles we will stand tall/ Face it all together/At skyfall/ that skyfall

The chorus of Skyfall is hopeful. Look, we are going to face challenges in this New Year. No matter how hard we close our eyes when we pray, there are things that are still going to come our way in this New Year that are going to try to hurt us and lead us astray from our hope and faith but we should never allow ourselves to be like the wind and to be blown to the wayward direction.

I have been blessed by a beautiful sentence in the Bible. Jeremiah 1:5 documents a wonderful God-statement:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations”

I take solace in the simplicity of this God-breathed reality; that God knows me. I may make plans and make efforts to measure up to some expectation but I am grateful that my identity in this New Year is defined by God’s knowledge of me. It is fantastic that though we may experience hard times (or the Skyfall) or good times there is a God who knows the days ahead of us in spite of today’s outcome. We have a God who knew us even before we experienced a day, a sec or a heartbeat.

Now let’s read the bridge of Skyfall as if it is directed to Jesus: Where you go I go/ What you see I see/ I know I’d never be me/ Without the security of your loving arms keeping me from harm/ Put your hand in my hand and we’ll stand

With that being said, let’s trust God this year and put our hope in him. At least at the end of it, with all our failures and victories, suggested we can hold onto one thing with certainty – that in the midst of it all. that in the midst of it all, we are standing with Him by our side. Forget the Skyfall when you are standing with Him.

Adele’s Skyfall

 

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