Multitudes throng Defe Dopota shrine

08 Aug, 2022 - 00:08 0 Views
Multitudes throng Defe Dopota shrine ZCC congregation at the church’s 46th anniversary of the death of its founder Bishop Samuel Mutendi at Defe Dopota in Gokwe.

The Herald

Elliot Ziwira Senior Writer

It may be so that nature and aesthetics conspired to depict the place as hideous, but Defe Dopota, in the Gokwe South District of the Midlands Province, more than 400km from Harare, redefines what constitutes beauty as discerned by the eye and ear.

Defe Dopota, which shares rather fatigued environs with Chirisa Game Park, derives its name from the natural endowment of a wetland lodged in a valley to the south east of the podium used for events, where orange, mango and guava trees grew side-by-side with bananas, just a glance away from a thriving vegetable patch.

There are also two dams in this community, one further down the gale to the east.

Besides modern mansions, eateries and thatched bungalows, the valley houses three schools.

These are Dopota Primary School, Mutendi Primary School and Defe Secondary School.

It is a late Sunday morning, and nature’s armoury is trained at the teeming sea of royal blue, navy blue, white, green and a sprinkling of khaki, black and red; the official colours of the Zion Christian Church.

Over 60 000 of the church’s faithful are gathered here to celebrate the life and legacy of their God-fearing founding father, Reverend Samuel Mutendi, an exponent of peace, unity and harmony, who died on July 20, 1976.

It has been their custom, since 1977, to congregate at the ZCC headquarters here at Defe Dopota, in remembrance of a life of sacrifice for the good of the people of Zimbabwe.

What makes this year’s celebration special is not that they have been doing it for the past 46 years, save for the last two owing to the Covid-19 pandemic that has played havoc on global economies, including Zimbabwe’s, but that the First Citizen of Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa, is among them.

He has been accompanied by the First Lady and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and his wife, Colonel Miniyothabo Baloyi.

Other dignitaries hosted here by the ZCC’s leader Bishop Nehemia Mutendi, are Defence and War Veterans Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, President of the Senate Mabel Chinomona and Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

Also in attendance are ministers of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Local Government and Public Works, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Dr Anxious Masuka, July Moyo, and Professor Paul Mavima, respectively.

ZANU PF Spokesperson, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Davis Marapira, and 16 traditional chiefs, among others, are also among the congregants.

As aural imagery does to the sense of hearing, visual imagery plays poker with the human sense of vision.

Indeed, it is in the human mind that beauty lies, waiting to be evoked either through the eye or the ear. The combination of sight and sound produces for man one of the best and probably the only vent to his heart.

It is their custom as the Zion Christian Church to celebrate life, for death is also a part to it, love, peace, hope and harmony through music.

It is a custom inherited from their founding father, Reverend Samuel Mutendi, who in 1964, during the liberation war, ordained the President, as a freedom fighter. He told the young liberator that he should always remember that politics is forever a race won only thorough a contest in which the best participant prevails.

Well, the story appears to be going ahead of itself. And, as they say, a good storyteller must be able to harness his or her story in such a way that he or she remains in control.

So, let’s start from somewhere, not the beginning as such, for good stories have neither beginnings nor ends. They simply flow.

A combination of sounds from above, in the form of choppers, below and yonder, merge into a melody of beautiful discord, as whistling, ululation and drumming cut across the sky, one more time as has happened moments earlier on.

The moment had marked the arrival of VP Chiwenga.

This time it marks the arrival of the First Citizen of Zimbabwe, accompanied by the First Lady, and the host, Bishop Mutendi.

Of all the sites here, where congregants are seated on black chairs stretching as far as the eye can see in any direction of fancy, it is the dance floor facing the podium on which a VVIP tent has been pitched that is the main centre of attraction. That is, to those in close proximity for the eye.

To those beyond the eye’s limit, the ear does not disappoint, for it clearly picks the crystal clear sound from the conference system.

Yes, as testified by the many national flags and vehicles with foreign plates here, the ceremony attracts the faithful from the Sadc region and its Diaspora beyond.

Seeking solace from the God of Samuel, their founding father, the thousands of believers gathered here particularly cherish his last words, which pointed to the resilience of faith against colonial subjugation, as he detested holidays like Rhodes and Founders.

The objective of such holidays was to celebrate imperialistic heroes, who did not care a hoot for the welfare of black Africans.

Therefore, it is apt that August, the month that the people of Zimbabwe celebrate their heroes, bears the moon in which Reverend Mutendi is honoured for his commitment to humanity through deeds and faith.

The ZCC faithful have been spread out in the dusty locale which makes up Defe Dopota since July 20, celebrating their love for the soil — the land, a God-given inheritance.

Reverend Mutendi believed in the land, and its capability to better livelihoods through sweat and toil, his flock recalls.

Cars of all makes are here, clothed in dust. Hundreds of buses are parked to the east and northeastern end of the podium. All types of buses are represented as well. Even the yellow bus, from the primary school days of yore, has also found a way of dislocating itself from the pages to proudly represent its clan among the all-terrain power machine, AVM, alongside others like Yutong, Marcopolo, Torino, Mercedes, Volvo, Irizar and whatnot.

With the believers still pouring in from all points of the compass resplendent in their respective colours; separating Elders of the church, the married, the single, and members of the ZCC Brass Band, the on-point public address system blasts it out in the brass and magic touch of the church’s signature tunes.

Amid whistling and chanting, an elder from the church takes the microphone and leads in the singing of “Ndire Ndire”, flanked by four men in green suits and one in blue. A seated drummer skilfully dances his hands on the tool of his trade, as the elders in khaki suits file out.

Humming to the tune of “Ndire Ndire”, their bass voices blending with the drumming palms and whistling, they file out. The women follow behind, ululating. Six young women in green and white take to the dance floor for less than two minutes and gracefully file out, as the beautiful dance plays on in the mind in concord with the music, refusing to drift away.

Then, the ZCC Brass Band plays “Jesu Wangu Wakanaka”, followed by electric drills by the evergreen band. The conductor dances along waving his white baton. He is in a royal blue suit with yellow stripes, and his hands are tucked in white gloves.So powerful a display it is, so consuming, so lively.

What the eye misses, surely the ear can pick. Oh music please play on. So soothing, so therapeutic to the soul.

One is reminded of Orsino in William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, who says, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Gosh, the brass band is at it again! The band is now playing “Rivers of Babylon”, invoking His Grace to descend and shower blessings on his people. On their knees, including the President, all are now pleading with the God of Mercy to open up the heavenly floodgates of blessings, for the faithful.

And, the engulfing presence of a higher power descends on the sea that makes up the congregation here. Women in their white headgear, and men with clean shave heads, under the shade of the trees dotted around, or shielded from nature’s weaponry by umbrellas, or simply daring it.

One can feel a higher power descending, to protect and give hope to God’s people; the people of Zimbabwe.

Bishop Mutendi speaks! He talks about the 2023 race, and why it is crucial that the ZCC faithful ran with the President, ordained in 1964 by the church’s founding father and paragon of peace, unity and harmony.

VP Chiwenga weighs in imploring the multitude to continue praying for the President, and rally behind him in the 2023 polls, underscoring that Zimbabwe should lead on all fronts, as the country is already leading in education.

Africa, he says, is the land on which Jesus Christ was rescued; and Solomon was once on Zimbabwean soil.

And, listen well now, the President speaks. He says his eyes somehow defeat him, for whichever way he looks he cannot tell where the multitudes end.

Citing scriptures, as the occasion calls for, he implores the people of Zimbabwe to desist from violence, live in peace and harmony, and embrace the culture of hard honest work epitomized by Reverend Samuel Mutendi, saying Zimbabwe’s peace is not for sell.

The First Citizen says Zimbabweans should remain united by the national flag.

Tracking his first contact with Reverend Mutendi to 1964, the President expresses gratitude to the ZCC for complementing the Government’s efforts to better the livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe through construction of schools and emphasizing productivity through good use of the land, a God-given inheritance.

As he releases five pigeons, into the open air, symbolising peace harmony and unity, the President leaves.

The sun totters down the western horizon, as the music continues blasting, inviting all and sundry to the dance floor one more time.

And, the dust swirls!

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