Since the 1980s when The Gift (Lewis Hyde) was first published, more and more alternatives to the traditional market-system have presented themselves – patronage, crowd-funding and community-funded work in non-profit organisations. Or perhaps these subtle gift exchanges have always been part of certain aspects of our lives. Most of the important things in our lives (like parents, mentors, friendship, insight), cannot be monetised (‘I am x amount of Rands worth per hour’). Nonetheless, the bottom-line question for many of the artists in our community remains the same – how do I pay the bills.
On this third Sunday of Advent, in keeping with the Advent theme of longing and waiting, or promise and fulfilment to use the Biblical categories, our main text for reflection is 2 Samuel 7:1-17, the account of David’s desire to build God a “house.” Our New Testament counterpart is a slightly unusual choice, Romans 1:1-7, as it gives peculiar expression to the ultimate fulfilment of God’s response to David through the prophet Nathan, that he instead would be the one to build David a “dynasty.”
Culture is thus both human achievement and divine gift. It is, to stay with our metaphor, the performance of our ultimate beliefs and values—the inevitable staging of our religion. If this is so, it is the task of theology pre-eminently to interpret and articulate the meaning of the cultures we inhabit; and to suggest the way of (biblical) wisdom throughout the stages of life.
Artists are not fatally cast upon their inner brilliance (or lack thereof), but called to the diligent use of their peculiar insights into the givenness of what God has created; a world budding with potentiality in anticipation of his image-bearers to explore and celebrate.
Sekoto was self-taught, he didn’t go to school like people today. And an interesting thing about him; he was born in 1913, in the same year that the Land Act was passed in South Africa. It’s fascinating to see how he interacted with that time, growing up in that era in South Africa.