The Sunday Mail
Back in the village where Bishop Lazi was raised, a cough or a cold was, and still is, a dreaded plague.
In gravely unfortunate circumstances where one was visited by these unwanted malignant diseases, unspoken grief was bound to follow.
It was not so much about the cold/flu or cough, but it had all to do with the village-prescribed medicines – zumbani and/or chifumuro.
If you think that medicine can be bitter, you will be bitterly disappointed by these two favoured village cures.
You see, these herbs are beyond bitter – they are egregiously bitter.
The Bishop has a theory about whoever discovered them: they were either a witch, sorcerer or wizard.
For someone to discover something so bitter, they must have been up to no good.
Obviously harbouring an unexplained grievance against the community or being evil for evil’s sake, the scheming and aggrieved villager must have taken the foulest plant he/she knew and brewed up a supposedly fatal concoction.
This Bishop imagines that things did not quite work out as the evil genius had planned, and then in an atypical Einsteinian or Madame Curie moment – voilà – a new village medicine was born.
God indeed works in mysterious ways. Hallelujah!
What was initially intended to be a poison became a medicine.
And the village villain became a hero.
Don’t they say most great discoveries are by accident?
But this evil genius obviously damned us all.
The Bishop – being particularly susceptible to colds – had a traumatised childhood, having been at the receiving end of countless doses of this noxious concoction.
Zumbani is actually the worst.
But it is also the dramatic way through which this cure was administered that was equally painful.
Most often than not, an over-eager sibling – always looking for a chance to spite the stricken sibling – would dutifully dash to the nearby zumbani plant, from where they would unfailingly and blissfully return with an armful of those God-forsaken ashen-green leaves.
I don’t know why the patient always had to witness the diabolic potion being prepared.
The unfortunate soul, which was usually Bishop Lazi, would often have the ignominy of witnessing the abhorrent leaves rumble and eventually hiss as they were tamed in a boiling, rust-tainted metallic cup.
Then came the drinking part.
Dear congregants, nothing quite prepared anyone for that cringing moment where they had to take generous gulps of this thoroughly distasteful medicine.
Arghhh! It tastes like death!
Most of the time, the ritual was conducted in a tear-jerking cooking hut under the watchful eye of stern-looking relatives who were ready to smack it down the throat of reluctant patients.
Admittedly, the herbs worked wonders.
One was always guaranteed of waking up the following morning as sprightly as before.
Don’t be deceived vanhu vaMwari, there is no gold-paved road to success.
Experience has taught us that the bitterest medicine is usually the most effective one.
Labour pains precede birth, and sacrifice is the currency to buy a better tomorrow.
In Isaiah 48:10, God says, “See, I have been testing you for myself like silver; I have put you through the fire of trouble.”
James 1:2-4 goes further to caution and counsel that: “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
But Bishop Lazi hears you: it might be a bit too much, especially for people that have been carrying the cross for the past two decades.
However, God Himself, through his son Jesus, did that and even more.
While the faithful in the Old Testament used to sacrifice animals and beasts, God had to sacrifice his only son – only begotten son – to deliver freedom to man.
“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Jesus asks in Matthew 8:26.
And you think God hasn’t been hearing your prayers over the past two decades.
God is actually working miracles on Zimbabwe.
The tumult that we are currently experiencing in the market was foretold before.
Zimbabwe has been sick for some time and she obviously needs a cure.
ED told Bloomberg TV as much on September 22 last year when he said: “We have to be very sober. It is true that our fiscal balance is bad and we must be honest to our people as to what we want to achieve and to do.
“So there is need for us to apply fundamentals that may be harsh to our people, but are necessary for us to cross the bridge.”
Let me let you in on a public secret: ED is a man of his word. Whatever he says comes to pass. Remember the November 8 (2017) letter. Kikikiki.
Barely eight days after his interview in New York, his Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube then came nezumbani.
Kutouya hake nesvinga rezumbani. And it reeks to the high heavens.
Last week, he reminded us that he won’t let-up.
Hanzi, “These measures are those of a doctor performing a life-saving operation.
“They cause pain, but pain is the only thing that will lead to a recovery.”
Just like zumbani, the prescription seems to be working wonders.
Why do I say so?
Bishop Lazi, having gone through rigorous training at the seminary, is a man of letters.
He has a voracious appetite for big and small book. He intently studies trends and phenomena.
Just this last week, he was reading the latest World Bank report titled “Global Economic Prospects: Darkening Skies.”
In it, economic fundis from Washington are actually saying our economy grew by 3 percent last year, which is more than the regional average of 2,7 percent.
This year futi they expect our economy to grow by 3,7 percent, which is more than 3,4 forecast for Southern Africa.
This should tell you something.
Zimbabwe has just reached a phase that Chinese Professor Wu Jinglian described in his 2012 essay – “top-level designs are needed for reforms” – as a “deep water area”, which is the complex and critical phase of the reform process.
“Making reforms at this stage,” he said, “is like sailing against the currents, which means if you do not make progress, you will be pulled back.”
Dear brethren, we need to swim against the current.
But this wont be possible nevakomana nevasikana vejecha.
Steady nejecha a’mana.
We face two stark choices: we either work together to build our beautiful country or fight against each other, which will only guarantee mutually assured destruction.
In the 1960s, American poet James Patrick Kinney wrote the poem “The Cold Within”, which was subsequently published in many church journals. It shows the futility of petty rivalries.
And Bishop Lazi reproduces the powerful poem below:
Six humans trapped by happenstance
In dark and bitter cold.
Each possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story’s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs,
But the first one held hers back.
For, of the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.
The next one looked across the way
Saw one not of his church,
And could not bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich.
The rich man just sat back and thought
Of wealth he had in store,
And keeping all that he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For he saw in his stick of wood
A chance to spite the white.
And the last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving just to those who gave
Was how he played the game.
Their sticks held tight in death’s stilled hands
Was proof enough of sin;
They did not die from cold without…
They died from cold within.
Take heed, brethren.