July 24, 2007
'Letting Barabas go scot-free'
Zimbabwe's state paper runs an op-ed today saying that the country's independent media aren't sufficiently criticizing Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube. (The archbishop, who has been the chief critic of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's extensive human rights abuses, was accused last week of adultery.) In The Herald, Caesar Zvayi writes that Zimbabwe's independent media, are "punishing the innocent while letting Barabas go scot-free."
Hmm. So if Mugabe's newspaper wants to call Ncube Barabbas, then that would make Mugabe...
It wouldn't be the first, or most egregious example, or Mugabe's cronies comparing him to Jesus. As Chenjerai Hove wrote in Pambazuka News earlier this year,
In the quest for glory and grandeur, the presidential palace is full of charlatans, praise-singers and flatterers. First they used to call him 'the son of God', and then one minister publicly said 'Mugabe is our Jesus Christ'. Next the minister of education and culture has recently designed and installed a 'throne' in parliament, for 'king Mugabe.' Then the minister of local government would not be outdone. He has decided to build 'a shrine' in Mugabe's home village. A shrine is a place of worship. So the president has become a god who deserves a 'shrine.' Thus, from VaMugabe ndibaba' (Mugabe is our father) to 'the son of God' to 'Jesus Christ' to a 'shrine' a place of worship, God.
Perhaps the most famous example is deputy minister of local housing Tony Gara calling Mugabe "the other son of God." In a 2002 African Sociological Review article, Ezra Chitando describes how the words of Christian songs were changed for political ends. "I will never cry when Jesus is there," for example, became, "I will never cry when Mr. Mugabe is there."
All of this might be confusing. If you're trying to remember the difference between Jesus and Robert Mugabe, here's a helpful tip: Jesus is the one who fed the 5,000. Mugabe is the one starving millions.