Crocker Stephenson’s “Snapshot” of Mathi in “Journal”

Mathi’s Night at Timbuktu, November 20, 2005


Mathibela Sebothoma is my new friend, a Catholic people’s priest from South Africa, studying communications at Marquette University from now until 2007, currently living at St. Mary’s in Riverwest, and member of the African Catholic Priest Solidary Movement and the Institute for Contextual Theology.

Were you to “google” Mathibela you would find essays he writes on a monthly basis for the “Southern Cross” magazine, a voice of “God in South Africa.”

Mathi writes for “The Southern Cross,” Southern Africa’s National Catholic Weekly.

Mathi, as Father Sebothoma prefers to be called, was born in Praetoria, South Africa in 1968. He was profoundly altered by experiencing the “rivers of student blood” following a massacre on June 21, 1976, at the Boikgonatscho school in Praetoria. He has been a comrade of the freedom movement of South Africa since that day.

Here are some of the guiding principles Mathi was raised by in the South African liberation movement that culminated on Freedom Day, April 27, 1994, when the black majority of South Africa won the right to vote, at that moment, overwhelmingly for Nelson Mandela.

Education is for liberation.

Education is for emancipation.

Each One Teach One.

Mathi will be reading some of his liberation poetry at the Peter Blewett Fundraiser at Timbuktu, March 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. Peter Blewett will also read some of his own poems at this event, which coincides with Human Rights Day in South Africa, in commemoration of the Shrpville Massacre in 1959.

Human Rights Day Poetry by Mathibela Sebothoma of South Africa and Peter Blewett of Milwaukee, at the Fundraiser for Peter Blewett, Timbuktu, March 21, 6 to 8 p.m.

At 08:17 AM 3/22/2005, harvey taylor wrote:
Harvey wrote:

Dear Mathi,

Thank you for inspiring Human Rights Day USA.

It is my great pleasure and honor to be witness to your contribution to an awakening in our fair city.

I will do my best to let the people know about the glorious South African Revolution and the lessons for all therein.

We will learn very much about our own possibilities from this great historic drama, just begun!

The USA is a young nation, as is South Africa.

Both nations have a heritage of unspeakable crimes against humanity, “legally” carried out.

I pray that your arrival in Milwaukee will accelerate racial healing and spark a new civil rights movement for the 21st century, ushered in by a United Democratic Front!

kul am u-into bcheer, peace, love, light and happiness —Godsil

Dear Jim

Thank for your leadership in the attempt to make Milwaukee the paradigm of Peace. Some slogans may help us to think:

“If you want peace, work for justice” (Pope Paul VI)

“Everybody wants peace, nobody wants justice. I don’t want peace but justice” (Peter Tosh)

To receive the attention of the Norweigians and the the international community demands a lot of determination. I have heard people from this city speaking proudly that Milwaukee is the most or second most segregated city in the United States. I say ‘proud’ because a large number seem to be comfortable with segregation. People close their eyes, or rather their conscience, to those being disadvantaged by segregation.

Apartheid declared a crime aginst humanity by the United Nations nearly destroyed the human soul of the South African society. Apartheid, like any other segregation, promoted hatred, suspicion, xenophobia, racism, sexism, fundamentalism. Nazism can be defined as a notion that one race is better than the other.

I know winning the Nobel Prize is only a carrot. The main goal is to bring genuine transformation, justice and development to this city. The world may want to invest in this city.

Then i suggest that we move from being a multi-racial community to a non-racial city. This may mean to even compromise and sacrifice ethnic trivialities. For the first time I saw a different Saint Patricks’ Day being celebrated at Timbuktu. Instead of the usual drinking associated with this sacred day, I saw people from all walks of life (Irish and non-Irish) sharing about the contributions they are bringinging to Milwaukee.

Are there organisations that deal with issues of race/racism?
Does the media in Milwaukee encourage a non-racial city?
Do we privately use offensive and derogatory words against other groups, especially minorities?
Are there forums for people of different backgrounds to share and debate issues of common or uncommon interest?

James, unless we have a clear vision of where we want to be, Milwaukee may as well be proudly segregated, and be a city of shame.

As an individual you can only do a little. We need the support of our leaders, politicians, religious communities, civic groups, etc

Aluta Continua

My letter in response:

Dear Mathi,

Thank you for this thoughtful piece. My hope is that we can inspire students to become interns and get course credit for working on the issues of peace and justice in Milwaukee, like Jodi is on “Freeing Our Daughters from Domestic Violence.” I also hope to enlist the support of “Boomers,” i.e. people who were children of the movements of the 60s, put aside their radical passion while raising families, and are now becoming “empty nesters” as their children are becoming adults.

I would very much appreciate your expanding on the notion “disadvantaged by segregation,” as it applies to the concrete situation you have been witnessing in Milwaukee.

Do you think perpetuating segregation is a “crime against humanity?”

I would also hope you might offer a vision of a world that might “want to invest in this city” as a result of a “genuine transformation, justice, and development.”

And what might a “non-racial city” look like and feel like?

I am going to post these questions you pose on some of the “social minds” on line of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods, which I hope may self-transform someday into the “Milwaukee Federation of Neighborhoods.”

Are there organisations that deal with issues of race/racism?

Does the media in Milwaukee encourage a non-racial city?

Are there forums for people of different backgrounds to share and debate issues of common or uncommon interest?

James, unless we have a clear vision of where we want to be, Milwaukee may as well be proudly segregated, and be a city of shame.

God bless,


Subject: Catholic

Dear Jim,

Our world is one. All the obstacles are man-made. Liberation for one is a liberation for all. American is part of the universe. And that does not depend on what you feel.

Father Mathi
March 19, 2005
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Subject: Cry

Dear Jodi,

I am disturbed by so many cries from the children of Milwaukee. Who is going to hear their cry? Is it you alone. We need the whole village to challenge such a crime?

Father Mathi
March 19, 2005
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Subject: Drum For Humanity


One drum is not about entertainment. The drum has a message. Liberate the world.

Father Mathi
March 19, 2005
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Subject: Agape

How did the mystic love meeting grow. Love=agape is for everyone.

Father Mathi
March 19, 2005
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Subject: Soldiers for peace

Africa has a lesson to teach to the world. There is so much individualism here. It is stinking. We have to change the mindset. We are condemned to each other.

Cleo! The soldiers home may be a rallying point for our people: for war and against. Through this project we can teach people that no one is an island

Father Mathi
March 19, 2005
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Subject: Educate to liberate

Dear Tina

Education is the beginning of any revolution. But it depends on the teacher.Hitler and Verwoerd used education to enslave. We can use education for liberation. Children must be made aware that they are part of the universe. They must learn about Africa and the world. You have such a great
responsibility that I am praying for you

Father Mathi
March 19, 2005
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Subject: Just War? what do we mean?


Thank you for leading the peace movement.

I think we need to have a debate on the theory of a just war. When can a country participate in the life of another?

Father Mathi
March 19, 2005
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Good Friday

Timbuktu: The Untold Story

This is not a pub

Not a drinking place

It is a University

A Centre for knowledge and empowerment

An intellectual and spiritual capital

A mission for the expansion of peace

Home for Africans in Diaspora

A guest house for friends of Africa

Home to prestigious souls

A seasonal camp for travellers.

With patrons of noble blood

Timbuktu is a royal residence, a palace

A resting place for legal and moral counsellors

A relaxing place for the lonely and confused

With wells containing sweet waters

And delicious delicacies from mother earth

A Centre for North, South, West and East

To stimulate the ancient times for upcoming victories

To save, refurbish and propagate sanity

JOHANNESBURG 19 March 2005 Sapa


The Rotterdam City Council has awarded President Thabo Mbeki
with an Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Racism Award, the Home Affairs
Department said on Saturday.

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba would receive the
award on his behalf at a ceremony in the Netherlands on Sunday.

Mbeki was the first recipient of the award, which is supposed to
recognise “champions in the global campaign against racism,” said
departmental spokesman Nkosana Sibuyi.

The ceremony forms part of a four day meeting in Rotterdam
marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination. This day was declared by the United Nations
National Assembly in 1966 following the Sharpville massacre in

In 1960, March, 180 black people were injured and 69 killed when
South African police opened fire on approximately 300
demonstrators, who were protesting against the pass laws at the
Sharpeville township, south of Johannesburg.


From: “Mathibela Sebothoma” <>
To: < …snip… com>, <>
Cc: < …snip…>
Subject: Thank You for

Thank you very much for participating in the South African Human Rights Day. 21st March is a commemoration of the 69 women, men and children who were shot dead by racist police in Sharpeville, South Africa.

The United Nations has subsequently declared 21st Match as the International Day Against Racism. I am sure that this day will inspire more Americans to work for human rights. As I have observed this city and nation is still divided on many other issues, and we need to close gap - the man-made disparities.

We need volunteers for human rights. It is people who will strive in their ordinary and daily life to be the best that they can be, and at the same time allow others to be.

As Comrade Mandela said: “Sekunjalo! Now is the time!” This means we do not postpone change and transformation until the next day. We do not wait until tomorrow because we do not know what tomorrow holds for us. We do not wait until we are retired. We do not wait until we have more resources. We do not wait until our children are independent. We do not wait until our salaries are raised. We do not wait until we are 18 or 21, or until we have finished college. We do not wait until we are retired. We do not wait for the next presidential election. Time is against us. The world (Milwaukee, South Africa, Somalia) is thirsting for justice and peace. Let us restore the dignity for each human being and their community. This is urgent. It is a State of Emergency. Sekunjalo.

As individuals we can do so much little. We can do much better as a group and as communities. Nurses can ensure that human rights are pre-eminent in the health sector. Police can bring back the dignity of the fallen by respecting everyone’s human rights. Churches can be welcoming all people irrespective of debatable issues. Teachers can make education more fun. Men can treat women as equals. Blacks can work together with whites. The abused can restore the sanity of their abusers. And so on…

Tau tsa hloka seboka di sitwa ke nare e hlotsa. This literally means lions which are not united can be defeated by an ailing and old buffalo. In other words, unity is strength; two heads are better than one.

Human Rights are not a privilege. Without human rights… we are as good as dead. Yes, I am my brother’s (sister’s) keeper.

Let us keep the fire burning,


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Last edited by TeganDowling. Based on work by g and MS.  Page last modified on January 19, 2006

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