21st November 2022

A woman returns to her roots in South Africa. She stands in an arena where she competed in a top dance competition, aged 7 and says, “This is where the dream of – I am more than my surroundings – came from”. She talked about “dreaming so big, it scares you”. It was where she was confronted with people, possibilities, freedom, and people of different colours sharing the same dance floor. This woman, who grew up in a township near Pretoria, was Oti Mabuse of BBC “Strictly Come Dancing” fame. She was speaking from Sun City, a segregated resort under apartheid.

Oti’s documentary (BBC iPlayer – Oti Mabuse: My South Africa) is full of life and vitality but doesn’t shy away from South Africa’s troubled past and present.

For Mum, the documentary brought back memories of the church praying for change through the apartheid era, and yet struggling to see how those prayers could be answered. The stories of the end of apartheid and of the fall of Berlin wall are being shared with people who to this day live under oppressive regimes – to empower them for change.

I grew up with the quote from William Carey, founder of the Baptist Missionary Society, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God”. Oti quotes Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it is done”.

As we approach Advent, our hope is in God, made known to us anew in the birth of Jesus. May this hope embolden us to continue to strive for peace and justice in all the parts of the world where it is so desperately needed.

Ruth Allen