Get Complete Project Material File(s) Now! »



In the light of what has been presented in the preceding chapters, in this chapter I report on how Adventists themselves assess their involvement or lack of it in the alleviation of poverty among the poor in Soweto. Interviews and group discussions reported below were meant to ascertain the thinking of people about poverty and its causes, and what the church in this large human settlement can do to “suffer” with the poor by redeeming them from their plight.

Four survey groups

There are four survey groups in this report. One consisted of non-Adventists, who were interviewed in the Maponya Mall. The other three groups comprise of people who are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The researcher and the research assistant, Nkosi, mentioned in chapter 1, engaged the people in all these groups.

Maponya Mall Group Groups – the non-Adventists (non-Christians)

This group comprised a random sample of twenty persons. Researcher and Nkosi (assistant) interviewed this group in April 2009. Their ages varied widely. All of them were shoppers that we found in different parts of the mall. We did not assemble them into a group for fear of causing unnecessary attention and caution from security personnel in the mall. The purpose of the interviews conducted with these persons was to find out what they, as Sowetans, think of the issues of employment/unemployment in relation to poverty. We also desired to see if these persons had any critical opinions about the presence of a structure of commercial affluence in the midst of largely poor communities.

The Adventist groups

Researcher and Nkosi identified all three groups. Both of us conducted the interviews. The groups comprised of different types of people: The first Adventist group was interviewed on September 15, 2008, while the second Adventist group members were engaged between March 9 and May 28, 2009.
The last Adventist group participated in a workshop in Zola Township on 15 January 2011. The purpose was to establish (1) the reality or absence of community ministry consciousness among Adventists in Soweto; (2) their awareness of the high incidence of poverty in the area; (3) what they, as individuals, were doing to respond to the plight of the poor, and (4) what they thought the church should do to confront the issue of poverty among the people.
A) Adventist Group 1
This was a special group that was composed of local church leaders of the Dorcas Society Federation in Soweto. Part of this group involved persons who were in local church projects working for the poor. The group also included two persons who worked in the church’s regional office for social welfare in Orange Grove. The interaction with this group is described in table 6.
B) Adventist Group 2
This group was made up of selected Adventists gathered from various occupations.
The interaction with this group is described in table 7.
C) Adventist Group 3
The fourth group was interviewed through a written questionnaire reflected in table 8. It comprised of the Adventist congregation in Zola Township. In the history of Soweto, Zola has been known to be crime–infested and that parts of this township are poverty-stricken. Even the congregation itself has high levels of youth and adult unemployment. My research assistant happens to be a member of this congregation. This is why it was easy for us to poll their opinions on poverty in Soweto. I myself pastored this church for three years. Most of its members are in the middle level of the lower rung of economic sustainability. In recent years, this church has assimilated persons from other countries in the SADC region that have also added to the level of unemployment and poverty. The interview in this church was carried out on January 15, 2011. This was on a Sabbath (Saturday) afternoon. Forty-three persons comprising of adults and youth participated in the survey. The relevant sections of this chapter give a fuller account of their participation in the research.

Results of the interviews

Maponya Mall

How does a mall such as the Maponya Mall benefit the community?
The essential response to this question was that the mall reduces transport costs, saves time and brings essential commodities within easy reach of the people, thus cushioning them from unnecessary travel to commercial centres outside of or far from Soweto which would be more costly because of distance and transport. In addition, these malls also create employment and convenience for the residents. And the traffic generated by the malls has benefitted small businesses. Hence, there are vendors that have positioned themselves outside the malls. Should a consumer forget what he/she needed from the mall, he/she ends up buying from the vendors.
With regard to the residential property market, Zondi (2011:101) has highlighted the fact that residential property price and value has increased since the establishment of the malls. It became clear that malls are seen as structures of convenience for local communities.
Question 2:
To what extent is the mall seen as creating employment and thus affecting positively on poverty in Soweto?
The impression gathered from answers to this question was that while the mall provides a needed commercial service, it has limited capacity for economic and social transformation since the large majority of many of the shops in the mall were not owned locally. The mall was seen as a generator of income that does not necessarily remain in the local community for projects of development and social relief. The people also noted the fact that a number of shops in the mall closed down because of high rental costs. A number of these were those that were primarily owned by black people. Both the researcher and assistant researcher have seen the evidence of shops that were closed down.
According to Zondi (2011:104), contrary to popular belief and perception, the negative effect on Soweto existing businesses is not that alarming. While businesses such as Spaza shops are adversely affected by the existence of shopping malls, street vending and shebeens are benefiting. General dealers and businesses located in old shopping centres reported positive and negative effects, with positive effects outweighing negative effects. It could be that they have found coping mechanisms to deal with the competition stimulated by the shopping malls. Retailers, especially anchor retailers located in the old shopping centres, are the same as those located at Maponya Mall and Jabulani Mall. They may differ in size, but they stock almost the same products and sell them at centrally determined prices.
In light of the responses of the people in the malls, it is clear that some have a positive attitude and some have a negative attitude towards the opening of the malls. Whatever the views of the consumers, what is important is the economic status of each consumer. Everyone must survive at the end of the day and that depends upon their buying patterns.
Hence, according to the iResearch Services, consumer patterns are influenced by the decisions and actions of the consumer. The study of consumer behaviour does not only help to understand the past but even predict the future.
The iResearch Services, therefore, clearly articulate five factors pertaining to the tendencies, attitudes and priorities of people that must be given due importance for understanding their buying patterns:
Marketing Campaigns
What influences consumers to buy a certain brand on a regular basis is the marketing campaign that is done regularly. In most of our informal retail shops in the township, there is mostly no organised or systematic marketing and advertising campaigns. Hence, the emergence of both Maponya Mall and Jabulani Mall altered the buying patterns and behaviour of Sowetans. The malls with their incessant organised marketing and advertising campaigns have influenced Sowetans to divert some of their retail spending from the existing businesses to the shopping malls.
Economic Conditions
The economic climate prevailing in the market always influences the pattern of a consumer. A positive economic environment is known to make consumers more confident to purchase anything they want irrespective of their financial liabilities.
Personal Preferences
Consumer behaviour is influenced by various shades of likes, dislikes, morals, and values. Since a consumer has the total prerogative in buying what he or she likes, shopkeepers must understand the psychology of their clientele. Marketing and advertisement may play a role but the personal consumer likes and dislikes exert greater influence on the end purchase of the consumer.
Group Influence
Any consumer is likely to buy if family members advise him to. The relatives and neighbours have a great influence on the purchasing decisions of the consumer.
Purchasing Power
The purchasing power of the consumer plays an important role in influencing consumer behaviour. Most of the time consumers want to purchase what they like but fail because of purchasing ability. The Marketing Department that has understood the behaviour of a consumer will retain their position successfully in the market place. Factors such as convenience, time, and entertainment have influenced the people of Soweto to buy from these two malls. Buying in the mall has not only brought opportunities to some, but has deepened the condition of poverty to the poverty-stricken ones who compete with those that have buying ability.
Question 3:
Do you know of any business, organisation or structure that is committed to lowering poverty levels in Soweto?
The respondents did not know of any such businesses.

READ  Philosophy of Hermeneutics and the Hermeneutical “Spiral”

Adventist Group 1

Group 1 was asked the following question:
What are Adventists doing in Soweto in terms of social involvement and the alleviation of poverty?
Adventists run a handful of social responsibility programmes and projects in Soweto. These are primarily of two kinds, namely, food distribution services such as soup kitchens, and early childhood development projects.
Each of these endeavours is directed by some board, committee or council sanctioned by a local congregation. The projects are also registered under Section 21 of the Companies Act, or the NPO Act. There are other activities or projects that are run by individual Adventists on an independent basis. The table below gives the basic facts about the projects.
All these projects are church-based, i.e., they are run from the church precincts and have accountability to local church administrative structures. Most of these projects are associated with and funded by the local congregations and /or the regional office of the church’s welfare organisation, ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) in Orange Grove, Johannesburg.
There is a positive and less positive impact of information from Adventist group:
a. Positive impact
The church in Meadowlands Zone 3 has been running a successful pre-school project for more than fifteen years. It caters for children from various parts of Soweto. It has its own structures built within the precincts of the church. Its name is Motswedi Day Care Centre. The name “Motswedi” is Sotho/Tswana for “fountain”.
b. Less positive impact
Based on the interviews and comments made by the survey group, the researcher and research assistant concluded that the following challenges are obvious:
Poor vision of social development: The Adventist church in Soweto lacks a clear vision of social development because of several factors, among which the following can be listed:
Lack of a scientific or comprehensive approach to social responsibility. It is good to talk about poverty; however, talk remains a passion unless it is backed by valid information and a broad understanding of root causes and consequences. Poverty is both a consequence and a cause of certain unpleasant social conditions that are multifarious in their impact on the sanity of social life.
Lack of a broad and informed rational approach to poverty results in short-term endeavours that are fundamentally of relief rather than a developmental nature. There is nothing morally wrong with giving people food and clothing; however, there is something fundamentally wrong when such actions constitute the sole features of a social responsibility programme of a denomination.
Lack of intellectual grasp of poverty. Poverty is seen as a material misfortune, an accident caused by a combination of social mishaps and prejudices leading to alcoholism and other acts of intemperance. Poverty is not seen as a legacy of the previous colonial regime that displaced large black population to places of underdevelopment and from opportunities for personal and communal progress.
No formal discourse on social needs. Local Dorcas Societies are not seen as agencies of serious intellectual discussion, knowledge production and articulation. They are generally perceived as simple women welfare groups that supplement evangelistic programmes of the church. In themselves, they are not agents for change. However, the quality of their service to children and the poor, if not far-reaching enough, is still making an input into people’s lives and are appreciated18.
Narrow social responsibility action. Poverty is closely linked to such conditions as low functional literacy, lack of the capacity to access meaningful work opportunities.
In the light of these six challenges above, we need to understand that the church cannot faithfully minister to people if the needs of the people are not fully understood. The gospel becomes complete when we follow Christ’s divine similitude and His method. When we do what Christ did, the gospel will become relevant to our communities. Christ’s method will be fully explicated in chapter 5. Gaspar Colon (1997: 103) cuts to the crux of the matter when he says:
As we are talking about change, it comes to my mind that we have tried over and over again to solve our problems, and maybe focus our mission, by changing structure incrementally to meet the challenge of problems and obstacles that we see. The problem with such an approach is that we end up focusing on the volcano, on results, on peripherals, on the symptoms and not what is deep down inside. What we need is to start looking very carefully at the changing context of our world; begin to look at our mission as a people, to look at the mandates that we have in that mission and then change our mentality and our strategy in recognition of those changing contexts. Incremental change of structure is not going to solve our problem. We need to become sensitive to whatever paradigm our vision is taking us to. (p.103).
The effective necessary change can never be experienced if the church remains a fortress church. A fortress church is a church that views the world as evil and dangerous and as a result, it must not have anything to do with the world. Therefore, we protect and huddle ourselves in our Christian cocoons and never get involved. We pray for the world but never engage in a meaningful relationship. Eric Swanson corroborates this important factor when he states, “While the church is called to be separate in lifestyle it has never been called to be isolated from the people it seeks to influence.”

Adventist Group 2

This was a select group of Adventists who were interviewed and engaged in some discourse on the church’s work among the poor in Soweto. They were five in number and came from different backgrounds. The exercise took place on Sunday, 9 March 2008. The discussion centred on two questions noted in the table below.

Adventist Group 3

January 15th 2011 was a Saturday, a day of worship in the Adventist community. The researcher and Nkosi (assistant) engaged forty-three members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who worship in Zola, one of the poor areas of Soweto.
Members of this church formed the focus group of this study. Apart from one elderly male who lives in an old age home, the rest came from the following ten townships:
Braamfischerville Dobsonville
Green Village Moletsane
Molapo Naledi
Protea Glen Extension Tladi
The intention was to ascertain the perceptions of Adventists on poverty in Soweto as well as proposals for the creation of the church’s response thereto. The group comprised of adults from age 35 to 88 and young people between 16 and 34 years of age. The younger group comprised 65 percent of the participants. Both genders were fairly represented. This exercise took place in the church in Zola Township. Some of the persons involved in the survey are originally from Mozambique and Zimbabwe. An explanation of this exercise, its intents and objectives were given to participants. I also told them how they should handle the research questions. Since a number of these persons were adults who had not received sufficient school education the questions were written in English and IsiZulu since most of these persons spoke, read and wrote these languages.

READ  Isolation and identification of compounds from lippia javanica

Survey Process

The survey required participants to answer five questions. They were given a question sheet with spaces in which to record their responses. The questions were presented in the sequence shown below. Each question asked in English was accompanied by a translation in isiZulu, a common African language among Soweto people. Some of the responses were even written in this language.
Further reflections of researcher and research assistant on notable observations from the group’. People’s reflections on poverty: Causes, Effects and Proposals for Action
A) Punishment or curse from God
Observations and Proposals:
There is a need to unpack the phenomenon of sin and how it has given birth to multiple consequences of negativity and destruction of people and things.
It should be made clear that God is not malevolent by nature, but loving and caring. The poverty that surrounds us is part of the ecology of evil in the human condition.
B) Will of God
Observations and Proposals:
In addition to the point raised above, it should be made clear to the people that poverty is but one of the consequences of human fall. It is rooted in greed, social dishonour, racial inequality, etc.
Because of the intensity, prevalence and debilitating results of poverty, some of the believers have embraced fatalistic logic and/or justification of poverty, that it is part of God’s will that some people will be poor while others are rich.
This reasoning cements their life to desperation and hopelessness, making some of them read God’s invisible hand in the disparities between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”
In addition, this semi-theological explanation for the continuity of poverty provides psychological cushioning against the shocks associated with destitution. This limiting micro-religious notion further implicates people in self-underdevelopment.
C) Result of laziness and lack of creative thinking
Observations and Proposals:
It is the view of this project that a large portion of the poor people in Soweto is in this condition because of a lack of self-discipline and self-determination. There are many people who have the brains and physical energy to change their lives but they will not because they lack diligence and the spirit of self-reliance and the determination to change things.
Motivation programmes attached to skills provision should form part of the large agenda of poverty alleviation in South Africa.
D) Lack of opportunities
Observations and Proposals:
It is true that many people who live in Soweto did not have opportunities necessary for what the government calls, “a better life for all.”
As a community of social and economic contrasts, the levels of educational literacy vary for a number of reasons:
The migration of people from rural areas to Soweto adds to the number of persons whose educational literacy is socially and economically meaningless.
Society has itself been the hive of human underdevelopment because of the political theory that gave birth to townships across South Africa.
There has also been the hostel system that brought thousands of illiterate and semi-illiterate adult males from the countryside to the city for work opportunities. Historically, single-sex hostels have been perceived as places of people with little or no education at all.
Attempts should be made to create mechanisms for job opportunities in Soweto.
E) Low educational literacy
Observations and Proposals:
Here lies one of the most fundamental challenges facing poor people in Soweto. Despite the fact that there are many schools in this place, it is also true that levels of literacy are not appreciable. Literacy levels are not high enough to sustain self-reliance and independence.
Discussion minimally took place on the inner workings of the education system since a number of the adult members comprise persons with little education.
F) Lack of marketable skills
Observations and Proposals:
The lack of skills that people need for work opportunities impacts negatively on persons and families alike. There is also the fact that the large majority of black South Africans who were schooled were not educated for employment. Thus, the long wait for external employment exacerbates the condition for penury and personal despair. Suicides related to failure to sustain one’s life and family are not uncommon in Soweto.

Table of Contents
Declaration by candidate
List of abbreviations
Statement on originality
List of Tables
1.1 Background
1.2 Research problem
1.3 Critical issues in the research problem
1.4 How Adventism is challenged by the context of Soweto
1.5 Democratic experience
1.6 Central research question
1.7 Research objective
1.8 Research paradigm, methodology and design
1.9 Contextual paradigms, critical scholarship and the poor
1.10 Freire’s action- reflection method
1.11 Croatto’s (1987) hermeneutic approach
1.12 The pastoral cycle
1.13 Components of participatory research
1.14 Gains from a participatory research design:
1.15 Fusion of four elements in this participatory approach
1.16 Specific research methods
1.17 Role of research assistant
1.18 Scope of the study
1.19 Brief theological reflection on poverty
1.20 Literature survey
1.21 Organisation of work
2.1 Introduction
2.2 World urbanisation in the global context
2.3 The South African urban context
2.4 Johannesburg: A representative urban reality
2.5 Criminality
2.6 Soweto style
2.7 The significance of Soweto
2.8 Soweto, an iconic womb of poverty/inequality
2.9 Apartheid legislation and its effects on blacks and Soweto
2.10 Demographic composition
2.11 Who are the poor and where are the poor?
2.12 Extreme poverty according to the World Bank
2.13 Where do the poor live?
2.14 Why are they poor?
2.15 The nature of poverty
2.16 Poverty as a deficiency
2.17 Poverty as a “cluster of disadvantages”
2.18 Poverty as lack of access to social power
2.19 Conclusion
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Four survey groups
3.3 Results of the interviews
3.4 Survey Process
3.5 A theological assessment of responses
3.6 Conclusion
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Group discussions of Adventist theological doctrines
4.3 Retrieving salient themes of Adventist mission theology: liberative aspects
4.4 Conclusion
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The city as a place of class contrasts and social inequalities
5.3 Ellen G. White and Urban Mission
5.4 Missio Dei from creation to recreation
5.5 Can a nonparticipant in a context do contextual theology?
5.6 Towards an integration of eschatology and soteriology in Adventist theology
5.7 A Deuteronomist Model of social justice: Towards the Millennium
5.8 Conclusion
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Rationale for a synthesis
6.3 Theoretical framework for a liberative mission theology
6.4 Power precedes programme
6.5 Building relationships that bring transformation in our communities
6.6 Objective of building relationships
6.7 The necessity of Empowerment
6.8 Utilising Nehemiah’s practical Strategy of Empowerment
6.9 Focus on a holistic Gospel
6.10 Theoretical orientation of the group about the ABCD
6.11 Areas of social responsibility
6.12 Skills education
6.13 Researcher’s reflection
6.14 Embrace the principle of equal involvement and management
6.15 Core attitudes and behaviours
6.16 Necessity for a radical programme of action
6.17 Identifying and training of liberative mission practitioners (LMPs)
6.18 Implementation
6.19 Self-reliance:
6.20 Community identification and description
6.21 Conclusion

Related Posts