Is the world about to end?
A friend of mine recently handed me a religious tract headed Is the World Out of Control?.
He pleaded with me to read it and assured me that what is happening today was foretold by the Bible when it was written centuries ago.
On opening the pamphlet, my eyes were immediately confronted by a quotation from St Matthew Chapter 24 verse 7.
“Nation will rise against nation and Kingdom against Kingdom and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another.”
Passages such as these in the Bible have been interpreted by some people to mean that the world is about to end. At the beginning of the 21st century, an eccentric English missionary called Joseph Booth and his Malawian disciple Elliot Kenan Kamwana went about preaching that the world was going to end in 1914.
Some people believed them and were terrified while others did not. While I was at Blantyre Secondary School in the late 1940s, I remember agents of the sect to which my friend belongs visited us students with the message that the world was about to end.
I listened but some of my friends rebuffed the visitors: “At the beginning of the century visit, you said the world was going to end in 1914. But here we are, your prophecy was false.”
Was the prophecy completely false? It depends on how one interprets the phrase “end of the world”. If this means the earth and everything that dwells on it will disappear, leaving mere space such as it exists between the sun and the moon, most people are justified to dismiss this as fantasy. But if we interpret it to mean that certain institutions, creatures, beliefs and groups of people will disappear, one can say this has been happening since the dawn of creation.
The year 1914 ended the great peace in Europe that had started with the defeat of Napoleon at Watreloo. In that year, the greatest world war was started and did not end until November 1918.There was a good deal of undesirable transformation. Germany lost its empire; the kind of peace treaty that was made in Paris in 1919 just laid a foundation for an even more devastating World War II followed by the disappearance of remaining empires.
Certain creatures which existed in the past have disappeared. On Mauritius island, there used to dwell a bird that could not fly. It was called the dodo. It does not exist any longer. Anthropologists and historians tell human beings are apes evolved from a common creature called hominid but not that humans evolved from apes. That creature and later versions disappeared millions of years ago. Their world ended.
One morning as I was leaving my house in Nyambadwe, Blantyre, a woman stopped her car in front of me and offered me a lift. She told me she was a Hottento. I was amazed but delighted to see a member of the race that once populated what is called Cape Povince in South Africa but whose numbers declined heavily with the settlements of people from Europe. Let us protect the aborigins and some non-human creatures. Their existence enriches ours.
During my boyhood days, villages west of Mzimba Boma and beyond the Rukaru River were surrounded by jungles, interspersed with woodlands. The forests were teemed with a variety of birds, guinea fowls, sparrows, eagles and you name it. Animal species were also in abundance; rabbits, deer, zebras, hyenas, leopard, duikers, foxes and etc. Nowadays, children there grow up to adulthood without having encountered most of these beasts and birds. The jungles where they used to dwell have been destroyed by myopic people who only live for today and care not for the morrow.
In the biographies of John Chilembwe, we read that he used to hunt elephants for their ivory. His hunting grounds were Zomba, Chiradzulu and Mulanje. If he came back to life today, his gun would be idle.
The world is not about to end but certain species of fauna, flora and humankind face extinction. We must have definite polices for their preservation. But which of these? Some creatures are a menace to human existence.
These days, we go out without ever seeing a single person with a scarred faces thanks to science which destroyed the smallpox pathogen. In some religions, people are said to believe destructions of any life is sinful: even mosquitoes, the poisonous snake that strays to your house, the elephant and lion that attack human beings? Of course not, self-preservation is a law of nature which humans must obey.
Wars and rumours of war still frighten us. If those who have invented nuclear weapons start using them, the world will not necessarily vanish but a good part of its population could perish like the dodo. Global self-control must be the aim.
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