Postings

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Can Africa feed its People?


Can Africa feed its people


Stes de Necker

With due recognition to Nick Zenonos 

 

 

Africa frequently experiences food shortages, although its 900 million farmers could feed the continent, as well as supplying other parts of the world.

 

But for this to happen they need the support of politicians.

 

1.    The good news first
African governments, donors and the United Nations have rediscovered Africa’s agricultural sector. For almost two decades they concentrated on urban industrialization. Agriculture was insignificant.
Politicians only woke up following fluctuations on raw materials markets, coupled with a severe food crisis that began in 2008 and subsequent famine-driven rebellions. As a result the German Development Aid Ministry drew up strategy papers outlining a development policy that put the spotlight on agriculture.
In Africa some 900 million people, that’s 90 percent of the total population, work in the agricultural sector. It may not be a perfect comparison but who in Germany would come up with the absurd idea of halting the activities of small and medium-scale handicraft businesses, which guarantee millions of jobs and are a major factor in the country’s economy?
What can Africa’s agricultural sector achieve?

Agriculture means life. Every year one in eight people of the world’s population doesn’t have enough to eat. Most of those going hungry live in South Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa. These figures are alarming.
Can Africa feed itself, and then at some point in the future even provide food for a rapidly growing world?

More specifically, can Africa in the medium-term feed itself and then become a food exporter? This is only possible if local politicians and foreign donors work together.
2.    But here comes the bad news.
In many African countries, commitment to farming is no more than lip-service. Conditions are lacking for farmers which would make it possible for them not only to fulfil their own needs but also to produce a surplus. Take Ethiopia for example -nearly 85 percent of the country’s some 90 million people live from the land. But Ethiopia’s authoritarian government, in a show of Marxist nostalgia, still bans private land ownership
a.    Leasing land
Even land leases are uncertain.
There is little incentive for farmers to invest in small plots of land to act as erosion protection. Instead they use expensive packets of seeds along with pesticides and herbicides, which in turn leach into the soil, trapping them in a vicious cycle of poverty when harvests are lost and debts increase.
b.    Commerical African banks do not give loans to farmers.
They cannot simply replace old wooden ploughs with modern equipment that would in-turn increase income manyfold. Even in the 21st Century many farmers are denied adequate access to markets, roads to the nearest marketplace are impassable in the rainy season. Studies show that up to 50-percent of African farmers fresh produce rots on the way to market – an unacceptable figure. And so the list goes on.
c. Industrialization in Africa, not possible without agriculture

It won’t take much to increase the productivity of farmers and in turn crop yields, says the DW report. Drip irrigation, crop rotation, seed finishing and organic cultivation are just keywords.
In an attempt to avoid any misunderstandings, it’s not about playing industrialization off against agriculture. But rather, one cannot exist without the other.
Industrialization in Africa must be vigorously promoted to ensure Ivorian cocoa beans are processed in Abidjan rather than Hamburg. At the same time African countries and their donors must meet to agree on a partnership for Africa’s food productivity.
The chances for such are good. After the uprising in Tunisia in 2011, that first ousted politicians then swept the winds of change across North Africa and the Arab world, Africa’s decision makers have been warned.
Hunger has become a political tool of the masses.

Europe’s politician’s have seen what desperation in Lampedusa and Malta’s refugee camps can trigger. The time has come for a new deal for African agriculture.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The origin and consequences of cultural and historical differences in South Africa - Who should take responsibility

The origin and consequences of cultural and historical differences in South Africa

Who should take responsibility


                                                                                                                                                          Stes de Necker


The meeting between whites (mainly of European descent ) and blacks (mainly African descent) , in the early 19th century, was also the beginning of the race issue in South Africa , which later would result in serious conflict , segregation and the subsequent policy of apartheid in South Africa.

With this meeting, two different, almost directly opposing cultural systems came together which would, for the next 170 years, lay the foundation of the political developments in South Africa .

Maintaining a Eurocentric social order by the whites , and keeping with the traditional Afro centric norms and values ​​by the black people of South Africa , represented the struggle of this two traditional cultural systems that practically opposed of each other head on. That which was traditionally and culturally acceptable and correct for the one group, was totally unacceptable for the other, and vice versa.

Political ideologies are not only shaped by social and religious norms and values ​​, but also by a sense of nationality and solidarity expressed in terms of power and political survival. The longer the population is exposed to these aims of power and survival, the more these goals are elevated to a collective value system. Once it has become a collective value system, it becomes more and more difficult for the individual to be objective towards the system, which he / she is now an integral part off.

For the English speaking white leadership in the late 19th century and early 20th century, the primary objective was to secure a distinct white ( Eurocentric) system in South Africa. The main goal was the preservation of a system of European values ​​and norms. These aims later led to the establishment of the " South African Republic " (Transvaal) in 1852 , and the Orange Free State Republic in 1854 .

Until 1910 the political and economic power were vested mainly in the Cape and Natal, which at that stage, were still under British control. With the discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1886, the British government decided to annex the entire South Africa  territory which led to the ‘first’ Anglo-Boer War from 1880 to 1881 .

However, the Boer Republics defeated the English, and in 1899 , despite strong opposition from the Liberal Party in the British Parliament, England decided to again invade South Africa, but this time they returned in far greater numbers than was the case before. 

The subsequent Anglo - Boer War which started in 1899, and the subsequent establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, the need for unique self - preservation among the Afrikaans - speaking whites only grow stronger.  After Unification, England retained the economic power in South Africa and the vast majority of Afrikaans - speaking South Africans , who previously have been making a living mainly from farming, were left poor and unskilled, and had to find work as labourers in a new and unfamiliar industrialized environment.

The exclusion of white South Africans from the economic power base and the continued strive among white South Africans for a unique (Eurocentric ) social dispensation, was the main driving forces that led to the formation of the National Party, (at that time a coalition between the National Party Dr . Malan and African Party of Mr . Klasie Havenga ). With the election of 1948 , the United Party of General  Jan Smuts was defeated and the South African National Party took over the political power in South Africa . This coalition later became known as the National Party . The continued preservation of the white culture after 1948, led to the promulgation of a number of segregation Laws aimed at exclusive political participation , freedom of movement , protection of employment for whites , and blocking social integration of blacks, which were already accounted for the majority of the population at that stage.

In 1960, South Africa left the British Commonwealth, and in 1961 the Republic of South Africa was established.

Due to the overwhelming imbalance in the numbers of the white and black population , and for fear of black domination in a Western democratic political system, the South African government, under the leadership of Dr . HF Verwoerd, decided to introduce a system of separate development , where each distinctive community can develop independently and separately within its own territory. In order to facilitate this concept, a variety of " homelands " were created to accommodate the various ethnical communities .

The implementation of these policies, however, leads to the expropriation of land for the creation of such homelands and the subsequent forced relocation of communities, displacement, alienation, and the subsequent disintegration of families. Breadwinners were now forced to find jobs far removed from their homes and were separated from their families for long periods of time .

While there was principally nothing wrong with the concept of separate development, the National Government did not took cognisance of the practical implications atrocities’ which the implementation and execution of this policies would harbour. Deeply rooted Afro centric values ​​of the black people, mainly because of ignorance on the side of white South Africans, were not taken into account. The result was that infinite and irreparable harm was imposed on millions of black South Africans, affected the system.
 
The policy of separate development also had a suppressed secondary objective namely, once  the policy had been successfully implemented and every ethnic group was officially recognized within their own territories, there could no longer be talk of a white minority government in South Africa.   Whites would then have been the majority in the allocated " white " area, just as every other ethnic group would have been the majority in their separate areas .

In addition to the ‘draconian’ apartheid laws, the National Government , especially under the leadership of Adv . John Vorster and later PW Botha ( with the active support of the State Security Council ) remained steadfast in their resolve to ensure that the Government’s policy of separate development was implemented and executed at all levels of society. Patriarchal social structures like Universities, Schools, Churches, Government  Institutions, organized Trade and Industry, Sports, Agriculture, Military, Police , Security Police, etc. . etc. . were tactfully yet seriously cautioned not to tolerate any rebellion against, or opposition to, the policy of Apartheid, and were placed under immense pressure to ensure that all requirements and regulations of the government were meticulously carried out and adhered to.

As a child, during the fifties and sixties, growing up in a strict Reformed house and attending a purely Christian National school, I was never allowed to think for myself, leave alone criticize the Government! And watch out for the poor youngster who did try to think for himself or herself. Such a youngster was quickly singled out as being " different " and being labelled  as different  was simply not acceptable .

At university I once seriously disagreed with a lecturer on a certain economic theory, and despite three subsequent attempts, I could never pass in that subject !

It was certainly never needed of me to think for myself, because :

The school decide how I had to cut and comb my hair and what school uniform I will wear ;

The teacher decided for me what I will learn or will not learn in school ;

Government Regulations decided for me in which rows I should stand at which entrances and parks I could go ;

The church decided for me which sport I practise on what days;

The Publications Sensor Board decided for me what I could read and I cannot read and what I could  see or could not;

The University decided for me what I need to study ;

And finally, my first employer decided for me how I should do my job.

By the time I was 25 years old, I was a professional conformist! 

I am convinced that there are today thousands of South Africans ( White and Black ) walking around with the bitter feeling that were openly and blatantly cheated and deceived by the previous National Government. 

Besides the protection of political power, the second goal of the National Government was to secure the economic power, which at the time vested mainly in the hands of English-speaking South Africans, as soon as possible .

After 1948 , and with the support of the National Government , a number of major Afrikaans  organizations such as Nationale Pers, Sanlam, Volkskas and Rembrandt, were established.

Achieving the Government 's economic objectives lead to the promulgation of a further number of apartheid laws including the employment limitation of blacks in the public service and prohibition of certain technical trades .

This legislation caused many whites, especially unskilled and illiterate individuals, finding their security politically entrenched and abnormally privileged. In most cases, skin colour, and not qualifications or technical skilling, secured their survival in the labour market. 

The subsequent isolation and marginalization of black people was the main reason that there came an awakening of an Afro centric self - preservation among black South Africans and the ANC became the official representative of the black people in the struggle for political and economic self - preservation.

In 1960 , the ANC and the PAC were banned from South Africa and previously non - violent black consciousness organizations, were forced to become militant " underground " movements.

As mentioned before, the segregation Laws which would later become widely known as the apartheid policy of South Africa , inflict endless suffering on millions of black South Africans . Black people, by far the majority of the population, was excluded from almost every measurable standard of living, including income, education, accommodation, housing and health.

The apartheid policy, both within South Africa and internationally, became so controversial that South Africa was almost totally isolated from the rest of the world in the late seventies.

Meanwhile, the collective need for self - preservation and survival among the black people, increased to such an extent that, in the early eighties,  it spilled over into violent unrest in the Witwaters Rand and other parts of the country . Most of these riots were violently suppressed and in 1984-1985 the South African government reacted with more severe countermeasures. These in turn lead to more and harsher resistance by the anti -apartheid movements , especially the ANC.

For the black leadership, the only goal was the self – preservation and survival of the black people.

One very important aspect that is often overlooked, is the fact that the black people of South Africa do not represent one homogeneous group. One of the many consequences of the Nationalist Government 's apartheid policies , was that it marginalized most so-called non- white population groups, namely the Blacks, Coloureds and Indians, which in turn forced these groups into a United front.

This brings me immediately also to a second very important aspect that so often overlooked , and that is that the ‘white’ population of South Africa is also not a homogenous community!

In 1990 the previous President of the ANC, Nelson Mandela , after an imprisonment of 27 years, was released from prison, and in 1994 the first multi-racial democratic elections were held in South Africa which lead to the overthrown of the National Government, and the political takeover by the ANC.

The outcome of the 1994 election went more or less as was expected. 

Aside from the dozens of political groups which contested the election, two major trends manifested after the election i.e. a pluralistic Afro centrism and a pluralistic Euro centrism. ( various separately identifiable groups that form a single unit ). White voters largely sided with the traditional white political groups, while the black voters sided predominantly with the black political groups.  Coloured voters were more or less evenly divided between the main trends, while the Indians sided mainly behind the Indian leadership.

Today in 2013, whites South Africans  not only find themselves  in a predisposition regarding their political identity , but also run the risk of political isolation if they are not prepared to switch to a diversified political group.  The possibility is increasing that the longer the status quo continues, the black youth 's collective values ​​and norms system, will be influenced to the extent that they will eventually no longer be able to remain objective  against the communist -inspired values ​​of the current government. 

As I mentioned before, during the late 1990 and early 2000, the main objectives for the black leadership was about self - preservation and survival. After political self - preservation was achieved in 1994 , there is now , as was the case with the whites after 1948, a concerted assault on the traditional white possession of the economic power base.

Claims for the nationalising of mines as well as the nationalisation of land and financial institutions on the part of a largely untrained and unqualified black youth, is characteristic of the immature understanding among the youth and most people in South Africa, of the economic realities of Africa.

Frustration among black youth as well as the current government's inability to sufficient progress in their aims for economic self-determination and sustainable development, is certainly today the main cause of the spate of senseless violence and crime committed by (mainly) the black youth.

I maintain that one can assume that the adult black population and the young black people feel the same about the state of affairs; They just differ in essence how to go about achieving their objectives.
 
Crime and violence in South Africa is therefore not a systemic phenomenon , but rather a symptomatic manifestation of a deeper cause, namely frustration . The only way to eradicate this evil is to solve the underlying cause; a larger police force or bigger prisons will not solve the problem.

In the hierarchy of basic needs, there is in fact no significant difference in the basic needs of the White and Black people of South Africa . ( See Abraham H. Maslow 's hierarchy of human needs. ) The major differences lie in the Eurocentric and Afro centric norms and value systems to satisfy these needs, and the mechanism necessary to achieve these objectives. 

The tragedy is however, that white people and black people lived together for more than three centuries in this country , and after all this time they never really got to know and understand each other!

The following table shows a number of basic differences that exist in the more common social practices of White and Black people in South Africa.


Keep in mind that not all Black ethnic groups have the same customs. Customs may differ even within a group as a result of geographical distribution .

Western Custom
Black Custom
1. The lesser must greet the greater, first
1. The lesser is not allowed to speak before he/she has been given the right to speak.
2. The greater’s head can be lower than that of the lesser.
2. A lesser’s head may never be higher than that of a greater.
3. A lesser is not allowed to sit unless the greater has given him/her permission to sit. 
3. The lesser will always also sit when the greater is sitting, purely because his/her head may not be higher than that of the greater. 
4. Females are always afforded the opportunity to enter a door first, or a vehicle door is always openened first for a lady. 
4. A male is expected to enter through a door first in order to indicate that he trusts the female behind his back and also to ensure that the room entering into is safe. 
5. Males normally stand during prayer. 
5. Males and females must be seated in order to lower themselves as much as possible before God. 
6. People talking loudly are considered ill-mannered.
6. When someone whispers it is regarded as that person gossiping.   
7. When the greater address a lesser, the lesser is expected to look the greater in the eyes. 
7. When a greater addresses a lesser, the lesser is not expected to look the greater in the eyes because it is a sign of aggression. 
8.The lesser is hardly ever given the opportunity to state his/her side of a case. 
8. The lesser must always be given the opportunity to state his/her side of a case.  
9. When visiting someone’s office, you must first knock and wait to be allowed in. 
9. When visiting a greater, you must enter the office quietly and go to sit until you get noticed by the greater and given the approval to speak when it suits the greater.
10. When you greet someone with a handshake, you are expected to give that person a firm grip. 
10. When you shake hands with someone else, you don’t grip the other person’s hand tightly out of respect and to show peace and submission. 
11. It is regarded rude to address someone by his last name only.  
11. To address someone by their last name only is to show respect for his origin. 
12. Someone arriving at a function usually waits to be greeted. 
12. A person arriving second, must greet the others first. 

By the end of the last century , South Africa , mainly because of the development in the field of transportation and communication technology , became part of the " Global Village ".

Globalization placed South Africa 's development under the new ANC government squarely under the spotlight of the international community.

The latter was largely responsible for the fact that the South African youth ( black and white ) have abandoned many of their traditional value systems in favour of associating with their oversees counterparts, mainly in Europe and America. The result is that many traditional habits and customs are no longer regarded as important and may even completely disappear over time.

The fact of the matter remains that the youth of today grows up with the founders of these cultural norms and values ​​systems , namely the older generation white and black people, and in this way still learn and inherits the historical differences between black and white people. It was after all the older generation that failed to reconcile the Western and African social customs! 

If we want to avoid a future intensification of this cultural struggle in this country, we should as soon as possible ( if it is not already too late ) learn and respect each other’s  traditions and customs and to build a new, ‘ism’, what I want to call, Africanism. 

Fortunately, some of our schools are already working in the direction to meet these requirements.

The challenge for the opinion and policy - makers in South Africa today,  is to find a commonly accepted ( collective ) value system that allows for our unique ‘unity in diversity’. Recognition and respect for the identity and preserving the cultural values ​​and norms of all groups in South Africa , must be ensured. Only when we achieve that it will no longer be necessary for so many people to leave this country for fear of losing his / her self - preservation.

One of the biggest mistakes the ANC Government could ever make was to attempt to ‘melt’ the different origins , identities , religions , cultures and languages , in one common society. 

America is an example where groups of different and diverse identity , live peacefully and un-troubled with each other , but still are proud of their common American identity .

In South Africa, this ideal will only be realized only if everyone is willing to learn, understand and respect each other's values ​​, norms and standards. 

The "winner - takes - all” mentality of the past and will no longer succeed in South Africa.  The question everyone should ask him or herself is, who is the true Africanist, to have the mandate to be ruler? South Africa is a land of minorities and there is no group which can elevate themselves to be the representatives of another.

The current ANC Government, believe it or not, is in fact also a minority government; It only depends what the criteria is to measure representation.

Escape from the current unbalanced distribution of economic wealth in South Africa, can only be achieved if the current ANC government, can succeed to distribute aid to the economically impoverished part of the population, in an economically viable and sustainable manner.

In a democratic pluralistic society such as South Africa, where both poverty and wealth should not be characterised by colour or creed of any kind, the challenge lies in developing the poor, without impoverishing the affluent.

If the current government is willing to learn one lesson from the previous order, it is how not to solve the “poor black problem “in South Africa by creating a new (colourless) "poor class". 

Job creation and mother tongue education has always been the foundation of economic development worldwide and it appears that the current government is busy making great strides in this area. The only negative aspect of this development is the fact that the government will have to seriously guard against the creation of a welfare state.

South Africa has the world's largest welfare system currently, and although recognition should be given to the fact that millions of people are at least able to survive because of the welfare grants they receive monthly from the State, these allowances do not create jobs. ( except of course for the number of civil servants to administer the system ! )


One wonders what the result would be if the money currently spent on social grants, were rather spent on job creation. 


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Depression and Suicide


Anyone reading this article please pass it on to someone who may benefit from reading it.


Depression and Suicide


                                                                                                                                         Stes de Necker

Introduction

Let me just start by saying that I am not a psychologist, much less a doctor. But years ago I went through the same hell of depression and was it not for the grace of Jesus, I would certainly not be sitting here writing today. Anyone who has not been affected by this disease will not know the hell such a person is going through. All possible and impossible negative thoughts take hold of you and pull you down to a point that will make you too tired to even get up in the morning. You simply are not physically able to get up out of bed!

This essay is not an attempt to give a scientific explanation of the cause and nature of this disease, but merely an attempt, as someone who has been through this experience, to share my experiences with someone who either themselves is struggling with this disease, or who knows someone who is currently struggling with this condition. These essays is meant especially for all of you, and believe me when I tell you, you have all my sympathy!

Was there something like depression in Biblical times?

The Bible is full of references to individuals who either suffered from depression, or who have experienced bouts of this condition.   

Abraham (Gen. 15), Jonah (Jonah 4), Job (The Book of Job), Elijah (1 Kings 19.), Saul (1 Samuel 16: 14-23), Jeremiah (The Book of Jeremiah) and King David, whom God loved: Psalm 6, 13, 18, 23, 25, 27, 31, 32, 34, 37-40, 42-43, 46, 51, 55, 62-63, 69, 71, 73, 77.84, 86, 90-91, 94-95, 103-104, 107, 110, 116, 118, 121, 123-124, 130, 138, 139, 141-143, 146-147. Read Psalm 38 in particular. David said in verse 11: "My heart racing, inspiration of my might, I cannot even see." 

Does this sound familiar?

But hear what King David says in Psalm 42 and 43: (Verse 12 and 5 respectively) "Why am I so in despair and why do I groan? Trust in God! Yes, I'll sing a song for him. He is my Saviour and my God”  

In Rom. 15: 13 Paul says: "May the God of hope, fills you with all joy and peace so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Later in Phil. 4: 4-7, Paul says "Rejoice always in the Lord! I will say it again: Rejoice! (5) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, desires, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving to God. (7) And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will keep watch over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. "

It seems almost as if Paul knew the debilitating effects of depression and therefore did everything in his power to warn his followers against it. If anyone was vulnerable to depression, it was Paul.

I know only too well that the last thing someone who is already depressed wants to hear is how bad it is to someone else. "Well, that's nothing! Wait until I tell you what happened to me! "... As if you care at that time a dime! But here's the religious giant, Paul, despite his all-encompassing faith in Jesus Christ, earnestly fighting not to be negative and depressed. Hear what he says in 2 Cor. 11: 21-28:

 "Let me but to my shame admit that for such things were too weak! ... (23) Are they ministers of Christ? And now I talk like I'm out of my mind; more! I worked harder, I was in prison, I was beaten more often, and I was often in a death. (24) Five times I received from the Jews the punishment received from thirty-nine lashes, three times I received corporal punishment and once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked, and once I had a day and a night spent in the open sea. (26) I was often travelling and was in danger; dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers of countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; dangers in the city, dangers in the field; dangers at sea, dangers among false brethren. (27) It was my hard work and hardship, often sleepless nights; often hungry and thirsty and often I was without food, without shelter or covering in the cold. (28) Above all, there is the daily pressure of my concern for all the churches. (29) Who is weak, I feel as if I too am weak; someone falls into sin, I feel as though I walk through the fire. (30) If there is to be praised, I will boast, but on my weaknesses. "

Later in 2 Cor. 11: 8 we read: "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. His answer was: 'My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness. "

Paul, probably the greatest disciple of Jesus we read about in the New Testament, had gone through inhuman hard times, but God has never left him; never abandoned him. Paul received "preferential treatment"! Like Daniel and his friends in the Old Testament, God did not take him away from his trials, but He went through Paul’s trials with him. God was always with Paul; God was always in control!



What is depression?

We've all heard that depression in today's terms be described as the "common cold" of mental disorders. Scientists claim that one in every 10 people will experience depression at one time or another. South Africa currently holds the seventh place in the world rankings where the prevalence of people with mood disorders is the highest.

Mood disorder, which is just another word for depression, is now the third leading cause of teen deaths in South Africa. 20% of our young people experience depression before they reach adulthood!

Unfortunately, depression is still not taken seriously enough. Many young people are under the impression that they themselves can handle the pressure in their lives, while others are under the misconception that depression is a sign of weakness; ‘you cannot handle the pressure!’

From elementary school children are expected to operate at the fast moving pace of the 21st century. And when the poor ‘bloedjie’ cannot cope he/she is regarded as a weakling or unintelligent.

Children today are no longer allowed to be just "child" and who must still be playing! Performance is all that matters. School children in grade 4 learn today what we older generation first learned in grade 9! Time to play no longer exists and the little spare time that there still may be, is spent on mobile phones, computer games and "I-pads".  No wonder young people stress themselves to death these days!

The tragedy of this is that most of our education leaders and parents are aware of this condition, but still nothing is done about this! Instead of helping their children and explain the dangers of this threatening disease, more and more child guidance therapists get appointed at schools. The proverbial pimple on the skin is treated and not the underlying cause.

According to doctors, there are different types of depression which some are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, while others have a profound spiritual origin. For depression due to chemical imbalances in the brain there are excellent medications and therapy to control it. Depression caused by spiritual origin, medication alone is not sufficient and requires treatment by qualified specialists in this field. The problem remains that the disease is rarely diagnosed in time. By the time the teacher or parent or friend started to get worried, it's usually too late.

Depression is a complex mental illness requiring specialist attention. Too often it is simply regarded as part of the "puberty stage" or "mood swings". How often do you hear: "He / she is in one of his / her moods again!"
The most common form of depression, called "reactive depression" is caused by sudden uncontrollable changes in a person's life. These changes place the person under enormous pressure and leave him/her finally exhausted and burned out. 

Typical symptoms of depression are:

 An inability to perform
 Social withdrawal
 Lack of enthusiasm and energy
 Poor self-esteem
 Overreaction to criticism or negative comment about his / her behaviour
 Poor concentration
 Indecision
 Anxiety
 Helplessness
 Feelings of failure
 Guilt

Dear reader, if you notice any of these symptoms in yourself, or your child, or someone you know, please know that such person is already in a state of depression and that he / she needs urgent help.

Depression changes a Person.  

Proverbs 18: 14 say: "Courage makes one bear his suffering; when he gave up, no one can give." In the English translation says: "The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?”
Anyone who was ever caught up in the woes of depression will tell you that depression changed him/her.  Whether it's for better or for worse, does not matter; one thing is certain, you will not be the same afterwards.

One of the best examples of depression in the Bible is found in the story of Job. Job lost his family and everything he owned. Satan struck Job with terrible boils, so that his friends did not even recognize him.
Job, sitting in sackcloth and ashes, talking to the three friends he had left, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, said that he was convinced that even God had forsaken him. In Job 23 from verse 8 he says: "I go to the east, He is not there, to the west, I cannot find Him


Suicide

In a state of depression, it is impossible to think rationally. You can hardly see God, let alone the positive things around you. This is when you're at your most vulnerable to Satan's temptations! This is when it seems to you the only way out is suicide.

For anyone who is in a serious state of depression, there is nothing as easy as to put a gun to his / her head and to pull the trigger. Ask me, I know. When I went through this same hell I would not have thought twice to do so; it was simply the grace of our Lord Jesus that stopped me doing it!

My dear friend, suicide was never, and never will be the solution!

Just for a moment, imagine the infinite pain and suffering you cause to those who care about you, those who love you. If only you knew how many there are who want to help you to ensure you do not consider such a thoughtless act.

I thoroughly realizes that, at that moment, not even those who you love most matter to you. All you think about is only yourself. How you feel; how alone you are, how bad it is with you; how few others understand you; how few others know what you are going through.

Suicide is in fact an act of escape; it’s an act of selfishness! "Others can solve their own problems, I’m bailing out!  

However, never think of suicide as a cowardice act. Not at all! For any person who, under normal circumstances, will put the barrel of a gun to his head and pulls the trigger, will take a lot of courage!  

For the one who has committed suicide and has passed, it is actually very simple. All his/her problems are solved! But what about those who are left behind?  Think of the shock, sorrow, pain, suffering, remorse and grief you caused. Is that what you want to do? To destroy your own life but also the lives of those you love? Do you really want to do it to them?

If you know someone who needs help and who is so far gone to even consider suicide, in Heavens name, do not tell that person how bad things are with you! This is the very last thing that person wants to hear at that time. Instead of being with him / her, whining and "moping", do something actively. If necessary, take that person by the collar and drag him/her to the nearest doctor or hospital! There are people who are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to treat such cases. And remember, our doctors and nurses are also called by God to do their work, so He equipped them with the necessary skill and knowledge to help people in need.

People always say that the time of miracles is over, but the fact that God, who can heal me and you, also gave that ability to the doctors and nurses to heal us, is that not a miracle in itself? 


What does the Bible say about suicide?

In the Bible we read of suicide five times:
The first event is the death of Samson in Judges 16: 23-31. Samson found himself between two pillars of the temple of the Philistines, and cry out to God to give him the power that he could destroy the Philistines. God heard his prayer and many Philistines, including Samson, died when he broke the pillars with his brute strength and the building crashed on the Philistines. Nowhere in the Old Testament do we read that Samson was convicted for this "suicide".

Secondly, we read of King Saul, as we find in 1 Samuel 31: 1-13 and 1 Chronicles 10: 1-14. Saul is losing the battle and asked his swordsman to kill him rather than that he falls into the hands of his enemy alive. Saul's swordsman however refused and Saul was killed when he fell on his own sword. When the servant realized Saul was dead, he did the same. Again we read that no judgment was pronounced on them.

Thirdly, we read about Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 17: 23 Ahithophel had to advise Absolon, and when Absolon did not listen to his advice, he took his own life by drinking poison.

Fourthly, we read of King Zimri, who was known for the fact that he was just seven days King. Zimri was told that there were people in the city to kill him. He fled to a safe part of his house, and set it on fire and killed himself in the fire. The Bible speaks in several places of Zimri's sin, but his suicide is not a sin to be addressed.

Fifthly, we read of Judas who betrayed Jesus and then try to fix it by giving the money back to the priests. (Matt. 27: 3-10 and Acts 1: 12-20.) When he realized that he could not fix what he messed up, he hung himself. Judas's remorse was so great that he kill himself rather than to have to live with his remorse.
God has a plan for our lives. Jer. 29: 11 "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord: prosperity and adversity; I want to give you 'a future, a hope!"

In Job. 23: 10, Job says: "When he hath tried me, I am pure as gold." In Psalm 27: 14, David said: "Trust in the Lord! Be strong and of good courage! Yes, trust in the Lord!

Dear reader, most of your feelings of hopelessness and despair is caused by Satan's lies.

When you are at your most vulnerable, that’s when Satan will tell you: "you are a failure; it's your fault that you are where you are right now; nobody can help you now; there is no one with a burden as heavy as yours.”

And then the biggest lie of all:" there is no hope for you! "

John. 8: 44 the apostle says: "He (the devil) was from the beginning a murderer. And he is not on the side of the truth, because there is no truth in him. "

Rom. 6: 21 Paul asks: "What was the result of the things you are now ashamed. (What did it bring for you?) The end of those things is death. "And then in verse 23 he says:" The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. "

In 1 John. 3: 8 we read: "And the Son of God actually came to wreck the work of the devil."
Our lives belong to God and are not ours to do with as we see fit. As with so many people, especially young people, there is the total misconception today that: "This is my life, I will do with it what I want!" And if it that is not enough, there is the further mistake: "I can manage on my own, I do not need help!”

In 1 Cor. 6: 19 Paul writes: "... Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? You have the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, by God, and ye are not your own; ye are bought and the price is Jesus. "
Dear friend, your life does NOT belong to yourself and you cannot manage it on your own!
Your life belongs to Christ, and you CAN NOT manage without His help!

Can someone who commits suicide go to heaven?

As early as the 5th century AD., the church father Augustine said that suicide is sin because “you are not allowed to kill." Later, one of the great leaders of the Catholic Church, Thomas Aquinas, went as far as claiming that suicide is one of the "deadly sins" (Cardinal sins) of this world.

Merely simply assuming that since the Ten Commandments says that “Thou shalt not kill”, at the same time also apply them to those who commit suicide, sounds to me pretty presumptuous!

I agree that our lives do not belong to ourselves but to God who gave us His life-giving Spirit. We therefore are not entitled to terminate our God-given life, ourselves. But to avert that suicide is a mortal sin, is simply nonsense!

In the Catholic faith, it is important that before a person dies, that the person receives forgiveness of sins. We often see the family summoning the Priest to administer the dying person’s “last rights" before the person dies. Since suicide means that such a person could not confess his/her sin before he / she committed suicide, it means that he died with all his sins and thus destined for eternal damnation.

In the Reformed faith we believe in the forgiveness of sin only through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not by our good works. Even confession of sin without true faith in Jesus Christ is simply only lip service. (Ephesians 2: 8-9)

In Romans 8: 37-39, Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. From verse 38 says: "Of this I am certain: neither death nor life, nor angels, or evil forces or present, or future events or forces nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, can separate is from the love of God there is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The promise of 1 John. 5: 11-12, "... God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he, who not has the son of God, has no life.  This promise applies to all believers and not just for those who are not guilty of suicide! John. 10: 28 says: "I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one will snatch them out of My hand.

Yes, suicide may well be wrong, but it sure does not mean that a child of Christ will be condemned to eternal damnation simply because he/she comitted suicide. In other words, the question is not whether you will go to Hell because you committed suicide; question is whether you will go to Hell because you did not believe in Jesus Christ!
There is also no such thing as "big" and "small" sins. Sin is sin. There however exists forgivable and unforgivable (unpardonable) sin, in other words sin that does not lead to death and sin that does lead to death.
Suicide, my dear friend, is not a "mortal sin"!

John. 5: 24 Jesus said: "Truly I say to you: whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. And shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” 

What an assurance!

Fortunately our churches are nowadays paying more attention to the psychopathology of suicide rather than the moral-ethical assessment of the illness.

What advice can we give someone suffering from depression?

I would say the following:

 Avoid loneliness. If it is necessary to force yourself (or the person who is depressed) but be as much in the company of good friends.
 Seek help! Talks to people that have gone the same way as you. Consult a specialist; talk to your doctor; talk to your minister; tell your family how you feel. Do not keep quiet!
 Seek God's help and trust and believe what He tells you. The Holy Spirit, that quiet voice inside you that must always scream to be heard, hear it and know (and believe) it is God speaking to you!
 Give yourself over to the protection of Jesus Christ. Become "don’t care!"!  Until now, you could not do much on your own, so why do not you just rely on Jesus to help you!
 Give your problem unconditionally to Jesus. He will ensure that your problems are solved! For nothing is impossible with God. Where your and my abilities stop, God’s abilities start.  To God, the impossible, is possible!
 Begin saying thank you to God because He is already working to help you, even if you cannot see it at this stage!

Conclusion

The good news is that depression is not incurable! Whatever it is called, and what degree of severity it may be, depression can be cured and overcome!

With the right support, professional treatment and proper medication, you do not need to go through all this Hell! 

Remember, God Himself and His whole universe at your disposal. All you have to do is to take Him at His word and ask for His help. He will not withhold His help from you!


God is in control of your life - you will recover - you will enjoy life again - you will be happy again!