It had been a bad day. A very bad day.
Members of the so-called 'Mass Democratic Movement' (MDM - a front organization for terrorists) had been trying to 'politicize' a township in South Africa for some time. Most of them were members of one particular tribe - and in Africa, one's tribe counts for quite a lot. Their efforts had been resisted by many residents, who were members of another tribe, and didn't see why these upstarts from an 'inferior' tribe should be allowed to push them around.
Needless to say, the apartheid police, always eager to 'divide and rule', had encouraged the rivalry through not-so-discreet egging-on of the resisters. If Black people could be induced to spend their time fighting each other, instead of uniting to fight apartheid, it was a net gain for the State. Who cared about those who got caught in the crossfire? They were only Black, after all, and the State was White. That's the way it was, in that year, in that part of the country.
Matters came to a head the week before Christmas. The MDM moved a group of 'comrades' into the township, trying to enforce a consumer boycott of White businesses, threatening violence to those who resisted. Some women were forced to drink the liquid soap and cooking-oil they'd bought, and ended up in hospital. Others were threatened. Minibus taxis taking shoppers to a nearby town were met at the outskirts of the township, and forced to turn back. In response, the police shut down deliveries to the few shops in the township itself. Very quickly, people began to run out of food and essential supplies.
I got a phone call in the afternoon of December 24rd from a pastor in the township. I'll call him 'Fanyana' for his safety (he's still working there).
"Hey, Fanyana, what's up, brother?"
"It's bad, Peter." (Sound of scattered gunshots in the background. He was breathing quickly, shallowly, the fear evident in his voice.) "The comrades have been trying to shut the place down all week, and the miners have finally had enough. They've ganged together and they're out on the streets, looking for the outsiders. It's bad, man."
I sobered, very fast. If Fanyana was this scared, and didn't mind showing it, it was bad indeed. The previous year he'd dragged me clear of a riot, both of us bleeding, me almost unconscious. He had guts to spare. ...
Read the whole thing here. Powerful stuff. One of my favorite quotes is from St. Francis of Assisi, a man of great humility, who said: "At all times preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words." To wit: Actions speak louder than words; don't tell me how to live a virtuous life, show me by your good example. I think St. Francis would approve of courageous men like Peter, and all whose actions stand for justice, and against tyranny.