TWO African countries have recently been terrorised by the two Rs in politics — Race and Religion.
South Africa, still encountering difficulty in eliminating the last dregs of apartheid from its political system had, a year ago, the Marikana mine massacre.
Nobody, except the most incorrigible racists, could deny the killing in cold blood of 34 African miners by a group of white and black policemen, smacked heavily of the kind of “shoot to kill” method of dealing with “upstart kaffirs” so beloved of the advocates of the apartheid policy before 1994.
In Egypt, it was once again religion which sparked the massacre of more than 600 citizens protesting against repressive measures of the military government, ousters from power of the elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi.
So, from Cape to Cairo, you have politics poisoned by two elements of the human scourge against which many libertarians have battled for ages — racism and religion.
Incidentally, many Zimbabweans must have been grateful that their recent elections were not — and have never been — poisoned by the same elements of human weakness — an unwillingness to accept that no religion can conceivably sanction the murder of its opponents or the adherents of another religion — The Crusades notwithstanding.
The question to be asked then would be: what kind of Deity is this — one that allows the shedding of human blood to promote its faith among human beings?
Is there not a contradiction here?
Wouldn’t that eliminate the role of Satan, the Devil — if God or Allah Himself took on the job of killing anyone who disagreed with His (or Her) faith?
The massacre in Marikana in 2012 shocked the world. I was of the opinion that had the South African government been paying diligent attention to the causes of the strike at Marikana, things would never have deteriorated so tragically.
I most certainly don’t believe that if Nelson Mandela had been president so much blood would have been shed. I would also hazard a guess that even Thabo Mbeki might not have stood idly by while innocent blood was being spilled?
We have yet to be told by President Jacob Zuma why he believed his authority did not extend to intervention before 34 unarmed workers were butchered in cold blood.
Most South Africans agree that Marikana should never have happened at all if the spirit of reconciliation so lustily propounded by Madiba had been recognised for what it really stood for — the opposite of any shred of the policies of the apartheid regimes from Dr Malan, Hendriek Verwoerd to the last custodian of that evil policy before F W de Klerk came on the scene.
But my heart aches heavily for Egypt, which has seen much bloodshed connected to Allah’s name.
I have always believed that Anwar Sadat, who I met together with Hosni Mubarak on a visit to Cairo in 1978, would have helped his country survive bloodshed — if he himself had not been killed a few years later.
One hesitates to speak in broad terms of the tendency among some political leaders in Asia and the Middle East to insist that religion must be in the forefront of their every political consideration.
They may not be alone: there are other leaders in Europe who have plunged their countries into internecine conflict for the same reason — that their God largely condones their massacre of people of other faiths — if it promotes their own.
All religions in this era of the Internet, when Humankind is discovering the real mysteries of the universe, ought to step back and question for what purpose God put them on this planet.
It would be amazing for their best brains to study these mysteries and discover that they have been on the right track all along — that the Creator intended them to engage in senseless warfare, in which they bomb each other to smithereens for no particular purpose — but to ensure anyone who didn’t believe in their particular God was an evil to be destroyed on sight.
In that case, perhaps Africa ought to look at all this alien religious mumbo-jumbo afresh. May be there is another way — to heaven?
There ought to be.
- Bill Saidi is a writer based in Harare