Image: Zimbabwean Pastor who started the #ThisFlag campaign, Pastor Evans Mawarire. Photo: The Standard.
By Pastor Xola Skosana
Pastors in the Pentecostal/Charismatic sector of the church are the least prepared leaders to deal with the complexity of post-colonial and neo-colonial dynamics in Black society.
Being a Christian is already an admission of susceptibility and gullibility. In the same way that a person born in India is a Hindu, or a person born in Pakistan is a Muslim, black people born in South Africa, Zimbabwe and other former British colonies, are Christians. This is no rocket science, you become a religious adherent to foreign religion through political and military conquest.
Even atheists in such countries subconsciously behave like Christians. Being Christian is simply an inability to stand the tide of religious dominance which permeates every aspect of ones life, from cradle to the grave.
Not only are you born of parents whose outlook on life has been thoroughly Christianized, whether they go to church or not, you yourself are given a Christian name when you are most powerless to say yes or no.
The next seal of mental slavery happens when you are presented before a priest (infant baptism) who sprinkles you with water, symbolically binding you to the Christian family and faith for the rest of your life.
From henceforth, society will welcome you into its fold as part of those permanently marked by Christian spirituality. You learn to pray at home, at school and at church. You also learn christian sensibilities and you begin to speak in “Christianese”, a language and posture of peace, reconciliation, perseverance, (especially against white supremacy) and more, all of which is sold to you as loving God.
The worldview you are born and raised into is something you take for granted as a given, until that day when someone points it out to you, that in fact the dominant religious ideas in the society you are in are not innocent. Their dominance points to a blood stained history and to the symbiotic relationship they have with political conquest.
In South Africa, the dominant religious ideas are not more than 150 years old and yet it feels as though life has always been understood in Christian terms. The London Missionary Society under which many mission societies affiliated and received their accreditation was founded only in 1795.
The first black missionary came back from Scotland in 1848, Tiyo Soga the son of Jotello, a head advisor of Chief Ngqika. His mother became a Christian, divorced her husband and took her son to the mission school.
When black people were fighting for land in one of the nine frontier wars in the Eastern Cape – the 100 years of resistance against land dispossession, Soga left the country as a 15 year old boy and a disciple of Rev William Govan only to come back as an ambassador of Christian spirituality. Blacks were never the same again!
Black liberation theology, first heard from South American Catholic priests such as Gustavo Gutierrez, Oscar Romero from El Salvador and the famous North American James Cone, South African Allan Boesak, Emeritus Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, is a tool of hermeneutics. It is an attempt by Black Christians who woke up in the belly of the beast and realized that religion is not innocent. In fact religion is a tool to oppress, in Marx’s language, an opium of the masses. So they sought to redeem religion to no avail. Tutu won the coveted Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts while blacks remain poor and landless.
In the context of Zimbabwe, Pastor Evans Mawarire is no where near from understanding these dynamics merely because the avarage preacher in the Pentecostal/Charismatic sector of the church is theologically bankrupt, and relies for their daily supply of theological insight on the detached American TV evangelist, the majority of whom are supporting the Republican racist Donald Trump and busy praying for the white police who are murdering our people!
Mawarire, similar to many of the black political leaders we have here at home, is a zealot without knowledge, a soldier without an ideology and therefore a danger to himself, his family and those glibly following him!