The Sunday Mail
Throughout the history of mankind, there can only be one thing that is incredibly expensive that everyone can afford but a few are prepared to pay for — freedom.
This is hardly surprising, for freedom is bought with one currency, and one currency only: blood.
But blood, unlike money or any unit of exchange, is a sacred currency.
In both the earthly and spiritual realms, blood is the ultimate currency.
However, currencies inherently have different weightings.
You have animal blood on one side of the scale and human blood on the other.
To put it in a way you can easily understand, Bishop Lazi would say animal blood is like the RTGS dollar, while human blood is the US dollar.
There is no greater sacrifice than laying down one’s life for an ideal or belief, and this is precisely the reason why this week is solemnly sacred, particularly for Zimbabweans, because not only will they be reflecting on God’s ultimate sacrifice to let Himself be killed in the most humiliating way imaginable in order to save humanity, but they will also take time to savour the moment when men and women gave their all — including their lives — for freedom.
So rare has Independence Day prefaced Easter holidays in lock-step that the last time this happened was in 1984.
Of course there have been occasions where Independence Day celebrations have been sandwiched between Easter celebrations.
In fact, this happened four times — in 1981, 1992, 2003 and 2014.
When Man Killed God
You see, every Sunday or every time Bishop Lazarus stands before lipstick-embalmed and designer suit clad congregates, he always asks himself if they have so much as a mustard seed-sized idea of the gory end of Christian pioneers.
Well, God, through his Son, had to sacrifice Himself, to save humanity.
He was insulted, bludgeoned, stripped naked and nailed to the cross by his own creations.
Imagine, man killing God.
But this is the reason why He calls Himself the good shepherd in John 10:11-18.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
His promise came to pass and that is why we will be having a four-day Easter holiday beginning on Friday.
What many do not know, however, is that His disciples also met the same fate.
It is a ghastly story.
John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod and his head was handed on a silver platter — literally — to the Rome tetrarch (sub-king)’s daughter-in-law, Salome.
James, the son of Zebedee, was executed by Herod.
Peter and Paul were reportedly martyred in Rome 60 years after Jesus was crucified.
In fact, Paul was beheaded and Peter — thought to be the first pope — was crucified upside down at his request.
Kutosarudza hake kuti anoda kufa sei.
Andrew, who went as far as the present-day Russia, Turkey and Greece, was also not so lucky.
He, too, was crucified.
Philip was cruelly put to death for trying to spread the gospel in North Africa.
So, too, was Matthew, the tax collector, and Bartholomew.
Researchers also say James — the son of Alpheus, who preached in Syria — was stoned and clubbed to death.
Need I also mention Simon, or Matthias, who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot?
Matthias was actually burned to death.
It is only John, who was tasked to look after Jesus’ mother, Mary, who died a natural death.
You either have to be plain stupid or raving mad — or both — to volunteer for such a hazardous, unpaying quest.
Well, they say there is a wafer-thin line between bravery and stupidity.
But this is the unavoidable price to pay for freedom.
A Struggle Betrayed . . . But Restored
The Bishop is proud to share the same blood with this supposedly stupid and mad ilk, who — knowing full well of the grave and unimaginable danger stacked against them — decided to lay down their lives for freedom.
And all this for no pay.
Argh! This is not possible in this capitalist world that Bishop Lazi has come to know.
Nowadays, everything and anything has a price.
You want vegetables, you pay; you want water, you pay; you want shelter, you pay; you want mopani worms (madora/matshimbi), you pay; you want to escape justice, you pay; you want love, you pay; and you want nothing, you pay.
Pay. Pay. Pay. Pay. Pay. Argh! Capitalism bakithi.
And somewhere along the journey some of our comrades were lost in the dog-eat-dog politics of capitalism.
It became so absurd and embarrassing that the cadres — won over by the glitz and razzmatazz of capitalism’s obscene and ostentatious lifestyles — would have made even American rapper, 50 cent — or “Fiddy”, or whatever he calls himself nowadays — swoon with envy.
Even the nutty Dambudzo Marechera, in his work Mindblast, compiled in 1984, presciently observed as much.
“I was discovering that there are many shades of black but the only true one is that of the have-nots. Don’t mean to sound bitter — yes, I do mean to sound bitter, but it seems to me for all the ideals our independence is supposed to represent, it’s still the same old ox-wagon of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. There’s even an attempt to make poverty a holy and acceptable condition. You say you’re hungry, and the shef peers over his three chins down at you and says, ‘Comrade, you’re the backbone of the revolution’, as if your life’s ambition is to be thin and lean as a mosquito’s backbone. And you try to say, “Shef, I don’t want to be the backbone, I want to be the big belly of the struggle against neo-colonialism like the one you got there under that Castro beard”.
And then came November 2017, which sought to recover and restore the same sacred ideals in order to make them so attractive that they can be worth to die for again.
Of course, the taxing journey is still on; basa richigere kupera, but the most valuable thing we have been able to recover is hope — hope that we can shape the future that we want and deserve.
As we take a break to reflect on the Independence and Easter holidays this week and next week, it might be worth reflecting on what Giuseppe Mazzini — one of the Italian revolutionaries instrumental in the unification of Italy in 1871 — said about price of liberty, freedom and peace.
“The tree of liberty grows sturdier when watered by the blood of the martyrs.”
But even in peace, we must always be wary, for the same Mazzini cautioned: “The dagger of the assassin grows more deadly when sharpened on the tombstone of martyrs.”
Bishop is out!