Archive for January, 2008


Better late….

January 11, 2008

I have previously blogged on Race and Seventh-day Adventism in South Africa: here, here, here and here.I want to briefly recap the situation focussing on Helderberg College (extracted from my ASDAH presentation here):

While at least one Black student and several Coloured students were admitted to Claremont Union College–the forerunner of Helderberg College, established in 1893–early in its history; the school’s constituency remained almost entirely White until 1974 when having been relocated and renamed Helderberg College Coloured fourth-year Theology students were officially admitted.[1]

  • Coloured students attended Good Hope College established in 1930 which when compared with Claremont/Helderberg College, was grossly under-resourced, understaffed, and underfunded.
  • From 1909, the Seventh-day Adventist church also operated a separate school for Black students. The institution operated under various names and in various locations most recently as Bethel College. It was also grossly under-resourced, understaffed, and underfunded.

In 1968 Alwyn du Preez became the first non-white to graduate from Helderberg College, completing the third and fourth years of the theology course there after graduating from the two year Good Hope course in 1957. His presence was a special concession by the college; du Preez was required to live off-campus and was barred from using an college facilities other than the classrooms and library. He was not permitted to attend the Helderberg College graduation ceremony in 1968.
In 1971, Robert Hall a black student from Zimbabwe who had completed three years of the Theology course at Good Hope College was grudgingly permitted to enrol at Helderberg College.
Similar restrictions to those placed on du Preez were placed upon Hall. He was not permitted to board in the dormitory, nor to eat in the cafeteria; nor was he allowed to graduate with his class in 1971.[2] That same year, the administration of Helderberg College asked the South African Government to rule on the acceptance of a foreign non-white at an all-white South African educational institution. They were told that it was not, and never had been, government policy to interfere in the training of ministers by any denomination. As has been pointed out, this meant that Adventists of colour had been barred from Helderberg College all these years because of naked racist attitudes, not by government laws![3]

[1] I. F. du Preez and Roy H. du Pre, A Century of Good Hope: A History of the Good Hope Conference, its Educational Institutions and Early Workers, 1893-1993. (East London: Western Research Group/Southern History Association, 1994), 181-182. Antonio Pantalone points out that even if some non-White students were enrolled, the college’s graduation records show that during its 25 year existence, not a single non-white student ever graduated at [Claremont] Union College. “A Missiological Evaluation of the Afrikaanse Konferensie (1968-1974) and its significance for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Africa” (Dth, University ofDurban-Westville, 1998), 177.

[2] du Preez and du Pre, A Century of Good Hope, 104-105.

[3] du Preez and du Pre, A Century of Good Hope, 109-113.

Well why bring up this shameful history once more? Well on November 25, 2007 at a Graduation Ceremony at Helderberg College, small steps were taken towards righting these past injustices. At this ceremony–to a standing ovation–both Alwyn du Preez and Robert Hall were graduated (Post Facto); 39 years and 36 years late respectively.


Alwyn du Preez (Left) and Robert Hall (Right)

Thanks to Claudelle for the photos.


Kenya #2

January 8, 2008

Here is an update on the situation in Kenya. Unfortunately, the email I received did not list an author.

Forasmuch as the media has undertaken to update the world of what is happening in Kenya, in regard to the ethnic clashes that has terrified the country, it seems good to me being at the center of the clashes also to update you at AIIAS on the latest situation at Baraton, so that you may know and have perfect understanding of how good God is to us. He has not answered all our questions but He has kept all His promises.
The group that was holed up at Kapsabet Police station has now been evacuated to their ethnic homes. The first group of about 140 people composed of Kikuyus, Kamba, Meru and Kisii were evacuated by Kenya Military at about 4 a.m. They took about 3 hours to reach the nearest city, Eldoret about 65 km away. The military had to cut the big logs of trees that had been felled across the road, remove stones, metal spikes spread about half a kilometer. Sometimes the military had to construct road deviations at places where the bridges had been broken by the militia. The Baraton group travelled fear-frozen in their buses under military escort. Some recalled how they could see the solders cock guns any time they saw movement in the bush. One of the lecturers with children send a text message at about 4 am to me, ?Please, pastor, Pray as you have never done before?
The group arrived in Nairobi about 500 km away. I could feel the sigh of relief as they telephoned back from the East African Union head office in Nairobi where the Vice Chancellor of Baraton was awaiting to receive them. One of the lecturer?s daughter, aged 14 years txt me that she was going to write a long article once schools open on the experience they went through. Another group of about 150 people from Kisii ethnic group was evacuated yesterday to Kisii on trucks under police escort. For now the situation is calm and road blocks are being removed from roads. We hope to be able to travel freely as before. The university has postponed opening date until further notice. Other details can only be issued officially by university spokesman.
The University church meets daily at 6 pm to pray in groups for political situation in the country. We are seeing evidence of God?s leading and decrease of threatening crowds on road outside the campus. Apart from sporadic incidents of thuggery around, we are safe and we believe the university will open soon. The community is amazingly speaking friendly of the university. What God has done in this one week, cannot be fully quantified in such short email but it has left each one of us with a testimony to tell. Thanks for your prayers and concern.



January 5, 2008

I post below an email message from Caesar Wamalika of the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton – a Seventh-day Adventist university in Kenya.

“Subject: Report from CAESAR WAMALIKA at our SDA BARATON University, Eldoret, KENYA To: talkback-forum@ yahoogroups. com From: wamalika@yahoo. com Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2008 01:16:32 -0800 Subject: [talkback-forum] Going Through Nightmare of Ethnic War – Baraton, Kenya Dear Talkback Forum, I wish to share with you the terror and nightmare we are going through of Ethnic War. I am emailing from Baraton and the situation is bad! It all began soon after lection results were announced! Then several groups of community around broke into war songs. They broke into the shopping center next to the university and looted all the shops that belong to Kikuyus and Kisiis. Then they broke into rented off campus houses of students. A crowd of about 1,000 people surged to the university gate and wanted to storm the university. They demanded that all Kikuyus, Kambas, Meru, and Kisii people leave the university within two hours. That was the only way to save the university from being stormed. They remained at the gate until it would be seen done. About three armed policemen arrived and spent time negotiating with the crowd. Finally the police advised us to evacuate the named ethnic groups. We put the faculty and students numbering about 250 into three university vehicles and were taken to Kapsabet Police station under police escort. They are still there as at now. A few of us are on campus! The Division tried to evacuate those from Kapsabet Police Station to Eldoret international Airport but the next road block was a no-go-zone. In spite of the police escort, the university buses had to return to Kapsabet. The is no way anyone can get out. One baraton group is holed up at Kapsabet police station while faculty members from Luo and Luhyia community, international workers and students are holed up within the campus. Those at Kapsabet have no food or water. The worst fear is not so much of food but possibility of police station being stormed. The police are few and overstretched. We have been having threats a almost daily at campus. On one occasion, we had to give out a bull for them to slaughter and guarantee us peace. Then they came and demanded milk which we also gave. Then we succeed in pleading with the militia to allow us transport food to those at police station. They allowed us first day and we transported it on varsity tractor. It took three hours to go through road blocks to reach Kapsabet which is only 15 kilometers away. I attended a meeting yesterday with commanders and militia leaders who came to meet university administration. We confirmed that Militia had had their own meeting and resolved that on humanitarian ground, faculty with kids and pregnant mothers be allowed to return to campus. They also told us students of other communities should come back. It sounded good news. We shock hands. We asked them to transport food to Kapsabet. They agreed and used their own vehicles. But the food never arrived. The militia who were escorting the food we beaten and vehicles destroyed. The fact that you negotiate with one militia group, remember the next and several others groups have their own policy. It is like you need visa to cross several of them. We have about 130 Kisii students and workers stranded at police station but cant leave for home. I know of Mr Obuchi whose wife is pregnant! I know of Pr Elijah Njagi and wife, Nyarangi and wife, etcThey are sleeping in the grass and some in university bus parked at the police station. There is no food and I have never witnessed this. As I write this email, have just been informed that a crowd came to university gate 15 min ago and demanded that we go out and join them in mass demonstration in the street. That means we shall be put on front line to meet the armed police. University PRO has negotiated with them and the crowd has now chained the university main gate, locked it and gone with the key. No vehicle an come in or go out. We pray that they don’t come to force us out. It is a nightmare to meet them. All of them are armed with machetes, rungus, arrows and bows. Some are drunk and others baying for blood. I have never seen this! We are fear frozen and prayer takes a new meaning! My home is 100 km from here but how do you pass those road blocks? We have Luo workers who want to get out but we hear the Kisii are grouping to fight Luos on Kisii/Luo border. We are boxed in. The road blocks are manned by not less than 500 people. The road block at Cheptrit has a thousand youth manning it. Police told us that Mosoriot has ten thousand worriers camping there. It is a no-go-zone. We have no where to buy food, no calling cards available, no fuel! But we are finding a new meaning in prayer. I hope I can keep updating you of what is happening at Baraton. You can get from internet what could be happening in other parts like Eldoret, Kakamega and Kisumu. I have to leave for a crisis meeting to try and avert any attack on the campus. I hope internet access will remain open so that I can keep updating you. I can see helicopter flying over us but seems to be passing again! American Embassy called yesterday for the sake of their citizens. This is a no-go-zone! We need to be evacuated from here! Promises of safety from some militia groups cannot be trusted. You need to be here to feel it. Whatever the political argument, it is a nightmare! The ground issue is not how you voted but ethnic affiliation. Some are using it to settle personal scores! There were some leaflets from one group saying that all non-Nandis get ready to leave. Other Militia groups say no. But God still keeps us safe! From: Caesar Wamalika University of Eastern Africa, Baraton 14 Mwalimu Drive P.O. Box 2500, ELDORET 30100, KENYA, EAST AFRICA. Tel.: 254-734-429- 326 (Mobile)”

We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror. (Jeremiah 8:15)

Dona nobis pacem.