reprinted with corrections and additions from the Newsday
by Rejoice Ngwenya
85% of Zimbabwe’s population claims
the Christian faith, with a “church” every square kilometre in populated urban centres. Most rural funeral and wedding ceremonies have a “Christian” component. While political, business, community and institutional leaders are part of this countrywide “Christian movement”. Many political leaders — or at least their families — attend “church” regularly. When appointed, presidents, ministers and parliamentarians swear by the Bible and implore God to “help them”. They request pastors, reverends, bishops and priests to preside over their children’s marriages. Some political “leaders” are even pastors, reverends, bishops and priests!
And yet since the 1980s, there seems to be no end to electoral and political violence. My question is: if 80% of Zimbabweans and their leaders are real “Christians”, who instigates and perpetuates the assault, kidnapping, intimidation, false imprisonment, rape, forced displacements and murder of political opponents during Zimbabwe’s habitually bloodletting elections? The answer to this paradox is in the contextualisation of genuine Christianity.
According to Wikipedia, the first recorded use of the term is in the New Testament in Acts 11:26 where “. . . in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” Protestant Christians believe that the Bible is a self-sufficient revelation, the final authority on all Christian doctrine, revealing all truth necessary for salvation — Sola Scriptura
.Thus I see Christianity not just as an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, but as a social and doctrinal brand — a character, a way of life, a behavioural trait endemic in the very DNA of humanity. The disciples of Jesus were not just called Christians because it was “cool” to be seen with Christ. They actually behaved, talked, walked, looked, dressed and lived like Him — the model of a virtuous life, an epitome of humility.
Jesus was not a man of coercion. He was kind, tender, tolerant, and life-preserving. In today’s lingo, he was a great guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Christianity is “all that is noble, and good, and Christ-like.” Why are there “church-going” teachers, doctors and lawyers in Zanu-PF who are still defensive about the Gukurahundi genocide, Murambatsvina displacements and the June 2008 electoral “blood-bath?” I say this because Jesus Himself was a teacher who enlightened, a physician who healed, a psychologist who consoled, a leader and even a demagogue.
Violence was anathema to His divine being. Today, there are so-called “church-goers” in Zanu-PF who plundere commercial farms, smuggle diamonds and grab mines in the name of the poor. Jesus was an advocate for the disadvantaged and the oppressed; hence His “manifesto” being light years away from Zanu-PF’s populist one. Thus the so-called “political reverends” like Nolbert Kunonga
and Obadiah Musindo
have tons to learn about true Christianity. Political clergymen Martin Luther King Jnr, Ndabaningi Sithole and Desmond Tutu took sides with the truth, not repression.
The authors, scientists and philosophers of Zanu-PF’s politics of hattred should equally learn from Jesus who wrote and talked sense, never preaching deprivation, revenge, wholesome derision of reason or scheming evil. One hopes that, as we inch towards our 32nd independence celebrations, those activists who profess to be followers of Christ but subscribe to the genre of violence, torture, murder, expropriation and deceit generally associated with, but not necessary limited to Zanu-PF, should have been transfigured at Easter.