Like no other pastor out there, it was my personal near-death experience some 10 years back. It was my ultimate vulnerability and exposure to the hopeless brink of mortal ruin and the helplessness that brought me to my most sincere encounter with God. In rather grim irony, that most terrifying moment of my life was gold, my life’s most cherished Aha! moment. It is a story for another day.
MATHABELAZITHA/THE ANVIL BY ZIFISO MASIYE
Suffice to point out that I am my greatest testimony, not only of the awesome glory and seamless power of God, but, in regard to this discussion, I am testimony too, of the irresistible pull religions faith associated with those calamitous moments of our lives when we throw in the towel, when resigned surrender of limited human capacity defines us. The real or seeming dead-end of our own human capacity for knowledge, and innovation to create solutions to our recurrent challenges, they say, is often the most authentic beginning of the Christ in all of us. Perhaps that is as it should be.
I don’t know if it’s just me or this is a commonly felt trend. Friday’s presidential election judgement by Chief Justice Luke Malaba was received with some bitter-sweet, but overwhelming sense of resignation, that sinking feeling of “Only God can ever deliver Zimbabwe!” The humbling reverence of God and the unerring deference to a higher deity in media platforms of all manner this week, by winning and by whining candidates and by knock-kneed citizens alike, is a mirror of the jaded energies of human capacity and yielding competence of civic endeavour that has increasingly characterised our political arena in recent times.
When our most courageous warriors abandon ship, when the most colourful of the watchdogs of governance failure and hitherto fearless defenders of civil liberties are reduced [or is it “elevated”] to prayer, faith and idolatory; when an invariably apologetic church ministry becomes the louder player in political conflict and the fight for social justice than a bold and unwavering civil society, then you know, the poo has hit the fan.
My friend of a less Christian persuasion likens this resigned Zimbabwean drama rather callously to the massive conversion of women-folk at some specific stage of their married lives to fervent Christianity. He reckons that a useful indicator of failed marital bliss is the extent to which so many of us African husbands have driven our beautiful wives, midway into our marriages from all their treasured youthful hobbies, their childhood dreams and pursuits to the resigned sanctuary of the church and mundane burial society chores. As marital abuse increases, he argues, so do the numbers of women in places of worship!
His hypothesis that there is a discernably increased appeal of Christianity and deference to “vague faith” in those societies where social injustice, poverty and abuse is pronounced provokes an intriguing comparison, in the political sphere, with otherwise militant and courageous citizens, so long tormented by an abusive government and rogue ruling party to the point of resigned collective prayer and the pursuit of solutions of religious faith rather than active citizen-agency. Forty years of governance squalor and a virtual lifetime of trial and failure have drained all confidence in any self-induced future change of governance and, seemingly strong-willed rights-driven citizens simply squirm their way into glorified pfeerism!
Without doubt, there is a certain investment of revolutionary energy that God does invest in just about all of us. There appears to be two broad sets of revolutionaries. For many, it takes the form of that generic boredom with governance monotony, that youthful disdain for authority and wanton desire for change and things new. For others, it is that deeply ingrained thirst for social justice — an ageless, unrelenting DNA and desire to attain common good, equity and end all forms of poverty and deprivation.
When, around age 45-50, these cherished life ambitions of change fail to materialise and these political goals seem to fade further into the horizon of our lives, an enveloping, sinking sense of failure engulfs an entire generation. Then, the journey for the two sets of “revolutionaries” always seems to split two ways. The first group loses their youthful mojo and momentum and simply abandon the egalitarian mandate or the “common good” agenda. This tired group becomes acutely conscious of their diminishing energy tank for continued conflict. Often, they consider what is left of their tortured lives to be only useful if expended in the active service of their erstwhile tormentors.
So often, it is them that become greater converts and louder praise singers of the very abusive authorities they spent their young lives condemning than the original converts. A conflicted need justifies the age-induced switch, to placate to incredulous new master and to make-up for “the lost years” make this group of “lumumbas” irrationally sensational in their fervent support of authority and suddenly the most dangerous and destructive force to their long- time comrades, those with whom they shared the trenches. They so wish to discredit and disown their youthful political nests. Yet they say back here, “Kutshiywa kwakhiwe!”
The other set of revolutionaries is ever so lonely and shrinking company. They realise, in the fuller context of things, that, for instance, the feeble ConCourt may have gleefully blessed a beautiful lie and chosen pretty technical niceties to gloss over the real underlying infrastructure of national conflict in Zimbabwe. They realise the struggle for social justice may, and perhaps, should take more and go beyond our own lifetimes and may not be measured by its personal benefits to our own persons, now and here. They count on the energies of a new, more informed, more energetic, angry generation that may not be willing to borrow their precious future to entrenched scarecrows. The rest are happy to hide behind the pulpit.
Zii Masiye (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes elsewhere on social media as Balancing Rocks.