Towards a contextualised conceptualisation of social justice for post-apartheid Namibia with reference to Allan Boesak's framing of justice

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation explores the question of universalised justice conceptions, applied to address post-apartheid contexts without adequate contextual analysis. Its central argument is that without intentional contextualisation of social justice for the post-apartheid Namibian context, Christians will not be able to create meaningful, effective, and transformative policies, programmes, practices, systems, and justice institutions—no matter how advantageous and well-intentioned. Therefore, it is needful to re-evaluate political dialogues, social theories, and theological views advocating for social justice in Namibia. This research enters into dialogue with Allan A. Boesak’s theological notions of justice to extract what could be helpful or may require further reflection in the search to formulate particular Namibian contextual theologies of social justice. Post-apartheid communities long for healing and reconciliation, and they must do so in order to ensure meaningful co-existence with one another. However, they need to confront honestly the lingering socioeconomic effects of the apartheid system. Reconciliation needs to be more far reaching than mere sociality; instead, there must be a recognition that grave injustice was perpetrated. Both perpetrators and beneficiaries of the previous unjust system need to engage social and economic realities with a critical regard for a more just society. Achieving this level of understanding requires an authentic search for justice that is rooted in experiences, epistemologies, and expectations of Namibians, and the resources of the Christian faith. Otherwise, injustice will continue to be prolonged if the underlying conceptual presuppositions do not sufficiently capture and readdress the effects of the apartheid system from the understanding of those it disadvantaged. Apartheid did not only affect economic aspects of the lives of Black Namibians; it also intended to deprive them of their right to self-determination. This desire for contextualised conceptualisations to transform social justice notions reinforces the continued presence and effects of injustice for disadvantaged individuals and communities. The search for justice, beyond the political understandings, is profoundly theological and ethical. It seeks to discover a relevant theological language that will engage where the dialogues of justice are taking place to ensure that God’s image-bearers experience a sense of God’s shalom. As such, it is argued that the concept of social justice would have to consider all possible notions, even those that appear to be disagreeable because of how they have been abused for political and corrupt gain. While this is theological research, it takes cognisance that to be truly conversant, theology needs to identify and embrace systems and structures that would be its allies in the pursuit of social justice. In the search to identify what God is doing in the world and how we can be part of it, secular structures are not excluded in the search. This makes the task of theology missional (i.e., a participation in the work of God), as it seeks to make use of all available structures to ensure that the post-apartheid society transforms towards being more just and more human. Finally, the concluding chapter weighs the effects of theological participation in social justice for post-apartheid Namibia, not as a mere observer, but as a key component in advocating for justice and a more just society.
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die navorsing ondersoek die vraagstuk na universele begrippe van geregtigheid wat toegepas word om post-apartheid kontekste aan te spreek sonder voldoende kontekstuele analise. Die sentrale argument is dat, sonder die intensionele kontekstualisering van sosiale geregtigheid, die post-apartheid Namibiese konteks nie betekenisvolle, effektiewe en transformerende beleide, programme, praktyke, stelsels en geregtigheidsinstellings kan skep nie – maak nie saak hoe voordelig en goed bedoel nie. Gevolglik is dit nodig om politieke dialoë, sosiale teorieë en teologiese sienings wat vir sosiale geregtigheid in Namibië pleit, te herevalueer. Hierdie navorsing tree in gesprek met Allan A. Boesak se teologiese idees van geregtigheid om vas te stel watter van sy teologiese idees van geregtigheid behulpsaam, sowel as onbehulpsaam kan wees in die formulering van eiesoortige Namibiese kontekstuele teologieë van sosiale geregtigheid. Post-apartheid gemeenskappe verlang na genesing en versoening, en hulle moet, om sinvolle naasbestaan te bewerkstellig. Post-apartheid gemeenskappe moet egter ook eerlik die voortslepende sosio-ekonomiese gevolge van die apartheid-stelsel konfronteer. Versoening moet meer verrykend wees as blote gemeenskapsin; in plaas hiervan, moet daar erkenning wees dat ernstige onreg gepleeg is, en beide oortreders en begunstigdes binne die vorige onregverdige stelsel moet aansienlike sosiale en ekonomiese vergoeding bewerkstellig. Die vestiging van só ’n verstaan van versoening, vereis ’n outentieke soeke na geregtigheid wat gewortel is in ervarings, epistemologieë en verwagtinge. Indien die onderliggende konseptuele voorveronderstellings nie die gevolge van die apartheid-stelsel voldoende vasvang en aanspreek vanuit die perspektief van diegene wat benadeel is nie, sal die ongeregtigheid bloot voortduur. Apartheid het nie net die ekonomiese aspekte van die lewens van Swart Namibiërs beïnvloed nie; dit het ook ten doel gehad om Swart Namibiёrs te ontneem van hul reg op selfbeskikking. Hierdie mislukking van gekontekstualiseerde konseptualiserings om sosiale geregtigheid-opvattings te transformeer, versterk die voortgesette teenwoordigheid en gevolge van onreg vir voorheen-benadeelde individue en gemeenskappe. Die soeke na geregtigheid, anderkant politieke begrippe, is ‘n diepgaande teologiese en etiese soeke. Dit poog om ’n relevante teologiese taal te ontdek wat sal inskakel daar waar die dialoë van geregtigheid plaasvind, om te verseker dat God se beelddraers ‘n gevoel van God se shalom beleef. As sodanig argumenteer ons dat die konsep van sosiale geregtigheid alle moontlike begrippe sal moet oorweeg, selfs dié wat as onaangenaam beleef kan word, as gevolg van hoe dit vir politieke en korrupte gewin misbruik is. Alhoewel hierdie teologiese navorsing is, word dit erken dat, vir teologie om waarlik op hoogte te wees, dit stelsels en strukture wat bondgenote in die stryd om sosiale geregtigheid kan wees moet identifiseer en omhels. In die soeke om te identifiseer wat God in die wêreld doen en hoe ons deel daarvan kan wees, word sekulêre strukture nie uitgesluit in die soektog nie. Dit maak die taak van teologie missionaal aangesien dit poog om van alle beskikbare strukture gebruik te maak om te verseker dat ’n post-apartheid samelewing daarna streef om meer regverdig en meer menslik te wees. Ten slotte word die gevolge van teologiese deelname aan maatskaplike geregtigheid vir post-apartheid Namibië in die slothoofstuk geweeg, nie as ’n waarnemer se praktyk nie, maar as ’n sleutelkomponent om vir geregtigheid en ’n meer regverdige samelewing te pleit.
Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.
Justice, Chritianity and culture, Apartheid -- Namibia, Theology -- Methodology, Boesak, Allan Aubrey, 1946-, UCTD