In part 2, Jonathan Bellamy speaks with Michael Cassidy about how to take a stand against Governments biblically, his relationship with Nelson Mandela, and how South Africa is doing today.

Continued from page 2

Michael and Stephen Lungu Ministering
Michael and Stephen Lungu Ministering

Michael: We started off very well with Mandela's presidency, because of the spirit that he manifested. He was a man of integrity and honesty and the whole thing of racial feelings was breaking down due to Mandela's dispensation. I felt, as a white person, Mandela is my President and that was something special. We were one nation together.

Then when Mandela stepped down and Thabo Mbeki came in, he was a very bright and brilliant man, but I think he began to re-racialize us a little bit, probably unintentionally in a way. But he always used to talk about "my people" - my people did this and my people did that, and I always wanted to say to him, Mr President, am I one of them? Do I qualify? Am I one of your people? I think nailed to the wall like that, he would have said really I'm talking about black people.

But that process began and whites began to distance themselves a little bit from the African National Congress Government. Then, of course, came dear old Zuma. This was black power being manifested very powerfully and this upset whites, and distanced whites even more. Then they began to see horrific corruption in the African National Congress Government and seemingly very much in the President himself.

So our country, at the present time, is kind of mired in corruption and in the legacy of the Zuma years. We've been brought to our knees. Our economy had a growth rate of 4% or 5% at one point, with Mandela and early Mbeki. Now we're scarcely 1% and unless we have a growth rate of 4% to 5% we can't cope and manage the 4,000 or more people a day coming onto the job market. So we have huge unemployment. Unemployment breeds anger, frustration, hunger and of course it breeds crime. We are in that now.

I think the Church once again has spoken prophetically to the National Party Government and it needs to speak prophetically to the African National Congress Government now.

I think there's quite a lot of new hope in the country with President Cyril Ramaphosa coming in. He's a very smart gentleman. He's got a Christian history and background, which I think will probably come to the fore more and more. He understands economics because he was a very prominent businessman. I think he knows you can't just nationalise everything; you can't just have an economy where everything is a hand out, everything is free. You've got to expand the cake if you want to share it meaningfully. So that really means a mixed economy. It means having strong, free enterprise as well as very strong social commitments for the marginalised and the poor. I think Ramaphosa understands this and I think he is, in human terms at any rate, our best hope at this time. Lots of people are really praying for him.

Jonathan: I feel like we could talk all day and I could keep drawing out stories from you and reflections and insights, but unfortunately we've run out of time. That's the value of the book that you've written, 'Footprints in the African Sand: My Life and Times.' Let me ask you, Michael, what's it been like for you reliving all of this history, past and present, in writing these memoirs?

Michael Cassidy preaching at first African Enterprise mission in
Pietermaritzburg, 1962
Michael Cassidy preaching at first African Enterprise mission in Pietermaritzburg, 1962

Michael: It's been quite an adventure, at all sorts of levels.

One part of the adventure was just the fun of re-encountering my own parents and the amazing letters that they sent to me when I was a school child and in high school and then a university student in England, then a seminary student. Re-encountering them was really amazing.

As I went along writing it, I realised this is really quite a yarn, this is quite a story. I'm privileged to have been part of it and spectator to it.

I was pretty diligent chronicling things and I have an instinct for chronicling so I wrote lots of stuff down. I had very good records to draw on.

They were tremendous experiences and adventures. It was fun, it was challenging and I'm glad I hung in on it and I'm certainly very relieved that it's coming out now and the deed is done and the book is being published through the great publishing of SPCK; they've been fantastic.

I'm looking forward to see what it will do. I hope especially it will encourage and inspire younger leaders coming up but also, hopefully, pray God, many others. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.