Original Research

Shameful disgrace reframed by ‘amazing grace’, probing into ‘dog’s life’ within the pigmentocratic polarisation of a ‘post-apartheid bubble’

Daniël J. Louw
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 56, No 1 | a2800 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v56i1.2800 | © 2022 Daniël J. Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 August 2021 | Published: 11 August 2022

About the author(s)

Daniël J. Louw, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Despite the dawn of a non-racial democracy, many black people still experience public life as being treated as the ‘underdog’ (Canis Africanis as ostracised dog). Within the demeaning pigmentocratic categorisation of ‘white’ and ‘black’, the post-apartheid euphoria seems to become merely an artificial slogan denying undergirding racial polarisations. The phenomenon of ‘shameful disgrace’, as articulated by, inter alia, the novel of J.M. Coetzee, is critically researched. The metaphor of Cruella de Vil is used to analyse the legacy of the apartheid ideology and the impact on self-blame. The following question is posed: Is the predicament of shameful disgrace, due to the long-term impact of the ideology of apartheid, an inevitable curse that will accompany the existence of all South African citizens while trying to live together? Is there no remedy for shame and disgrace within the parameters of pastoral care? A literature research, by means of a critical analysis and pastoral hermeneutic, has been performed. It is proposed that the notion of Christ as divine ‘underdog’ (dying outside the walls of the religious establishment under Roman imperialism) brings about a theology of destigmatisation in order to start thinking beyond racial categories. Spiritual healing is about self-grace (new identity) as exponent of ‘amazing grace’. A theopaschitic paradigm can help to interpret the intriguing dynamics of shameful disgrace from a Christological perspective: the spiritual healing of a divine substitutional form of disgrace.

Contribution: The article contributes to analysing the complexity of shame within pastoral caregiving and the implication thereof on God-images in pastoral theology.


Canis Africanis; Christ the divine underdog; disgrace; Cruella de Vil-metaphor; post-apartheid bubble; pigmentocracy; racial polarisation; shame; underdog


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