Forty years ago, my wife and I lived in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
Rhodesia (Southern Rhodesia, to be exact) had been a model colony. It never asked London for help; it always had sound finances; it was stable and prosperous. It was often called the Breadbasket of Africa. During World War II, Winston Churchill had labeled the country “the most loyal colony,” as it had contributed proportionately more to the allied cause than any other.
But, twenty years after the war, the same Rhodesians who had fought for the Empire and helped Britain win the war against Hitler, were being called “fascists,” for the simple reason that they wanted to preserve their way of life, which included a qualified franchise, to ensure responsible government. This meant that most native Africans did not have the vote. Britain, the US and the nations of Africa were hostile to this and insisted on NIBMAR (No Independence Before Majority Rule). In order not to have majority rule forced on them, the white Rhodesian government declared itself independent of London on 11th November, 1965.
The “rebellion” led to a civil war, which lasted seven years. It wasn’t a simple black and white struggle. 82% of the Rhodesian army was made up of black African soldiers. Many saw what had happened to nations north of them, where independence led to corruption, nepotism, financial collapse, political uncertainty and eventually military coups – they didn’t want that and fought to save Rhodesia.
But the whole world was against Rhodesia. Even its southern neighbor, South Africa under apartheid, did not like the country and was ready to throw it to the wolves. This they did, with the US and the UK, forcing the country to hand over to a “majority government.” to introduce “one man, one vote.”
The last white Prime Minister, Ian Smith, remarked that “one man, one vote” would mean exactly that, that the first African leader would be the one man with the one vote.
Black African friends of ours said Zimbabwe, the new name for the new country, would be different. It would not go the same way as the rest of Africa.
But it has.
It’s been over 37 years since Robert Mugabe became the country’s leader. As Ian Smith predicted, he became the “one man” with the “one vote” – nobody else’s opinion mattered. And, as has happened so many times in Africa, the only way to remove a civilian president who won’t allow anybody else to come to power, is for the army to overthrow him. The army goes on to make things worse, with even more corruption and general incompetence all round; eventually the army allows another election, bringing another civilian government to power, which is also corrupt and so it goes on and on in a vicious cycle.
Zimbabweans woke up Wednesday morning to find the army has taken over. Right now, it’s unclear what has happened to 93-year-old Robert Mugabe. It seems as if the army is saying that they only want to remove the criminals around the president, not the president himself. They certainly want to remove the wife of the president, who has lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the poor. But Mr. Mugabe has become one of the richest men on earth during his time in office. They may turn against him yet. Right now, he is said to be under “house arrest”, while his wife, Grace Mugabe (“Gucci Grace”), has fled to Namibia.
What may help Mr. Mugabe is that he is highly respected across the continent.
Ask a taxi driver in any African country who is the best African leader and they will all say Robert Mugabe. Why? “Because he got rid of the whites!” Point out that the country collapsed economically after the expulsion of the white farmers and they will say, “it doesn’t matter!”
Less than a week before the coup, the capital’s airport was renamed “Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.”
The “coup” seems more of a final act in a dynastic power struggle. The president was grooming his wife as his successor; this was intolerable for those who have been close to him for decades. She was booed early last week at a rally. The Vice-President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, fled to South Africa a week ago, increasing fears that Mrs. Mugabe may succeed her husband. It’s even possible Mr. Mnangagwa may have solicited support from South Africa to effect the coup.
It all brings to mind the words of Jesus Christ in the Book of Matthew, where He warned His disciples not to be like the gentile leaders who ruled over them, with their never ending power struggles and abuses of authority.
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28).
SSM, COA, SSA AND CCC
For those who are not familiar with the abbreviations above, let me explain.
SSM = Same Sex Marriage.
COA = Commonwealth of Australia, the latest country to approve this historic change.
SSA = Same Sex Attraction, a term that is often used to describe people who are attracted to the same sex. Many of these people do not want to be gay, which denotes promiscuity and a particular lifestyle.
CCC = Conservative Christian Churches, who are ill-equipped to handle the cultural tsumani that is heading their way.
Australia is the latest country to embrace same-sex marriage, approved by the people in a plebiscite. Parliament in Canberra is set to approve the change before the end of the year.
There were celebrations across Australia today. One banner was particularly disturbing: “Burn Churches, not Queers.” The attitude behind this banner is not limited to Australia. The issue of same-sex marriage has pitted conservative churches against the gay movement. While liberal churches have embraced gays, Biblically based churches cannot.
But this does not mean that biblically based churches have got it right, either.
Recent research showed that 12% of 18 year olds in the United States have a sexual identity issue. Either they are attracted to the same sex or they feel they are in the wrong body and want to change sex. None of this is of their own choosing. They are like people struggling with eating disorders. A 75-pound woman will look in the mirror and see herself as fat, when everybody who knows her sees clearly that she is anorexic.
In the same way, someone can look in the mirror and feel they are in the wrong body. They want to change sex. Or they feel strong attraction to a member of the same sex.
Whatever the problem, these people have to make a choice: either go into the gay lifestyle, or try to obey God. It’s the same choice everybody makes one way or the other, whether or not to commit to a godly lifestyle. Those who choose to commit to God take the more difficult road and need help from other Christians.
Those struggling with these issues need compassion and love. They need Jesus Christ more than the average person. “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”… (Matthew 9:11-13). This is what is lacking amongst conservative Christians and too many churches.
It’s been known for over a century that people do not choose their sexual orientation. Recognizing this might have avoided the polarization that has taken place.
ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
It seems that, in today’s English speaking world, you are guilty until proven innocent. This is a significant reversal of a practice that goes back 800 years to the Magna Carta. It separated England, and later the English speaking countries, from the European legal system, which denied people justice until they were tried before a 12-man jury of their peers.
Perhaps all the accusations are true and that all of those accused are guilty, but they are still entitled to a fair trial.
The Bible says: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” ( II Corinthians 13:1 KJV)
What is clear with all the accusations, whether against politicians or actors, is that there were no witnesses. What are parents doing allowing their teenagers to spend time alone with people they don’t know?
Maybe we should bring back chaperones! That would put an end to all of this.