Zimbabwe Diverse, But One


HE questions why Blacks should not be allowed to respect themselves before respecting whites and explains why the Church was used as a tool of imperialism. MUDENGE has written that Silveira’s “…mission to the Mutapa state is best understood in the context of the history of Portuguese settlement in this part of Africa from 1505 to 1560. The Portuguese settlement in Mozambique in 1505 was primarily for the purpose of trading in Zimbabwean gold and, to some extent, ivory. When the Portuguese arrived they found Moslem traders, Arabs as well as Swahili-speaking Africans already in control of that trade. The Portuguese wanted to control that trade themselves. They did not want the Moslems, whom they regarded as enemies of their religion and their nation, to control it. Their strong dislike for the Moslems at this stage arose from the fact that Portugal had just liberated itself from years of Moslem rule. But, up to the 1560s, Portuguese attempts to supplant the Moslem traders had come to naught. “It is in the light of the above background that the decision of the Jesuit Provincial (head) at Goa to send a mission to convert the Munhumutapa should be viewed. “The strategy was quite straight forward. “If the Mutapa was converted to Christianity he would influence his people to become Christians as well. “Once they were Christians, they would be allies of Christian Portugal and, like the Christian Crusaders of Europe, would seek to expel from their state what Fr Silveira described as ‘the infernal sect of Mohamed’. For this great enterprise three priests were chosen, namely, Fr Don Goncalo da Silveira, Fr Andre Fernandez and Brother Andre da Costa. The last two remained labouring in Mozambique while Fr Silveira proceeded to the Mutapa Court.” It is the same old story about Christian missionaries – to control the minds and behaviour of the locals first before they were turned into slaves of business and political interests, nothing more, nothing less, and is still the same even today. For otherwise why are blacks still not allowed to worship themselves and their ancestors? Why are blacks not allowed to respect themselves first before respecting whites? Why does the Church not allow and encourage blacks to own the economy in their own country? Why does the Church keep on preaching about the Jews liberating themselves but does not preach about blacks liberating themselves? Why does the Church not talk about the people who are supposed to have turned the Jews into slaves in Egypt? Why does the Church praise witchcraft and magic of the Jews like the burning tree and the parting of the Red Sea water, but not the witchcraft and magic of the blacks like striking your enemy with lightning? The answer is that the Church is still a tool of imperialism. Therefore it has to liberate itself, or it needs to be liberated, from imperialism and domination by the West. The truth is, religion is the opium of the masses, it makes the masses not to believe in themselves in solving the challenges they face in their daily lives, it gets them so drunk with the world outside this world that they soldier on under oppression and exploitation by other people (in Zimbabwe the ‘other people’ are the owners of European and USA companies that dominate the economy of the country whilst expecting to be rich and free only after death, in heaven, yet nobody has ever been to heaven and come back to tell us about it, nobody knows it. The point is that blacks too want to enjoy life here on earth like rich whites do, if heaven indeed does happen to be there, let blacks enjoy both lives as rich whites seem destined to do since they colonised Zimbabwe in 1890. In Zimbabwe, it is the case that within a very short space of time white physical and mental brutality seemed to have taken total control of the mind and behaviour of the black person as people seemed to have taken to Christianity and accepted colonial and white racist rule with abundance. Africans seemed to have been totally imbued with the ideology that made them worship ‘self-hate as African people’, an ideology that made them ‘feel embarrassed by our poverty’, when the poverty we are in is not of their making (Simphiwe Dana, NewAfrican Woman, Issue 7, Autumn 2010). Unfortunately for the whites and their church denominations, the spirit of the black person’s ancestors never stopped lurking at the back of the black person’s mind, prodding, nagging, reminding and urging him or her on to fight for his/ her independence, to fight for self-respect and self-reliance on the part of blacks in the country. And the Africans accepted the call from their ancestors and refused to be turned into zombies, they fought back and won their political independence. Now the war is for economic independence too, an independence which was enjoyed by their ancestors for centuries before the Portuguese arrived at the Mutapa Court. And the people of Zimbabwe have clearly shown that there is no foreign religion that is going to liberate them, the spirit that will truly liberate them is their spirit to fully own the economy of their motherland, the spirit of the Matopo Hills, the spirit of Murenga, the spirit that King Mzilikazi and King Lobengula as well as King Soshangane embraced, that is, the spirit of Great Zimbabwe, the spirit of Torwa, the spirit of Mutota, the spirit of Dombodzuku, the spirit of the Tonga, the spirit of the Khalanga, the spirit of the Nambya, the spirit of the Suthu, the spirit of the Venda, the spirit of the San, and that is the spirit of genuinely owning the land, economy, culture and politics of the country as it interacts with other countries within and outside Africa. I believe that is the spirit every Zimbabwean, whether Christian or Moslem or non-believer believes in, otherwise we would not have liberated our country from colonialism and white racism of the British ruling class. Making blacks become Christians meant making them forget their past, to forget themselves as their religion was one institution they used to remind themselves who they really were. And the British very well knew this, especially when they knew that blacks in Zimbabwe had no written records about themselves, everything the blacks knew about their past was passed from generation to generation by custom and their religion, which were passed through the word of mouth. Fr Loa dos Santos (quoted by Mudenge, 2011) wrote that blacks “… can neither read nor write, and have no books, and all ancient history and other things which they know they learn by tradition from their ancestors”. And before a religious medium was accepted as genuine had to pass tests which consisted, among other things, naming all the Munhumutapas from Mutota up to the one in power at the time of the test, “and recounting the more notable events of each reign as well as identifying by name the principal owners of various large bundle of arms which they keep only for this purpose, as well as [giving] a summary of all the public calamities which took place in this period”, (Pacheco quoted by Mudenge, 20110). In other words, the indigenous priests were also the custodian of the history, culture and spirit of the people. Thus discouraging the indigenous religion was the same as erasing the history, culture and spirit of the people, making them non-people, making them become receptacles of a foreign identity which made them despise everything they had ever achieved before the country was colonised by the British and Christianity, after all nothing of their history had been preserved in books as they could not write. The British always had their priests on the side of their soldiers as they took over the country. For instance, just before the Fort Victoria column of the BSAC troops set off to engage the Ndebele army in 1893, “it held a church service that was conducted by Rev. Sylvester of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC). It is reported that in his sermon, Rev. Sylvester stressed the words that the soldiers had to go and finish Ham’s children, a reference to aMandebele “Sylvester’s sermon further serves to support the collusion that existed between the imperialists, traders and men of the cloth,” (Matshazi, 2008). The truth of the matter is that all missionaries were here to psychologically subjugate the colonial slaves on behalf the colonialists, the priests were racist, they were servants of imperialism, that is why they only came to the former colonies when the West was at the height of colonial plunder. If there are genuine Christians, therefore, they certainly are not the missionaries of any denomination at all who came with Cecil John Rhodes. But then, the colonial slaves were eventually forced at the pain of death to be more Christian than the Christians who brought that religion to the colonies. That is why missionaries like Charles Helm were commissars of the Pioneer Column and its soldiers. Even in the 1893 war of liberation, the missionaries as represented by Charles Helm were fully in support of the destruction of the Ndebele state (Matshazi, 2008). In fact, they not only fully supported, they fully and deliberately participated in the destruction of the Ndebele state and in dispossessing the Shona of their land, cattle, sheep, mines, goats and chickens by the BSAC and its Pioneer Column soon after raising the British flag in Harare in 1890. The missionaries also fully and deliberately participated in the murder of those Shona chiefs and their people who resisted the British invaders because not a single one of them sided with the victims, if there was one who really did resist, he or she is not known, he or she did it secretly, or he did it so timidly that the difference was the same.


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