Bloemfontein – President Jacob Zuma enacted a symbolic sacrifice of a bull outside the Waaihoek Wesleyan Church in Bloemfontein on Saturday morning as part of a cleansing ceremony for the ANC centenary celebrations.
Zuma was given the spear by ANC stalwart Andrew Mlangeni, and then performed the symbolic ritual in a makeshift kraal near the church.
The stabbing was left to the “young” who could perform it practically, he said.
“Some of the important remarks I made before the ritual was [about] the importance of the spear. The spear was one of the powerful weapons we used in the wars of resistance,” Zuma said.
“This is very symbolic because of the struggle. The apartheid government responded with violence, with burning people and arresting people and finally banning organisations especially the ANC and PAC.”
‘Spear of the Nation’
Zuma then recounted how former ANC leader Albert Luthuli along with the NEC at the time created the ANC’s own military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the nation) in order to defend itself.
“Luthuli said that as an African man, if you are faced with a powerful enemy… you retreat to [your] own home, where there is a spear, which is your last weapon. And once he follows you to your home, you are left with no alternative but to pick up your spear and stab him.
“It has been very symbolic that today, we handed back the spear. Today, the spear is not to go out and fight, but it is to keep peace and protect the nation,” he said.
Zuma said the ritual was also a way of speaking to the ancestors, as well as God in a “traditional” way. He said it was also symbolic for the ritual to take place at the church were the ANC was founded in 1912.
“We had to perform these certain rituals before we get into the serious business of celebrations,” he said.
Attending the ceremony were Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, ANC chief whip Mathole Motsheka, ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete, American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, as well traditional leaders.
Jackson said: “We must recognise that the ANC and the people of South Africa have won a great victory. They have overcome the great oppression of apartheid, though it must be said that economic and agricultural apartheid still exist.
“The USA and South Africa both ended apartheid together, and both now have African presidents.”
Mantashe said the ceremony allowed members and traditional leaders to enjoy the festivities as they wanted to.
“Traditionally the act of slaughtering has different meanings. All nations have a way [of] celebration through slaughter…it is all the same but in different circumstances.”
Traditional and religious leaders opened the cleansing ceremony outside the church on Friday evening.
The inter-faith service, which contained messages and blessings from representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Rastafarian and traditional African faiths was held at a marquee outside the church.