We are blessed today as our crew has been honoured with a special envoy from the faith community. This person, we have heard, is a reverred elder in one of the prominent churches.
Lucky for us, he is a person who, despite standing on impeccable and solid moral principles/grounds, is not a religious fundamentalist, or, in simpler terms, a conservative.
Of course we are not behind the counter as mostly is the case; we are having a rare afternoon sip-up at the homestead of one of us, Joe. Courtesy of his wife, we are having the best of mang’ina, chunk beef, roast chicken, boiled local chicken and more booze associated delicacies.
Joe had announced earlier that the wife wanted our crew at their home to be part of some celebration he did not disclose. But now we know that they are celebrating ten years in marriage, hence the availability of the ‘reverred man of God’.
“Guess what, I was in a fix whether we should invite the elder here for this celebration considering that all of you, my husband’s friends top the list of booze ‘abusers’ in town. However elder Banda here and his wife felt there was nothing long in their sharing an afternoon with all of you, and who knows, maybe today’s forum would be the genesis of change in your lifestyles,” says Beatrice, our in-law.
At first our palate for booze is spoilt, thinking that the elder is out here to pick up our weaknesses when our blood is fully intoxicated with alcohol. However, the elder assures us that he is not the fault finding type and would not mind if we become our normal self in the leisure arena.
“Musavutike ndi ine, o Banda ali apawa ndimadziwa kuti amauthyapa, koma tawafunsani ngati tidawalengezapo pa guwa kapena kuwadula mumpingo (don’t worry an iota about me, just ask your colleague the host whether at anytime I preached about his drinking habits or let alone ex-communicated him in our church despite our common knowledge that he is a drunkard),” he says.
The elder, who kick-started the event with a five minutes that verse-packed prayer, should have known that giving the Crew a limitless space for talk was worse than allowing a drunkard to preach on the pulpit.
Being one always dominating religious talk in the crew, Atsogoleri Rob M feels a chance has arisen to show he is well versed in issues of religion and scriptures. “Mwachita bwino atsogoleri (you have done elder to come) because these friends of mine need more than just prayers to be saved, some of them don’t even know where the church door faces.”
“What do you mean? You think we are devils?” Happison quickly comes in.
“Do you realise that you people who claim to be too religious are the ones that are putting the name of God into disrepute? Please you people, shame not the Lord!” he says.
“Go deeper, preacher, go deeper!” I exclaim to ignite more debate.
The elder gestures us into silence. “Osatchula dzina la Mulungu pachabe, atero malemba (don’t mention the Lord’s name in vain, says the scriptures.”
But it is too late to curtail the debate as the alcohol is fast eroding censorship of both the brain and lips in members of the crew. As usual the members wants to outpace each other in showing each has better grey matter inside the brain to articulate issues.
“Have you not heard how churches these days cover up scandals of choir members impregnating each other? Elder, do you think we are not aware that your own reverend pastor was behind the near-divorce of your fellow church elder, after he was caught red handed in the act during a church tour to Zimbabwe?” Happison says, seemingly charged up.
The elder looks offended but is quick to defend his church and flock: “Who told you that? Ask Joe here, that story was just cooked up by some rout of a journalist who wanted to tarnish the impeccable image of our church and pastor.”
“Zabodza atsogoleri, bwanji nkhaniyo idakafika ku khoti (elder, that is a lie, why is it that the matter ended up in court),” comes Lackson, shocking the elder more with additional facts on how top officials of the church influenced the settling of the matter out of court.
“Can you deny the fact that your pastor paid a quarter of a million kwacha to your fellow elder so as to sweep the matter under the carpet? Meanwhile both the elder and his wife continue to enjoy influential positions in the church…and you call that ‘good Christianity’?” asks Lackson.
The elder goes for the John, maybe to take a breather.
“Anthunu tamusiyani munthu wa Mulungu, walakwa kudzacheza nanu (please don’t pressurise the man of God, did he make a mistake to come and interact with us?” asks Rob M.
But Lackson is not done yet. “Actually we can spend the whole day to narrate scandals in these ‘pretender religious groupings’. What of that other pastor who moves around with a receipt book and collects tithe from his flock, yet the church has an elected treasurer?”
“Please, please, let us have peace. You have come here to celebrate our marriage anniversary and not conduct religious postmortem,” pleads Beatrice.
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