s is my role. To put a teammate in a position to score’ (Ronaldinho, Guardian Weekly, 9 June 2006).
It’s all a matter of how you see things, of perspective. How we can have different views on the same reality came to me as I absorbed reports of the National Day of Prayer in Harare on 24 June. The Herald glowed with sentiments of togetherness between church and state with a colour photo of the first couple surrounded by church leaders. ‘The Church and State must compliment (I am quite sure the President meant ‘complement.’ He usually does) each other.’ The President has often invited the church in the past to ‘point out where we go wrong.’ Though it does not seem to make much difference when they do what he asks on this occasion he did speak of ‘failures’ but he did not elaborate.
What are we to make of such polite gatherings? We can be furious to see the church and state in a mutual embrace of cosy ‘compliments.’ We see the church once more succumbing to the charisma of a politician who can lull the feelings and blunt the conscience of his hearers. In his presence people are awed and forget all the passionate criticism of the government they may have voiced behind closed doors. When Napoleon was dethroned and banished he became bored and decided to make a come back. One of his old generals, Marshal Ney, now in the service of the new French government, was sent to arrest him. But in the actual presence of the former emperor he forgot himself and instead joined forces with him in his march on Paris.
At the prayer meeting the President was applauded several times. People see the person and remember who he was and what he did years ago. Their respect for him in the past resurfaces and they forget Gukurahundi, the land grab and Murambatsvina. They have an admiration for someone who stood up for them in the past and seems to do so even now. This forgiving optimistic spirit is admirable. Yet it skims over the truth of what we live each day. The resilience and good humour of Zimbabweans is evident. But sometimes it is a form of anesthesia to dull the pain.
When the tax-collector went up to the temple (Luke 18) he beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ The Pharisee, on the other hand, seems to have gone there to remind God what a good guy he was. What actually is the point of such prayers?
29 June 2006