Getting Christmas all wrong in a new society

I walk through a festive Berlin, enjoying the sights and smells of the German Christmas spirit. The ornate Christmas lights in the trees, lining Unter den Linden and other avenues. Understated, stylish and no bling.

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Brandenburger Gate in Berlin © Anli Serfontein 2019

There is a sweet smell of spices in glühwein and in the traditional Lebküchen (German Christmas cakes) at homely stands all over the city. A warm, cosy ambience engulfs us, on what would otherwise be cold days and long, dark nights.


30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: how Berlin change impacted on southern Africa

November has been a month of remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I spent much of the autumn in Berlin listening and speaking to eye-witnesses. Here I look back comparing change in my two countries.

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At the Brandenburger Gate — celebrating 30 Years Fall of the Wall with messages from all over the world ©Anli Serfontein, 2019

30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall

I was sleeping in Namibia when the Berlin Wall fell on the night of 9 November, 1989. I was there to cover the historic first free and fair elections in that country.

Namibia’s election was a big story coming after years of strife and deadlock and involving the UN, their Peace Keeping Force which guarded the truce and the international community. In that year it felt as if everyone who was anyone on the world’s stage would drop by there. …


No other date tells the history of twentieth-century Germany as poignantly as November 9. No other date is so laden with the burdens of the history of this country. And no other date symbolizes so strongly irreversible changes about to become reality. On two occasions in 1918 and 1988, they were joyful occasions when political systems ended and there were new beginnings. In 1938 it was the long night into the despair of what became the Shoah.

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The Brandenburger Gate in Berlin. Once the symbol for division between East and West Berlin. © Anli Serfontein

The End of World War One

On November 9, 1918 upheaval and an anti-government revolution with a strong anti-war sentiment reached Berlin. It forced the German Kaiser Wilhelm the Second to abdicate and go into exile in The Netherlands. For Germany, the First World War thus ended and two days later the end of World War One became official on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. …


The day an apartheid ‘Christian government’ turned on an ecumenical organization

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Beyers Naudé © SACC

October 19, 1977 or Black Wednesday, marks one of the lowest days under apartheid when 18 Black Consciousness organizations and the ecumenical Christian Institute were banned and no longer allowed to operate. Many Black Consciousness officials were detained on that day and with the death of its leader Steve Biko in detention a month earlier, on September 12, 1977, the Black Consciousness movement never really recovered from this mortal blow.

Press Freedom curtailed

In raids that started early in the morning, two black newspapers were closed and The World and Weekend World editor Percy Quboza was detained along with scores of other black journalists without charges. …


Sea-Watch 4 set sail in Mediterranean

The additional refugee sea rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 initiated by the German Protestant churches umbrella body EKD with the “United4Rescue” alliance has set off on its first mission in the Mediterranean after a year of preparations.

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Sea-Watch 4 on a test sail off the coast of Spain in July 2020 © United4Rescue, Chris Grodotzki

The ship, financed by donations led by German Protestant churches, left the Spanish port of Burriana on Saturday August 15, 2020 and is on its way to the search and rescue zone off the coast of Libya.

The chairperson of the EKD (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland), the umbrella body of the German Protestant churches Lutheran bishop Dr. …


World church bodies in solidarity with Zimbabwean churches

International church organisations on Monday rallied to show solidarity with churches in Zimbabwe under attack from the government.

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Zimbabwean bishops © ZCBC

The Lutheran World Federation, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the World Methodist Council sent a message of solidarity of their “yearning for the realization of their human rights, for justice and for physical and economic security” in an open pastoral letter to the churches and people of Zimbabwe on August 17.

They condemned the use of violence against those protesting the “failure of governance structures” to protect the Zimbabwe people from “deteriorating” conditions.

The four international church organizations also strongly condemned “sexual abuse and violence against women…


Catholic bishops denounce State crackdown, drawing sharp government attack

Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops (ZCBC) drew a sharp government response after issuing a Pastoral Letter, titled ‘The March Is Not Ended’ on the current crisis in the southern African nation. In a vitriolic attack on the bishops, a government minister played on delicate tribal divisions and was herself accused of stirring genocide.

In a Pastoral Letter released on August 14, the ZCBC condemned the government’s current crackdown on any form of dissent, citing actions such as against journalists and political opposition leaders arrested and charged and left in jail.

“Fear runs down the spine of many of our people today. The crackdown on dissent is unprecedented” said the Pastoral Letter titled The March Is Not Ended, and that was signed by the seven Catholic bishops. …


Eastern Cape health system buckles under strain

South Africa’s Covid-19 infection rate is racing to this coming week pass the 400,000 mark, while the health system in one of its provinces — the Eastern Cape Province — has collapsed. There are reports of patients lying on dirty, bloodied floors in the Province’s urban hospitals, while churches battle to feed the poor.

“Every ward in that hospital is doomed and it’s painful because everyone is dying … the nurses are working in a hellhole … they are dying like flies,” nurse Doris Mpayipeli of Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, a large government-funded, provincial teaching hospital in the Mdantsane township of East London told the local Daily Dispatch newspaper this weekend. …


In South Africa twelve people died at hands of law enforcement officers

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Black Lives Matter protest in Geneva Switzerland on June 9, 2020 © Peter Kenny

Faith leaders in South Africa held a Sunday gathering on June 7, 2020 in a local Black Lives Matter silent vigil demonstrations in the cities of Cape Town and Pretoria.

They prayed in solidarity with those who have died at the hands of law enforcement officers during lockdowns in South Africa and abroad.

“We are gathered here because Black Lives Matter, whether in South Africa, the United States, France, Australia or elsewhere,” Cape Town’s Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba told faith leaders at St. George’s Cathedral.

The steps of St. George’s were the venue of many protests against the last century’s apartheid regime. …


Langes Echo: Filmpremiere in Corona-Zeiten

Ein Interview mit Veronika Glasunowa (Ko-Regisseurin) von Langes Echo

Veronika, wie bist Du auf das Thema gekommen?

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Veronika Glasunowa

Ich bin damals aus privaten Gründen für zwei Jahre in die Ukraine gezogen und habe angefangen, dieses für mich neue Land zu erkunden. Ursprünglich wollten mein Kollege Lukasz und ich ein Portrait von fünf verschiedenen Teilen der Ukraine machen. Das Land ist wunderschön und sehr zerrissen, damals schon, es war 2011. Man spürte die Spannung förmlich in der Luft. Als erstes Rechercheziel haben wir uns die Ostukraine, den Donbass vorgenommen. Ich habe in Kiew jemanden aus Dobropillja kennengelernt, so sind wir dort gelandet. Also rein zufällig. Und haben beschlossen, uns auf diesen Ort zu konzentrieren. …

About

Anli Serfontein

South African journalist, author & filmmaker in Berlin. Writing on southern Africa, Germany, politics, culture, films, books, interfaith. www.serfontein.org

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