His Christ­mas mes­sage is: ‘Wel­come to Hell’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WARDA MEYER

WHILE many Capeto­ni­ans will be sit­ting down to lunch and open­ing presents on Christ­mas day, a Khayelit­sha pas­tor is plan­ning to protest against the plight of the poor and the coun­try’s town­ship con­di­tions of “hell”.

The Rev Xola Skosana, of the Way of Life Church, is tak­ing to the streets on Christ­mas day with a huge ban­ner which reads “Wel­come to Hell, SA Town­ships!”, on Mew Way bridge in a bid to cap­ture the at­ten­tion of pass­ing mo­torists.

“While peo­ple are driv­ing by on their way to their beach homes and hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions there are peo­ple a stone’s throw away who may not have any­thing to eat, who are liv­ing in filth and are in des­per­ate need of a Christ­mas mir­a­cle,” he said.

Skosana has over the years used shock tac­tics, in­clud­ing a month-long hunger strike and nu­mer­ous marches through Cape Town’s no­to­ri­ous town­ships, to high­light the plight of the poor. He has even gone to ex­tremes, last year declar­ing in a ser­mon that “Je­sus had HIV”.

His shock­ing ser­mon made in­ter­na­tional head­lines, an­ger­ing Chris­tian lead­ers across the globe. But Skosana is not dis­cour­aged that his at­tempts have failed to spark speedy so­lu­tions. In fact, he says it only inspires him to do more to trig­ger a tidal wave of peo­ple who will stand up on Christ­mas Day to show those more for­tu­nate the true hor­ror called poverty.

Last Christ­mas he marched through the streets of Khayelit­sha and onto the N2, and dur­ing the Easter week­end this year he car­ried a huge wooden cross on a 13km march from Gugulethu to Khayelit­sha. “I know why I am do­ing this, I can­not stom­ach a Christ­mas lunch when oth­ers are suf­fer­ing, when fam­i­lies are torn apart and when the agony of poverty be­comes too much for some to bear.”

He said town­ship res­i­dents and back­yard dwellers were part of the city’s life blood but saw none of its re­wards. “What I am try­ing to do is speak to the con­science of our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to en­sure the govern­ment must never be ab­solved from its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.”

De­scrib­ing the town­ships as “glo­ri­fied refugee camps and rat- in­fested hell- holes”, he preaches to all about the hor­rific con­di­tions.

“Christ­mas must be a day of sol­i­dar­ity with the poor in our town­ships, our women and chil­dren who suf­fer all man­ner of abuses daily,”he said. “Those who have es­caped poverty must… throw a life­line to oth­ers, whether it is through a job, ed­u­ca­tion or skills train­ing… any­thing that will em­power and up­lift will bring about change. That’s what the Christ­mas spirit is all about.”

warda.meyer@inl.co.za

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