Favour In Context: Part Three …of ignorant independence beneficiaries

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SOWE rekuDomboshava had been the pastor’s choice.

He had said that there was power in those mountains; power to unlock God’s favour.

The guide looked towards the glow of Harare in the far south and asked, “Do you know that the guerillas who bombed the Rhodesian fuel depot on December 11 1978 were based here in Domboshava?”

Leaning against the skeletal tree that looked like a Martian radio transmitter, the guide talked about the ZANLA feat that turned the tide of the liberation struggle against Ian Smith.

A woman’s voice said: “This is quite interesting. You mean to say that those heroes actually walked this land?”

“Of course!” The guide turned to face the direction of the voice and proceeded to mention the heroes by name: “There was Comrade Member Kuvhiringidza, Comrade No Rest Muhondo (M90), Comrade Damage Bombs, Comrade States Mudzvanyiriri, Comrade Take Time, Comrade Lobo, Comrade Poison Waungana, Comrade Nhamo and Comrade Brian Chimurenga.”

Cde Lobo.

A man’s voice asked: “You mean to say you actually saw those heroes in flesh and blood?”

The Pastor got impatient and insisted: “Vanhu vaMwari, let us remain focused on what we came here for. We can talk about all that history on our way down in the morning. Right now we must make sure we get to the top of the mountain by mid-night.”

No-one opposed the Pastor.  

He knelt down and the flock around him followed suit. 

He raised his voice in prayer and the whole flock followed his example at the top of their voices.

A distinct voice shouted for a job.

Another declared: “No weapon fashioned against me shall prosper!”

Another called upon Holy Ghost fire to burn down mweya yemadzinza

Another shout came out distinctly: “Ndinobvuma kusundwa chaiko kuita zvakaipa nemweya yetsvina, mweya yanasekuru.”

A man who was not serious stopped shouting and held his mouth in order to suppress a chuckle.

Something in the darkness told him he was not the only one struggling to contain a chuckle.

The Pastor came to the rescue and shouted: “Amen!”

Indivividual prayers subsided to whispers and then silence.

Again, the pastor said: “Zviratidzo.”

The flock sat up and waited.

The woman who wanted to be favoured with a promotion rose up and spoke about another shooting star rising from the east and streaking across the sky, westwards.

Another woman said: “I saw armed men pacing restlessly pamusorosoro peNgomakurira.”

In the softening darkness, the aspiring Member of Parliament despaired: “Oh, finish!”

Another visionary talked about hearing voices of people singing songs of liberation struggle pamusorosoro peNgomakurira.

The Pastor appealed to the visionaries: “Please …! Remember what we came here for.”

“Tauya kumasowe kwete kupungwe,” a voice chipped in support of the Pastor and everyone, including the guide, could not hold back their laughter.

A voice begged to know: “Are visions voluntary or involuntary? Are there visions we are not supposed to tell?”

After a long difficult silence, a very calm voice said: “I think every vision is important and must be told. I think no vision comes without reason. Mwari vane chirevo mune chiratidzo chese chavanopa.”

General consensus with the calm speaker was assumed from the silence.

The silence continued as if awaiting the Pastor’s response. He said nothing and the guide rose up and led the laboured climb up the mountain.

The rising moon was softening the pitch darkness cast by the mountain. Features of the mountain and figures of the flock seeking God’s favour from the sanctity of the mountain were becoming less grotesque and less difficult to identify.

The rock sentinels remained on eternal stand-to.  

Discrepancies started appearing between the appearances suggested by the voices that had confessed cardinal sins in the pitch darkness of the lower slope and the real appearances of the sinners cleansed by the rising moon on the upper slope were interesting. The sinners became progressively smaller as the moonlight shed shades of sin from their bodies. 

Powdery clusters of stars hung in the far night sky sown in disorderly fashion by a mysterious celestial hand. The shabby woman who wanted the favour of promotion had seen rogue versions of those stars rise in the east and streak westwards across the night sky.

The old guide remembered that in another culture, a pop culture worlds removed from the spiritual aura yeDomboshava, a British rock band called Bad Company had, in the second half of the 1970s, offered the world a hit song called Shooting Star. He remembered the lyrics and smiled.

“Johnny was a school boy when he heard his first Beatles song

Love Me Do, I think it was and from there it didn’t take him long

Got himself a guitar, used to play every night

Now he’s in a rock & roll outfit, and everything’s all right

Don’t you know?

Johnny told his Momma, Hey Momma I’m goin’ away

I’m gonna hit the big time, gonna be a big star someday

Momma came to the door with a tear drop in her eye

Johnny said, Don’t cry Momma smile & wave goodbye

Don’t you know, yeah, yeah

Don’t you know that you are a shooting star

Don’t you know, don’t you know

Don’t you know that you are a shooting star

And all the world will love you just as long

As long as you are….”

The old guide also remembered that his own brother had also left to join the struggle for Zimbabwe then. He had been mobilised by a song brought in by the comrades:

“Amai nababa musandicheme

Kana ndafa nehondo

Ndini ndakazvida kufira Zimbabwe

Pamwechete nevamwe…”

 The old guide remembered that the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation had played, the Bad Company ‘Shooting Star’ incessantly, as if to lure the restless black youths from confrontational nationalism.

And, in the Bad Company hit song, Johnny had made it big and the emptiness of the stardom had driven him to drugs and suicide:

“Johnny died one night, died in his bed

Bottle of whiskey, sleepin’ tablets by his head

Johnny’s life passed him by like a warm summer day

If you listen to the wind, you can still hear him play

Woah…

Don’t you know that you are a shooting star

Don’t you know, don’t you know…”

And in war-torn Rhodesia, the comrades had had another hit song:

“Tinofa tichipinda mu-Zimbabwe

Kudzamara tinosvika kuna Zambezi…”

And after the war, the guide’s family had waited in vain for the hero’s return.

And it had taken quite a while to accept that the hero had paid the ultimate price for the liberation of Zimbabwe.

The old guide found the irony of it disturbing kuti whilst the 1970s’ British youths were dying from the abuse of surplus squeezed from British colonies, black youths in the colony of Rhodesia were dying from bullet wounds fighting artificial poverty created by that scandal.

He called for a rest, not because he thought the flock needed it but in order to give himself the chance to straighten the whole thing in his head.

The pastor called for a song yenyasha and a good singer raised one.

The song faded out of the old guide’s consciousness and he thought of the irony of it all …

The independence of the prayer warriors had not come as a favour; his own brother had paid the ultimate price for it. The irony of it was that he was guiding the beneficiaries of the independence to seek God’s favour to go back into bondage; seeking God’s favour not for a place on the table but to eat the crumbs that fall from the table of white supremacists. The very same ones who had killed his brother. He was guiding the prayer warriors to seek God’s favour for visas to go and restore black servitude in the slave-master’s home!

To be continued…

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