The Sunday Mail
Paradzai Kudyakwenzara Christian Science
IN Zimbabwe and across the African continent, traditional belief widely holds that physical challenges in the form of sickness, disease, even death of a loved one, persistent woes like failure in business or an underperforming child at school are direct results of an evil power.
Some people believe that an individual can either inherit evil power or receive it from a sangoma (traditional healer). They also believe that there is a personal devil behind any persistent sorrow or misfortune.
When a certain chief in Chiweshe authorised compulsory witch hunting way back in the year 2000, many welcomed it as a solution to weed out the menacing source of all evil.
Most villagers, non-Christians and Christians, submitted to the chief’s wishes out of fear.
One Sunday, only a handful of the regular congregants at my church were attending the service and I was told that the rest were with the witch hunter.
They were obeying the chief’s command.
Soon, it was my home village’s turn to come under the witch hunter’s scrutiny.
One of the elders who had visited the witch hunter the week before announced to the congregants that they would be watching with keen interest how I would deal with the matter as a novice member of the church.
When I refused to pay the hundred Zimbabwean dollars fee to the witch hunter, the whole village conspired to make sure that the witch hunter would start performing the cleansing rituals at my house.
The villagers, including Christians, approached my house, praising the witch hunter, substituting Christ Jesus’ name with that of the witch hunter in one of the Christian hymns.
“Tsikamutanda is number one when it comes to solving difficult challenges,” they sang at my gate.
I remembered that despite the threatenings and beatings, Peter and John chose to obey God rather than fear Annas the High Priest.
The story of the three Hebrew men who had no reason to fear king Nebuchadnezzar’s ignorance of the true God also encouraged me.
At that time, I had almost completed reading a book on Christian healing written by Mary Baker Eddy “Science and Health With key to the scriptures”.
Eddy writes, “Ignorance of God is no longer a stepping to faith. The guarantee of obedience is a right apprehension of Him whom to know aright is Life eternal.’
In Exodus 20 v 3 we read, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
I would not accept the chief, the church elder, or the witch hunter’s authority; over an all-powerful, ever-present God, who I was now understanding more clearly, for the first time through my in-depth study of the Bible and the book.
I therefore allowed the witch hunter to perform the ritual that was supposed to expose the anticipated magic or goblins that I possessed, which would cause harm and bad luck to my relatives and the rest of the villagers.
Once the ritual was complete, I removed and burnt the wooden sticks while the witch hunter, his followers and the villagers watched.
They believed that as a consequence of my “foolish” act of defiance, I would go mad within three hours. The villagers even cheered when the witch hunter announced that I would go mad.
But when that did not happen, I was told that the judgment had been adjusted to three days and then to three weeks. Still, I maintained my sanity.
Eddy writes, “We sustain truth, not by accepting, but by rejecting a lie.”
Naturally, the chief’s directive on compulsory witch hunting found no takers after this incident. It became clear that the witch hunter did not have any power. Many villagers now know that God possesses all the powers.
Paradzai Kudyakwenzara is a member of the Media Relations Christian Science, Committee on Publications for Zimbabwe. Send your feedback to [email protected]