Unity, solidarity, selflessness dominate Easter messages

Caption Worshippers attend the Easter service in Handeni, Tanga Region on Sunday.   PHOTO | RAJAB ATHUMANI

What you need to know:

  • President Samia Suluhu Hassan and leaders of various Christian denominations put forward the message of generosity, love, reconciliation, peace, and unity among Tanzanians

Dar es Salaam|Upcountry. Tanzanians unequivocally celebrated Easter Sunday yesterday, with resolute support from religious and political leaders for the establishment of a nation where people wholeheartedly embrace a culture of generosity, love, reconciliation, peace, and unity.

Easter, also referred to as Pascha or Resurrection Sunday, is a Christian festival and cultural holiday that unequivocally commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

According to Christian belief, following Jesus’s crucifixion on Friday, his body was placed in a cave tomb, which was vigilantly guarded by Roman soldiers and sealed with an immense stone.

However, on Sunday, it was incontrovertibly discovered by Mary Magdalene and some of Jesus’s disciples that the stone had been moved and that Jesus’s body was no longer in the tomb.

According to Christians, Jesus was seen later that day by Mary and the disciples, and for 10 days afterwards by many people.

They believe that after these 40 days, Jesus went to Mt Olives with his disciples, gave them the Great Commission to spread his gospel, and then ascended into heaven.

It was in celebrating the resurrection that President Samia Suluhu Hassan and leaders of various Christian denominations put forward the message of generosity, love, reconciliation, peace, and unity among Tanzanians yesterday.

In her Easter greetings to the nation, President Hassan emphasised the importance of love, reconciliation, and building a nation of peace and unity.

“On this day, when our Christian brothers and sisters commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us continue to learn from his great love and sacrifice for others,” President Samia wrote on her official X (formerly Twitter) page. She said: “Love for our Creator should guide us to live in righteous ways. Love for our brothers, relatives, and neighbours should inspire us to pray for peace, unity, and solidarity in our nation,” she said.

“Love for those we differ with should drive us to seek and live in reconciliation and tolerance. Love for our country should motivate us to serve it with professionalism and always strive to make progress by  rebuilding.” The Head of the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), Dr Fredrick Shoo, reminded authorities and leaders in the country to devote themselves to serving others and to avoid oppression and selfishness.

Addressing followers of the church at the Moshi Urban Parish in the Kilimanjaro region yesterday, Dr Shoo also touched on the need for authorities to protect the Members of Parliament, teachers, doctors and nurses.

He said there have been reports of corruption, oppression, and selfishness, especially among those in authority, and called on all those in positions of power to dedicate themselves to the people whom God has entrusted them to lead and govern. “We hear reports of corruption, oppression and selfishness, especially among those who have been given authority and power, church leaders who call themselves servants, political parties, MPs, and even government leaders.”

“Today we are called upon to have a spirit of caring for others, not to focus only on our affairs, to humble ourselves before Jesus, to dedicate ourselves to the people whom God has entrusted us to lead or govern,” he said.

Dr Shoo said: “It is not pleasing at all; it has reached a point where even the President herself speaks out that there is violence, and she even says there is a system within the government; people have established networks to steal the property of Tanzanians that could be used for the development of the public.”

Adding, “Do not be excessively selfish; do not use your positions to accumulate wealth at the expense of the whole nation and elsewhere, even at the cost of the lives of the weaker people of this country, My brothers and sisters, let us imitate this example of Jesus; let us be humble, obedient, and loving towards others.”

Dr Shoo, who is the retired head of the ELCT, said that in emulating the example of Jesus of sacrificing for others, it is good for those in authority and power when they take their salaries and benefits to remember teachers, doctors, and nurses, who have contributed greatly to the development of the nation.

He said they recognise the government’s efforts in building schools, hospitals, and even health centres, where significant progress has been made, but he said it is not enough if the interests of teachers, doctors, and nurses are not considered, noting that he has not heard MPs advocating for the interests of these groups.

“We truly appreciate the government’s efforts in building schools, hospitals, and even health centres, and indeed significant progress has been made, but this is not enough, my brothers and sisters, if we do not consider the interests of teachers and doctors.” He said,  adding: “I don’t know if our MPs feel bad when their salaries are Sh13 million monthly; I have no problem with that; they can even get Sh20 million. Ministers, don’t even mention it, while a degree-holder teacher only gets Sh650,000, a diploma teacher gets Sh430,000, and a degree-holder doctor gets Sh1 million,” he said.

“I say this, my brothers and sisters, so that we can see how extreme selfishness can undermine the important sectors of health and education by not caring for those who suffer day and night. The Bible tells us not to look only at our interests but also at the interests of others.” He stressed.

Preaching at the Handeni Parish of the ELCT, the pastor of the church, Ismail Ngoda, said that peace should exist at all levels to prevent crime.

He said people should avoid things that could disrupt peace within families, as currently both men and women have been committing violence at different times, the main reason being the lack of peace in their hearts and families.

Pastor Ngoda said some women have been violent towards their husbands, with the root of it all being a lack of peace and trust in people.

“Jesus brought peace; the message of peace should be continued everywhere so that our country and the world at large become places of peace,” he said. The pastor of the Anglican Church of St. Gabriel, Kibaha, Exavia Mpambichile, stated that the celebration of Easter for Christians should be in actions and not just in words alone Delivering his Easter message, he said the intention of Christians to celebrate the festival was to reflect on the way of life they lead to align with the principles of the Christ they commemorate.

“When we say Jesus is risen, we must consider several things, including distancing ourselves from acts of darkness, all sinful deeds, and promoting goodness,” he said.

Pastor Mpambichile said it is important for Christians to reflect on their lifestyle as they walk according to God’s principles to be an example to others.

“Self-reflection is about looking at how you live practically and having one direction; not today you are in church; tomorrow you are in places associated with dark forces; there you are doing nothing but wasting time within places of worship,” he said.

A member of the church, Rukia Charles, said during Easter it is good to give alms to people in special need and not just celebrate at home or in places of comfort alone.

“There are people in special groups who need assistance with various things, including food and even clothing,” she said. In Kigoma Region, Bishop Joseph Mlola, Bishop of the Catholic Church Diocese of Kigoma, said it is good for every believer to lead a life of repentance every day of their life.

“The life we lived throughout the 40 days of fasting should be our daily existence, by forsaking sin, separating ourselves from evil, living holy lives, and doing well,” he said.

Bishop Mlola said when Jesus Christ resurrects them, they should not accept to remain in the tomb, but they are sent to be witnesses through the lives they lead and their words to proclaim that truth.

Bishop Augustine Shao of the Catholic Church in Zanzibar said that the resurrection of Christ was a message that he wanted to do justice for all.

As such, it meant little for security forces to search for people who eat publicly during the holy month of Ramadhan. He said no law in both parts of the union prohibits a person from eating during the day.

Delivering his Easter message at the Zanzibar Cathedral, Bishop Shao urged the authorities issuing such statements to be cautious so as not to regress Zanzibar into a rule of decrees but rather follow the law for the citizens to have peace.

“My brothers and sisters, the development of the country is brought about by the people themselves by following the rule of law. Our country is governed by laws, and statements by leaders are not laws but guidelines for peace and stability, but statements should never supersede existing laws,” said Bishop Shao.

“The action of law enforcement, saying they are searching for those who eat during the day, is a misleading and threatening statement to peace, as there is no law in our two union and island countries that prohibits someone from eating during the day,” he said.

Compiled by Rosemary Mirondo