THERE are mixed feelings about the recent Pastoral Letter of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) on the so-called ‘current situation in Zimbabwe titled, ‘The March is not Ended’.
It was signed by the Archbishop of Harare, Robert Ndlovu, Alex Thomas (Bulawayo) and Paul Horan (Mutare).
Others who signed include Raymond Mupandasekwa (Bishop Chnhoyi), Rudolf Nyandoro (Bishop Gokwe), Michael Bhasera (Bishop Masvingo) and Albert Serrano (Bishop Hwange).
However, after a closer analysis of the letter, one get’s the impression that Archbishop Ndlovu in his capacity as ZCBC president and his team, are trying to brew a storm in a teacup.
It is as if they were disappointed by the failed July 31 protests that were organised by the opposition and some civic society organisations in order to destabilise the country.
All of a sudden Catholics now believe Zimbabwean lives matter!
But before going to the details of the letter, it is imperative for Zimbabweans and in particular, the young generation, to understand the role of the Catholic Church in the country’s political and socio-economic development.
We have come a long way with the Catholics from the days of Father Goncalo da Silveira.
Remember the same Father Goncalo da Silveira was killed by Chief Negomo of the Monomotapa in 1562 after it was discovered that he was a spy.
He had been assigned by the Portuguese to investigate stories about the plenty of gold deposits in Chief Negomo’s territory.
It must also be known that when the Pioneer Column invaded Zimbabwe on September 12 1890, they were accompanied, among others, by their Chaplain, a Roman Catholic Priest called Father Hartmann.
A very expensive school in Harare is named after him.
If Catholics were part of the Pioneer Column, why should they be exonerated from being labelled ‘colonialists’?
Can it be argued they did not share the same values and ideas of their kith and kin?
And how do they explain the over 18 000 acres of land they were given as a reward by Cecil John Rhodes, the man Rhodesia was named after?
Yes, their Bibles accompanied the guns.
When black people were dispersed from their land by whites, where was the Catholic Church?
Was that not a violation of people’s rights?
When our ‘good shepherds’ today talk of ‘human rights abuses’ in the so-called ‘current situation in Zimbabwe’, they must also go back to history and consider what their very own Father Biehler proposed to the then administrator of Rhodesia, Lord Earl Grey, after the outbreak of the First Chimurenga in 1896.
Writing from his base in Chishawasha, he said: “Our mode of fighting is not the proper one for MaShonas.
It seems to me that the only way of doing anything at all with these natives is to starve them, destroy their lands and kill all that can be killed.
The only chance for the future of the race (blacks) is to exterminate the whole people, both male and female, over the age of 14!”
Was that proposal not tantamount to genocide?
Today Archbishop Ndlovu and his kind in a bid to impress their Western handlers have taken over, preaching about ‘human rights’, ‘corruption’, ‘poverty’ and ‘failure by Government to make broad consultations with the church and civic society’.
“Voices of various governments, the European Union, the African Union and the UN on the desperate situation in Zimbabwe have not only confirmed the seriousness of the human rights breaches by government agents but the need to rally behind #ZimbabweanLivesMatter,” reads the Bishop’s letter in part.
Have our so-called ‘men of the cloth’ forgotten to preach about Mary, Joseph, Jesus and his disciples?
How far should the church go when speaking on Government actions?
Is the church’s kingdom in this world?
One gets the impression that the Bishops are trying to make Zimbabweans forget about the past in order to protect the interests of the Catholic Church and at the
behest of their supreme fathers.
They do not want their horrendous acts on Zimbabweans to be laid bare.
Let us for now remind Zimbabweans how the same Catholic Church preaching about human rights played a shameful role in stripping black people’s identities in Rhodesia.
We must also examine the role played by the same church in overseeing the callous murder of blacks.
Remember Father Hartmann once wrote from Chishawasha in 1895 that: “The MaShonas have hardly any idea of a supreme being.
“They are held together by nothing except the unity of their language.”
That was his warped thinking, until the war broke out led by the country’s spirit mediums with the guidance of Mwari/Mwali/Mlimo/Musikavanhu/Nkulunkulu.
Most Catholics are familiar with Father Richartz, the priest responsible for converting ‘rebels’ of the First Chimurenga to Christianity and baptising them before they were hanged.
He (Father Richartz) recognised Nehanda, Kaguvi and Mashonganyika as leaders of the Ndebele and Shona uprisings. Other ‘notorious Africans’, according to Father Richartz, included, Muzambi, Maremba, Ndowa, Zvidembo, Gundusa, Mvenuri, Mashindu, Munongani and Chirisere.
He wanted them all to die, but to die as ‘children of God’.
The man of the cloth went to the extent of engaging Kaguvi’s daughters Dziripi and Likande to convince their father Kaguvi to be baptised before being killed by the same white authorities. What is even more disturbing is that Dziripi was a student at Chishawasha Mission.
But that didn’t matter to the clergyman.
Eventually, Kaguvi consented.
He was baptised and given the name ‘Dismas’ (the good thief).
Nehanda on the other hand flatly refused.
In his book, A History of Christian Missions in Zimbabwe (1890-1939), C.J.M. Zvobgo quotes Father Richartz at length.
Said Father Richartz: “She took her blankets and wished to leave the cell and when told to remain and keep quiet, she refused and said she never would endure to be locked up.
When we saw that nothing could be done with her I went away with Victor and Nehanda began to dance, to laugh and talk, so that the warders were obliged to tie her hands and watch her continually, as she threatened to kill herself.
When I saw that nothing could be done with her, the time for the execution having arrived, I left Nehanda and went to Kaguvi who received me in good dispositions.
While I was conversing with him, Nehanda was taken out to the scaffold.
Her cries and resistance when she was taken up the ladder, the screaming and yelling on the scaffold disturbed my conversation with Kaguvi very much, till the noisy opening of the trapdoor upon which she stood, followed by the heavy thud of her body as it fell, made an end to the interruption.”
This was on April 27 1898, the same day Kaguvi was executed.
“Though very much frightened, Kaguvi listened to me and repeated that he would no longer refuse to receive baptism,” continued Father Richartz.
“I baptised him and gave him the name of the good thief, ‘Dismas’, with whom he was to share the great blessing of forgiveness in the hour of death.
Kaguvi did not give the least trouble or make any lamentations.
He died as he had been told the evening before by Victor to die, quiet and resigned, and, I hope, in good dispositions.
Mashonganyika and Muzambi were very well disposed.
When I entered the cell of the former, he rose and saluted me in a very friendly and cheerful manner and answered all my questions very satisfactorily.
He asked me to look after his children and tell them that he was dead.
I baptised him ‘John Edward’.
He died quietly.”
Muzambi was baptised and given the name ‘Peter Canisius’ before he was killed.
Gundusa was baptised ‘Joseph Thomas’, Maremba, ‘Joseph Peter’, Zvidembo, ‘Joseph Thaddeus’ and Ndowa, ‘Joseph Barnabas’, before the were all hanged on April 29 1898.
The late Retired Brigadier-General Dr Felix Muchemwa observes in his book, The Struggle for Land in Zimbabwe (1890-2010) that: “The Catholic Church proposed genocide as a solution to African resistance to occupation.
Father Richartz blessed the white settler perpetrators of the genocide and baptised the African victims before they were murdered.”
This is the sort of past that Archbishop Ndlovu and other like-minded Catholics do not want to be reminded of.
The same so-called men of cloth do not want to be reminded of the endless sexual abuse cases rocking their institution in the country and beyond borders.
How many boys and girls have fallen victim to these clergymen?
How many women in the church are being abused by priests, but continue to suffer in silence?
For God’s sake, the Catholic Church has its fair share of dirty linen, problems and controversies.
Dabbling in politics and insinuating how Government should operate in order to please the West will not erase their horrible past or solve their internal problems as an institution.
Perhaps the greatest illusion Catholics have is that since Africa has the world’s third largest Catholic population after the America’s and Europe, the Church can incite people, sway public opinion and even dictate how Governments must operate.
Archbishop Ndlovu and fellow ‘shepherds’ must know that, that is imposiable.
It remains an illusion. Indeed it is their (Catholics) march that is not ended.
The Catholic Church, just like many others, does not have divine authority.
After all, Zimbabweans knew God before being hoodwinked by these so-called men of the cloth to forsake their mode of worship. This is something our children must be taught because we must catch them young!