Joe wrote last week on the Anabaptist Network in South Africa website about the unexpected acts of conciliation that break down walls of hostility (Surprised by Grace). On Friday we experienced such a moment.
Our friend Kuhle Mxakaza's boarding school choir was coming to Mthatha to perform. We had been to one of their concerts four years ago and knew that the performance would be top quality. They were to play at the school hall at Isaac's school. The hall was about a quarter full, almost entirely parents of the girls in the choir. From the minute they opened their mouths for the first requiem, we were stunned by the power of their sound. They were incredible. They sang a range of classical and opera in the first half. It was gorgeous.
In the second half, their accompanist sat down and they proceeded with African songs to which they danced and moved. The crowd also got going.
Several songs into the second act, the single white girl in the choir was brought forward to open with a solo. She began to sing a spiritual song in Xhosa. The crowd erupted. They waved and danced through the whole thing.
When she finished they asked her to come back and sing again. She did so. In different parts of the hall, Joe and I were weeping. There was something about the crowd's response to her song that gives me chills thinking about it. They weren't by any means a hostile crowd. And she wasn't anything other than a participating member of the choir. But the joy and blessing were so abundant. And suddenly, the concert had become a worship service. It was beautiful.
I don't know if anyone there particularly needed that moment of mutual humanity but the concert followed a week in which two top ANC leaders had made violent anti-white statements. Tension is running high in South Africa--the majority of black people are still suffering economically and white people feel left out of the political power structures. People can only hate when they don't know. We saw into each other's souls that night.