Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Police raid members of a bizarre cult

The Herald, not quite my daily cup of tea carried this above headline. There is much that disturbs me about what is going on in Zimbabwe, but nothing gets these fingers on the keyboard more than what appears to me to be persecution of a religious minority by the State, a practice sanctioned by Society.

The article can be read here. Apparently, a breakaway of the Seventh Day Adventists has been living in the bush outside Bulawayo, waiting for the imminent return of Jesus. For those who do not know, the Adventists have been spawning these apocalyptic sects from day one. In fact, the SDA church itself was born out of the disappointment of the Millerite Movement, when Jesus did not turn up, as predicted, in 1844. The SDA then gave us the Jehovah's Witnesses, World Wide Church of God, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Branch Davidians etc. Some of these are amusing, innocuous eccentrics. Others, well, we all know what happened at Wacco.

Speaking of Wacco, there are questions about how the US Government handled the whole business. Questions that come to mind when one views the story of the South Pumula Adventists. Apart from the fact that they were starving themselves, they did not appear to be harming anybody. Yet, they were raided by police, acting on complaints from the public.

What were these complaints? Well, the public were "unsure" of the sect's motives. "Hi, is this the police? Well, there's a bunch of religious people, they've skipped dinner a couple of times and we are not sure of their motives, could you please raid them?"

By the way, this is the same police with a dismal record when it comes to responding to emergencies.

It's this part that makes me apprehensive. I get a lot of strange looks from non-Rastafarians everywhere I go. Most of them are unsure of my motives. I think the only reason they haven't called the police yet is that most Zimbabweans today are too broke to afford a phone call.

The Herald, as usual, has not helped in this matter. But then again, the State media has a history of misinforming in order to malign when it comes to religious minorities. So, there is no surprise there.

But all Rastafarians here need to think about these things.

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