On Prophets, Religion, Sorcery and the Gullibility of Zimbabweans

Since the beginning of the year few things have dominated the media as much as our prophets and religious leaders have done.

Much has been said and written about these ‘men of God’ and they are very influential members of the Zimbabwean and African family. In fact last year when New African magazine compiled its (flawed) list of’100 Most Powerful Africans’ there was quite a number of prophets in the ‘Religion and Traditional Leaders’ category, sharing the honour with such great men as the Asante king.

Giving prognoses of the year ahead to their followers, they forecast diverse things at the beginning of the year, ranging from gold going to be picked off the ground to a few deaths and disasters. Just how far-sighted is that?

In the meantime another prophet was ‘blessing’ the attendants of his services with ‘miracle money’ that mysteriously appeared in their wallets, pockets and purses. I pointed out that if the comrade was really producing money then he should be apprehended for unlawful production of money which is an offence only to be called irreverent and heretical.

I have always been skeptical of these ‘men of God’ and their supposed abilities of casting away demons, seeing the future and healing the sick. Just a day or so ago, after Nigeria conceded a last minute goal to the Burkinabe at the 2013 AFCON, I saw an article saying a much respected Prophet claimed he had warned the Nigerian team to tighten their backline in the last minutes. How ridiculous. Any third grader who has played football can make that ‘prophecy’. These prophets are also fond of prophesying doom- hurricanes, deaths, storms and chaos.

Though I have never believed their divination, I have never for a moment doubted the intellect, creativeness, business acumen, confidence, motivational abilities and public speaking skills of religious leaders. To the very last they are great orators and shrewd businessmen, some of whom let their faithfuls determine where to sit during services for a small fee, who realized a business opportunity- tax free too- in Africa’s lazy, poor, superstitious and gullible people.

Whilst their own kids attend poor schools, zealots donate unbelievable amounts to the church, adding money to men already as rich as Croesus. Their own wealth will come, they are told, with a little more giving, kindness and fasting.

If the results take too long then, “……No, there is something you are doing wrong, God rewards the righteous”. Or, “….you are storing up Heavenly riches.”

The prophets and pastors, it seems, have already been to heaven and have collected their wealth and brought it back to earth. How else can they be so wealthy?

How they forget St Paul’s message in 1 Timothy 6:10 when he warned against the love of money is beyond me. Perhaps the message is meant for lesser men not for giants of the faith; after all ministering, like any other vocation, must have its benefits. And like all us they are trying to make a living in this inimical economic environment.

Just like Speakmore Mandere was trying to make a living. You’ve probably heard of him, the Zimbabwean n’anga (voodooist/traditional healer/sangoma) who on Monday blew himself to bits using as yet unexplained methods.

Reports say that on Monday afternoon a loud explosion rocked Zengeza 2 in Chitungwiza, blowing up a traditional healer’s house. The traditional healer is said to have been performing some cleansing rituals for his clients.

It is said he was trying to destroy a goblin which his client no longer wanted, the same goblin that had made him rich. And the goblin, well, refused to go quietly, choosing to depart in style. The client’s wife who was outside in the car survived and confirmed that they indeed were ‘having problems which needed to be sorted out by the n’anga.’

Others say the sangoma was brewing lightining- something which some claim to be able to do here- and probably got an ingredient too many. Still some say after brewing the lightning instead of pressing the ‘send’ button, the sangoma pressed ‘play’.

Unfortunately he also blew up his client, the businessman and his companions, and an innocent 7 month baby in a nearby room. Five people died, and a dozen houses were damaged with a few roofs blown off and bits flesh scattered for more than fifty metres.

If you are not Zimbabwean then this probably sounds like hogwash but take moment and do a little Google search and you’ll see hundreds of stories and countless images of bodies and bits of flesh strewn all over the rubble of what used to be houses.

The police and army later cordoned off the place and started searching for tell-tale signs of more natural causes of the explosion. Three days later the only explanation from pathologists, ‘competent’ police and forensic experts is that the explosion was not caused by anything they were taught in school.

The state’s mouthpiece has already said it is sorcery and everyone seems satisfied with the answer. No fires, no mercury, nothing. Just a noise and five people dead and dozens of houses destroyed. I’m not a very superstitious person but this has taught me that whatever we think we know is not much, the unexplored is vast and dark, and maybe just maybe, sorcery is real.

More importantly, I think the comrades who dabble in the supernatural, especially those of them who have ‘powers’- the prophets and sangomas- must be regulated by the state.

I don’t really care for those they hoodwink and swindle but when they start blowing up things and whole streets by whatever methods then they should be reined in.

We cannot have them blowing up little kids in our suburbs and traumatizing whole neighborhoods nor would we want an errant demon wreaking havoc in our schools.



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