Idolatry rocks havoc in Zimbabwe

The genesis of Israeli troubles emanated from idolatry. That which a person fears most becomes one’s own god. The principle of cause and effect implies that God is the cause over everything. All things observed in the environment are effects of God’s creation. But whatever is blamed for one’s condition is that person’s god.

The Israelites saw the Canaanite giants as impediments, against accessing the Promised Land. They assumed the giants were greater than God. To them, the miracles, including the red sea passage, were insignificant. When the towering Goliath intimidated them, including King Saul, Goliath became their god.

They were rescued by little David. The Israelites were not aware that anything feared, controls one, and, therefore, becomes one’s own god. What is loved should not be regarded as representing one’s only God. The bad thing about idolatry is that it captures one’s capacity to reason.

Instead of reasoning independently, the person factors in the behaviour of the feared obstacle. There is no secret that ZANU PF has been a god to the entire populace, for the last forty years. Those having previously been the opponents are known to have become the darling of ZANU PF.

The late Joshua Nkomo insisted on believing in persuasion, rather than intimidation. But, the more ZANU PF was feared, the more it became a god, to ordinary people. Many people perished, attempting to oppose the Gukurahundi killers. Rationally, many assume that the 1987 unity accord was necessary for securing peace.

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But that is what galvanized evilness in ZANU Pf. The more the fear was ensconced in ordinary Zimbabweans, the more ZANU PF was given the status of being a god. Troubles cannot be removed until there is a deliberate dissociation with evilness.

The Gukurahundi fiasco was initiated at the decision to engage in the armed struggle. Most people assumed that the idea to engage in the armed struggle had God’s blessing. However, the assumption that the whites were enemies was premised on the aforesaid idolatry.

Whatever is feared, turns out to be one’s god. Mahatma Gandhi pursued a nonviolent struggle that eventually brought peace, to India. Similarly, Martin Luther King (Jnr) pursued a nonviolent struggle, although representing a minority, but eventually securing black emancipation, in the USA.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.(Proverbs 14:12 NIV) Though supported by the majority, what God opposes cannot be right. God’s word is standard, on the question of human survival. Supposing the whites were evil, having come to forcibly take land from the blacks. There is a way that God considers as having been the right way of attaining justice.

If pursuing the right idea that God’s word is supreme, what were blacks expected to do? Blacks were not Biblically directed. Their conduct could not be measured according to the Holy Bible. However, the blacks had their own method of worshipping God. Hence, Joshua Nkomo, as the first nationalist leader, in Zimbabwean politics, states something interesting in his book:

“As the spirit of Zimbabwean nationalism came to the fore, again in the early 1950s. I examined for myself the power of the traditional faith of my people and visited the shrine where Mwali resides in the Matopos hills. Well before dawn, at about 3 a.m., William Sivako and Grey Mabhalani Bango, the nephew of the chief of my father’s village, accompanied me to the place called Dula. We were led by a frail old man along an ancient track: some twenty others were with us, each bringing his own problem.

“The place was an overhanging slab of granite. The old man, our guide and leader, told us to squat down a few meters from the rock-face: he squatted in front of us, between us and the rock. He commanded us into a soft rhythm of clapping. Suddenly a voice like that of an ancient man began to call us by our names: ‘You, son of Nyongolo, and you, son of Sivako, and you, son of Luposwa Bango – what do you want me to do for you?’

“’ How do you expect me to accomplish it? When I told King Lobengula what not to do, he did it. I told King Lobengula not to fight against his cousins who were coming into the land, his cousins without knees.’ (The people without knees was a term applied to early white visitors whose legs were mysteriously concealed by their trousers). ‘But Lobengula ignored my instructions, and he fought against his cousins, I know,’ the voice went, ‘he was compelled by some of his chiefs who wanted to destroy him, he listened to them and not to me.’

 “I replied, as leader of the group: ‘Babamkhulu, (grandfather) we have come to ask you to give back this land to your children, the people of this land, including the cousins against whom Lobengula fought.’

“‘Yes, my children,’ said the voice, ‘I will give you back your land. It will be after thirty years and it will be after a big war in which many will die.’

“Mabhalani broke in: ‘But grandfather, give it back to us now, we pray, you have the power to do it.’ But the voice was firm: ‘It cannot be given to you now, I say it will be given after thirty years and after the war. That is because Lobengula failed to heed my word. My children of Bechuanaland will get back their land before you because Sikhume Khama listened to my word and did not fight his cousins.’

”About sunrise we heard the wind blowing strongly but we did not feel it. The voice said: ‘Goodbye, my children.’

“I cannot explain this event, but it happened and the prophecy came true. The other people accompanying us witnessed it: their own problems were not attended to, and they left amazed. We, for our part, left disappointed because the answer to our prayer was gloomy. For thirty years I kept the secret that the voice had foretold a long and costly struggle.” (Nkomo, The Story of My Life—SAPES Books—2001, pages 13-14)

These were Nkomo’s written words. He was at the forefront of our liberation struggle. King Lobengula had ignored Mwali’s voice. But who is the Mwali, that is known to have directed the Zimbabwean people? The term is a Khalanga term for God, derived from Shona’s ‘Mwari.’ Although, without the Holy Bible, Zimbabweans had their own method of worshipping God.

Until you address the source, it is impossible to eradicate the problem. This is according to the principle depicted in the axiom of cause and effect. Unfortunately, Nkomo kept the secret to himself, leading to the unacceptable bitter armed struggle. Nkomo had been entertained by the voice at the Dula enclave. But he never took time to analyze the words, and how they impacted Zimbabweans.

In my view, that voice came directly from the Almighty God. Before Jesus Christ, even the Israelites had carried the Ark of the Covenant. The Israelites’ failures resided in disregarding what came from the voice from the Ark of the Covenant. Did Nkomo’s entourage believe in the Dula enclave Mwali? Alternatively, as the leader of the entourage, did Nkomo believe in the Dula enclave Mwali?

Nkomo is not there to give an answer. But all problems of humanity come from indecision, between knowledge and ignorance. In the area of assumption, dwells all kinds of problems. Jesus spoke extensively about avoiding doubt, implying a lack of certainty of what one believes in.

The voice of Mwali had projected the bitter armed struggle, due to Lobengula’s mistake. Why did Nkomo keep that revelation secretive? In His dealings with humanity, God leaves a window of communication—which is prayer. Surely, Nkomo ought to have thought deeply about what the voice said if truly believing in Mwali? Let alone entertaining what the voice revealed, as portraying the stupidity of Lobengula.

There are those advancing the narrative that Christianity ought not to have been allowed in Zimbabwe. We had our own way of worshipping God. That sounds true, but not entirely factual. Even the Jews could be excused for rejecting Jesus, having had their own ways of worshipping God.

God was not only found in Israel. The patriarch Job was a God-fearing man, and yet not associated with Israel. God is one and in control of the entire universe. There is no need to buy the assumption that all blacks were idolatrous before the whites came. Idolatry implies a departure from God’s word.

In Zimbabwe, idolatry implied Lobengula’s behaviour, opposing the word at Njelele’s Matojeni. The Nkomo entourage was told that if Lobengula had listened to the word, the disaster that befell the country could have been avoided. Considerably, if Nkomo had truly believed in the Mwali, he would not have agitated for the armed liberation struggle, in this country.

Ten years after his communication with Mwali, at Dula, Nkomo became the architect of the armed liberation struggle. Those not having had the privilege of listening to the Mwali voice could be forgiven. The popular viewpoint may have been to engage in the armed struggle. But the window of communication with the Dula enclave had not been closed.

In my view, it was not necessary for Nkomo to secretively keep the Mwali prophecy. At least, sharing it with his subordinates, was mandatory. The only reason appearing as not driving to avoid sharing that communication was disbelief. He was not convinced that the voice was authentic.

Perhaps he later believed, after the prophecy had come true? His idolatrous mind had got engaged in other methods, other than what ought to have served his country. Leaders carry responsibilities affecting the entire populace. Whatever, it was that convinced Nkomo to agitate for war, was another god.

His anecdote, appearing in his book, doesn’t sound repentant. Instead of repenting, Nkomo decided to commit himself to the unity accord of 1987. There was nothing Godly about that unity accord. The testimony of that is in the fruits, currently prevailing in Zimbabwe. Following in the footsteps of Lobengula, after having heard the wrongness of that behaviour, was unwise.

African traditional ways of worshipping ought to have been followed, according to the word from the Mwali. Mixing the belief in white settlers with traditional beliefs, was also idolatry. Christianity carries its own doctrines, according to Jesus. Those abiding by Christian doctrines are a new creation.

But as long as attempting to mix Christianity with other doctrines, that, in itself, would be practising idolatry. Suggesting that Africans should have avoided Christianity, as advanced by the whites, should be understood as carrying its own problems, portraying a people struggling with ignorance.

The story of Jesus is different from anything of this world. This is why even the Jews, could not identify with Jesus, yet Jesus was also Jewish. There is nothing wrong with continuing to worship the ‘Mwali’ according to the aligned precepts.

What is wrong is behaving like Joshua Nkomo, consulting with Mwali, but at the same time, doubting. Jesus kept showing the Jews that there was no deviation from God’s law. Corruption entailed the wrong application of what God said, whether through the Law of Moses, or the Mwali of the Dula enclave.

“How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (John 5:44-46 NIV).

God’s voice represents truthfulness, which frees humanity from all problems. After having heard the Mwali voice, Nkomo could have summoned the elders to discuss the implications of the Mwali voice. Could he not have planned for another Dula enclave expedition; to appease the Mwali, regarding Lobengula’s mistakes?

Through the medium of prayer, the Mwali could have eventually provided a workable way forward. The Jews also failed to separate error from God’s Laws. Similarly, our Zimbabwean people, through Joshua Nkomo, failed to separate error from the words of Mwali.

Idolatry implies ignoring God’s voice, favouring other voices, whether induced by fear or pride. Truth needs confrontation, against falsehood. Idolatry is uncalled for, including such erroneous conflations.

People can blame E D Mnangagwa and ZANU PF for tribalism. But confronting the source of the problem, in light of what is said of Nkomo’s communication with Mwali, is necessary. Truth sets people free, rather than other ideas, appearing as workable, where the opposite is true.

Nkomo’s error should not be treated as insignificant. Ignoring the Mwali voice is not different from Israeli mistakes, leading to their captivity. Jesus provides a new link between God and humanity. But, when not convicted with Christianity, one is advised to remain committed to the Mwali voice. Problems arise, when doubtful. Christians face worse consequences, as long as failing to take Jesus’s teachings seriously.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.

The Print copy is now available at for $13.99Also available as an e-copy at  for $6.99