Reflecting on Reconciliation and Peace with Joseph Zintseme
By Adraina Garces, Cultural Enterpriser, Colombia
Objective: to share the experiences over the processes of reconciliation and peace, as well as social justice and restitution that have been witnessed in other countries with the aim of applying those observations to a Colombian context.
Cali, Feb 2017
To speak about reconciliation in these times is an invitation to reencounter our saviour and teacher, Jesus Christ, because it is only when we embrace God as our Celstial Father that we can be renewed in our feelings and thoughts. To surpass the dark history we have lived, whatever the history, and we take a step towards love and fraternity.
Reconciliation frees, allowing one to submerge themselves in the waters of joy, to have new dreams, it restores the fallen gates; put to arrive to this it is necessary to first look at oneself in the mirror, profoundly and recognise the history – the life that we have lived, the inheritance of our ancestors.
As an afro-descendent, bearers of a history of slavery, it is necessary that upon looking in the mirror we see the face of our ancestors so that from their eyes we can be broken, feel grace and have the strength necessary to forgive. Because, ‘til this day war has not been won with more war and the only thing that this has left us is black blood and an imprisoned soul.
Knowing Joseph Zintseme over so many years and listening to him speak on reconciliation brings, each and every time, a new revelation, with its respective confrontation, as though swimming in a thousand rivers that all empty at the same point, the need to forgive.
This confrontation brings with it the recognition that we lack the strength to prevent the torment of feelings that accompanies coming face to face with our ancestors and our history. I cannot, in my heart, with my studies, knowledge and understanding…on my own, I cannot with simply my own attempts say that I forgive when, even today we continue to feel the vestiges of such a terrible history. Even today, I have had to take air and compose myself so as to not react before the looks and expressions or treatment, be they direct or indirect, of those that, because of the colour of my skin, feel contempt towards me.
Joseph Zintseme takes us sensibly and intelligently through a summary of our history, where with anecdotes from his beloved Africa and the experiences he has lived around the world since leaving Africa and how he has seen himself more than once faced with the reality of being Black, along with his history may be even more relevant than his person, than his efforts to better the quality of life of those in most need, than his work towards the reconciliation of humanity with the heavenly Father, than his quest for transformation.
I love a story from within the traditional oral Australian narrative, entitled “To dream”. The story tells of the son of god who slept cradled on the moon when a touch caused him to fall, after which he spread out and became millions of stars all over the earth and that in order to survive, these stars took refuge within each human. The result being that the son of god in this narrative lives guarded within each one of us. That makes us not only part of god’s dream, but also brothers and sisters.
Joseph Zintseme, with his anecdotes, reminds us that what is most important is to fix our eyes on the Lord, because as the Word says, God is the author and finisher of our faith.
The need for reconciliation is evident and is a requisite for entering into the much desired peace. Peace with our history, peace one with the other, peace within our community; but firstly peace with God. Through God all of our histories are redeemed, including context and relationships. Through Him our hearts are prepared for transformation. And the fruit of this transformation is conscious and genuine forgiveness that allows us to look at the other in the eyes, bypassing skin colour or history, and to embrace as though a brother that shares my own dream.