Rev Skosana of Khayelitsha on hunger strike

Controversial pastor on hunger strike

September 11 2011 at 01:04pm

A charismatic Cape Town pastor, who drew world attention
with his “Jesus had HIV” sermon, has embarked on a month-long hunger strike to
highlight the plight of the township poor.

Reverend Xola Skosana, of the Way of Life Church in
Khayelitsha, is no stranger to using religious extremes and shocking measures to
spread awareness. Last year his “Jesus had HIV” sermon made international
headlines after it angered Christian leaders across the globe.

His Christmas Day campaign last year, “Welcome to Hell,
SA Townships!”, took him on a march through Khayelitsha, and again during the
Easter weekend this year, on a 13km march from Gugulethu and Khayelitsha,
carrying a huge wooden cross.

Last week Skosana took his campaign a step further,
embarking on a 30-day hunger strike to highlight an array of issues plaguing
poor township residents, including crime and poverty.

“I have been like a zombie from the time I started
fasting at the beginning of this month. I’ve been hallucinating about water and
food, with signs of dehydration starting on the fifth day. Every part of my body
tells me to get up and walk to the kitchen, and eat anything and everything I
lay my hands on. But then I realise why I am doing this, why it is important to
take a stand,” he said.

Among his reasons to stop eating were the following,
Skosana added:

l The justice system acquitted two of the young men who
raped and killed 20-year-old Zoliswa Nkonyana in Khayelitsha in 2006.

– The separate development that was the blueprint of
apartheid South Africa was still entrenched in this country. “Townships remain
crime-infested hell holes with no political will to eradicate shack and backyard

– Three million young people aged between 18 and 24 were
roaming the streets without any prospects of employment.

– People who had the courage to disclose their HIV status
and started treatment were now having having to sell their ARVs so they and
their children could eat for a day.

-There were extreme levels of corruption by politicians
and state officials in South Africa, amid widespread landlessness, homelessness
and joblessness.

– Water, electricity and education were rapidly being
turned into profit-making commodities in the hands of the private sector.

– Farmworkers were still being evicted from the only
homes they had known for 30 years and longer.

“In a nutshell, it is a burden to be black in the world
today,” Skosana said.

He said he had exhausted other avenues, and his strike
was the only response left in the face of the country’s “obstinate” leaders who
appeared to be “hard of hearing”.

“If you complain, they either bring you into their lavish
offices or boardrooms, or feed you, only to dismiss you. Protest marches must
dance to the music of those whom they are protesting against… If you cross the
line you die like Andries Tatane.”

Skosana said he had no aspirations to be branded a hero,
or to seek personal attention.

“For the record, I do not want to die and leave my wife
and kids in distress. Like all people, I would like to live a long life, but if
death should come, it is the least of my problems.”

He was aware of the major risk to his health, but said he
was taking some liquids.

“After five days without food and water, I have started
taking some electrolyte mixture. With the help of my wife, who is a doctor, I am
doing all I can to stay relatively strong, even though I am not eating food.”

Skosana said he hoped his strike would not only speak to
the conscience of political leaders, but would spark the imagination of people
to expect more of themselves and their leaders.

“I hope to trigger an irrevocable tidal wave, an army of
people who will stand up for true liberation and freedom,” he said. – Sunday



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