The Old Diocesan Issue 6 – September 2020 - Magazine - Page 83
Wilbur van Niekerk (1985K) is Chairman of the ODU
Committee, serves on the Bishops Trust and is an observer
to the College Council. He is a commissioner at the CCMA.
and gave me a sense of identity
in Jesus Christ. What nevertheless
remained was a sense of belief
that has assisted me in breaking
down societal barriers throughout
my adult life.
There seems to be a common
experience that echoes among
many – though not all – ODs of
colour. On the one hand, there
is the tremendous ability and
opportunity to engage with society
that a privileged education gives
us. On the other hand, there is
a feeling of being disconnected
from the expectation created as
our individual internal capacity
collides with the awkwardness
of social rejection. As a Bishops
boy, I found that my family did
not understand me, and my
community treated me with
disdainful distance. The society
that we wanted to change refused
to accept the anomaly that
I presumably represented.
That sense of social isolation
can either make or break, and
for some of us this has been
unbearable. Those who have
overcome the odds are vaunted
as examples. So we become
comfortable with being the
anomaly, straddling the different
worlds. I believe it is time to break
the silence so that lives filled with
potential can be fully realised.
The Bishops community
requires cohesive relationships.
We must preserve our unity of
purpose, we must protect what
we hold dear, and we must be
fuelled by our common values
to influence the world to come
for those who will live in it.
I was recently asked what
binds ODs together. ODs who
attended Bishops in the 1950s
had a different experience to
those who were there during
the 1980s; similarly, those at
school after 2000 had a completely
different experience. What’s the
connection, then? My answer
was that Bishops is our common
ground. I want to focus on what
draws us all together under the
banner of ODU values and the
ideal of “Bishops for Life”.
On 4 March 2020, the global
ODU elected a new committee
comprising 12 members. The
current ODU committee vintage
hails in the main from the 1980s.
In relation to the current matric
class, our comparators would be
from the 1950s! To the current
matrics, we are relics. It’s a
sobering thought. Yet we have a
responsibility to create a legacy
for them. Who knows what
difference they will make to
their world in the future?
Understanding the past is
important. But the paralysis
of attempting to rearrange it
will never serve to create a better
world for the generations that
follow us. We must look at the
present and act now for a better
future. And so it falls to the OD
Union to ask itself what relevance
and impact we each make in the
lives of fellow ODs and, in turn,
how ODs can make an impact
on the world around them.
Privileged by our education, we
were born for a time such as this,
and so we will be called upon by
history to contribute to mankind.
To use a sporting analogy, if life is
a game of rugby, then the clock is
ticking; we are a few points adrift,
scrum on the halfway line, Bishops
ball. What are we going to do?
Speaking at the CCMA Commissioner Conference in Cape Town, 2018.
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