Friday, January 30, 2009

Zimbabwe:"Things have fallen apart"

Zimbabwe: “Things have fallen apart”

I used to be amazed by do it yourself D.I.Y shops but never thought this concept would just take one nation by storm. Zimbabwean people have become D.I.Y experts. With the absence of a government for almost a year and collapsed amenity services in all our towns and service centres the people have resolved to be in charge of their own destiny in a big way.

I learnt it the hard way at the beginning of cholera outbreak when those in the neighborhood were called upon to ferry neighbors to functioning clinics, thanks to UNICEF and MSF doctors etc who kept some of health centres open. This job would have been done by public ambulances but because they are not there some of us had to come to the rescue of the affected.

I went to the nearby clinic carrying those affected by cholera five times in one night. Each time I ferried a cholera victim my car had to be sprayed and worse still I was also sprayed on too. I would be instructed to close my eyes and turn around as a spraying machine was charged at me. My body would ache each time this was done. I was afraid that I was either going to be the next cholera victim or the aching I was experiencing would affect my body. You never know the side effects of being sprayed on five times in one night.

One family thought that people were being asked for money to be treated. This family decided to call Vaporofita/Prophets/faith healers for a healing session. At being advised that the clinics were treating people free of charge I was asked again to ferry them there. I quickly informed them too that my ‘ambulance’ was also free. The family thinks they owe me their lives up to this day. No one lost life to cholera in our neighborhood because we took this concept of D.I.Y seriously. This we soon dubbed, doing it yourself to your neighbor (D.I.Y.T.Y.N).

All sectors of live now are D.I.Y infused in such a way that we are our own bankers. People keep money at home. More so this time when all and sundry have foreign currency (forex) and we are not being asked where we got it. Most people here do not have forex accounts so when it comes to banking we do it the D.I.Y. way

D.I.Y has even been extended to the school system. When the schools did not function for the greater part of last year parents hatched a plan to hire teachers either to come to their homes or send their children to a teacher’s home for private lessons. I found out yesterday that this practice is still going on in spite of the fact that schools have been opened officially.

Teachers are still on strike over salary dispute. After 4.00 pm they come home to take their home classes. Their rates range from USD1 to 10 USD per child per day. The lucky ones are laughing all the way to the D.I.Y banks. Parents will only be relieved when the school system goes back to normal and then they will not have to pay extra money just to have their children properly taught.

Sewage problems have become the eye sore of our old built suburbs. Those who are in newly built areas and can afford to dig septic tanks are doing so in their back yards. No one knows the long term effect of such practices. Local communities are raising money (in forex) to pay private service providers to unblock sewage pipes. Soon the problem is back and more collections are called for.

Until when, people are asking? To survive this ordeal people have created jokes around sewage problems. They go like this: “It’s like you are not in Zimbabwe when you do not smell the sewage.” “We can no longer eat sadza/food when we do not smell the sewage.” We have been reduced to such inhuman tendencies. God forbid!

In most council areas there are no bills of anything ranging from water to electricity charges. There are no meter readers who used to come around. Individuals have decided to go to Council offices to pay. Once you are there you are asked to pay anything/any amount. They are happy if you pay large sums. No one at the Council offices knows who owes what because the systems of governance in these areas have actually collapsed.

Ironically people pay for water which is not there. Residents have dug their own wells. They also pay for electricity which is hard to come by to the extent that those who can afford have bought generators to provide electricity to their homes. Firewood has become the main source for cooking for the ordinary folk in towns. It’s a scandal!

One good lesson Zimbabwean people will never forget is to D.I.Y. This is the positive side of our suffering. So Zimbabweans when we complain let us not forget that we have some positives that have come from our suffering. We have learnt to work together as communities, to feel for each other and above all to be thy sister’s/brother’s keeper.

The theme of Chinua Achebe’s book “Things Fall Apart” describes our context so well. Long live Chinua. God bless.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bible Study - God Takes Sides With The Oppressed

God takes sides with the oppressed

Isaiah 9vs 1-4; and Matthew 4vs 12-17

Change is in the air. Hope is our message. It is those in bondage who, understand and appreciate liberation, the abused who rejoice for their freedom and the dying who are glad for being brought to life. Hope is theirs because the promise stands. Jesus came to liberate, to free and to bring back life in its abundance. When Jesus started his ministry he read from the scriptures that:

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4vs 18-19)

God takes sides with the poor, the oppressed and the troubled. The people who inhabited the land of Zebulun and Naphtali had been experiencing gloom and anguish for a long time. The message of Isaiah the prophet was that for those who walked in darkness great light should come. It did not matter how dark it was light would shine. Their joy was to be increased. The best done for them was the breaking of the yoke of their oppressor by God. The prophet encouraged them to rejoice because God kept his promise.

The same people of Zebulun and Naphtali take centre stage again when Jesus began his ministry in the New Testament. The prophecy of Isaiah was now being fulfilled. God does not only fulfill the prophecy but he goes on through Christ to preach the good news. Jesus Christ challenges the people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

What we learn from the scriptures above is that God does not only keep his promise he also maintain his challenge. We live in times of gloom and anguish and God is very much aware of our condition. He is in the process of liberating us and joy is waiting for us. We will only benefit from his promise when we mend our ways. Pharaoh's heart was hardened for a purpose,for God to demonstrate his power.

Many of us have looted what did not belong to us. A number live in houses they never built or bought. Some of us have received things we never paid for or will pay for. Joy is eluding us because we are haunted by what we have done. If we want everlasting joy we have to repent. We have to give back what we have looted. We have to mend our ways. There will be no peace in the hearts of those who are guilty.

Jesus said, “I came so that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10 vs 10). Abundant life is enjoyed by those who have free conscience. To continue like we never wronged anyone is not healthy. The promise of hope stands for those who are prepared to repent and to correct their ways. Many a derailed people are roaming our streets while others are haunted in their villages by their acts which they did in their moments of madness. This nation will be at peace when we have come open and have disclosed what we did. We have cheated, we have killed and we have stolen. We can only live the promise once we have repented

There is no sin so big that God cannot forgive, in one instance God challenged man to come to him even if his sins were as many and dark he was prepared to make them as white as snow. Christ is our hope. The only thing we should do is to admit that we have wronged others. We need to repent and be saved or we perish in our sins. The promise stands. God bless.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Zimbabwean Commuter: It Never Rains But Pours

The Zimbabwean commuter has been worst hit by the economic meltdown. At some point fares were changing everyday. This developed to twice a day. As a traveller you had to be prepared to be told any price as you got into the commuter bus. Now new problems have come. The recently introduced ten trillion dollar note has compounded the commuter woes. While on one of these commuter buses a passenger decided to make life easier for the conductor by collecting the money from a fellow passenger and passed over a ten trillion note to the conductor for the two. The conductor rejected the note saying that he needed five trillion notes only. He argued that the ten trillion was not accepted by the owner of the commuter bus because he claimed it was impossible to buy things with. "They cannot find change for it," said the conductor. What it simply means is that our money is no longer user friendly. On one route passengers were asked to pay a dollar (One USD) per two passengers. How you bring that money together or how you share the change is your own nightmare since they do not accept foreign money coins at the moment. It seems it never rains but pours for the Zimbabwean commuter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


We are proud of you Barack Hussen Obama. You have what it takes to be the first black American president. The odds against your candidature were so many but you fought a good fight. Your courage and wisdom has been examplary. We await the moment when you will be sworn in today. You are our hope as Africans as you lead America into a new era. We pray that you will be given enough energy and health to hold on to your goal. Keep on the good work. God bless you Barack.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bible Study - The Busy Ones Get Called!

The Call is for the Busy Ones: (Matthew 4:18-22)
Whom shall we send? This is the proverbial question in most religious circles. Jesus accepted the call of God to come on Earth and sort our the sinful nature of man/woman. We are not clear what Jesus was busy doing when he was called. What we know is that "Jesus went about doing good,"when He was here on earth. From this behaviour it is certain He must have been a very busy person in His Father's kingdom. He must have been busy in the creation of human beings at creation. God says "Let us creat Man". This request should have been made to Jesus and the Holy Spirit - the Three - the Trinity.

The calling of the first disciples by Jesus is very revealing. It is very clear from the scriptures above that God calls those who are already busy doing something. He calls those that are busy helping themselves. Simon, called Peter and his brother Andrew were casting a net into the lake when they were called to be disciples by Jesus. The next pair to be called, John and James were called when they were preparing their nets.

One would have thought that Jesus should have called those who were doing nothing. He would then be providing them with employment/job to do. No, no Jesus calls the busy ones. In the disciples' case above Jesus called them to continue to do the same job but in a different if not elevated form. The scriptures say about these fishermen, "Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of me." (Vs: 20).

In most cases God wants you to remain in your profession but his call is for its elevation because He wants to see "you doing all you do to the glory of God." We are all worth the calling but moreso those who are found busy doing something good. Know that whatever you do whole heartedly and it's good, that is your call ground/battleground for the Lord. Let's all aim at doing good always. Our Lord Jesus Christ is renowned for "going about doing good." God bless!

Be reminded, though that Jesus is not restricted to calling those who are doing good only. He can even call the bad guys, ie if He sees the potential in them. He did that to Saul the persecutor of Christians who latter became Paul. Saul was a committed religious person who only needed redirection. Paul became the most celebrated Christian figure we learn from today.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Greetings From Maputo

This is my second trip to Maputo in two months. Last year between 6th and 13 December I had the privilege to attend the All Africa Conference of Churches AACC 9th Assembly here. The Institute for Theological Reflection Today ITRT based in Zimbabwe which I am director of had an exhibition stand through out the Assembly. It was our first time to showcase our institute at such a big gathering.

This week I am back in Maputo attending a board meeting of Southern Africa Federation of Disabled (SAFOD) persons. SAFOD represents Disabled Peoples' Organizations DPOs in twelve countries in Southern Africa. I was invited two years ago to sit on their Technical Adivisory Board TAB on Research (SRP). We are looking at various research proposals and some research work in progress. It is quite a challenge to be part of such an important organization that looks after the interest of people living with disabilities. I am learning a lot and hopefully contributing something in my small way. We will be launching findings on the "Living Conditions of People Living with Disability in Mozambique" over the weekend.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I got a shock of my life last weekend when I made a round trip around central Zimbabwe. After a long time of absence I decide to go to my roots in Chivu around Sadza Growth point at Warikandwa school in Magaisa village. My 160km journey via Marondera and Wedza took me more than three hours because of the state of the roads. This trip was very revealing. At each and evey place where vendors stood by the road selling their wares they were asking for either USA dollars or Rands. When I offered my Zim Dollar the usual reply was "Go with your money back to Harare." At Sadza Growth point I bought a packet of sugar for four USD 4 (four USD dollar). The shop owner did not have to go around the township looking for change. I learnt that every type of change is available in each and every shop around the shopping centre.

The second day I finished doing the rounds of consoling relatives who had lost loved ones. My return journey back to Norton was through Chivhu town and via surrounding resettlement areas seeing again and consoling other relatives who are resettled farmers. On this other leg of my journey I saw again many vendors selling mangoes, litres of fresh milk, bundles of fire wood, wilde mushrooms and other items I did not realize all going for one dollar USD or ZAR IO (ten Rands) per item. Upon offering my Zim Dollars for transacton I was told the same story "Go back to Harare with your Zim Dollar. We do not need it here." When I had puncture in Chivhu I paid USD I (one USD dollar). On discovering that the other tyre needed more air I was again asked for another USD dollar. Rural Zimbabwe has already dollarized in a big way. I was accompanied by my brother Lovemre who was at pains to explain to me what all this meant from an economist point of view. I came back to my town home disillusioned. God bless!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beware Dictators - Your days are numbered!

The Lord provides the answer – Samuel anoints David.
I Samuel 16:1-13

The scripture above is about the story of the anointing of David by Samuel to be King in the place of Saul. The Lord says “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?” God had heard the cry of Samuel about Saul. Saul had become one of the greatest dictators of all time. Samuel was disappointed about the conduct of Saul. Saul as king had failed both his people and God. God had finally to remove his anointing. We see above God informing Samuel of what he had already done. The anointing had been removed and Saul remained as king but without the anointing. After removing his anointing God had a plan ready for Samuel to execute so that the people of Israel would continue with a loving king. God had been tired of Saul’s dictatorship.

God instructs Samuel to go to Bethlehem to anoint a king in place of Saul. Samuel answers hack with a complaint that he would be in danger if Saul heard of that. God replied that Samuel should go ahead and say that he brought a beast to sacrifice/worship the Lord. Upon arrival Samuels hosts were shocked by his coming. The elders asked “Do you come in peace?” The reply was “Yes, in peace, I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Samuel called Jesse and consecrated him and his family. He called them to a worship place and asked that his children pass through him for anointing. One by one they did pass from the oldest to the youngest of his children who were present. Samuel was instructed by God not to anoint any of these children. He asked if there was any missing to which Jesse replied that the youngest, who was looking after sheep was away. Samuel instructed Jesse to bring David. David was brought from looking after sheep. Upon his arrival David was anointed. After anointing David Samuel disappears from the scene.

On reading further the story of David we find that his first assignment in which David kills Goliath put him in collision with Saul. It was Samuel who agreed that David goes ahead to combat Goliath. After David had killed Goliath women sang that Saul killed thousands while David killed tens of thousands. That annoyed Saul and he sought to harm him. David, however had favor from a number of Saul’s family members which included Michal his daughter and her brother Jonathan. These protected him from their father who wanted to kill him. David later married Michal who saved his life when Saul sought to kill him again. The interesting thing is that though Saul continued to rule Israel his anointing had been removed long before. Saul became madder and madder in his behavior in spite of the fact that David had to be hired to sing for him. David never took it upon himself to kill Saul even when many opportunities were availed for him to kill Saul. He vowed that he would not kill the one anointed by God. The Lord had an answer for the people of Israel in the form of David but many did not realize that.

In our vexing situations the world over the Lord provides with answers and in many instances we do not realize the answers because of our ignorance and unwillingness to humble ourselves so that the Lord reveals himself. We want to be the providers of God’s answers. Yet on the other hand God continues to reveal himself on a daily basis without us noticing His presence and the answers He is providing. The people of Israel must have been pestering God for an answer. They suffered under the yoke of Saul and failed to realize that God had already made a good provision for them by providing an answer in the form of the anointing of David.

In all cases God provides answers for his suffering children but our problem is that we want God to answer us in dramatic ways, in ways that satisfy us so that we can easily point and say, "this is God’s answer." In reality, God does not take time to answer our requests. He cares for us that he provides answers to our requests immediately. He is even surprised that we continue to mourn for someone who God has already removed his anointing. There are several dictators from whom God has already removed his anointing. Anointing for replacements for those dictators has already been done. Samuel appears on the scene again when David went to report to him about what Saul was trying to do to harm him. Samuel keeps his distance and waits for the Lord to make his promise come to fruition. At some point later Saul kills himself and David takes over and established the Davidic Kingdom in which he rules so well. David is mentioned as one of the forefathers of Jesus. Jesus is born from the house of David. Such is the way the Lord works. For every request, every prayer He provides the answers. “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?” For every dictator the anointing is removed. Those who live under dictators should know that their (dictators) time is very temporal. God does not favor them. They may continue to rule but without God’s anointing. God Bless!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

AACC 9th General Assembly - Maputo

Report on All Africa Conference of Churches’ 9th General Assembly.

Dates: 7th – 12th December 2008
Venue: Joachim Chissano International Conference Centre, Maputo, Mozambique.

The All Africa Conference of Churches’ General Assembly was held in the context of a crumbling World economy, politically polarized environment in many African States and a general decline of moral values. The theme of the Assembly was: “Africa, step up in faith”. From the thrust of the theme one could sense that the African Christian family was eager to assert her authority in a continent characterized by tension, pain and bloodshed.

Worship Services
The worship sessions were interesting, contextual and relevant to the current challenges that stare at the Church. They were quite fulfilling regarding to prophetic witness and social service. The 9th General Assembly’s constituting service resounded with a desire for the renewal and relevancy: Jesus restores life to those whom he resurrects;…in Jesus the power of death is defeated.” Bishop Dr Nyansako-ni-Nku further argued that “Jesus wants to set people free from fear, free from failure and free from death.” In general, the daily sermons revealed that:

There is a deep desire on the part of the Church to get involved on matters of faith and social services.
There is an urgent need to address aspects of stigma directed to those who live with the HIV AIDs Virus.
The Church must defend the rights of the poor, women and children through the proclamation and action.
The Church has to protect God’s beautiful creation by protecting our ecology from deforestation.
God wants His people to enjoy democracy and good governance and expects the secular leadership to be servants and not masters to the citizens that elect them to political offices.

Workshop Programmes
The varied workshops that ran alongside the plenary sessions were practical, relevant and educative. In these workshops real theological reflection took place. Although the ITRT did nto have its own specific workshops. It was nevertheless critical for the institution to actively participate in these workshops since we were able to openly participate in many workshops thereby learning a lot in addition to selling our image and vision with a larger population. Some of the workshops like; Human Rights workshop, Lobbying and Advocacy, HIV and AIDS to name but a few were sources of fruitful engagement/dialogue and theological reflection. The workshops gave the clergy band laity a platform for sincere and serious dialogue on practical challenges to faith. It is in these workshops that issues of the Church’s role in promoting good governance and respect of people’s rights were fully discussed before the recommendations were made to the plenary for resolutions.

Assembly Booths/Stalls
The exhibition booths were a delight to the delegates. These stalls became centres for dialogue and theological reflection. The materials on display were educative, informative and inspiring. In many of the stalls a summation of the social and political responsibility of the Church and its service arms was well spelt out. Participants had a chance to visit the stalls quite frequently. The ITRT booth was a hive of activity as delegates were keen to know more about the institute, its programs, whether it was a regional initiative or a localized institute. Another key aspect about the institute related to our relationship with the varied Church bodies and denominations. It was noted that the relationship between the institute and the various Church groupings was sound. On the ecumenical thrust of the institute it was also noted that the institute has the capacity to be regional or even continental centre for theological reflection. The institute was encouraged to undertake a regional advocacy outreach as a way of mobilizing national Christian Councils towards appreciating genuine theological reflection within their own localities.

Gender Audit Launch and Celebrating the Universal Declaration on Human Rights:
These events were one of the highlights of the General Assembly’s keen interests to tackle issues of relevancy and honest witness. It was noted that “there should be respect of persons regardless of their age and gender.” The gender audit launch affirmed the AACC’s desire to keep abreast with the challenges of our times. It was noted that the struggle of gender balance still continues many years after the liberation struggle. The clergy were challenged to use their pulpits to fight for those of God’s children who are still oppressed because of their gender.

A call for peace and good governance:
As the 9th Assembly applied its mind on the crises/states in Africa, the political and economic crises in Zimbabwe took centre stage. At the end of a long and honest dialogue on the Zimbabwean crisis the General Assembly issued a very strong pastoral statement which condemned the political leadership in Zimbabwe as well as the failure of the regional body to help solve the political impasse which has led to the manifold crises. The AACC also noted with concern the scandalous wars in the Great Lakes region, Sudan and Somalia.

For ITRT the AACC 9th General Assembly was a glorious opportunity of growth and meeting friends, making new friends and lobbying for a sound platform of theological reflection on all matters that affect the goodness of the created order.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bible Study - Flight to Egypt

Flight to Egypt (Jeremiah 31:15-17; Matthew 2:13-23)

Recently I listened to a comment on TV which made reference to Afro-Americans having played a pivotal role at each critical moment in American history. The election of Barak Obama as the president elect of America was mentioned in the debate as one of those happenings in American history where a Black person rescues the nation from its ills. Obama comes in as the first non white American leaders since America came into being. Dr Martin Luther King rescued America from the web of racism and human rights abuse in the 1960s. His ‘I have a Dream’ speech is seen as a landmark event which has ushered in change in America. There are many instances which Americans can point to since slavery period which prove that blacks in America have played a major role in critical events in the history of America.

Africa has played host to many a missionary during the missionary era. David Livingstone, Stanley, are some of the great explorers who found out that the weather in Africa was favorable to those Europeans who had ailments which were exacerbated by the cold weather in Europe. A number of people were recommended to go to Africa so that they can be relieved of their ailments. Others came and after becoming well they returned home. A number came and lived in Africa until they died and were buried there.

Before all the above developments God made history when he advised Joseph the father of Jesus to take refuge with Mary and the Baby Jesus in Africa because Herod planned to kill Him. Africa has played critical roles in the history of humanity right from creation. There is a strong belief that humanity started in Africa. Civilization also started in Africa. Africa is the cradle of history despite the fact that little attention has been given to this reality.

It was in Africa that the Israelites were taken into slavery for a long time. When Pharaoh finally agreed to free the Israelites they were encouraged to take all their belongings including their dogs etc. The other nations that took part in slavery later never learnt from the African example. The slaves of other nations (eg in the West and the East) continued to be slaves long after official slavery. Africa had set an example. Freed slaves have to be free indeed. Yes Africans followed their slaves but learnt a bitter lesson when they were drowned by the floods. The good lesson learnt from Africa was that once they freed their slaves they let them go with their belongings.

Christ’s life was saved by going down to Africa (Egypt). If Africa was to be given space a lot could be learnt from their capacity to forgive even their colonizers etc. In spite of the well reported chaos in Africa hordes and hordes of tourists come to Africa to have a peace of mind. Many rich people have invaded Cape Town and have made homes there for retirement. It’s not only Cape Town, the whole of Africa is searched after by those who want peace, even when the surrounds will be chaotic. A flight to Egypt is necessary in one’s life. This is where life began and will probably end in peace. This is good news from Africa. God bless.