Jesus Christ Must Have Had Mud on His Shoes

Despite my views on religion, I found this incredibly moving. It’s a message from members of the Abahlali baseMjondolo shackdwellers movement in South Africa, appealing to friends in the Church to support the shackdwellers in their upcoming trial – and you can find out more about that, and how to pitch in to the legal fund for that trial here. If you missed S’bu Zikode’s US tour, in which he explained the broader shackdweller’s struggle, you can watch him here and here. But the letter below doesn’t really need an introduction.

A Letter to our Comrades in the Clergy

We greet you all in the name of Jesus Christ.

When we are evicted, beaten, arrested, attacked and slandered we always remember that God chose a poor man, a humble carpenter, a man with the rough hands of worker, to bring his message of salvation into the world. Jesus Christ must have had mud on his shoes.

Sometimes all the powers in this world seem determined to work together to deny our equal humanity and to keep us silent and locked into in the darkness and degradation of our suffering. But the fact that God chose a poor man to bring his good news to humanity always reminds us that our equal humanity is a fact that cannot be denied. If God recognises the humanity of the poor then no man or woman has a right to deny it.

We want to thank all of you for standing by us as the organised poor in difficult times. We know that some of you have been attacked, as some academics have been attacked, for taking a side with the organised poor. You have always struggled with us and not for us. You have always understood that we have to begin our struggle by recognising the equality and dignity of everyone. We embrace your courage and we recognise you as real comrades in the struggle to humanise this world.

The attack on our movement last year was not just an attack on our movement. It was an attack on our democracy. Very few people recognised this but the progressive church leaders did. You stood with us and showed us a living solidarity. We appreciate it deeply and we affirm that we will stand with you when ever you require our support, be it personal or political. We took courage from your support and your support really helped us to get a fairer hearing in the eyes of the media and wider society.

There are many people who can only see the poor as dirty, dishonest, criminal, short-minded, ignorant and violent. When ever we organise and mobilise there are many people who can only see us as people who be being used by someone else and as people who are a threat to society. We constantly face all these stereotypes and prejudices. But with you standing with us many people’s minds are opened and we have a better chance of being recognised as human beings, human beings who are poor. We don’t ask for any special treatment. We just ask to be recognised and treated as human beings – human beings that can think and speak for ourselves like any other human beings.

The attack has done serious damage to our movement. Many of our members are still struggling to repair their broken lives. We have had to spend so much time on dealing with the crisis that we have not had enough time to keep developing our unity and to keep discussing the deeper meaning of Abahlalism. As evictions have pushed more people into our movement this has led to some real challenges. Our movement is facing a difficult time. We need solidarity now more than ever.

As many of you will know the Kennedy 12 return to court on Monday. As you all know the legal process following the arrest has never been fair. Many of you have witnessed the intimidation and the biasness that we have faced. Many of you stood with us while we were publicly threatened with death. We have had real difficulties in securing legal representation. We have not been able to prepare as we would have liked. We know that at least one of the witnesses against the Kennedy 12 has been threatened with death if she refuses to testify. We take this as a sign that the prosecution has prepared very carefully.

We would deeply appreciate it if as many of you as is possible can accompany us to court next week, especially on Monday. Your presence will give us strength; it will help us to get a fairer hearing and it might also pressure the state into not interfering with the legal processes any more than they already have. We don’t count to their eyes. But you do count to their eyes.

All we are asking from the court next week is that the accused be given a fair trial.

But we continue to argue that it is unacceptable that no one has been arrested for the attack on us. More than 30 families lost their homes, more than a thousand of us had to flee their community, many of us were injured. Some of us almost died. Our office was taken over. Our movement was banned from the settlement and an unelected structure imposed from above by the ANC and our members that remained in the settlement were subject to extreme intimidation. This is all being treated as if it was not a crime.

We also continue to argue that that a full and independent inquiry into the attack is necessary. We also appreciate your support with this demand.

We hope that when this trial is over we can meet and have a full discussion on the theology of equality and liberation. We feel sometimes like the world is closing in on us and all of who stand for the dignity and equality of every human being need to be together, to think together and to struggle together. We need to find ways to affirm that God intended this world to be a common treasury for all of us. We need to find ways to affirm that God is on the side of the poor. We need to find ways to affirm that God loves justice.

For more information please don’t hesitate to call us.

Ms Zodwa Nsibande
082 830 2707

Ms Bandile Mdlalose
031 304 6420
074 730 8120

6 Replies to “Jesus Christ Must Have Had Mud on His Shoes”

  1. For a moment, I really believed this to be a real letter from real brothers and sisters in Christ.
    I must admit it would have really surprised me to find something other than New Age ideas in disguise here, even in christian disguise.

    The first and main thing I stumbled upon was the description of Jesus as “a poor man, a humble carpenter, a man with the rough hands of a worker, to bring his message of salvation into the world”.
    Sorry, but I’ve never heard Christians talk in such a way of their Lord, of the almighty God who became flesh in Jesus Christ – and still kept on being God – to bring salvation (and not only the message of it) to the world.
    Under closer scrutiny this description fits Maitreya much better than Jesus (could be a coincidence, of course).
    The whole thing wouldn’t concern me anyway if it wouldn’t hit the centre of Christian faith, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The stakes are too high; it’s about souls being saved or lost. That’s why I just can’t keep silent.

    Another sentence from the letter I found remarkable was:
    “We recognise you as real comrades in the struggle to humanise this world.”
    These words don’t only sound New Age-like (“humanise the world”) but are also reminescent of communism-like speech (“comrades”). It almost sounds like a code message to me.
    Of course, the whole bible is full of proof that God’s heart beats strongly for the weak. Jesus clearly took side with the ones who had no voice and no rights, who were pushed to the edge of society. He demands the same from His followers. So it’s especially a Christian duty to take responsibility for others and the environment (not to “save the world”! Jesus has already saved the world if humanity only accepts).
    The point is that without God’s help we can’t manage it. It’s simply not possible to create a world of peace and love without God – for all good things come from God.
    For a long time I thought I could be a good person on my own. By now I have come to believe that I can’t, unless God lives in me. (And by saying “God” I don’t mean some kind of esoteric-humanistic divine core in me – for that doesn’t exist – but the risen Jesus Christ.)
    So, practiced love doesn’t exclude the aspect of a saviour. In fact, it can’t be done without Him.

    I pray for the idealists who mean well, having no idea of the real purpose of the goodwill movement (preparing the world for the anti-christ). I pray for them to receive Jesus as their personal saviour, and then get changed at heart by His love and power. And for the ones who mean evil I pray the same thing.

    Again, I don’t want to offend anyone. Jesus Himself says He is the only way to God. Every man has his free will, and so it’s your own free decision to choose to believe in either God’s saving truth or in Satan’s ancient and deceptive lie that we all are gods.

    Jesus Christ says:
    “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
    The Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let him who hears say, Come! Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
    Rev 22:12-13.17 (NIV)

  2. As for the previous message I can only say that it is a solid proof of the difficult mission we have in front of us. People like Mr. Domroeschen are the ones who will make the transition to the new Aeon a nightmare. Due to their “infallible” misconceptions and their chuckle-headed dogmatism, any good willing initiative to stop this world away from this catastrophic juggernaut race is doomed to be captivated by their moralistic dictatorship. A striking paradox if we consider the fact that the globalized society of the free market is but an outcome of judeochristian soteriology.
    It is a hard fight this one between the future and the past, and we recognize that all you fundamentalists, all you of the patriarchal bravado are an almost invincible opponent. However, keep in mind that the rise of the new Millennarian Left is coming with the assurance of the predetermined… Your self-righteous standing has only few days to count. The Revolution of the Morning Star is imminent!

  3. To the Bilble quoting self righteous person above I would say: Easy to cheery pick from the Bible . Just let me remind you, Christ actually turned over the tables and banished the merchants from the synagogue and protected the prostitute and the tax collector!.
    How convenient for you! Just believe in Christ and then you can lie, steal, live in mansions, eat like there is no tomorrow while your fellow human being starve on the street and is beaten and kicked out of their shacks. I am sure that is exactly what Christ would have done! No wonder wise men like Mark Twain said”If Christ was alive today he definitely would not be a Christian. And Gandhi said “I love your Christ but have trouble with you so called Christians”

  4. I know. What a stinking mess was made up there at the top of the comments. Someone finding nothing but arrogant (and ignorant), self-righteous things to say about a simple letter from a group of perpetually harassed, attacked and legally marginalized shackdwellers. A plea to the local clergy for help in facing a corrupt and terrifying court system. A plea from people who have been stripped of the right to exist and live under plywood without plumbing or electricity, but find even this meager housing torn down after being chased away at the points of knives in the middle of the night.

    So you take issue with the struggle to humanize the world, do you, Dornroeschen? I suppose you sit well the idea of it becoming further dehumanized. Anything but that icky New Age stuff and these South-African shackdwellers writing letters to local clergymen in Communist code… Right? Jesus being, of course, a devout capitalist. And I suppose when changed by His love and power one becomes *less* of an idealist, and extends *less* goodwill to fellow men… Right?

    What a rambling, incoherent and totally uncalled-for mess. But I guess you couldn’t keep silent because we might lose our eternal soul in entertaining the idea that Jesus might have had dirty feet… Right?

    Pathetic.

  5. I send my deepest and warmest regards to all participants in this exchange. I would like to say that I will try to write with utmost respect for everyone participating. However, I must say that I am very sorry that Dornroeschen sees things in this light. It is so sad to think that we can get caught up in religious dogma to such an extent that we can’t seem to get right from wrong right. As I see it, the plain and simple fact here is that there are poor, suffering people in the world who very few are willing to stick up for and help out. That is all there is to it and no high and mighty, god-fearing, anti-christ sentinel attitude can ever justify in any way ignoring the plight of these people on the basis of allegedly using cryptic anti-christ symbolism and whatnot. The question seems to boil down to this: Is there an exclusive market to who is and who is not to be considered among God’s children? I think it is absolutely useless to quote citations from the Bible to try to counter attack arguments. It is clear and logical that all creatures great and small are part of “creation”, if you want to refer to it that way, and Jesus, I am sure, had the dirtiest feet of all after walking miles and miles to heal lepers, to bring comfort to those suffering and generally to help to relieve those in need. No one was or is forgotten by Jesus, Buddha, or whoever else walked or is walking on this planet in the name of love and compassion. It is sad to think that those who claim to be able to see the truth in these matters can’t see the suffering in other people’s eyes, can’t feel the tears that run down the cheeks of those who have nothing to eat, can’t or won’t question why we put up with the fact that our brothers and sisters continue to “live” in this way. In my humble opinion, it is like not being able to see the forest for the trees. I think there are many faiths, many paths, many roads to the Kingdom of God. If others don’t think so, well that is okay too. But, I certainly do stand behind the idea that it is high time to stop being suspicious of one another and to start finding what is the common denominator, namely, the consideration and respect for others, including (and especially) the poor. I can’t help but feel that by being so intently on the look -out for the “anti-christ”, one might miss the actual “christ” who might just be right in front of one, so to speak.

  6. I am surprised to hear Christian fundmentalist try to put down any good initiative in the name of religion. I think they have been brainwashed by their religion too much to think for themselves. They must learn to use their good common sense to realise the suffering of humanity and do their best to alleviate it. I am sure it would be consistent with the message of Christ to love all and genuinely care for humanity.

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