‘Fine line separates religion and bullying’


‘OVER 60 000 worshippers attend Judgment Night’, ‘Judgment Night worshippers pummel suspected thief’, ‘Judgment Night oil prophecy’, ‘Judgment Night curse’. I shall try not to judge anyone.
Neither will I remind readers that Rotina Mavhunga served time for her Chinhoyi diesel gimmick.
Instead I will just reserve my right to be skeptical.
It is a trait that predates judgment nights.
In early primary school in Unyetu, Gunun’unu was among the nicknames that stuck on me.
Doubt and dissent together with an enquiring mind, skepticism, are attributes that manifested themselves early in my childhood.
I refused to take things as given and sought answers on many issues that many took for granted.
On occasions this landed me in trouble; some elders felt I was a troublesome chatterbox while others concluded I was stubborn.
I hardly felt threatened by their discomfort.
The exception was perhaps with a magician in Dangamvura.
It was in the late 1970s and with my siblings we were part of the crowd at a magician’s show.
For a cent each, the crowd was treated to spell-binding magical acts.
The magician popularly known as ‘Abracadabra’, since the magician always chanted the word ‘abracadabra’ during his acts, was a household name in Mutare.
Breathtaking stuff it was; cutting off his tongue and putting it back, making a boy lay an egg, converting newspaper pieces into Rhodesian dollar bills etc.
When he asked if anyone doubted these acts, I still promptly raised my hand.
He then threatened to turn me into a pig.
I dared him to do.
He started making preparations that included ‘abracadabra’ incantations whereupon my sister broke into uncontrollable wailing.
I either chickened out or withdrew from the challenge; otherwise I could be a pig.
Whereas magical acts had become commercial entertainment by the 1970s, in ancient times, they were integral components of statecraft.
Kings used to stage sorcery competitions from where they would choose the best magicians in the best interests of the kingdom.
A kingdom without royal sorcerers, (varoyi), was a poor and weak kingdom.
Not having them was akin to being a modern nation without scientists and inventors.
Over time, in many parts of the world, sorcery gave way to art of illusion and military science.
Illusion is a great art handed from generation to generation in parts of India, east and west.
It is based on myriad ways of tricking the mind through sensory deception.
Sorcery drives many n’angas and prophets.
Miracles, mapipi, minana all derive from ancient sorcery.
Fear of the n’anga curse has kept vocal doubting under check.
Until recently I had not associated prophets with ‘curse’ threats.
For are they not of the gospel of love, mercies and forgiveness?
Are they not of the ‘doubting Thomas’ foundation?
I have never had any respect for the charlatans whose only claim to fame is ‘Christianising’ witchcraft and sorcery of ancient times.
I hope prophet Makandiwa was misquoted when it was alleged that he delivered a lifetime curse of horror illnesses on one of his congregants for ‘doubting’.
In the village to cause anyone with illness or misfortune was akin to witchcraft.
To threaten one with illness or misfortune, of the ‘uchazviona’ infamy, was considered social recklessness.
To command God not to show mercy was blasphemous.
Instead we followed his commands.
We chanted, “And forgive those who trespass against us,” daily during school assemblies.
Threatening congregants reminds me of the position some countries have taken with regards religion and bullying.
To promote science and innovation these countries have banned ‘Religious Studies’ from the school curriculum arguing philosophy of religion is based on bullying.
I have tended to disagree, but when prophets come so hard on ‘gunun’unu’ I am inclined to agree that a fine line separates religion and bullying.


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