How God won in Africa

THERE is strife all over the world, some of it originating with the notion that there is a god who condones the murder of people of other faiths — the so-called infidels, or Kaffirs.

You would not conceive of a god who orders the killing of human beings, on the nebulous grounds that their faith in their own god was punishable by death.

In Cairo recently, more than 20 Christians paid that price.

They were not criminals or terrorists.

The extremist view would be that if there was God at all, why would there be this inhumanity by humankind against humankind? That sounds pathetically naïve, doesn’t it?

But all faith is not rooted in fact. Most Christians will remember the Bible stating: “Vengeance is mine,’ sayeth the Lord.”

But in this world of sin, that message may be ignored by people who prefer an Old Testament dictum: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth . . .”

Such people will blithely ignore the other Biblical exhortation: “Turn the other cheek . . .”

But faith is so complex each individual interprets every declaration from their prophet differently.

The Holy Koran, for instance, cannot possibly contain a passage which says “the door to heaven is open to all who kill Christians”.

I write this being acutely aware that religion, being an emotive subject, can send people ballistic.

Yet recently, in our region, people who believe in the God of mercy experienced a triumph of sorts in the exploits of two Anglican clergymen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

Some may be wary of calling his meeting, via satellite, with the Dalai Lama, a success.

The physical proximity was prevented by the South African government’s refusal to grant the Buddhist clergyman a visa.

It might be highly contentious to state that there was Divine Intervention, as a result.

The two men did exchange lavish greetings and repartee and laughter, thanks to the magic of cyberspace.

Whether the Chinese leaders were impressed is another matter. Being communists, they have no faith in the existence of God or Allah.

“Religion is the opium of the masses” is quoted often as signifying communism’s disdain of anything which is founded on the “airy fairy” idea of faith.

Then, in nearby Zimbabwe, the Archbishop of Canterbury met President Robert Mugabe, the long-time Catholic who describes homosexuals as worse than “pigs and dogs”.

Williams, far worse than  from denigrating homosexuals, thinks they are perfectly entitled to their sexual orientation, even in the sight of God.

Williams said his piece to Mugabe, who has received unstinting support for his homophobia from Bishop Nobert Kunonga, also of the Anglican Church.

His supporters have clashed with supporters of a faction of the church in Zimbabwe which continues to support the mother church, in spite of its stance on “the love that will not speak its name”.

Like most positions on which people differ on the grounds of historical records, Anglicans who condone homosexuality argue that God created all people as equals.

Homosexuals, per se, are not transgressing any of the Ten Commandments, where there is no reference whatsoever to sex between consenting adults, except adultery.

There are other aspects of the human being not touched on by The Commandments, but which have been roundly condemned as being anti-Christian: heavy drinking is one.

Another is pedophilia. Yet, as this creation of God progressed, there cropped up situations hitherto unimagined by the Creator — if that is not heresy!

Today, for instance, the unbridled greed for material things cannot be said to be part of the Christian faith.

It’s hard to believe that out of Wall Street would one day emerge someone worthy of canonisation and sainthood.

Yet we now know that there are churches founded on the basis of wealth-gathering.

Once in a while, though, there is a silver lining: in Africa, the two events detailed above might be construed as signifying one small step for The Good Guys.

It might be ambitious to declare that the tide might be turning in favour of those who desire a real change in Africa — one we have waited for since 1957.

Bill Saidi is a veteran journalist based in Harare


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