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Identity through Psalms that Sing

Identity through Psalms that Sing

KaapsWe often think of identity when thinking of ourselves and how we fit into the world. As Christians, our identity in Christ is a key element of our faith and daily lives. It involves all areas of life and has a huge impact on our relationship with ourselves, others, and with God. Who am I? Who are you?

Imagine being told, subliminally, implicitly, and explicitly, that you don’t belong. Not just you, but your family, friends, community, and the history of your people, to have the way you speak, act, and think defined as “not normal”, “slang”, or “not proper”. This is the case for the Kaaps communities across South Africa.

Kaaps is a vibrant language, and the people are no different. It is spoken mainly by the Coloured community in the Cape Flats, who are descendants of the multiple ethnicities that lived in the Cape region under European colonisation, including Malays, Khoi, and other African peoples. They have been continually looked down on and ignored. Even today, their way of speaking is described as “prison language” or as a lower-class way of speaking Afrikaans; it is not.

Through Psalms that Sing, a team of artist-translators were put together to explore, translate and perform the biblical psalms in Kaaps. It resulted in a performance called "Alive in Kaaps". Initially, those invited to take part were sceptical, but they left beaming, excited by what they were a part of. Since then, it is having a profound effect on those who are encountering Kaaps as a validated language worthy of God’s Word. The most common phrases heard are, “That’s how we speak!” or “This is our music!”

 "When a few of us met for the first time to attend the Psalms that Sing workshop in Kaaps, we had no idea what we were to discover. We knew we had a language that belonged to the people and the streets, but had no idea of its authenticity and uniqueness in our country and among our people. It is spoken of and should be recognized as such. We fell in love with our sound again. We felt validated.”
- Shawn

Many are still hesitant, and many disagree with different aspects of this work, including members of the Kaaps community. There are many reasons for this, and we must listen to all experiences with humility and love. However, it is undoubtable that through this work God is liberating the Kaaps identity and validating it as not only acceptable, but as wonderful. People are becoming free to talk to God as they talk to their neighbours, and to express themselves in worship authentically with their whole soul. We pray with anticipation as the ripple effects travel further out and more people are freed to proudly call themselves Kaaps Christians. 

By Helen van der Walt

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