Unlike Big Daddy Bae, I came to terms with the fact that I was born in one of the poorest countries in the world. I also accepted the harsh reality that I will never live to see it become ‘developed’. Even my great grandchildren will probably never see the day that our houses will have electricity 24/7 or when our mobile phones will be able to stream a good clip on Pornhub.com in the village. I have accepted all this. But what bothers me still is the role in which religion continues to play in this development drag.
For some reason, our country is one of the most ‘God-fearing’ nations in the world. We are actually more religious than the people who introduced us to their beliefs; and even more than those who apparently ‘witnessed’ the documented events themselves. Maybe we are just passionate like that. Faith is a powerful thing. It is actually an efficient and effective way of mobilizing and controlling society. Some people are too dumb to know the difference between wrong and right or bad and good. Anthu ngati amenewa amafunika ka rule-book as a moral compass. These are just some of the many pros to what Dr David Livingstone and buddies brought to this country.
It is however hard to ignore the backward way of thinking in our society that holds us back as a country from developing. And yes I blame religion for this. The reason why many people join the church is because of the comfort that it brings knowing kuti when they die, they will be in a special place somewhere in the sky singing and dancing with loved ones forever. The problem with this is that people use this very same reasoning to give up on the ‘now’ and focus on the ‘tomorrow’ in heaven. Akuti problems that we face on earth (achina ESCOM and Njala) will not be there in the kingdom of heaven. So instead of trying to find solutions to our development concerns (here on earth), we just count down the days until we join our father in heaven. The promise of a better tomorrow has corrupted our minds.
Even in situations where we can actually do something about the issue, people turn to prayer instead of action. Akuti “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find…”. Mwina kumwambako, but here on earth, it doesn’t work that way. If our leaders are lairs and thieves, vote them out! Osati kumapemphera kuti one day a special person will miraculously appear to lead you into the Promised Land.
Furthermore, religion has stolen young and untapped talent and skill from our country. Future doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. have abandoned their ambitions and decided to dedicate their miserable lives to spreading the good news. Paja masiku ano tikumangomva kuti ‘ujeni’ anapita ku Joni kwa Major 1. Schools and Universities today have been infiltrated by religious ‘support groups’ which at first glance look harmless but are actually planting that seed of ‘a better life after death’. I personally witnessed my class mates dropping out of school because of this. Apparently a University Degree has no value in the kingdom of God. Kumwamba kulibe zoti awa anali ophunzira.
Not only does faith blind our society from participating in actual development, but it has even been seen to hinder the work being done by others. Case in point, use of condoms and the right to an abortion. You will see people actively denouncing organisations that promote these concepts all in the name of god. Akuti condoms promote fornication and adultery. Honestly, condom or not, people have been fornicating since Adam’s first boner. And as for abortions, I think unless you are party to the fertilization or hosting of the fetus, it is none of your god dam business.
Sometimes it really just boils down to the simple issue of translation of script. During the time that I used to go to church, I attended a few commendable sermons. Some preachers are able to translate the word into more practical terms that fit our context. You will see this mostly in well-educated pastors who are trained in the ways of theology and religious studies. It is more of a profession to them than a calling. But when you think about the illiteracy levels in our country, azibusa ophunzira bwino bwino ndi ochepa.
As a business, the Church is ever growing. And the market is big in countries hit by hunger, poverty and suffering. It is unfortunate that as a business it only drains the pockets of it’s followers but does not bring revenue or whatsoever to the country. No wonder why developed countries are accused of religious decadence. It is as if for a country to truly begin to make way for development, there is the need to simply separate faith from reality.