Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

23 November 2010

A Puzzling Pentecostal Experience

I wont pretend I know why a lot of people do the things they do in their churches. Funny enough, it seems as though lot of people themselves are not sure why they do the things they do in their own churches either.

This thought came to me when I remembered, for no apparent reason, a certain quirky experience I had on one particular Pentecostal All Night Prayer meeting. How I ended up in there is a long story; involving heated debates, a round of church tours and a dog eared paperback Bible – I might tell you about it someday.

The fact remains that on this chilly night, at around at around 11 p.m, I found myself seated in a rented lecture theatre, trying my best to listen to what a pastor down on the podium was saying.
Then, I started feeling drowsy. Once or twice, I jerked my head up in the comical manner of one fighting a losing battle against sleep. I did try concentrating on the sermon, but I guess I tried too hard…because the next thing I knew, after the briefest of blackouts, was the pastor pointing in my direction and everyone in the hall looking at me. He was calling me up front.

Let me make it clear at this point that I had attended this event strictly as an observer. Earlier during the night, I had seen this pastor guy do a lot of alarming stuff on the stage; like getting into screaming matches with troubled souls to scare the hell…I mean demons out of them, going around praying and granting instant salvation to anyone who felt they needed saving, and slaying a lot of people down with…um…the Holy Spirit.

For one good hour, people all over had been swooning, gracefully falling into the waiting hands of the assistants. Others screamed and writhed on the ground as demons were yanked out of them, and still yet, others erupted into an ecstatic chattering of some exotic, but vocabulary limited new language that only I, and few other individuals, seemed to be ignorant of.

It was all very entertaining…but only from a distance. I had absolutely no intention of becoming part of it. So when the pastor called me up front, I stubbornly stayed seated.

Obviously, the kind and considerate Christian brothers around me couldn’t just stand by and watch a dear lost soul remain unsaved. I was given encouraging glances by the people in the crowd. I did try to ignore them, but then one of the pastor’s assistants actually came over to usher me down to the stage. Being an awfully bashful guy, I decided to end the awkward stand off and go along.

I braced myself for the unexpected as the pastor put a hand on my forehead and started praying over me, probably with the intention of driving out the demon of sleep that had so shamelessly taken me over at such a pious event. Or maybe he simply wanted to give me a healthy wallop of the Holy Spirit, strong enough to topple me over and have me end up talking funny. Given the choice, I’d take option B.

As my type of luck would have it, there was an option C I hadn’t accounted for.

See, the hand on my forehead started pushing me. To prevent myself from overbalancing and falling, I naturally started stepping backwards. The insistent pastor would have none of it so he kept pushing my head back. My sense of equilibrium would have none of it either, so it kept moving me backward to keep me from falling.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed two of the pastor’s assistants expectantly hovering near me (waiting for the point I would head for the ground, of course).

It must have been a comical sight to the honest on looker: the pastor, hand on my head, shouting and hurling insults ‘in the name of Jesus’ at whatever he wanted to come out of me….and me stubbornly retreating backwards as if I was desperate to have what was in me stay in me. I could imagine those in the crowd pitifully shaking their heads and saying to each other, ‘Strong demon, that.’

The circus came to a climax when the back of my feet came to the stairs. Therein I faced another dilemma: should I continue my backward retreat by climbing the stairs, or should I finally give up and let the pastor push me over into the waiting hands of the attendants?

I took option two, closed my eyes and was gingerly but swiftly lowered to the ground by expert hands. I felt the team around me move away then, having finished with me. A job very well done.

Ok: So there I was, sprawled on the ground, supposedly in a semi-conscious state, after having a particularly strong demon ousted out of me. The problem with this scenario was that I was fully conscious, feeling as fine as I was before the show, definitely not feeling as if something had been removed from or imparted to me…and left with two concurrent lines of thought running through my mind.
No, thats not me. Just a similar event.

The first line of thought, oddly enough, was that I was getting my jacket dirty. See, I had recently gave it a good scrubbing over the past weekend, now the white stripes were all going to get mucked up. I was worried that I might have to wash it a second time before I could put it on again. Why this thought seemed important to me at the time still puzzles me.

The second line of thought presented a more immediate problem to be dealt with. How the hell was I supposed to know how long I should stay down there? If I got up too early, everybody, including the pastor might think that the dose he gave me fell short of being sufficient, and might decide to add a little more. Now, I didn't want any more of whatever he had done to me. At the same time, I didn’t want to spend too much time down on the floor either….I mean…ever tried pretending you are unconscious on a cold hard dirty floor in your favorite clean jacket in a room full of curious peering faces? Darn uncomfortable.

Fortunately, I started hearing some commotion in another part of the hall. With the hope that everyone’s attention had surely shifted from me to there, I silently got up and returned to my seat.
Ten minutes later, after deciding the all night should be a half night for me, I was tucked in my warm soft clean blankets and dreamily wondering what that had been all about. Not just my experience, of course, but the whole screaming and falling and chaotic speaking in Guatemalean and the deliberate pushing me over to make me fall.
I did ask a lot of people about it afterwards, but I got conflicting answers, a general lack of conviction and glaring holes in the explanations given to me. This led me to my own conclusion which I still maintain today: that an awfully lot of people don’t have an inkling as to why they do the things they do in their own churches.

11 November 2010

My Random Ramblings on Zimbabwean Sport

I am a Zimbabwean guy who doesn’t like sport. A lot of Zimbabweans would see at least two things wrong with that simple statement. First of all I am a guy: I should love sport. Second of all, I am Zimbabwean: I should love sport.

Myspace Radha-Krishna Graphics Krishna-Radha Clipart
A friend of mine says this guy
 looks familiar - I mean c'mon!
Zimbabwe is a sporting nation. It loves its soccer, its cricket, its tennis…and the like. I have come to notice, however, that any other sport that is not soccer gains an audience only as a means of whiling up the time until the next big match arrives. Whenever there is something huge going on in the game of soccer, the nation kind o’ goes somewhere in-between fanatical and outright nuts.

And it doesn’t have to be local soccer either. Some individuals know the welfare of international soccer teams better than their own families.

A guy can, for instance, name the whole line up of a team in the Spanish Premier league, plus the players on the bench, the players out on injury, as well as the name of the guy who got dropped out of the final lineup because he was found the night before in a compromising position.

I find that scary, and that is one good reason I do not go for soccer. Everyone is an expert and I could never keep up. This usually left me feeling all ignorant and stupid. So I came up with a simple mantra: if you can’t join them, ignore them. If I show complete disinterest, then nobody would expect me to know anything. Perfect.

I have nothing against tennis though. Infact, I love it! For one thing, Zimbabwe has a very colorful tennis history. From way back in the 1950’s, this country’s been making waves on the international scene up until a couple of years ago.

For another, I had a chance to learn how to play it a little: it was a breeze! All I had to do was concentrate on not losing the ball in the bushes some 100 meters away from the court. Any idiot could do that. Later on, I could manage to make the ball mostly go where I wanted it to go (that is, any place over the net and hopefully not over the court fence). For a little while I actually thought I could be the next black Black.

And there is one more reason I love this game: the only tennis injury I know is harmlessly called ‘Pulling a Hamstring’. I don’t know what or where a hamstring is, or how you can pull it, but it doesn’t sound all that bad. Soccer has a much wider, and a much more uncomfortable vocabulary to describe injuries.

I do have a lot against the game of cricket. Actually, I don’t even think it should be called a sport. See, a solemn event taking a dozen or so men dressed entirely in white a number of days to play, complete with tea and lunch breaks, should be re-categorized as a religious festival….along the lines of Easter, Ramadan and Hanukkah.

I find test cricket long and boring. I guess a lot of people did too, which is why they must have introduced One Day Internationals back in 1971. Still, the game insisted on being boring so they introduced 20/20 cricket in 2003, which lasts a much more humane 3 and a half hours.

I suggest they further cut that down to just about an hour – then you’ll see some real action! And maybe, just maybe players can actually lose weight whilst playing the game.

I am a Zimbabwean guy who doesn’t like sport. I don’t care how many things you see wrong with that statement, but I’m quite cool with it. True, I might miss out on all the ‘thrills’ fans supposedly experience during games, but I also plainly remember being the only one with a hefty appetite, and a good night’s sleep after some not too fascinating sporting events!

09 November 2010

Getting a Pet? Get Creative!

Zimbabweans might be a very creative people but when it comes to the issue of choosing pets, the creativity grinds to a halt and makes a quick getaway out the window. I mean seriously, just how many households have anything else other than the same light brown mangy (whatever species it’s called) kind of dog in their yard?

I am not an animal expert, but I sure as hell know there are a whole lot more options out there that can easily replace the darn dog. I have two suggestions:

A personal favorite is the cat. This might not go down well with lot of Zimbos who choose to associate the cat with the dark elements of the world. A cat, especially when black, screams ‘witchcraft!’ To me though, a cat screams ‘Supercool!’

The essence of cool
I love this guy for a number of reasons. First of all, you do not own a cat: he owns you. Now this is not as bad as it sounds: it simply means that you will need him more than he will need you. He owns the house: weaving through the rooms, sleeping on the sofa, chilling on the roof. He can sleep all day and stay out late.

This dude pretty much takes care of himself.You are expected to feed him, but if you don’t, he survives anyway. He's also smart enough to maintain a strict routine on personal hygiene (something even some humans cant manage to do).  Oh, he also catches mice, and his nine lives can come in handy when you don’t want to worry about any living creature falling off the roof or something.

Contrast this coolness with the dog. The dog is like one big baby. He constantly wants your attention even when you really want to just chill out and be left alone. He even makes you feel guilty for going out the yard to throw out the trash when you leave him inside. Ignore him, and he sulks. He spends a good part of the day running around, or wanting to run around, and chasing around his own tail. I mean, how cool can you be if you find entertainment in sticking your head out the window of a moving car, sticking out your tongue out, and proceeding to grin sheepishly?

The second animal is the cow. I’m not joking, and don’t look at me with that strange questioning stare until I argue my case. First of all, I am not the only one who thinks this a great idea. Let me just give you three fans for this viewpoint:-

Bill Bryson: "To my mind, the only possible pet is a cow. Cows love you. They will listen to your problems and never ask a thing in return. They will be your friends forever. And when you get tired of them, you can kill and eat them. Perfect."

The Hindus: Get into India and you will see 30% of the world’s cows in this place. These guys exchange cows as gifts, build bull shrines and generally love to have them around. In fact, there are more cows in India than America has dogs and cats combined. The only problem is that the Hindus leave out the killing and eating part, which I consider to be the most fun part of keeping a cow.
Isn't she just cute?

The Maasai Tribe: These guys are from somewhere in East Africa. They love cows so much that their tradition has a simple rule that neatly takes care of any cow procurement complexities – ‘All Cows on Earth Belong to the Maasai Tribe as God Given Property.’ Now that’s cow obsession!

If all these guys think the cow can be a great pet, well, why not us? Of course you will need a shovel to deal with all the dung on your verandah, flower bed and lawn. But let it not deter you, because all that dung can be used as bio fuel such that you never have to worry about ZESA woes again. Perfect.

So guys, give the poor light brown mangy (whatever species it’s called) dog a break and try out the alternatives. Well, you don’t necessarily have to take my suggestions (though I consider them to be pretty good and creative), you can try out your own as long as you dont resort to the poor brown mutt.

06 November 2010

Saved From the Snares of the Internet!

A research I read recently found out that the average teenager now spends some 7 hours glued to digital devices; through iMacs and iPods and iPhones and iPads in the great North iAmerica.

Just after reading that article, I came across a story on Yahoo News about a mother who violently shook her baby because the infant’s crying was disturbing her session on Facebook. She was playing Farmville, and apparently concluded that tending to digital sheep, cows and cabbages was more important than taking care of the baby. The baby died.

Just...memories, now.
As you can see, the darn western world’s gone nuts because of the internet, and the rest of the world is quickly following in its footsteps.

It is in view of this sobering fact that our trusty monopolistic telecoms provider, Econet Wireless, decided to step in and protect us from these shocking world developments. Their method is simple: hiking internet tariffs so much as to make any decent internet surfing impractical.

For instance, a 5 Megabyte bundle of data will cost you $2, and expires the same day you purchase it; 100MB will cost you $30; 200MB costs $50 and 1Gigabyte will cost you an arm and a leg.

A friend of mine went for the $30 package for his data line; four days later, the system was crying out for more…and he hadn’t even changed his Facebook photo yet, let alone actually download anything.

Funny thing: this same company kept promising a while back that the messy digging they did all over our nice roads to lay cables would bring a faster and much cheaper internet to the ordinary Zimbabwean.

I guess they were just saying.

This kind of reminds me of the ‘Big Bang Theory’…you know, big company acting all inefficient and arrogant especially because there is no competition to keep the bully in check.

I’ve heard of two companies called Africom and Powertel, but it seems their coverage is still too minuscule to speak of. Then there is Telecel which seemed very promising (since it’s backed by a giant Egyptian company) – that is, until they postponed their 3G introduction from September 2010 (that’s last month!) to sometime next year. As for NetOne….NetOne…well, I don’t know anything about NetOne. Info, anybody?

So fellow Zimbabweans, I am pleased to announce that you are relatively safe from the corrupting influence of the internet, unless you have an awfully lot of cash to burn. There is no way you are going to be spending 7+ hours killing all of your social life through internet addiction.

You are not going to be killing your babies anytime soon either.

Postscript: Econet  has slashed its mobile internet prices. 5Mb now costs a dollar, 100Mb $20 and 200Mb is now $40. A gig will still cost you an arm and a leg though. Looking forward to more price slashes and moral corruption as the competition heats up!

01 November 2010

Of Elusive Shona Words: Kudada

Is your use of Shona vocabulary myopic?
Then take the following free advice!
I have grown to hate that word: Kudada. I used to understand it way back when it used to mean what it’s supposed to mean: arrogant, pompous, proudcontemptuous, bigheaded...etc. But somehow, the uses of the word seem to have glided to mean some other things too: things like forgetful, rich, misunderstood, shy…etc.

Shona (my mother tongue. Also my father’s tongue) is a beautifully diverse language. Nothing is quite as beautiful as hearing someone skillfully bring rich words together to form a well expressed statement. Leonard Zhakata used to do that. Most people these days don’t. They have lost the art of the language; they just compromise it.

I won’t delve into the details of how the language has been compromised (that would need a website the size of Wikipedia and a pride of professionals manning it). I’ll just focus on one word: Kudada (also known as kuvhaira in other parts of the country).

I grew up with the word: thanks to my being myopic (literally). Before I started wearing glasses, the whole word was one huge colorful blur. People didn’t have faces: I’d try to distinguish them through voices, posture and the clothes they wore. Sometimes through smell.

Now imagine one blur coming over to you and saying something like: ‘We met 5 years ago at Mai Nga’s wedding and we talked for like 10 whole minutes, remember me?’ Of course I don’t, you were a blur then, you are still a blur now. The disappointed stranger shakes his head: ‘Inga waa Kudada.’

This experience also frequently happens to those with a short memory. It is a crime not to remember some one who remembers you. All those people with a good memory take it for granted so much that they assume everybody has a photographic mind. Forget someone, and you are immediately branded as some one ariKudada. Simple.

And suppose you are shy, you know, a particularly bashful person. Most people dread having to stand up on a stage and address a crowd. Now, for this type of shy person, his or her whole life is a stage. The simple social etiquette of, say, entering a room full of relatives and greeting each and every person with the correct titles (such as tete, sekuru, mainini) is a torturous experience. People don’t know such introverts exist, so if you are one and you stumble in, or try to avoid, such a situation, they simply dismiss you with 'ariKudada'.

Another scenario: suppose you get lucky and become rich. Now, there is nothing wrong with having money in itself: but rest assured, that also means you are going to come across this word in reference to you quite a lot.

For instance, when you are driving around in your brand new wheels, you are supposed to spot each and every person you have ever known on the road, and depending on the situation, do at least one of the following: hoot and wave; stop the car for a chat; kusiya mari yedrink or; offer the person a ride. Failure to do so: uriKudada.

I used to have this friend of mine who was not too familiar with the Shona culture. He came across a friend of a friend, a lady. Now, they had never seen each other before, just a casual chat on the phone, so he didn’t give her the warm greeting she must have expected. She carelessly commented: Indava Kudada? As soon as she turned a corner, he totally flipped. He thought he statement was the Shona equivalent of someone saying to your face: ‘You are freaking arrogant!’ Poor guy, especially considering the extreme lengths he would go to exercise great humility.

My free advice: fix any mental myopia you might have and stop throwing this word, and other equivalents, all over the place. You’re only traumatizing individuals who might already be battling to fit in into this crazy world. Instead, reserve it for the arrogant, pompous, proud, contemptuous and bigheaded bastards who truly deserve it!