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Jekanyika: Always Looking for a Home

by Wilbert Sayimani

Jekanyika is a Shona word (about 80% of people in Zimbabwe speak Shona) that can roughly be translated into English as “A person who does not settle in one place.” In this monthly column I will be sharing my thoughts as I leave Zimbabwe and “settle” in England. In a sense I find myself standing between two worlds: Zimbabwe, where I was born, raised and lived all my life and England, where I now work and live with my family. My column will explore what I learn about Zimbabwe as I see it with new eyes, about England, a strange land where I seek a home, and myself, the person who does not settle in one place.

Tuesday
Dec022014

The Coming Day of the Lord

From childhood, the coming of Christmas made a world of difference to me and to many other children around. Even though we did not quite understand the significance, the fact that it came with all the good things we wanted in life, made the day special. This is the only time we got new clothes, a good meal and allowed to go out to play, mix and mingle with the other children from the neighborhood without fighting or poking at each other. It was all pleasantries and good remarks at meeting each other as we admired how we all looked in our new clothes.

It had become tradition during Christmas that upon meeting anybody, the one who shouts "Christmas Box!" first, would get a gift from the other person. Sweets and biscuits were the easiest gifts at our disposal so we moved around with pockets full and enjoyed giving to those we met. This was a happy time and Joy could be felt in the air.

At home, mothers were busy cooking and preparing meals that depicted the feast of a king. These were prepared in large quantities so anyone who would come or pass-by would get a share. Christmas decorations were a must and would have started going up in homes a week before. Our homes looked different and beautiful. The usual sight was that of displayed Christmas cards, lights and glitters some retrieved from the previous year to make a good number for a spectacular display. They would be placed on drawers, display cabinets and some hanging on a thread cris-crossing the room. Where a Christmas tree was afforded, a big effort went into adorning it to make it colorful and beautiful. With a woman's touch, these decorations often came out beautiful.

My Mother told us that we were doing all this to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We all had birthdays but they were never celebrated in this way. The only closest that I had seen is when we celebrated the birth of our President whom everyone knew for his long stay in power. He had been there for more than three decades. Even then, his was never celebrated to this magnitude and in people's homes. It was rather in designated places around the country where people had to go and celebrate. If you missed the opportunity to go then the joy of it would just pass you.

Something must have been different with the birth of Jesus that seemed to excite people from the heart. You didn't need to change location to be happy. This Jesus made people happy in their humble homes, on the streets and all over the place. The spirit of Christmas was just there and made people happy everywhere. The standard rule for this day was love, love and love again. We all were happy and learnt the value of sharing. Love was just there and evident in everyone. Where gifts could not be afforded, laughter, joy and peace were shared.

I wanted life to remain like this but it was never the case. Once Christmas is gone, reality sets in. Our new cloths begin to wear out. Sweets and biscuits reverts to rear commodities only seen in shop windows away from children's reach. Cakes and good meals became history. The shouts of "Christmas Box" lost its magic and did not invoke gifts anymore. By the time we get to the next Christmas, the sight of poverty, misery and gloom will have set in again. The balance that Christmas attempted to bring the previous year will be lost. There would be a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Greed, pride, anger and hate will be the order of the day. This depressed me and I would long for Christmas to come again and change these things.

I look at advent today with the same eyes of my childhood. I expect love to flourish. I expect greediness and pride to disappear so people can learn to share. I look forward to a total transformation of personalities that only Christmas can bring. In spite of our poor and deprived circumstances, the joy of Christ reached us anyway. Christ is coming now to change our world. He is coming to clothes the naked, feed the hungry and heal the sick. Justice and peace will end conflict and aggression at his coming and we will all be able to live together in peace.

Copyright © 2014 Wilbert Sayimani

Sunday
Nov232014

The Church in Africa is Under Siege

While Africa is praised for growing churches, passionate worship and an intense spiritual hunger; the influx of the so called 'men of God' or self-proclaimed prophets has taken advantage of this and poisoned the Church. The established Church appears mortified and unable to say anything or speak against such glaring assault on the church's integrity. In one of his speeches, the President of Zimbabwe interestingly, observed that Zimbabwean Prophets alone have outnumbered the Prophets mentioned in the Bible. He even took the place of the silent Church to warn his subjects to watch out for false Prophets that are coming in sheep's clothing while inside are ravaging wolves.


It is a known fact that before Christianity came to Africa, people visited witch doctors and sacrificed goats or cows to engage with the supernatural. This way, they could bless or curse their enemies. They poured libations on the ground so that the gods could hear their prayers and act in their favour. The power of voodoo or Juju is known and cannot be questioned in Africa. Strange things have happened and which doctors are feared for that.

Of concern now is how this kind of spirituality has suddenly been replaced by the so called prophets who continue to do the same but, in the name of God. One South African 'Prophet' bragged on television demonstrating how he is able to command people to follow him and obey his word whether they like it or not. He did this by grossly violating the people that he put under a spell and commanded to go outside and eat grass like animals.

Instead of asking people to lift up holy hands in praise of their God, another prophet asked all women to lift up their panties and wave them during worship so they can be blessed. Such disgusting and embarrassing things are happening in Africa only for people to whisper about them behind closed doors for fear of the so called men of God. Not many have dared to challenge this blatant evil that is happening in broad day light and in the glare of many. Where are the true Prophets of God and why is the established church allowing such abuses and open assault on religion without action?

It has been reported that over 1700 'Pastors' and 'man of God' from different parts of Africa have approached the seemingly most powerful 'Sangoma' in Ghana for powers to perform miracles and acquire riches. A Ghanaian newspaper reported that after visiting the shrine of this Fetish Priest, various prominent business people and celebrated church founders were seen gathered there to secure his services.

Narrating in an interview how powerful he is, the much dreaded man boasted of his capabilities and he openly and publicly dared any of his critics to challenge him in a battle of supernatural powers. He was quoted as saying, "I am a fetish priest; a powerful one of cause, and I use my powers to heal the sick, help people who want to travel abroad, help traders get better sales, protect people from fraud-stars, dis-empower witches and wizards or help people who have problems or the other. I am well-known for the wonders I perform in this country - meaning Ghana, so I receive people from all parts of the country and even people from other countries."

This fetish priest bragged for his ability to produce 'miracle money, a gold watch, handkerchief and other things. He claims to have planted a cocoa seed and a mango seed and they germinated the same day. He killed a house fly, resuscitated it and made it fly around for all to see. These are the kind of powers that the fetish priest claims to have given to 'pastors' and 'prophets' who went to him wanting to start their own churches and become rich.

Of striking resemblance is how handkerchiefs, for example, have suddenly become tools of worship in other churches that every member must brandish and wave as they sing and dance before The Lord. Some also claim to produce 'miracle money' like what happened in Zimbabwe last year. The other one made gold to reign in pews while people gathered for worship. Many other funny and weird things continue to happen in these churches during worship to hick the profile of the so called man of God. One prophet in Zimbabwe was on record for helping obese people to lose weight instantly while he prayed for them. All this is happening with the sole intention of drawing more people to their places of worship.

One of these prophets miraculously made a woman to conceive and deliver a bouncing baby all in three days. This gives a striking resemblance to the Ghanaian fetish priest who planted seeds and made them to grow the same day. What on earth has all this to do with the Kingdom of God? I wonder!

While the association of these 'prophets' to the Ghanaian fetish priest or the likes of him cannot be established, they seem to herald the same powers that the fetish priest claims to have given to over 1700 prophets that are now spread around the continent. It is however surprising that in face of such power, poverty continues to rage unabated in Africa. These prophets continue to extort money from their poor congregants who remain poor while they wear expensive suits, drives Around in Mercedes-Benz and other top of the range cars. Why they are failing to turn the fortunes of Africa and bring prosperity remains a puzzle.

There is a rumour about a Pastor who buried a live animal under the floor of his church to win God's favour. Another one asked his congregants to bring bottles of sand to the church so he could anoint them. He then told the people to sprinkle the sand in their houses to bring blessings.
The people who followed these charlatans were reminded that their promised windfall will not come unless they give large donations to the church as a seed offering. Why this is not viewed as conning or robbery, I do not understand.

In these new churches, entire conferences are dedicated to collecting money from the people who give in order to be blessed. One of these prophets made his congregants to bid and pay hundreds of dollars for his second hand shirt that people believed to have been anointed. They preach a warped gospel that spirituality is measured by the amount of blessings a person has. They promise people instant results and overnight success. They leave no room for delay, brokenness or suffering. If you do not get your breakthrough, you are blamed for lack of faith or for not giving enough in your contributions to the church. If this evil is not addressed, the people in Africa will be left more broken than they already are.

Some people are planting churches now not because they have a burden for lost souls but because of fame and wealth. What's sad is the level of exploitation that this is doing to the already struggling people of Africa. Someone once said if greed is preached from the pulpit, it spreads like a cancer and Africa has already fallen under this dangerous vice.

While the established churches are focusing and working on other things that equally concerns the people, they must also attend to this crisis and provide leadership especially in the wake of this new wave of prophetic influx. The Bible warns us in Matthew 7:15 to beware of the false prophets, who come in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. We are told that we will know them by their fruit. What are the fruits of these mushrooming 'prophets' if I may ask except extorting money from the poor and enriching themselves?
God is calling on His people around the world to name these evils whenever they appear and bring the false prophets to shame. He is calling on His People to pray for all the evils bewitching Africa and spilling to the other parts of the world. How can Christians elsewhere be happy when the Church in Africa is under siege? May God the almighty bless our world and bring healing and sanity to Africa.

Copyright © 2014 Wilbert Sayimani

Sunday
Dec012013

The Tears of Innocent Children

At 12, Tanya looked 10. Pain and struggle betrayed her age but could not conceal her natural beauty and childhood innocence that still showed against all odds. Life circumstances forced her to grow beyond her age. Apart from doing all the household chores like sweeping in the house, doing dishes and laundry before bathing her two little brothers, Tanya needed money to keep them going but with no idea of how she could go about it. Feeding her siblings was a big challenge in itself and yet she still saw when they were dirty and was able to bath them anyway. The poor girl was ushered into adulthood before time and left with challenges too hard to bear.

Sometimes she would sit still, it seemed that she was in another world. Her frame now slight and fragile, in her tattered blouse and faded denim skirt, she appears wise. How she had kept the family afloat for two years after losing their parents to AIDS remains a mystery. Right in the middle of narrating her story, the tears that she has been holding back now burst forth. They had gone for days now without food and the emaciated looks of her two siblings broke my heart and my tears started falling as well.I drew closer to Tanya, held her in my arms and allowed few minutes to calm our emotions.

Joshua and Tichaona were three and six respectively, very young to be on their own or under the care of Tanya alone. I am sure it’s for such eventualities that African children are trained from a tender age. We knew from herding cattle in the village that if you do not defend yourself, others would run you over. If you do not ask for what you want and take it, no one will read your mind and give it to you. We had to work and learn to fend for ourselves. We probably should credit this training for the amazing ability in child headed families in Zimbabwe today due to the catastrophic effects of HIV and AIDS.

My sister Grace, the only girl in a family of boys used to complain to my Mother why she had to do all the house work duties while her little brothers were playing football or visiting friends out there. “It’s not fair,” she would say. “Why can’t I go and play like Onie and Cossy”? “You are the only girl” my Mother would say. “I want to be certain that if anything happens to me, you would be able to take care of your brothers and I certainly do not want you to grow up to be one of those silly girls who are good for nothing”. With these words, the Biblical injunction of discipline was taken seriously. You spare the rod and you spoil the child. (Proverbs 23:13-14).  She explained the Ten Commandments to us in a way that we could clearly understand.

I am sure it’s this kind of upbringing that saved the day for Tanya. She went around looking for odd jobs in people’s homes. Understanding her situation, some opened their doors and allowed her in. However, this exposed her to some dangers that she could not foresee. Her natural beauty and childhood innocence, graced with her beautiful budding body, gave her away to the preying eyes of unseasoned men and she became a subject of abuse. Refusing men’s advances and offers at times would also mean denying a life for her siblings, something she could not bear. Joshua was so emaciated by now that he could hardly stand. His arms and legs looked like bones strung on his body and all covered in dried out skin. The colour and condition of his hair and skin was miserable, patchy and falling out. It was clear that he had not digested vitamins or minerals in a long time and the body was now turning on itself for food. The only evidence of food around were some morsels of bread picked from, goodness knows where, but certainly not from the store.

Looking into the face of these suffering children, I saw God and I wept. For the first time, I despised what most religions have done, to devout most of their time and energy to defending dogma or destroying dissonance. Kneeling before a fragile little boy like Joshua changed my view of the world. I could see those heavy and immature religious practices dissolve into a sea of insignificance and I knew that love, and only love, is what mattered now. It’s this kind of love that then compelled me to reach out to Tanya and her two siblings and directed my efforts thereafter.

Tariro Aids Support Group

Tanya’s story pierced through my heart, reminding me of exactly how I was raised, except that my mother was old enough to elbow her way through and keep her family afloat than Tanya. Tanya’s situation was gross. My heart stretched with pain and again triggered intense emotions that I could not hide. When most of her twelve year olds were busy playing, Tanya faced a life and death situation alone. It was painful to see this hungry child herself, assuming the awesome duties of a parent. I immediately dropped all vestiges of my selfishness and desired nothing but to see another experience of life, relief and joy. From then on, I committed myself towards the suffering children around the world.

Tanya became a heroine in my eyes. I gave her a packet of biscuits that I had as we were leaving, I knew she was hungry as well but the first thing she did was to give to her brothers first. After when they all had a share, then she took one for herself. It was like the gospel being lived before my very eyes, putting others first. This, coming from Tanya, broke my heart further. I didn’t know exactly how to respond, but I knew right away that a support system was needed and ‘Tariro Aids support Group’ was hatched in my mind. ‘Tariro’is a Shona word for hope. I mobilised resources and a committed group of women from my church literally went around feeding and clothing children like Tanya in the Highfield community where I ministered. My late wife Rachael did this with a passion and left an indelible mark for which she is remembered.

I lobbied our Presbytery and got a considerable amount of money to start an income generating project. This immediately turned the Highfield Presbyterian Church into a hive of activity as women engaged themselves in peanut butter production. The joy of service in these women could not be mistaken. I watched Tendai one day, a very enthusiastic member of the group, handing a paper bag full of groceries to Tanya in which two bottles of peanut butter were included during one of our visits. As if to make it a ritual, a thanks-giving chorus was sang before my wife Rachael broke into a prayer to mark the event.

The project grew and attracted support from our friends in Scotland and America. Encouraged by this development, similar projects started in different congregations with the help of our Presbytery that enabled me to co-ordinate and develop as Convenor.This brought an air of satisfaction and relief to my troubled soul. At least Tanya and her little brothers were now being fed,as well as a multitude of other children in similar circumstances around the Presbytery. Commendable as it were, the challenge still remained. Most of these children could not afford an education and so were not going to school.This still broke my heart and my dreams for complete intervention continued.

Copyright © 2013 Wilbert Sayimani

Sunday
Nov032013

Painful Memories

I carefully manoeuvred my car back into my driveway following a clear trail it had created earlier on. I did this with precision, afraid of getting stuck in the snow as what often happens with careless drivers during winter. If this was done in competition, I certainly would have won a medal for accuracy, I thought to myself, as I looked back on a single trail that still appeared. I unlocked the door of my house, stamped the snow off my boots and walked straight to put the fire on rubbing my hands together in a vain effort to warm myself.

Disturbed by the hissing sound that I was producing because of cold, my wife peeped from the kitchen and immediately reprimanded me for going out in the cold like that without a jumper. She had not gotten over a terrible flue that nearly claimed my life last winter and she did not want a repeat of that or let me take chances like that.

Taking my son to school is one of the chores I disliked most especially in snow when the roads are muggy and slippery. My son would console me by assuring me that this chore will soon be gone when he turns 17. He would get his driver’s licence and drive himself to school as long as I buy a car for him. I, on the other hand always laughed because to me he sounded over ambitious. This annoyed him because to him it showed my lack of confidence in him but the truth is that if I lack confidence it is really not in him but perhaps in the area of bank accounts.

As the temperature started changing in the room, I heard a hissing sound from the kitchen as the pot of coffee started brewing and I knew what my wife was up to. I immediately thought of Ben Sira 26:2 that says, a fine wife is a joy to her husband, and he can live out his years in peace. Indeed Irene had become such to me, a precious blessing that I will ever be thankful for having in my life. She wanted me to have coffee and be warm. While coffee was brewing, she came with a jumper that she carefully placed on my shoulders and started rubbing my back as she cautioned me never to be that careless again especially with things that concerned my health.

The moment she walked away, I closed my eyes and thought of her as yet another blessing from God. She has brought warmth into my life in many ways. She brought back happiness that I had lost. She is a fitting gift in my life used by God to wipe away my tears. I find myself able to laugh again after four years of misery and loneliness since my wife Rachael died.

In some way it is possible to look at my life now as a new life. Some might even call it a second chance but I see it as a continuation but with a major alteration. You see, the good book has the story of a man who wrestled with God and was left walking with a limp. Jacob would never walk the same again after that mysterious encounter with God. I dare say that 2008 marks my mysterious encounter with God when Rachael was suddenly taken from my life through the mystery of death.

My world seemed to have collapsed, banishing me to a life of misery. On one hand, life without Rachael after 18 years of marriage seemed a real nightmare. On the other hand she and I had been gifted with two beautiful and adorable children and I knew she would want me to do all I can to fulfil their dreams. I wanted to die too and be buried along with her but I also believed she would want me to live and remain at home for our precious children. I secured a double grave in the hope that I would lie beside her on our journey to eternity. Unable to make this a reality, and also knowing the fate of orphans, I could not choose that for our children. I therefore deferred my wish to some distant future and made a public pronouncement of it.

I would never walk the same again though. My identity changed so I became one who was once married to Rachael who is now with the Lord. The scar remains so in a way I now walk with a limp. I was left to continue on without her yet for 18 years she and I had become one flesh. Like all flesh we had had our moments of pain but we were one. God wrestled with me and took her away, changing my identity in the process and I was left pleading for God’s blessing. Pleading that God blesses by keeping my dear Rachael safe and giving me and the children strength to carry on albeit with a limp. So God took away a part of me and I pleaded again for God to bless as I accepted in submission, hence my view of Irene as a blessing from God.

The timing of Rachael’s death was just wrong. Not that I know of any other time that would have been appropriate, but it has to be said, the timing was wrong. I had just returned from the United States of America with chocolates, presents, children’s clothes, stories and laughter. Death is the last thing anyone would have expected this time.Stories and laughter had started a night before when I called to tell Rachael of the time I would be arriving the next day. She came to fetch me from the airport with our son Wilbert Junior or Wellz as we call him now.

Political campaigns had intensified now as different parties prepared for victory in the run-off to the national presidential elections. People like our neighbour known as Mai Tindo and other rowdy youths had become instrumental for political parties to manipulate, intimidate and harass people in their pursuit for power. Mai Tindo even participated in frogmarching people to political rallies and people were petrified to see one who had been so different before become a real menace in her new position as political commissar for the powerful party. We laughed as Rachael told me the number of times Mai Tindo had knocked on our door asking her to come to rallies. Afraid of some rowdy youths being unleashed on her if she keeps defying, she was now considering attending these rallies and hoped that I would join in. This would be necessary in order to preserve our lives. With hindsight, the irony of it all is glaring.

Tired from the journey, I threw myself on the couch, stretched my legs enjoying the feeling that I was home at last. Enjoying a cup of tea that had been served, Wellzand Primrose or Prim our two children were crowding me and competing for filling me in with the juiciest parts of the stories that they thought Mom did not put quite well. After having a fair share of their time, Rachael and I decided to go for a walk picking up some fruits ‘paBusstop’ as our market place was popularly known. The walk was so refreshing and beautiful, reminiscent of our days of courtship when we used to walk holding hands or occasionally rubbing them in a deliberate effort to feel each other.

That night I went to bed early leaving Rachel to her usual chores with the kids sometimes disturbing her as they kept searching for more goodies in my bags that Mommy was still unpacking.After a while, Rachael came in the bedroom to find me waiting and relaxing in bed. The look in our loving eyes was not mistakable. The ensuing passion of two people who had longed for each other for a number of weeks apart. In no time we were locked in each other’s arms and were most naturally lost in intimacy. If only I had known that it would be the last time holding her like that, if only I had known!

Rachael’s death left a chronic heartache and a scar in my life. Like all scars, it is an emblem of pain experienced and it is tender spot yet like all scars it speaks of an inbuilt mechanism to repair the broken parts. That inbuilt mechanism is the precious memories of the love we shared. If love alone could save people from death then Rachael would not have died yet at the same time my love could also not bear to see her in pain as she lay in that hospital. I helplessly watched and knew she was sleeping away when Doctors told me the severity of her stroke.She had broken an artery and bled on the brain. Her sugar level was too high for normal existence and a combination of the two betrayed her and claimed her life.

Her funeral was befitting her like that of a Queen that she was in our lives. The Highfield Presbyterian Church and all its grounds became too small to contain the crowds that came to pay their last respects.The street adjacent to the church was temporarily closed as it became the closest place everyone else could stand paying homage to the life of a fine woman. Rachael had shared her life generously with all so all were there to witness but more importantly to lean on one another and derive comfort from her community of loved ones.

Her beautiful body now contained in a casket was taken out of the church for a better view by all including those who had spilled onto the street. Grief subdued me and I capitulated. I rose from my seat and walked towards the casket. My daughter Primrose followed, Wellz and then Marceline my step Brother’s daughter who was now an integral part of our household, all joined me and we started singing. The words of the song were so powerful and our harmonised voices and the vibrancy of our singing electrified the place and people cried uncontrollably. We held on and continued singing until our voices gave in at the last stanza and we all broke down and started crying. This was a song by one Zimbabwean Artist Noel Zembe whose words keeps ringing in my ears ever since.

The song was telling people that this, our loved one,as she laid quietly before us, had gone ahead and was now laying in Christ waiting for her resurrection. It implored people to mourn in hope for we know that one day we will meet again.As I sobbed and chocked overpowered with grief, I found myself in the embrace of my Aunty Violet who quickly provided a shoulder for me to cry on. I have never been convinced as I am now that indeed, a person’s life is like grass. Like a flower in the field it flourishes for a while but will soon fade away. (1 Peter 1:24)

Even if I wanted to hold on, how could I when she was taken away from me just like that. Our hugs, kisses and whispers only lasted for an unbelievably short time before the whole house was thrown into chaos. In complete exasperation, I did not know exactly what to do first, attending to my wife who is now lying on my lap, foaming in the mouth or consoling my children who are crying,helplessly shaking their mother with me but with no idea of how that would help anything.Ronald my nephew quickly went out to seek help and in no time Mrs Langa, a church member and a close family friend was in the house. As an elderly woman, she knew how bad the situation was and was able to manage it until we got to hospital.

The ten days that she lasted in hospital was a real nightmare to me. It was a dream that I constantly wanted to wake up from. We got there when she was already in a comma that lasted for days. When she came out of it, her bearing was a bit twisted and she thought she was at home. She had no idea of what had happened or that she was in hospital but she felt a severe headache and she asked if I knew how it had started. Talking to her again this time, brought a ray of hope in me. She called for Prim to send her for something in the house to which I responded by reminding her that she was in hospital. Prim reclined in her tear glassed eyes, touched her mother in a vain effort to say I am here Mom.  She was so happy to see her daughter and then she asked for Wellz who again reclined so she could have a clear view of her two children. No one knew that this would be their last time to talk.

All this time I was struggling,fighting my tears back. I wanted my wife and children to know that all will be well so crying would not be the best way to do it. When emotion felt stronger, I looked aside to hide it or walked away as if to the loo. A recurrence of her stroke after two days of improvement finished her. When I saw her now on life saving machines, my heart sank. I somehow knew that I was losing her and what I feared most is what befell me, my sweet Rachael was gone.

I am consoled now for I know that she is with the Lord. Heavenmust be too beautiful a place to be. To know that Rachael is walking amongst Angels and on those streets of gold gives me peace. I always have a feeling that she is watching me every day and with gestures, trying to let me know that she is fine and that I must not cry. She tries to remind me that I am not alone but I just cannot see or hear it. I sometimes have a feeling that she is saying something to me about our children but I cannot hear it. Wellz has grown up now!She says. O! Look, he has grown beard just like you, and to that we laugh. Not wanting to be outdone, I interject, but you, look at how much Prim  looks like you now. With humble but hidden acknowledgement, she tries to deny it when deep down she knows it’s true. I catch her while blushing at that and we laugh again.

I want to tell her how beautiful our daughter looked on her graduation but I can’t. This is something she must hear because I was alone when I went there. If she was watching from a distance, she is probably trying to tell me the same thing but I cannot hear. This is just me thinking and feeling but I do not think it’s quite like that. Yes, she wants me to be happy. She wants me to live my life and not to feel guilty that I have a life that she was denied. She wants me to laugh again and enjoy the blessings that God gave us in our children. My predicament is that when someone you love dies, you never quite get over it. Rather, you slowly learn to go on without them but always keeping them tucked somewhere in your heart.

Rachael’s wishes for me found their way somehow, on God’s agenda as if she advocated for it in Heaven. My move to England was quite therapeutic. In a big way, it helped me to start a new life and focus on new things.Without God’s providence of a good wife, I probably would still be mourning hence my gratitude for having Irene in my life.When I am cold she keeps me warm. When cold nights come, I no longer coil and shiver alone in bed. I have stopped crying now and seek to make the most of my days on earth for tomorrow is never promised. I want all of my friends and family to know how thankful I am that all of you are in my life. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never be mine. My prayer is for God to help me today, to do everything that I have to do but all to His glory.

One lesson I have learnt is that all life is vanity. It does not matter how we build our homes and cities, we still will leave them one day. Even fortified walls and cities have been reduced to rubble so we learn from history. The strongest of human fortification is no guarantee to avert a possible siege. When I behold the beauty of England, with all its glamour, I know that one day it’s not going to be there for me. Instead of making it a ‘god’ to be worshiped, I chose to live for the Almighty God and in favour with people around me. As much as I may want to hang on, this world remains temporary. My grip on it will loosen one day when my eyes will close in death and all the beauty and glamour around will fade away. I have learnt my lessons now and I walk through this life with a limp. 

Copyright © 2013 Wilbert Sayimani

Wednesday
Oct092013

Standing in the Gap

It is very normal that after every significant historical event in a nation some people are elated and others are in despair. What builds a nation up is the ability of those in leadership to build bridges between the two sets of people so that the elation is not seen as gloating and despair does not become destructive. I believe that this is one of the areas where the Church is called to be the salt and light of the world. As salt the church can season the joy of the elated and heal the wounds of the afflicted. As light the church can help people see the truth that sets them free and shun the deeds of darkness that may corrode the nation.

We have had two very significant occurrences in Zimbabwe among others that one can focus on. The two that I believe to be fundamental at this point are the emergence of the new Constitution and the July 31st Elections. In both cases some were elated and others afflicted. The question I have is on how the church should effectively be salt and light in our beloved Zimbabwe. It is commendable that she participated in the writing of the new constitution and now must be careful not to celebrate the document when true constitutionalism is not respected. It is that time now when the church’s new role should be the watchdog to ensure true allegiance to the country’s laws.

Parliamentarians are now faced with an uphill task as they start to align several laws with Zimbabwe’s new constitution. Laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Public Order and Security Act (POSA) should be amended as they violate some provisions of the new constitution. Another provision of the new constitution says that all government bodies should have 50% representation of both men and women but the newly appointed cabinet has only 3 women opposed to the requirement of the supreme law.

It is a fact that Zanu PF has the parliamentary majority to amend the new constitution if it so wishes and one wonders if they are not going to do so to entrench its own rule. If they do, who is going to hold them accountable? If the Church is truly going to be the salt and light of the world, we expect the quickening of a national conscience to hold our leaders accountable to both God and people. This cannot be achieved if the Church remains silent. Christianity and the Jewish tradition offers us many examples of prophetic boldness in crisis situations. Amos, Hosea, Jeremiah and Isaiah are all models of prophets who condemned evil and corrupt leaders of their time. They spoke against all those privileged people in society who had turned from the demands of justice and called them back to the credence of faith.

The book of 2 Kings describes how the kings of the day refused to obey God. Instead, they served evil and the behaviour of people became so wicked. Only a few in Israel and Judah remained loyal to their God and they continued to serve Him in all sincerity. God then sent His servants, the Prophets to warn the Kings and the wicked people of the impending judgement.

However, Israel and Judah would not listen and God allowed enemy states to attack them and they were destroyed. The soldiers took their inhabitants to distant countries but God still cared about His people even in captivity, and He promised that they would one day return home and be a great Nation again. Their restoration depended on their heeding to the constant voice of prophetic utterance and the call of God for them to live a just life. I do not cease to be amazed at the boldness of these Old Testament Prophets in face of evil and I pray for God to raise some for our age and time.

Elijah stood up boldly for God at a time when idolatry had swept the land. The false god he opposed was Baal, the favourite of Jezebel, wife of King Ahab of Israel. To please his wife Jezebel, Ahab had altars erected to Baal, and the Queen murdered God’s prophets to eliminate opposition. Seeing all this happening in his face, with the risk of being murdered too, Elijah appeared before King Ahab to announce God’s curse and willing to take the risk: “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” (1 Kings 17:1)

After the proclamation, the inevitable had to happen. It is known especially in Zimbabwe that you do not challenge the status-quo and get away with it. This reminds me of the incident in 1983 when the former PF Zapu President Joshua Nkomo fled Zimbabwe allegedly disguised as a woman to escape persecution by President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to which Nkomo himself said, “Nothing in my life had prepared me for persecution at the hands of a government led by black Africans.” (Political Analyst Donald Porusingazi reporting to the Zimbabwean Newspaper)

This explains why we have so many political and economic refugees in other counties who ran away from the country’s political wrath and not much has been said about it. Elijah fled but I am glad that it was only after speaking to the situation.This way, he gave up the security and the comfort of his own home and fled to the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan River, where ravens brought him bread and meat. When the brook dried up, God sent him to live with a widow in Zarephath. God performed another miracle there, blessing the woman’s oil and flour so it did not run out. Unexpectedly, the widow’s son died and Elijah stretched himself on the boy’s body three times, and God restored the child’s life.

It’s so amazing how Elijah managed to continue doing God’s work in the most difficult circumstances like that, even when his right to state protection and security had been removed. Confident of the power of God, he went on to challenge the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the false god Asherah to a showdown on Mount Carmel. I cannot speak of the comfort of clergy in Zimbabwe now that I suspect to be a little comfortable to warrant their silence. May God forbid that the Church can be silenced just to preserve her status and remain good in the eyes of the current powers.

I do recognise and cannot under estimate the pressure or stigma that often comes with undermining the common opinion and practices which may be the reason why the Church remains silent in Zimbabwe.  Throughout history, religious dissidents have often concealed their inner convictions in order to avoid the unpleasant social and legal consequences of departing from the majority opinion. Hats off to these bold and courageous men and women who proclaimed God’s word even in face of danger.

Elijah’s boldness lives on and is probably saying something to the Church today. If anything, I pray that it can be a source of inspiration to Christian leaders around the world and in situations where justice and people’s rights are violated. I remember the Church speaking boldly against the evils of colonialism during and after the Liberation struggle in Zimbabwe but its voice gradually went silent after the demise of the Anglican Bishop Pius Ncube who closed the chapter of fearlessly naming and condemning government abuses. His voice went silent when he got implicated in some unclear circumstances that sought to embarrass the clergy. I may be a little out of touch now but I do not seem to hear the voice of the Church anymore and I am concerned. I long for the courage of past prophets who named the injustice of leaders and demanded a reckoning.

We have just heard that the Southern African Development Community (SDAC), The South African President Jacob Zuma and many others have declared the just ended elections in Zimbabwe as free and fair. To raise a different opinion here might very well be a preserve for the bold and the fearless given the discordant nature of it that is akin to a high treason case in Zimbabwe.This must have taken away a lot of steam from the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who intended to contest the outcome of this election in the courts of law sighting a number of irregularities. He ended up dropping the case seeing no prospects of a just recourse, again throwing to question the credibility of our justice system. I have known the Church to field its own election monitors at every election in Zimbabwe. I therefore expected to hear her pronouncement on the results if they think the election was free and fair as well but that voice is yet to come.

There are people today, the Church included, who seek to take advantage of every situation and celebrate injustice to enrich themselves in it. These people deserve the harshest critique and condemnation that can be found. The Church’s silence under the circumstances, makes it an accomplice, and stands condemned. Many people are now just moving with the prevailing winds, taking their place in the hierarchy without much thought and little challenge. As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Everyone is now moving along and these people should be challenged to rise above their willed ignorance and passivity.

I am glad and I do acknowledge that some have tried to resist through political organisations or in some other quieter ways but to no avail. However, their effort should be commended though with the recognition that whatever they have done has not been enough to end the country’s political treachery. It’s a real shame for the Church with all its privileges that it chooses to remain silent. This makes it responsible in some way for all the country’s political crimes. I do not call on the Church to have delusions of grandeur about what she could have accomplished but she certainly need to avoid a self-satisfied complacency which is far too easy for those still enjoying the benefits of an evil system.

Copyright © 2013 Wilbert Sayimani