By LETHU NXUMALO
DURBAN – Televangelist Bishop T.D Jakes believes that South Africa still has a fighting chance to overcome the scourge of gender-based violence and alleged xenophobic attacks which have plagued the country.
Businessmen, church leaders and ordinary folk gathered at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre for Jakes’ inaugural Leadership Summit on Thursday.
Jakes said he first stepped on African soil over two decades ago and was in awe of the progress that had been accomplished by the country.
“The spirit and enthusiasm was so captivating. I said look at what they have accomplished in such a short time, an amazing sense of unity and commitment in working together,” said Jakes.
“I thought they got it together because they talk to each other, they have had the tough conversations. They have confronted the issues and dealt with the pain, the past and agreed on their future.”
However, the bishop said when he landed this time around he felt the lack of vibrancy and silent separation.
“When I got out of the plane the enthusiasm had gone. I noticed as I walked through the airport that they were rushing me through. When I look at the xenophobia and the gender based violence there is still so much to be done and we cannot get it done in silence,” he said.
Jakes said it was imperative for the country to change, especially since tourism was an important part of the economy.
“You cannot invite people to come to a place that they are scared of, a place they don’t feel safe and comfortable in. Unfortunately the responsibility rests on people who are in this room,” he said.
Bishop Mosa Sono, the founder of Grace Bible Church, said as church leaders they had been involved in trying to find solutions and have called for a meeting with “our brothers and sisters from the diaspora”.
“On Monday we will be sitting down and having a conversation with them around the issue of xenophobia because we are trying to bring peace, we are trying to bring leadership to our nation. I would love to hear their perspective and understanding of what is happening in the country and what is their experience more than anything,” said Sono.
Zanele Mbokazi, s motivational speaker and author, said one of the ingredients to curb gender based violence was unity.
“First we have to come together and understand that unity is power but remember who we are. As women we can’t be silent, our voices have to be heard. We must push the boundaries together,” she said.