The past Christmas saw some clergy complain about intimidation when they touch on political issues. Some men (not women) of cloth alluded on this in their X-mas orations. They’re flummoxed after feeling boxed in. Unfortunately, the speakers didn’t particularly name their bullies. Three days after the clergy spoke up, authorities came out warning about taking stern measures against whoever uses pulpits politically. This shows: there’s a problem. Is this the answer? If it is, is it the right one?
Ontologically, politics and religion are the sides of the same coin. In Egypt, Pharaohs were gods and rulers as well. In Europe, the Roman Catholic Church used to be both a religious and political power. It shows: the duo’s same foundation and intesectionality. Though, the former overtook the latter during the enlightenment. Before, the Roman Catholic Church’s powers were incontestably over and above everything. It could condemn whomever it wanted. Thanks to its brutality and misuses of power, some smart guys decided to stop it. Thence, politics took over; and replicated the same up until now.
Essentially, Africa needs to embark on its own enlightenment in order to do away with the internalised internal colonisation perpetrated by the duo that attracts devourers and tricksters easily.This is why there are fake leaders in both.
Refer to self-appointed fakers we now see everywhere robbing and pauperising our unsuspecting people who still believe in miracles under the ruse of performing miracles.
Secondly, the duo shares one characteristic. There are some rogue elements who reap where they didn’t sow. They collect money in the names of sadaaq, taxes, tithes and zakat; and spend it without involving their taxpayers. This is why we’ve many rich religious leaders hollering at the top of their lungs preaching the gospel of Jesus, who himself was humble.
Like politicians who preach better life for all to end up exploiting their constituency, fake clerics preach heaven for the poor while living in stinking opulence. The difference is, however, political leaders are elected while the clergy are either appointed or self-appointed.
Thirdly, while some clergy condemn the internalised internal colonisation of politics in Africa, they forget their religions are responsible for paving the way for the colonisation and the enslavement of Africa. Ironically, the clergy aren’t democrats like those they accuse. Let’s a tad bit fair. Do they seek views from their constituency?
Fourthly, clergy are like any other citizens. They shan’t expect any preferential treatments whatsoever. If they feel like offended, they know what to do. Go to the court.
Just like any citizen, clerics can air their grievances provided doing so is within the confines of the law. Their advices can be worked on or otherwise depending on to whom or what’s addressed.
There’s nothing special here. The government may accommodate the views of its people or not depending on how it views them. Again, instead of taking on the govt, we need to deal with the system that allows such penchants.
Fifthly, there’s been a tradition of wrongly believing that clerics have an upper hand in public matters. There are some discernible boundaries between politics and religion, especially in a secular country contrary to a theocracy in which clergy are above everything.
Further, the clergy need to be firm vis-à-vis their position. When they take on ills, they must clearly indicate it by deeds and words. For example, recently, one self-appointed one told President John Magufuli to repent and take advice. This same man once showered former President Jakaya Kikwete saying he’s humble and too generous. Again, when his church was told to demolish its extension built illegally, he started attacking the same man he showered with praises. This way, it can’t work.
Tanzania’s a tradition of separating politics from religion in order to avoid offering some quacks a loophole to use their position to benefit both politically and religiously. Again, our government needs to be firm as well. Evidentially, some pro-government clergy are allowed to mix the two provided when they toe the line. One of them is Gertrude Rwakatare who’s an MP for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). When Rwakatare was appointed or allowed by the CCM to partake of politics, both sides kept mum; and saw it as a normal and right thing to do though it is wrong!
In sum, if clergy have anything importantly tetchy to say, they must say it just like any citizen but not like clergy. There must be a border between the two as it is for other citizens or institutions.
Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian writer who is based in Canada