The Sunday Mail
Since the first human being started to walk the face of the earth — whether as a product of God’s creative masterpiece or as a freak of nature spawned by what scientists call the Big Bag — his or her path has been chequered by bloody apocalyptic, turbulent and tumultuous episodes.
It might be the case of an envious Cain killing his brother Abel; it might be the case of Moses killing an Egyptian for ill-treating his kinsmen.
Or it might be the case of Christians hacking non-believers and Muslims during the blood-letting crusades that lasted for more than 200 years after 1095.
In recent times, the two world wars — World War 1(1914-1918) and World War 2(1939 -1945) — were perhaps the bloodiest conflicts in the history of the human race, claiming more than 96 million souls.
We also know this history all too well, especially from colonialism and the subsequent wars of liberation — both the First and Second Chimurengas — which birthed a sovereign teapot-shaped republic that we now proudly call Zimbabwe.
Of course, we cannot forget the post-independence civil disturbances.
And then last week, another spasm of gratuitous violence targeting African immigrants in South Africa, and this time told through the unmediated medium of social media, which does not come with a disclaimer of the graphic violence it forebodes.
So, the history of mankind has always, and is always, written in blood.
Bishop Lazi thinks that the episodic cycles of violence and peace really emphasise the importance of the latter.
Violence always gives way to peace not because it is a staircase to peace, but because belligerents always eventually realise the futility of violence.
As this Bishop said before, violence is a Frankenstein’s monster, which assumes a life of its own and can even devour its creator.
And this is why Jesus told one of his disciplines: “Put your sword back in its place. For all who live by the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)
It’s the economy, stupid!
Had Bishop Lazi not lived through some of the excessively ghastly episodes in mankind’s recent history, he would have retched at the images — both still and moving — of xenophobic bloodhounds, who were openly slaughtering fellow Africans on the streets, in broad daylight.
But what really sets off such base instincts in man?
Greed? Prejudice? Xenophobia? Poverty?
Respected French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau seemed to think that the material well-being of man is directly linked to conflict.
He once famously said, “When the poor have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.”
The Bishop’s grandmother once told him an interesting anecdote about how relations between cats and man show how material things can collapse even the closest of bonds.
Back in the village, man and dogs are inseparable, but dogs know their bounds — they are never allowed into people’s homes.
However, cold or rainy the day or night, dogs will have to contend with the elements, while man comfortably lock themselves behind closed doors.
But not for cats: they have the rare licence to freely roam in and out of people’s homes, no matter which time of the day.
However, there is a caveat: the free-roaming licence is only applicable when food is not being served.
Once food has been dished, the house becomes a no-go area for cats.
If they, as much as try to impose themselves, they are either elbowed out or given a hefty boot out the door.
So, food sustenance and material wealth brings out the worst in humanity.
Well, in South Africa, though poverty might be the underlying factor, the poor are not eating the rich, but the poor.
Where to Africa?
The Bishop really thinks the current crop of African leaders, who have to build on the independence established by the founding fathers, have their work cut out to create equal opportunities for the burgeoning youth population.
As Amilcar Cabral, the Guinea-born revolutionary and intellectual, once said: “Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children. . .”
This is exactly what ED meant when he was asked by Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki — who was the moderator at the plenary held on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town — about what he thought about last week’s xenophobic violence.
“. . . those things are happening as a result of failure to bring people to a level where they respect each other, and that can only be possible, when people have hope, when people can see that they can progress, when there is a roadmap for progress, a roadmap from moving from the lowest strata . . . but if persons remain without hope, feeling depressed, it is easy for these things to happen. So, it is my view that we should continuously have a conversation with our people; giving them hope for moving forward and implementing such projects (and) programmes in society, which lift the hope of our people to go forward,” he said.
The challenge is to materially and demonstrably improve the well-being of the people.
Bishop Lazi once said real progress is experiential.
It is the same experience the driver gets when coasting along the newly surfaced Hwedza-Sadza road and the Hwedza-Marondera road.
It is the sound of the heavy machinery busily fixing the Karoi-Binga road, which will link three provinces — Mashonaland West, Midlands and Matabeleland North.
This is also being witnessed across the country’s four corners.
It is the sight of the gargantuan structures beginning to rise at Hwange Thermal Power Station, Mount Hampden and the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
It is beginning to take root in Muzarabani, Kanyemba and Mhondoro and Darwendale, where the green shoots of recovery are now blossoming.
As Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said, “patience is bitter, but its fruits are sweet.”
Sanctity of Life
The Bishop believes that whatever the circumstances, they can never justify either violence or killings — its pure evil.
1 John 3:15 tells us: “Anyone who hates their brother or sister is a murderer. And you know that no murderer has eternal life.”
In an era, where emotions are stoked on social media, particularly Twitter — which has become the world’s lavatory and cesspool — it is easier for the world to lose its moral gravitas.
But, Romans 12:17-21 keeps us moored on moral principles: “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “ If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing, you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Despite this being the 21st century, humanity, with all its beauty and warts, has never changed a bit.