Hama Tuma


The situation in other continents may be different but I know for certain that dictators in Africa disrespect the people. The very fact of their tyranny is contempt towards the people but to add, as the saying goes, a crossed eye over goiter the dictators also go out of their way to treat us as dim-witted and dense.  Didn’t one ZANU PF official declare “ if we tell the people to vote for a donkey, they will” thereby not only insulting the people but also talking a jab at dear old Robert, the master of the Zimbabwe domain, the self declared elect of the people. African elites also disrespect the people more than often and they strut and proclaim themselves men of wisdom flashing their PhDs (“call me doctor, professor please!”) like feudal elements with their titles (Sire, Emir, Prince, Dejazmatch, Ras etc). 

One time lay Pastor Jacob Juma has joined the fray. With some 20 children credited to the equipment he calls his machine gun (thereby exposing the people to mockery) he has now returned to his priestly roots and shown his contempt for the people he rules over. Last February, he warned people at an ANC rally that if they vote for the ANC “”you are choosing to go to heaven. When you don’t vote for the ANC, you should know’ that you are choosing that man who carries a fork … who cooks people.” Vote for me and go to heaven is a political sale or an election slogan as ridiculous as any since everyone knows that at the end of the day people will return inevitable to their hell of a life. The aides of Juma tried to calm the hue and cry surrounding his declaration but pastor Juma did not relent: “When you are carrying an ANC membership card, you are blessed. When you get up there, there are different cards used, but when you have an ANC card, you will be let through to go to heaven.” Admittedly no dead ANC member has come back to confirm Juma’s declaration but the whole idea of a party card opening the gates of heaven does show Juma considering his people as unintelligent dupes and, in addition, raises very many interesting questions. What if? 

Africans are used to disrespect. The Westerners who back African dictators who have no respect for the rule of law show their naked contempt for the people. They are declaring in effect that the people do not deserve any better—Mobutu was good and Kabila is fine for the Congolese, Meles is ok for Ethiopians, Nguema is God sent for Equatorial Guineans. And on and on, throughout history. The disrespect goes on to whiten democracy itself—the often repeated declaration being “you are not yet developed enough for Western democracy!” The prescription for Africans is at best a benevolent despot, take it or leave it. When people refuse and in their turn they disrespect the tyrants, or in other words stop fearing them, the Revolution happens. Ask Mubarak, Ben Ali or Assad and Saleh. After all this and more is said can we consider the notion of a funny disrespect? Does it exist? ANC members getting buried with their ANC membership card (how is it going to be preserved?) and showing the same to the angels for admission to heaven is funny enough. Opposition parties do not only suffer hell on earth but also up there in God’s domain. With such threats who is the devout Christian who would opt to join an opposition party to go straight to that ugly fellow with a horrible tail who carries a fork and cooks and eats people? Better to vote for a donkey and stay with the ruling party to assure a place in heaven. On another level, lay Pastor Juma is taking himself as a Moses or an Isaiah bringing the wrath of God on all those who may disrespect him by doubting his words though no one has yet called him baldy to his face. 

The idea of joining a ruling political party to go to heaven makes priests and churches quite irrelevant. I am sure some would exult and say about time! No wonder the South African church hierarchy is livid. In Ethiopia, this means no less than six million forced members of the ruling party would go straight to heaven. As will Zanu PF adherents and all other members of ruling parties elsewhere. With tyrants assured permanent tenure in heaven, would this not mean now heaven would be turning into hell? In other words, hell could be a better place than heaven. The whole thing could turn official religion and the whole concept of hell and heaven upside down. What will the Pope say? Are all the churches and mosques to close down as they are being declared not the best conduits to heaven? All the atheists out there are going to have a feast day. No need to pray once or five times a day.  No need to go on Hajj or pilgrimage. Forget Holy water or all kinds of benediction– if you want to go to heaven just join the ruling party. A party membership card to open the gate of heaven— the revelation of the new millennium is upon us. 

Back in the days of the one party rule, a party membership card could get you ration cards and some perks that were in reality crumbs. The same was the case in the new millennium until President Juma came to the rescue. No benefit beats heaven even if the allure of the place would be reduced by the alleged preponderant presence of those whom we called dictators here on earth. Jacob Juma is encouragingly continuing the frank speak of the late Tubman of Liberia who never sought to hide the truth: “I know Tubman is not the president you want or deserve but face it Tubman is the president you got”. Such direct and honest talk sometimes made the burden seem lighter. To borrow a word from the dumbest wordsmith (aka Bush junior) it would not do to “misundersetimate” the importance of honest, direct and even brutal talk.  Robert Mugabe calling Carson an idiot was not an insult per se but just, no offense, a value judgment. The hue and cry about multi partism notwithstanding, most African countries are actually one party states. Your vote hardly matters—the ruling party would win by over 95% or else would kill and maim to stay in power. Yet, membership card matters. The ruling party in Ethiopia has now six million members as a graduate needs to flash not his degree but the party membership card to get a job. During the previous totalitarian regime, the party card got you the ration card and your place in the long queue for scarce commodities.  

Juma’s vote for the ANC and go to heaven call has introduced new factors into the complicated reality of African politics. If voting for the ANC assures automatic entry into heaven does this mean Juma’s party is God’s favorite? Has God started to take political stands? Where does all this leave the parties of God (Hizballah and others)? Are African opposition Satanists just because they bedevil the ruling parties? Africans hardly need new and difficult questions—life is already too burdensome as it is. And to come back to the main issue: is this total disrespect for our intelligence as African citizens funny? When they tell us vote for us and you shall go heaven and expect us to believe it are we expected to smile or to scream in anger? Juma has disrespected the wise people of South Africa just like other African presidents have done with theirs. The latest report that I have suggests not many South Africans are amused by Juma’s latest gimmick. Africans do not find disrespect funny but try telling this to Juma and African tyrants who think we are babes ready to swallow any lie. It is time we tell Juma and all African tyrants that we believe they are devils on earth and following them will never be a guarantee to go to heaven unless heaven is the dwelling palace of Satan and his followers. A mischievous question raises it head here: what if? 

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