Monthly Archives: June 2015

Turning Water Into Paraffin: Towards a pentecostal theology of miracles

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

From my upbringing as a child, to the present, I remain indebted to the nurturing I received as a member of the Pentecostal movement. I am forever grateful to my aunt’s church, which used to meet in a rented classroom at Chabanyama Primary School in Chingola. I learned to have faith in God. Pentecostalism’s greatest strength lies in its ability to help people believe that God is on their side, that he is working for their good, and that they will be used “greatly by God”. Critics of the Pentecostal movement miss an important character of the movement: its ability to create dreams and foster human imagination.

Even though the Pentecostal-charismatic movement has had a long history in Zambia, it remains only but a young movement. As such, just like any other movement, Pentecostals must have a conversation among themselves. They must create a dialogue. Unless we talk to each other, we might lose our impact. It is understandable that of all brands of Christianity, Pentecostalism is the closest to the African worldviews and mindsets. In fact, this is the reason why it is growing in Zambia: compatibility with African traditional religions and worldviews. It is this reality, taken together with current events in our movement that necessitate a reimagination of the Pentecostal theology of miracles.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

A Pentecostal theology of miracles must be biblical. Simply quoting verses in the Bible does not necessarily mean that what someone is saying is biblical. It goes beyond that. The Bible must be interpreted as a whole. We must not just take a few verses here and there and make them suit our own explanations. We must look at it and let the Bible speak for itself. Those who teach the Bible, have a duty to rightly interpret it. From a biblical perspective, nearly each and every miracle Jesus performed was done to meet a need. Even when he was tempted to perform miracles as a show-off, our Lord resisted that temptation. It is to meet the need for social happiness, that Christ performed his first miracle, turning water into wine. Some preachers should refrain from purporting to perform miracles that have no semblance to meeting the immediate needs of the people.

A Pentecostal theology of miracles must have respect for human dignity. God loves people. God loves human beings. It is his love for human beings that he sent his Son to die on the cross. The idea that some prophets are using the anointing in ways that violate human dignity is repugnant to the Bible. It gives the good movement of Pentecostalism a very depraved image. We have seen it on video, where a preacher kicks into the tummy of a pregnant woman as a way of transmitting a miracle. Kicking a pregnant woman is a violation of human dignity and integrity. The practice of kicking people into miracles is indeed an innovation and departs quite significantly from the biblical imperative. Another video shows a preacher jumping on the bodies of people lying on the floor and is seen springing on the back and buttocks of a woman. The jumping on the bokosi of a woman is justified by the preacher stating, “all things are possible”. We cannot use the dignity of the anointing in ways that violate the integrity of people’s bodies. Regardless of how we spin it, kicking and jumping on bokosi does not add to the biblical cause.

A Pentecostal theology of miracles should be guided by common sense. Common sense is a gift of God. To say that God wants his people to discard common sense is actually nonsense. Faith does not mean we should abandon simple common sense. When Scripture says we can do all things, it is literally not “all things” that we can do. There are some things we should not do. While it is true that a barren woman can miraculously conceive, it is unbiblical to teach that the barren woman should get holy sperm from a prophet. Certainly, the statement that we can do all things has some limits. It is these limits that some in Pentecostal circles are daily blurring and expanding.

Being anointed is just one of the things that a successful church needs to have. In addition to the anointing, we need common sense and some exposure to an education. Education helps to preserve a revival. We can almost predict the future of any ministry by looking at their attitude towards people, towards common sense and towards education. It is through an education that you can know that the distinctions between “major” and “minor” prophets has nothing to do with the ranks of prophets but has everything to do with the size of a particular book in the Hebrew Canon. Isaiah’s book is “Major”, not because Isaiah is greater in rank than prophet Micah, but because Isaiah is a bigger book than Micah. Prophets Elias and Elisha never wrote a book, are they lesser prophets? Satan hates an anointed and educated people.

Some in our movement occasionally disparage education. Theological education is a frequent casualty. Ironic that some who oppose education go hunting for dubious honorary doctorate degrees and insist on being addressed as “doctor”. Leaders of our movement must go to school and stop the false security found in honorary doctorates. There is a good number who merits honorary degrees, but this should not be an excuse for the movement leaders not going to school.

I must state that only a few are spoiling the Pentecostal movement. Nevertheless, university campuses are now filled with educated and anointed Pentecostals, the future of our movement belongs to them. I know of a ministry started by a university graduate who is doing very well “winning souls” without resorting to magic shows. Genuine prophets and teachers are laboring in our compounds by spreading the empowering message of the gospel. Such need our commendation. Our movement is young. Our movement is growing. But it needs a conversation that is biblical, that respects human dignity, and has a dose of common sense.

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Elias Munshya is an ordained pentecostal minister. He served as lecturer and principal at the Grace Theological College in Lusaka, Zambia from 2001 to 2007. He holds several academic degrees from seminaries in Swaziland, South Africa, the USA and Canada.

One Zambia Many Cheaters: The politics and challenges of dual nationality

Elias Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has indicated that he will support dual nationality for Zambians. While we do not yet know the shape this initiative will take, it is important for us to support it. The last time a government tried to reform this area of law, it was severely defeated. Dr. Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) tried his finest, but a combined bunch of Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) parliamentarians shot him down. We must caution the current opposition MPs that shooting down dual nationality will not be tolerated by the Zambian diaspora. So we warn the opposition UPND and MMD to act reasonably and support this cause. The UPND should stop being a party of “no” for once, and do some growing-up by showing its willingness to support dual nationality. Dual nationality should not suffer as a casualty of any legislative mischievousness of the Lungu administration. Regardless of how much quarrelling they have to do with Lungu, the opposition should not play with dual nationality. Zambians have waited for this opportunity for a very long time. It is time for parliament to deliver.

At the heart of the dual nationality debate is the idea that Zambians who acquire a citizenship of another country should not lose Zambian citizenship. As the law stands now, immediately after one acquires British, Moroccan or American citizenship, they at that same second lose the privilege of Zambian citizenship. The only exception to this rule is a child. Children are allowed, theoretically, to maintain dual nationality, but must choose between Zambian citizenship and that other country’s citizenship after they reach 21 years of age. Otherwise, any adult Zambian who becomes a citizen of another country, automatically drops Zambian citizenship. This is ridiculous. It must change. It is unfair and it disadvantages Zambians, their economy and their socio-cultural progress.

Kenneth David Kaunda

Kenneth David Kaunda

A report suggests that many Zambians, in spite of assuming citizenship of another country, have still held on to Zambian passports and the Green National Registration Cards. As such, the current law as it stands, has created a nation of cheats. This should not be the case. A Zambian should not be made to choose between cheating and maintaining their Zambian identity. For once, the people of Zambia should be delivered from the desire to cheat to maintain nationality. There are credible reports that some of the ambassadors appointed in the previous PF regime were actually British citizens. If these reports are accurate, then we should safely say that even the most anti-dual nationality President Sata did not believe in the restrictions the law placed on Zambians who had acquired citizenship of other countries. So President Sata, in one breath, was opposed to dual nationality, and yet would in another breath appoint former Zambians to positions that only citizens could hold. It is time to remove the mask and officially adopt dual nationality. No need to live a lie. The most dramatic of these events is when Professor E. Clive Chirwa (a very educated Zambian) openly confessed on ZNBC TV that he, in fact, was a British citizen who nevertheless decided to drop British citizenship to resume Zambian citizenship. With more openness towards dual nationality, there would be no need for such intellectual gymnastics.

Michael Sata and Guy Scott

Michael Sata and Guy Scott

Dual nationality, in fact, should have been allowed right from independence in 1964. It was ridiculous that Zambia’s founding president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda had to choose between being a Malawian and being a Zambian, as if these two concepts are mutually exclusive. It offends our common decency that in order to be a Zambian, Kaunda had to be forced in the 1970s to write the Malawian government renouncing that country’s citizenship he acquired by descent. What on earth would Zambia lose if Kenneth Kaunda were both Zambian and Malawian? By clinging to a purist definition of Zambian citizenship we have created and continue to create a nation of cheats. There are a good number of Kaunda’s Malawian contemporaries who were forced to find bogus villages on the Zambian side in order for them to qualify for Zambian citizenship. KK, however, couldn’t fake it because the story of his father is well documented. There was no need for some Malawians to have to find solace in fake Zambian villages. As a result of these post-independence lapses, we continue to suffer from an irrational and mostly neurotic suspicion of citizenship. How else can you explain an acting president called Guy Lindsay Scott probing Chagwa Lungu’s Malawian connections? Had we been more open to dual-nationality at independence, we wouldn’t have given opportunity to such “umulomo” in 2015. If someone went to probe the citizenship of Lungu’s aunt, all we would ask is, so what?

There is a good number of Zambians who should have been allowed to claim dual nationality of both Congo and Zambia as well. But no! Zambian citizenship had to be “pure”, and so was Congolese citizenship. The search for a pure Zambian led to dishonesty. Lambas of Sakania and Tshinsenda, or Lalas of Kachelo in Katanga, had to conveniently hunt for a Serenje or a Ndola rural village to justify their claim to pure Zambian citizenship. The same can be said of either side of the Luapula River. Africa had a false start as far as citizenship is concerned.

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One Zambia Many Cheaters

The mistakes we made in 1964 should not be repeated. In 2015, we should let Zambians acquire citizenship of other countries without having to sacrifice their nationality. They can come back freely to invest in Zambia. The world has now become globalized, leading to the ease of both human and capital movements. If, peradventure, we forbade dual nationality for the fear that the Katangese and the Malawians will take over Zambia, this fear is really unjustified since the Katangese and Malawians have already done so! It is only right that we are more truthful about it.

Zambians are demanding for dual nationality without having to cheat to keep their sacred green NRCs. I just hope that we all will stand together as “One Zambia One Nation” with all Zambians, both home and abroad.

A Nation of Ba Chakolwa: My position on Pilato’s “A Lungu Anabwera”

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

Chama Fumba’s “A Lungu Anabwera” is most likely defamatory, disparaging, insulting and slanderous. No matter how we spin it, stating that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is a “clueless drunkard from Chawama who came with suitcases full of ‘Kachasu’” is, quite probably, defamatory. The problem is not really whether Chama has defamed, but rather what we should do about it. At the moment, the police in their usual unusual prudence have charged Mr. Chama Fumba with “breach of peace”. We will see how that pans out in court.

By plagiarizing Pichen Kazembe, Chama reminds us of the glorious days of Zambian (or is it Luapula) music. Kazembe made music at a time when musicians chorded authentic tunes playing real instruments. Unlike currently, where any person with a comedy crammed voice can computer-synthesize a beat without ever learning how to play an instrument, artists of old were really artistes, par-excellence. Chama and his group of present-day artists have a lot to learn from the likes Kazembe. Those were the days of Teddy Chilambe, whose song “bwesha umutengo” was a catalyst in the fall of the Kaunda dictatorship. At a time when Chiluba was mounting in popularity, P.K. Chishala had a different look at events and with his guitar chimed rhymes of nonconformity in “Common Man”. With Maiko Zulu’s “Mad President” and Chama Fumba’s “Bufi” we are almost assured that the tradition of doing political songs will continue, albeit now without the sounds of original instruments.

Chama Fumba as Pilato

Chama Fumba as Pilato

Chama Fumba is obviously wrong in his exploration of “a Lungu ana bwera”. He uses the late Sata’s words to paint a picture that Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) members joining the Patriotic Front (PF) are so wicked that they should not be brought any closer to this “a Lungu ba ku Chawama.” What Chama fails to acknowledge is that in actual fact, both the PF and the UPND are going after former members of the MMD to an equal degree. PF is welcoming MMD members and so is the UPND. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous. One of the MPs who signed as surety for Chama’s bail is an MMD member working very closely with Hakainde. The UPND has attracted many MMD members such as Maureen Mwanawasa, Mutale Nalumango, Canisius Banda, Maxwell Mwale, Katele Kalumba and many others. So the MMD blue chameleons are not only turning into green, but are also turning into red, Hakainde’s colour. How is it intolerable for “A Lungu” to welcome MMD members to PF and yet it is tolerable for Bo Chama Fumba’s UPND to welcome MMD members? This is a fundamental problem with the UPND, it condemns others for stuff that it is, itself, doing.

We all know that had it not been for Rupiah Banda, the PF would have lost the 2015 elections to Hakainde Hichilema. The unpopularity of the PF in 2015 was unfortunately, a consequence of the way the late President Sata ruled our country. The brave person, in fact, to articulate us that Sata was not such a stellar president is Chama Fumba himself in his lyrics of the songs “Bufi” and “Pilato na kateka”. Now that it is convenient for him, he uses the words of the very Sata to fortify his support for the UPND. So nomba, ba Sata ba wama?

In “a Lungu ana bwera”, Chama Fumba quotes Sata’s words about “inkondo kuba Lozi”. Here is a guy named Chama, using a Bemba named Sata, talking about “aba Lozi”. What is it that the great people of Barotseland have done to Pilato? Couldn’t he have quarreled with Lungu, without involving the Lozi people? The Barotseland issue is complicated. It is just so unfair to drag Lozis into fights that Bembas are fermenting with abena Chipata. “Inkondo kuba Lozi”, as used in Pilato’s song, is not a chuckling matter. There are some of our citizens in Barotseland that have genuine concerns over how Kaunda and his successors dribble them. Chama should be penning a song asking KK to correct the injustice he started rather than quoting Sata over this. Uku kudelela, aba Lozi.

Is Zambia a nation of

Is Zambia a nation of “ba chakolwa”?

Having established how useless Chama Fumba’s song is, I must then turn to what we must do about it. We Zambians are really “chakolwas”. I do not, in any way, mean that we are all addicts to “Lutuku” or “Jameson”, but rather that we are hooked on a drug much more toxic than Kachasu. And this drug is known as “power”. The only way we know to deal with problems is to use force. We really are obsessed with guns, bombs and bullets. Kaunda “tatu fundile bwino” with our reliance on intimidation. To counter the baseless song from Chama Fumba’s Pilato character we went for the overkill. We sent police to go search for him. We used our powercoholism. We are powerholics in need of powerholics anonymous. I was taken aback by suggestions from the good people of our country that Chama Fumba needed to be silenced for this horrible song. Calling for Chama’s blood is hardly the best way to respond.

A lot of things were problematic under the rule of Michael Chilufya Sata, as Chama testified in “Bufi” and “Pilato na Kateka”. However, by going to court to assert his own private rights when he sued this newspaper’s editor for defamation, Sata left for us an example. A president of our republic who is defamed should enforce his private rights to sue the defamers. The use of force each time a president is defamed, is an act that should rightly belong to the old and tired regime of Kenneth Kaunda. In our democracy, we now have freedom to speak, and sing, some funny and foolish things. Police cells should not be the right place to correct human foolishness and naïve stupidity. If we respond by force to all manner of folly, we will be venerating foolishness unjustifiably. As Frederick Chiluba rightly put it: “imfumu taituka bantu, abantu ebatuke mfumu”.

I disagree with Chama Fumba, but I do defend his right to freely express his opinions, including out-rightly silly ones. And if the consequence of Chama’s “pakamwa” were that the defamed sues him for slander, I would support such a lawsuit. However, the use of force, police, and prosecutors should be reserved for stuff more felonious such as corrupt nolle prosequies in Lusaka, theft of bicycles in Malambo, or shootings in Mulobezi.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Mothers’ Rights: Women, the Law and culture when obtaining National Registration Cards (NRCs) in Zambia

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

There have been reports that single mothers are having a hard time obtaining National Registration Cards (NRCs) for their children due to the demands by some registration officers for details of the father of those children before they are issued NRCs. The Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has rightly observed that such demands by some registration officers are not only illegal but also disenfranchise a generation of voters. While it is true that it is only a few registration officers guilty of these illegalities, I believe that even if we had one case, it would still be one case too many. In modern Zambia, there should be no reason why mothers should be denied to register their children simply because they do not or cannot supply the details of the father of those children.

Edith Nawakwi

Edith Nawakwi

I do believe that some registration officers could have fundamentally misunderstood our current laws. According to our current laws, both the mother and the father are equal before the law as far as the family is concerned. Women are no longer legally subservient to men. As such, the father is not legally more of a parent than a mother is. Any woman who is a mother or guardian of a child has all the rights that a man who is father has over that child. These rights include the ability to obtain NRCs for their children. As such, for NRC officers to demand that a mother produces a letter or proof of paternal parentage goes against the current law.

According to the ruling of Lewanika and others v. Chiluba, a National Registration Card does not confer Zambian citizenship. The card merely registers Zambian citizenship. That being the case, when interpreting who and how should one obtain an NRC we must go to the constitution and find out how one acquires citizenship. Children born of a Zambian father or mother become citizens of our republic. In the case of women, it really does not matter the citizenship of the man who made them pregnant. A Zambian woman, who bears a child fathered by a Malawian, transmits Zambian citizenship to that child. When the time comes for the registration of that child, the mother could go to the NRC officers, swear an affidavit and have that child obtain their NRC.

Perhaps the most significant case that dealt with this issue is Nawakwi v. Attorney General (1991). Let me restate some facts. Ms. Nawakwi applied for the renewal of her passport. That passport had endorsed in it the names of her two children born out of wedlock. When she had applied for this original passport, the NRC officials made her swear affidavits whose effects were to make her appear like a secondary factor with regard to her legal rights. At the time of renewing that passport, the NRC officers asked her to produce written consent from the fathers of the children and swear more affidavits to that effect. She refused and commenced legal proceedings.

The ruling of Mr. Justice Claver Musumali was clear. Zambian law should recognise single parent headed families. The demand by the Passport Office for a father’s consent was illegal and Ms. Nawakwi did not need permission from the biological father of these children to put them in her passport. Justice Musumali did not have choice words for the Zambian government. He stated:

It is not at all justified … for a father to treat himself or to be treated by the institutions of society to be more entitled to the affairs of his child/ren than the mother of that child or those children.

Musumali then rightly declared, “the mother is as much an authority over the affairs of her child/ren as the father is.” These words from the Nawakwi case are powerful to shatter any doubts from a few NRC officers who are blocking women from obtaining NRCs.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

I must then add another dimension to this discussion. Zambian peoples are quite diverse. Patrilineal tribes in Zambia derive inheritance and the family tree through the father. Matrilineal tribes, on the other hand, derive inheritance and the family tree through the mother. With such diversity, it is ridiculous for NRC officials to insist on the identity of fathers only at the expense of mothers. To be clear, matrilineal tribes do not have family names, in the same way, as patrilineal tribes do. In patrilineal tribes the practice is that all children are given the last name of the father and that name becomes the family name or the surname, as the case may be. It is this last name through which “patrilineals” can know their clan and their family tree. In matrilineal tribes, this is not the case as the last name of a person has very little to do with the clan or the family tree to which that individual should belong. For example, patrilineal families from the East could sustain the last name of “Jere” derived from the father. That Jere name in fact could go on to tell you the clan of the person. It is not so among “matrilineals”, since you cannot tell someone’s family tree simply by the last name. The family tree and clan are derived from the mother. So in Luapula, there is no such thing as “Munshya” being a clan or family name, it is simply a name. For one to figure out a clan, they must ask the mother of Munshya. A last name in Luapula doesn’t mean as much as it does among patrilineal tribes. When obtaining NRCs, therefore, there is likely to be confusion when a mother from a matrilineal tribe shows up with her children all bearing differing “surnames”, even if they have the same biological father. This could be bewildering to NRC officials, but it shouldn’t. It is cultural reality for most of our people.

I appeal to all of our citizens, far and wide, women as well as men, to do the right thing and register their Zambian children freely and without fear. To the great women of our country, feel free to exercise the liberties afforded by your sacred citizenship to transmit it to your children without recourse to the men who made you pregnant. To the NRC officials, keep doing a good job, but for those officers who are unsure of the law, read Nawakwi again and let the women obtain NRCs for their children.

President Lungu greets Edith Nawakwi at an SDA event

President Lungu greets Edith Nawakwi