By Dr Masimba Mavaza.
Nesbert Shumba left Zimbabwe in 2003 and settled in the United Kingdom.
His wife and two children joined him a year later and while in the UK, Nesbert was blessed with three more children.
He moved to Croydon in London where he is a bus driver. Unlike in the Third World, jobs in the United Kingdom pay well and give people a decent life.
Life as we know, is generally more comfortable in the UK than here but of course there are some people in Zimbabwe who are living very good lives.
Nesbert was not regretting his way of life in the UK. He could afford putting food on the table for his family and be left with enough to save and send home for his parents and extended family.
Being away from home can bring the best or the worst out of people. There are no societal norms which enforce a way of life which is culturally viable.
In the confusion of the cultural bankruptcy Nesbert joined a “Mapositori” church.
Like many Mapositori, there are “prophets” who normally prophecy upon your life. Some will give you an ointment and offer prayers. Most Mapositoris are experts at playing with people’s minds.
So on this other day, Nesbert was told by one Madzibaba Benjie of the Mapositori Croydon branch that his relatives had dispatched some high powered evil delegation in spirit to England to make Nesbert’s life hell.
Nesbert was encouraged to fight in spirit and destroy these evil spirits which were deployed against him.
He was given a knife wrapped with a white cloths and two stones which were taken from an altar by the chief prophet Madzibaba Deda.
He was told that during lunch hour he was supposed to pray and fight the evil spirits. Madzibaba Deda was well known for being accurate in his prophecies so Nesbert was overjoyed as he saw his spiritual problems writhing under the holy knife. He felt like he was in heaven already.
On a Monday morning Nesbert took his weapons which were given to him by the Madzibaba Benjie and Madzibaba Deda. He went to work feeling victorious.
During his lunch break, he sat in his bus and started singing softly to himself and as if in a trance, started sticking the holy knife in the air. He was stabbing the imaginary bad spirits and with every thrust. He felt victory in his sights.
While he was entirely absorbed in his ritual, he was shaken back to life by a huge white policeman pointing a gun at him. Nesbert opened his eyes and he saw a dozen armed police officers.
He heard through a loud speaker, a voice demanding him to drop his weapon and come out of the bus with his hands on his head.
Nesbert was shocked. He was in a prayer and fighting his demons and police were all over him.
Madzibaba Deda forgot to tell him that the process of cleansing himself would bring the police on him.
One of the waiting passengers saw him sticking a knife in the air. He was shocked and he called the police.
Before Nesbert explained anything he was tasered and he fell to the ground. The officers were on him and he was handcuffed and charged with possession of a dangerous weapon in public place.
After he explained the rituals he was undertaking, the police referred him to hospital and sectioned him. They requested that he be mentally examined. The Mapositori way of worship differs with the conventional worship.
Worship is an essential part of the Christian’s faith. Christians worship God to thank him for his love, ask for forgiveness for their sins and try to understand his ‘will’ for them. Mapositori do the same but they believe they can fight demons in their own way.
Christians usually worship in a church building, chapel or cathedral. The word “church” can mean different things:
The church is the whole community of Christians, the people of God, also called the ‘body of Christ. Different Christian denominations worship in different ways and the Mapositori way is strange in this part of the world.
Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians have a set form of worship and it is a formal ritual. This type of worship is called liturgical worship. Other Christian churches practise non-liturgical worship, for example Nesbert’s Mapositori.
This kind of worship has no set form and often does not involve Holy Communion. It is usually centred on the prophecies by Madzibaba with no Bible readings, a sermon, music and prayers. It can be structured or unstructured and spontaneous.
Whatever style of worship is used, most Christians believe it is important to come together to share acts of devotion and honour to God.
Now the police failed to understand the way Nesbert was worshipping. They saw him as a danger to society. More so as a bus driver, his behaviour shocked the police and the passengers.
A quick court application to take his children was made. Before his wife could understand what was happening, social services sent its officers. The three minor children were taken for their safety, so they said.
Nesbert was forced into a mental institution. The more he tried to plead his innocence, the more he was dosed with diazepam to cool him down.
His wife was charged for neglecting the children by allowing them to stay with Nesbert who was judged to be mentally ill.
All what Nesbert did was to be spiritual and his way of worship did not make sense to the police.
It was not over for Nesbert. His bosses dismissed him on medical grounds. He was prohibited from seeing his children alone. The children were put up for adoption.
Nesbert instructed a lawyer to fight his case.
Unfortunately, Zimbabweans abroad do not believe in their own black lawyers. He instructed a white lawyer who did not believe him.
The police did not take any further action as they believed that Nesbert was mentally challenged.
Madzibaba Deda and Madzibaba Benjie have not even visited Nesbert.
Dejected, with no children, out of employment and with people around him believing he is insane, Nesbert is now a shell of his former self.
He has been allocated carers who are white and who do not understand his religion.
It is a sad story and this happens when cultures collide.