This week, the iThemba Ladies had a Valentine’s Day party (albeit a bit early!). David was away with his 8th graders on camp, so I saw it as an excuse to be as girly as possible. Anna, our Danish short-termer helped decorate and made the amazing dessert, and Karabo helped with games. We also watched part of the HBO series “The Number One Ladies Detective Agency”, about a Botswanan detective. It was fun to get to spend some time with some of the fabulous ladies I work with!
I confess, I do like Valentine’s Day (and of course any excuse to eat chocolate). But there is an odd juxtaposition of cheesy, obtrusive Valentine’s Day marketing and the mourning, fasting, and reflection that marks the start of the Lenten season for me this year. A lot of Valentine’s Day is just consumeristic fluff, using love as an excuse to sell things. But Lent is a time to reflect on real love.
February 15th is “Black Friday” in South Africa– another day that has connotations of American spending-frenzies. But Black Friday in South Africa has nothing to do with Walmart sales. It is a day created to raise awareness about rape in our country. People are encouraged to wear black to show their support for rape awareness. According to the website, a rape is said to be committed in South Africa every four minutes, and only 12 percent of reported rape cases in South Africa end in conviction.* This statistic is illustrated in the experiences of the iThemba discipleship fieldworkers, who all know children in the community who are victims of rape.
When faced with the realities of our broken world, I am glad for Lent. I am glad for a set time to reflect on Christ, who came to earth, bore our sorrows, and suffered so that we can all experience real love and freedom. Join me in praying that Mpumuza will experience the real love that comes from Christ this month-– and wear black on Friday!
(*the sociologist in me is skeptical of those exact stats, but I do know that South Africa has one of the highest rates for rape in the world).