I wasn't planning to comment on the death of P.W. Botha, most realise that he was an anachronism from another time. An ugly reminder of the dark days of the apartheid regime of the 1980's. However, two things have come out of his death that warrant comment. The first thing is 'historical revisionism' and the second is 'forgiveness'. Clearly the second is by far the most important so I'll concentrate more on that one once I've dealt with the first.
Historical revisionism is one of the things I hate most in life. Recently we were watching a British made documentary about 9/11 and I walked away disgusted from it as the presenter gave a radically revised version of how certain European nations had fully supported the so called 'War on Terror'. I just can't abide what is at best 'mis-reporting' and at worst 'historical revisionism'. So to hear Thabo Mbeki refer to Botha as a "partner of peace" was revisionism at its worst and was truly awful. Botha was a leading light of apartheid, he oversaw horrific abuses of people in the '80's and he simply refused to apologise for his role. He refused to appear before the Truth & Reconciliation Commission thereby showing the new South Africa utter contempt. He simply hated all who stood against his apartheid vision and dream. Botha was not and never was a partner of peace in South Africa.
The really encouraging thing about Botha's death is the fact that so many Black and Coloured folk are very happy to forgive and move forwards. I believe that was what underpinned Mbeki's comments about Botha, the will and strength to forgive and move on. On TV, in the papers and on the streets, many have quietly forgiven the man and are getting on with their lives. I spoke to a few people in Chris Nissen and was initially quite shocked but then really pleased when I heard no spite or venom addressed towards Botha. Whilst he refused to apologise or forgive, the very people who suffered under his excesses have managed to do the very thing he couldn't and in so doing have proved that they are greater than him. That is sweet irony for me as the Afrikaaners who adhere to Botha's world view (and sadly there are many around still) believed that non-whites were not capable of rational thought or other lofty human ideals. Brilliantly, through this mans death the afrikaaners have been and are being proved wrong yet again! I am continually amazed at the appetite for forgiveness here and the lengths some people will go to to forgive. Mbeki went to great lengths to forgive Botha by declaring the man as a 'partner of peace'. Wow!
We must never lose sight of the fact that God has done an amazing work of grace in this nation. Secularists would argue otherwise, but the reality is that without God's grace South Africa would be a very different country to what it is today. Please continue to pray for a continuation of God's grace being poured out on this nation that His name would be glorified!