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January 09, 2012

A Prayer at the One Hundred Year Centennial Celebration of the ANC

Bloemfontein, South Africa

Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

January 8, 2012


Today we say happy birthday to a new South Africa, one hundred years old.   Happy Birthday to a South Africa that is new and free to all.   To a South Africa that never existed until 18 years ago.

We thank you God for allowing a seed planted in a small Wesleyan Church to bear multiples of fruit and become an orchard of hope for the whole world to see. 

Whether a small Methodist Church like Brown’s Chapel in Selma, Alabama, where the bloody battle for the right to vote emanated; or the burning of the church and bombing of babies in Birmingham, Alabama, keep speaking to us through the church, challenging the world.  Touch not that which you have anointed.

Continue to bless the ANC, President Zuma as they carry on the tradition of enfranchising the peoples of this great nation.

In a special way today, be with President Nelson Mandela.  Give him continued and unusual strength, sustain his health.  He is the instrument through which many of us still find life and hope.   Please sustain him.

But we know a thousand years but a day in your sight, humbly approach thy throne of grace, thanking you for our many benefits, especially our dignity and freedom.

We ask you to forgive us for our sins and the foolishness of our ways.   Redeem us, renew us, revive us, light afresh the revolutionary desire in our hearts and make life better for all, and bitter for none.

We know there are stiff challenges ahead.   We know we’ve overcome unimaginable odds.   Realize there are yet mountains to climb but, through it all, we are sure that our best days are ahead of us.

Today, we know that many of us have the David spirit.  We know that David slew the giant Goliath, but less we forget, the Goliath has some sons.

Giants keep coming.

As the sun sets on yesterday, it allows us to witness the sunrise.  We survived a protracted crucifixion, now we realize the joy of the glorious resurrection.

This is our Easter.

We breathe afresh in this South Africa.   This is the best South Africa the world has ever known: a Multi-racial, multi-cultural coexistence.  We learned to survive apart; now we must learn to live together in a greater rewarding relationship…living together as brothers and sisters.

We celebrate not merely continuity of leadership, but continuity of vision.   We can see the ANC sees the world through a door, not through a keyhole.   This one big tent - where all are included and none are left behind - is the best South African we have known.

For too long, a minority of people with the majority of resources gave all the advantages to a small group.  They made the grass green for that minority, but left the earth parched for the masses.

Now we embark on a new vision for the majority.  We make peace with all and none are left behind.   Each can sit on the zone with victory, and none will be afraid.

Today we celebrate the full fulfillment of your promises.  A seed was sown at the Wesleyan Church 100 years ago.  Today not only there is fruit but an orchard with leaves from the tree of that meeting.   It’s good for the healing of the nation.

You kept your promise.  We worship you, not merely with trinkets and symbols of cows and rams, but our pursuit to do justice and love mercy and walk humbly before you.   Lord you have honored your promise.  You’ve taken us from degradation and disgrace, to high places and amazing grace.  You’ve taken us from slave ships to championships.

We thank you for the journey:   Valleys and hills, cold winters and hot summers, unforeseen challenges, yet we made it.

We thank you for the martyrs and their suffering servants who gave there all along the way. 

Those that lost their blood and gave their lives to fertilize the soil:  Chris Hani, Steve Biko, Oliver Tambo, Govan Mbeki, Johnny Makatini, Walter Sisulu, Hector Pietersen, Medgar Evars, Malcolm X, Dr. King, Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney.  The babies in Birmingham blown up in the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Thank you for the power of the innocent blood shed at Sharpsville.  Thank you for the courage of those that faced the Treason Trial and Rivonia Trial.   We thank you for those that survived Robben Island, and turned jail cells into libraries, and transformed dungeons into museums.

We thank you for the children at Crossroads, who rejected the forced use of the Afrikaans language.   We thank you for those that chose communities over Bantustans.   We thank you for those that survived exile, banishment, imprisonment. 

We thank you for honoring your promise.   Here we are today.

It is said that weeping may endure for a night, but if we hold on, and hold out, joy will cometh in the morning.   It’s morning time.  It’s so clear now in retrospect that nothing is too hard for you.

And we are faithful to the end and don’t surrender we will rise again, because the ground is no place for a champion. 

May we walk through valleys and shadows of death, we go from freedom to equality, in the end as we fight formidable battles before us: beyond the skin level of apartheid, the economic, health care, land ownership, banking, trading, agriculture, education apartheid where inequities abound.

We thank you for liberating us on two continents – USA (Union of South Africa) and USA (United States of America).   They were co-partners in the crime against humanity, conspirators to diminish life the options of your children, all for gain and pleasure.  In the end they lost because the ungodly are not so.

Today on two continents, those that once were degraded in life’s basement, not sit as heads of state:  President Zuma and President Obama, a son of Kenya.

You’ve honored your promise.

The bottom rail is rising.

Let us admit that in the face of adversity you’ve shown us you can open Red Seas and lock lions’ jaws; you can make our enemies behave.   As a matter of fact, you can make them our footstools but give us too much grace to step on anybody for it is ungodly.

So today 1912-2012: we can say good night to the twentieth century, good morning twenty-first century.  

Though we walk through valley and shadows of death we will fear no evil for THOU art with us, and THOU is a powerful weapon.  And your grace is sufficient, so we seek healing today.  We seek hope today.  The writer writes profoundly about the key to healing, if my people who are called by name, would humble themselves and pray, and seek my face; and turn from their wicked ways, God would forgive our sins, and heal or land.  Thank you for healing.  Thank you for hope.


Thank you for the ANC.