We’re safely back at Blogstead and enjoying the peaceful and slow rhythms of life to which +Bruce refers. It’s a sort of mixture between Big Brother and the Archers with an ecclesiastical flavour. Poppy is still in Ireland and returns next week.
We had a meal with friends as we prepared to leave South Africa. ‘Yes or No?’ asked James. It’s a question which nobody could answer – least of all a visitor. There has been great progress – clearing of townships, building of schools, provision of water and sanitation, building and investment. The miracle of South Africa remains – by that I mean the extraordinary way in which the leadership of Mandela, Tutu, de Klerk and others managed to overcome the race issue. It is an example of the way in which spirituality and courage can transcend political limitations. To my eye, South Africa’s problems are now to do with poverty and its links with race and colour. The poverty is dreadful – somebody described the task of overcoming it as being like emptying the sea with buckets. There is real concern about lawlessness and criminality. There is a persistent belief that the government’s stance on HIV/Aids is a pragmatic recognition that it cannot meet the needs of the huge number of people who have no skills or education to bring to the new society and that Aids should be allowed to reduce the population.
But for all that there is a persistent optimism, generosity, flexibility and grace about the place. The problems which lie ahead are daunting – but my answer to James’s question is a guarded ‘Yes’