Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lest we forget

The Methodist Word, Celebrations Edition, Vol 2, 1891-2011

From 18 to 21 August all roads will lead to Bulawayo where the celebrations are being held. There is every reason to celebrate. So many things have happened since the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe MCZ was established here 120 years ago. Many societies have been planted. Many schools were built. Several circuits and districts are now in place. We started with Area Chairmen, and then graduated to District Chairmen and now the chairpersons are now bishops with the presiding bishop heading the church. The later was called the president. From three area chairmen we now have 12 bishops across the country.

120 years ago Methodists together with colonialists made their historic landing in what became known as Southern Rhodesia. We must not forget that Methodism was part and parcel of this historic development. Colonialists took charge of the affairs of the state while Methodists were responsible for establishing the church and schools all over the country. A church was soon pitched up in Harare and then at Epworth 11 km from the city centre. The church was given a large piece of land as part of the deal to work together in shaping the future of the new country. Several farms across the country were to be given to the church where boarding schools were built.

Cecil John Rhodes was right to work with Methodists. He was aware of the good work done by Methodists to bring sanity to the United Kingdom earlier on when the Anglican establishment had become so state controlled that it was no longer serving the people but the state and the rich. The poor were left to their own whims. Drunkenness and all sorts of vices were the order of the day even in the Church. John Wesley had earlier on in the mid 1700 and later started a movement that changed the face of Christianity in England. John Wesley died in 1791 and a century later Methodism was born in Zimbabwe in 1891. Now 320 years later Methodists in Zimbabwe meet to celebrate the awesome presence of Methodism in this country.

At its inception in UK Methodism was known for its fight against injustice. They fought for prison reform and also for fighting against slavery. William Wilberforce, a Methodist, became a champion in British Parliament fighting to stop slavery. Eventually parliament voted to abolish slavery in 1833. It is not surprising that many a Methodists have been caught in between fighting against injustice across the world.

When British missionaries, Michael Bowen, George Eva, left South Africa in 1890 travelling north they were accompanied by black evangelists, who included, Modumedi Moleli, James Anta, Wellington H. Balesi, Samuel Tutani and Josiah Ramushu to mention a few of those recorded. They landed in Fort Harare in 1891. Evangelists were in the forefront of establishing preaching points at each place they got to. There were also many Zimbabweans who had gone to South Africa to look for work and these accompanied missionaries because they wanted to return home. A number of these came from the Tonga people of the Zambezi Valley and names like Silemba (Chiremba), Solani and Simemeza were settled in Epworth.

Chief Nenguwo a polygamist quickly accepted Methodism in his area and this was followed by the establishment of Nenguwo Mission (now Waddilove Mission) through the tutelage of Rev John White. Waddilove in Mashonaland East and Tegwani Mission in Plumtree became training centres for Methodist work. Teacher training was started at these two centres followed by Kwenda Mission deeper in the heart of the country. A nursing school and an Agricultural College were also established at Waddilove. Soon a school of theology was established there again where evangelists were trained both to teach and to preach.

Those who later offered for ministry were trained at Waddilove. A martyr in the name of Rev Job Mamukwa also came through this institution. He volunteered to go to Binga where he died of malaria in the 50s. Training of ministers moved to Epworth at Epworth Theological College in 1954. This was done to train ministers close to Harare and also in association with the newly opened University of Rhodesia then. Two years later the United Methodists joined Epworth Theological College. To date, in the spirit of ecumenism, eight (8) denominations own the College under a new name, United Theological College (UTC). UTC is run by this consortium of Churches and trains ministers of religion even from other denominations who do not belong to the 8. Lay people from across the denominations are now offered a two year University of Zimbabwe Diploma in Religious Studies (DRS) which is taught at UTC. The graduates teach in Secondary schools and others do social work, etc, after completion. This year UTC has introduced a Bachelors degree, B.TH honours for ministers in training.

Another historic development was the establishment of Methodist Children’s Home in Epworth. It came into being through the sacrificial efforts of Rev Matthew Jacha Rusike in the 60s. He started looking after orphans in his home at Kwenda Mission before he moved to Makwiro circuit. The Home has now established centres throughout the country.

All the training centres died later and what was left were primary schools which then developed to High schools which the church now boasts of. As we celebrate Methodism runs a number of high schools and primary schools. It should be noted that before the 70s most of the education was in the hands of churches in Zimbabwe. The District Councils in the seventies took over most of the church schools across all denominations. Councils had discovered that they had no revenue base so they decided to take over these schools. This indeed was a tragedy in making. Their need for money did not translate to good governance of these schools.

Lest we forget, we should also remember that Methodism has contributed to the struggle for an independent Zimbabwe in a big way. Rev Thompson D. Samkange a Methodist minister became the first president of a nationalist party. Norman E. Thomas writes with passion about Samkange; “Passionately committed to a unity that supersedes divisions of tribe, region, social status, or religious affiliation, Samkange helped to found the Southern Rhodesia Bantu Congress in1938, uniting existing associations in a national political movement. He served as its president from 1943 to 1948. Under his leadership, the congress aspired for mass membership and demanded full democratic rights, which became the hallmarks of later nationalist movements.” Samkange was among the first theological students under John White at Waddilove. Joshua Nkomo who was initially a Methodist Lay Preacher became a vibrant nationalist and then lead ZAPU until his death when he was one of the Vice Presidents. Later Rev Professor Canaan Banana became the first president of Zimbabwe at independence in 1980.

From a single department the church now has several departments which range from Treasury, Evangelism, Education, MeDRA, Internal Auditing, Connexional Building, TEE Program, Research and Publications, Youth Work, Health and Social Services and National Chaplaincy to all national education institutions. This is by no means a small achievement. We say, Amhlope! Makoroko! Congratulations!

Rev Dr Levee Kadenge

Monday, August 29, 2011

Zimbabweans too can be aid donors

The Standard, Sunday, 28 August 2011 10:12

At the mention of the word donor we immediately think of foreign support for our local needs. No wonder there is sometimes ill-feeling towards this support from those who think we can do our own thing. While we very much appreciate and need this cushioning from our external friends, there is something which we have not promoted that was done by our ancestors.

Recently, however, to my total surprise, I came across someone who is doing it. I was also informed that there were many others who were providing similar support which is equivalent to donor funding. My father, the late Francis Kadenge, used to tell me stories about very rich individuals who did a lot for other people in the area I was born. He used to mention two big names in particular: a Mazhindu and a Dodo.

Although these men had several cattle and big cattle pens, this was apparently not enough for them. According to my father, they had far more animals in several villages near and far. They would identify poor people in the communities they could reach out to. They would give these families a heifer each to keep. After a few years they would follow-up on the cattle and leave these couples with a cow or two, depending on the length of time they would have kept the cattle.

Not only did the two men empower locals that way, they also went further. Those who did not have draught-power would be provided with oxen from their own pens which they would let them use for a couple of days. These men would then ask for just a bucket or two of maize after the harvests. In a sense Mazhindu and Dodo were donors par excellence.

I was told they did not wait for people to come to them to ask for help. They actually identified the needy and proffered help. No wonder people loved them and these names have not been forgotten in our community.

Recently, I met one local donor like the two described above and was impressed. He has many cattle but there is no single cow of his in his pen. The cattle at his home are not his. They belong to his worker, who he now treats as his partner. They started working together 11 years ago. The worker now has eight cattle of his own. He was given one heifer 10 years ago and from his lot he gave two cattle to his in-laws, he told me.

The cattle belonging to the owner of the plot are dotted all over in Mhondoro, Chivhu and Macheke areas. It seems he is using the same philosophy of Dodo and Mazhindu. His policy, he told me, was that he would give each family four cattle. The first heifer born there would be for the family looking after his animals.

My advice to those of us who have the means: let us share with those who are in need. Never mind that you are alone doing it in your area. As many of us begin to go out and help, our combined efforts will not be in vain.

What I have discovered is that donors actually benefit more than those they are donating to. They have all the blessings and the good will of the community.

Rev Dr Levee Kadenge

Monday, August 22, 2011

Is Christianity to liberate or enslave?

The Standard, Sunday, 21 August 2011 14:44
I am amazed at how Christians submit to those who lead them. Christ did not load it over his followers, but his message was to liberate them. What I observe today is that members of many churches have become modern slaves. It is like the norm. The question I pose is: “Is Christianity there to liberate or to enslave?”

Listening to how members talk about their leaders, one wonders who they are following — Christ or the church leaders. I am aware that among the majority of these followers, there are many who really do not subscribe to this sheepish following.

I am not in any way saying leaders should not be respected. Respect is the mark of discipline, but it should not be blind following. Christ refused to be elevated to be God. But what we know is that he was God. The humility that was in Christ is what both members and leaders should emulate. We are all servers, we should not only wait to be served. Christ did not come to be served, but to serve. What we see today is that there are little gods being served in one way or another. It has indeed become fashionable.

Yet Christ says about his mandate: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4: 18-19).

The message is clear. Christians should take heed of the poor, the captives, the needy and the oppressed. Though they are many, today’s Christians care more of their leaders than fulfilling the word as prescribed by Jesus.

No wonder there are others who are saying if one wants to be rich, they should form a church. What we should instead be saying is that if one wants to serve, let them form a church. Many church leaders have become very rich, not because of their sweat, but because of the sacrifices made by church members, some of whom have very little for survival. Instead of the church working against oppression, we have become oppressors ourselves.

Some of the demands that we make to our followers are suppressive. Let us learn from Christ who gave freedom to his followers.

Christ became poor so that we could become rich. We as leaders need to become liberated. The oppressor is not a free person. We need to be liberated to liberate others.

Rev Dr Levee Kadenge

Comments (2)Add Comment

written by brett tollman, August 21, 2011
I know that is very true what you just wrote but I think its too late now coz our masses are already captives.they are under some kind of spell that only God himself can solve. Zcc Mbugo just to name one. Its members are suffering across the country but the bishop and his wives are sitting pretty.

written by saBhuku, August 22, 2011
Dr Rev If Christ refused to be elevated to God,how then do you call him God and how do you know that he was God. Please tell us where you find this. From the verse you have just quoted, it sounds to me that Christ was a messenger sent by God to do God's work and he confirms this in some other verse that what ever he did the power what not his, but God's. Pafunge.

Bernard Chitapike
Rev Dr, I'm happy that u are seeing the same thing I'm seeing. Churches are now business. I saw letter in standard today. May God bless u.

Thanks Rev Dr. Keep on speaking the truth like our hero Paul who went before us, who was a Real soldier of Jesus Christ. Becoz of the love of riches, pastors have failed to lead followers to the promised land.

Chris Mabuto
Old man how are you? I read yo letter in the standard today and was impressed. I only wish u could say it on all radio and tv stations for the benefit of all!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Best Oranges, once the pride of Zimbabwe

The Standard, Sunday 14 August 2011

For a couple of years now I have not tasted a really sweet orange. I have passed through Chegutu on my way to and from Bulawayo on several occasions and have bought tasteless oranges. Those which have a taste are sour and I have not been impressed. I am sure this is the experience of many a traveller. The same has been my experience as I ply the Mazoe-Bindura road. What has become of the pride of Zimbabwe? Yet our relatives in Diaspora always ask those who visit them to bring them Mazoe drink without fail.

At one time I actually asked a vendor to let me peel one before buying a packet. Those who were travelling with me could not continue eating the oranges but throw them away. I feel pity for those who spend day in day out selling these fruits which are no longer oranges. The unsuspecting travellers buy these oranges, only to throw them away on their journey. One may ask: is this how oranges now taste like?

No! A big no! I had a present surprise this time around last week when I travelled to Swereki, 690 km from Harare. Matabeleland South is home to this beautiful but dry land. Just before Swereki, there are estates which produce the best oranges I have ever eaten. I lost count of the oranges I consumed. The following day I had a brief number of “pleasant” stomach shakeup because of the nice tasty oranges I had enjoyed.

Upon asking who was doing this miracle, I was told that most of the guys who left the erstwhile famous Mazoe Orange Estates had migrated to this place. We passed through a highly mechanised plant that was producing juice, which was being exported to Harare to make orange juice. On noticing that we were priests on a mission, workers at the plant showered us with oranges and wished us pleasant and safe journey enjoying real oranges, the pride of Zimbabwe a couple of years ago.

A couple of lessons from this experience are worth pondering upon. It is one thing owning a farm and putting it to best use is another. Orange trees still adorn the many farms along the two highways I have mentioned above but the crops being grown there hardly meet the acceptable standards.

My best advice to the new farm owners is to try other crops other than oranges.

Rev Dr Levee Kadenge

Monday, August 1, 2011

Farm workers, the wretched of our lot

The Standard, 31 July 2011

My work as a pastor takes me to different parts of the country, marrying, burying and attending to several church meetings. I use these visits to talk to all and sundry who are prepared to share with me. Let me share with you on my latest findings on the farming communities. The lot of those who live and work on farms have become the wretched of our country.

One would hope some of the stories one hears are not true. We recently gave a lift to a woman who was carrying a heavy bag. As I shared with her, she went on to tell my wife and I that on the farm they stay they had not been paid for the last three months. We then asked her why she was then carrying a heavy sack full of groceries. She told us that with her husband they did piece-work on an adjacent farm where they were paid some money to survive on.

A short distance along the way we picked up a pregnant woman carrying a baby. As if what we had been told was not enough, she went on to repeat the same story, that her husband had not been paid for the last three months too.

When we asked the reason, they all said the owner just said, “zvinhu zvakaoma”, (things are difficult). But they went on to say the owner of the farm went to South Africa recently and bought himself a new car.

They have been brought up on farms and they agreed that during the olden days they did not get much but at least they were paid their dues on time. The saddest thing is that when they are finally given money the owner does not pay them for the past unpaid months. This has happened on several occasions. Those who complain are fired.
As we continued with the journey we passed through another farm and our two friends had nothing but praises for the owner of this farm. He paid his workers regularly and they agreed that he was a very kind man. They lamented that he was only one among so many in that area.

When we asked them why people continued to stay on farms yet they were not paid, they responded by saying two things. One, they looked for work elsewhere to make ends meet. The second reason was that they just wanted accommodation and a number would just resort to stealing from the farmer. “Because they do not pay us those who are not afraid among us just steal from the farmer and they survive that way,” responded one woman.

Rev Dr Levee Kadenge

REGARDLESS of the fact that I am a lamb that is shepherded by the good Dr Rev Levee Kadenge I feel it is time you gave him an article slot in your paper.

I did not study journalism and neither did he (I think) but from a social perspective I enjoy his flexibility and wide range of subjects, which is not dampened by the fact that he is a man of the cloth.

By Impressed