Human Position, Power & Need for the Gospel
February – loaded month
February is a loaded month. It is the month of valentine (although its celebration is contested). Several most celebrated Zimbabweans were born in February. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa was born on 2 February 1978. The late political hero Josiah Tongogara was born on 4 February 1938. Soccer star Peter Ndlovu was born on 25 February 1973. Music maestro Winky D was born on 1 February 1983. The late legendary Leonard Dembo was born on 6 February 1959. Living legend Leonard Zhakata was born on 10 February 1968. Our FOCUS National Director (on sabbatical), Antony Dandato was born on 10 February 1985. This great month has been locally populated by 21st February movement, birthday celebration of our late former president Robert Gabriel Mugabe who was born on 21 February 1924, and this article briefly overviews his life in power, death and our need for the gospel.
“Ndirikunzwa masimba ekuti ndaakusvika…”
Revered by some as a heroic Africanist who pioneered empowerment, land redistribution and indigenization for Zimbabweans and critiqued by others as a failed leader who led Zimbabwe from a breadbasket and jewel of Africa to a begging basket state with an unstable economy and violent politics, the late leader rose to power as the Prime minister in 1980, executive president in 1987 and reigned up to 21 November 2017 when he resigned in face of political pressure and died in Singapore on 6 September 2019.
In one of his most thought–provoking birthday interviews with former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) Current Affairs manager Tarzan Mandizvidza in 2016, when he aged ninety–two, Robert Mugabe said (in Shona), “Ndiri kunzwa masimba ekuti ndaakusvika semunhu ari kumhanya mu race; unoziva kuti ndoda kusvika papi? Ndoda kupinda muzana…” (I feel some power, some inspiration that I am getting close; Do you know where I am getting to? I want to get to hundred years old…). At ninety five, five years before his desired hundred years mark, he died! His life in power got him 21st February declared a public holiday for the whole nation to celebrate his life.
If death could be bought away, he, or his family and supporters could have prolonged his life beyond his desired hundredth mark. His death portrayed inevitability, and incorruptibility of death as well as mightiness of God. If such a man who could be airlifted to Singapore and anywhere else for best medical treatments died before his desired time, we may hereon learn that life is not sustained by human position, power, affordability and greatness, but by God.
Mugabe’s Life in power
Robert Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe for thirty–seven years (as Prime minister, and as president). He was the first secretary of Zanu PF, commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and Chancellor of all State universities. Throughout his presidential life, he was a calculating and self-styled leader, always bespectacled and smartly formal, reminiscent of his former years as a school teacher.
The majority of Zimbabweans either feared or respected him. Few Zimbabweans could talk about him in public, or stay attentive with people who talked of him, especially negatively. February movement attracted a great following, aptly due to same reasons – fear or respect for a loved and hated head. Early 2017 before his fall from power, he received a wheel chair birthday gift from his ministers. Supportively, his wife, Grace Mugabe and likeminded backers repeatedly voiced that he would lead Zimbabwe from a wheel chair until the age of hundred, and in case of death, they said he could still rule from the grave. As if his powers could be sexually transmitted, his wife appeared ruling in rallies! She threatened that former vice president Joyce Mujuru would be fired for ill conduct and Mujuru eventually got expelled in 2014. She threatened that the then vice president (now president) Emerson Mnangagwa would be fired for disloyalty and he got fired in 2017! She and her husband seemed extraordinarily powerful.
The Inevitability of death
Regardless of how powerful our former president was, as depicted above, he submitted to death mid morning at Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore on 6 September 2019. He failed to stop or delay death. His words could not withstand death. His wealth could not buy life. His foreign treatments could not prevent death. As the Bible says, from dust a human being came, and to dust he returns (Genesis 3:19). We do not know if he was ready to die. What we know is that he desired to celebrate a hundred years on earth. We do not know if he knew that God was more powerful than any earthly authority. We just know that he only gave up power in a protest shocker. Reflections through Mugabe’s life and death teach that we must be always ready for home going. We also learn that we are not as powerful as we may regard ourselves to be. We further learn that there is time for everything – time to be born, and time to die (as Ecclesiastes 3:2 tells).
Our need for the Gospel
Importantly, death raises a question about whether there is hope for those in Christ or not. The Bible tells us that there is hope for the righteous, waiting for the glorious day of the Lord (Titus 2:13). Death therefore should not frighten, but remind us to keep in Christ who is the hope of glory, through whom we shall live forever.
Having reflected through former president’s life and death brings us to a realization that none of our earthly positions, possessions and power should be valued at the expense of the gospel. We need to be, and to keep in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour during our days on earth to keep together beyond this world. Good news is that those who die in Christ will not perish but have eternal life, as John 11:25-26 indicates, “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…” That means even when a believer dies and one’s body is buried, he / she will be resurrected and live.
Conclusively, we need the gospel for our salvation (John 3:16–21). We need to preach the gospel (Mathew 28:19–20, Mark 16:15) everywhere. Death is unavoidable, as Hebrews 9:27 says, and judgement follows. Living in Christ matters. Let us inform our friends to submit our lives to Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour. Are you prepared for your death day?