By Edwin Runatsa
Through his hands God has raised many from the dead. He has healed thousands of people with various afflictions. He has performed astounding miracles that have left the nation awestruck.
The level of revelations in his sermons is so tangible and visible you cannot believe they are coming from a human mind. And whenever he is preaching or teaching, you can feel the weight and the voltage of God’s power present in the word; the word of God comes so alive and so full of meaning like never before.
This is Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa for you, the man who presides over one of the largest congregations in Africa. He remains one of the most humble men of God that I have ever seen in my life. Yet to many he is an enigma, they are still to understand him.
It is not usual to see a man of God standing on the pulpit addressing issues of litter in the city centre. And after “preaching” that message of cleanliness for some time, he takes a step further to put that “gospel” into practice. Just watch it, Prophet Makandiwa is about to work a miracle in the streets of Harare.
Speaking at a function to thank the UFIC Church after the mega cleaning event in the City, the City of Harare Director of Works, Engineer Pfukwa stated that the effects of littering the City are too ghastly to contemplate as litter is swept away by rains, and they block all the drains resulting in the flooding of the streets and shops.
Worse still, he stated that the litter is taken into Mukuvisi river and end up in Lake Chivero where the City draws its water for the residents.
In the face of media reports of some sporadic outbreaks of Cholera and typhoid in some parts of Harare, the message could not have come at a better time than now. When one rewinds back to a few years ago when thousands perished because of cholera, there is no doubt that litter and garbage are demons that need to be exorcised; a form of self -witchcraft that needs to be broken.
I started attending UFIC several years ago and the message of cleanliness has always been taken seriously by the man of God, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa. He has taught couples on personal hygiene, from how to clean one’s teeth to washing one’s undergarments as he taught in one of his series of sermons called “Rwendo Rwewanano”.
After the cleaning exercise, while responding to the thank you message from the City of Harare officials recently at City Sports Centre, the man of God prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa stated that it was not good for the City to thank the people for doing what they were naturally expected to do by removing the mess they (the people)created in the first place.
He also said that it was our obligation to make sure that our environment is kept clean as it was something that did not require money and resources but only effort.
Prophet Makandiwa also implored UFIC members to desist from throwing litter into the streets. He said “we have it as a culture in this church that we are never going to have a member of this ministry throwing out anything in the streets…….. we are cultured people and we believe Godly people are responsible people”.
There is no better truth than this. We are all God’s people and we must act responsibly in dealing with litter in the streets. When everyone plays their part the City will be restored back to the sunshine status of yester-year.
When vendors clean their surroundings before, during and after carrying out their business; when Commuter Omnibus crews take responsibility of their area of operation; when motorists stop throwing fast food wrappers through the window; when pedestrians stop throwing banana peels on the roads and pavements and when companies stop heaping their garbage and papers on alleys then this culture of cleanliness and responsibility will become engraved in us and our city will remain clean and pleasant to us residents.
For the above to transform into a national culture it will take time , and the message has to be hammered home at every given opportunity, which is why Prophet Makandiwa’s message was welcomed by the City of Harare authorities where Eng Pfukwa reiterated that it is not the amount of litter that UFIC members picked that matters most, but the message that the act conveyed to the nation.
In my opinion there are two challenges associated with inculcating cleanliness as a culture in the minds of residents. First, Harare has been in its present state for some time now that there is a generation that has never experienced the “sunshine status” of Harare.
To such people, it is something normal to have a dirty city and in their minds Harare can never and will never be as clean as Jo’burg, for example. It is normal for anyone to throw litter on the streets and to dump garbage by the roadside in the residential area. It will take a lot of education to do away with such a mindset and the City fathers must start campaigning extensively against littering of the city.
Second, Health Education promotion at household level has ceased to exist as it used to be done. This is perhaps in part due to lack of resources or maybe the ballooning of the population in the city which has made it difficult to access everyone.
There used to be people on foot and on cycles moving from door to door teaching about personal hygiene to everyone. This is the reason why you find most Omnibus crews revere the Shower as their totem, and which is the reason why most fruit and vegetable vendors do not bother to look smart in order to attract more clients.
My argument is that when hygiene starts at the personal and household level it will automatically cascade to the city and national levels and be adopted as a culture. Again when this is taught at an early age the message will stick for good. And when the same message is said from the pulpit it will even carry a certain amount of spiritual significance that no follower can ignore.
It is for this reason that I applaud the efforts of Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa in not only teaching congregants to keep the city clean but also in even taking an active part in its cleanliness at a scale never done before when he, like Jesus sending out his disciples on a mission to preach the gospel and heal the sick and raise the dead, he unleashed over thirty thousand people in thirty groups to pick any form of litter.
In conclusion, I have no doubt in my mind that all the members of UFIC, given their respect and love for their spiritual leader and mentor, will continue to practice this culture even at their homes and from wherever they are doing business.
This therefore means that in all the residential areas and suburbs, in the industries and companies and all the vending sites where we have Prophet Makandiwa’s sons and daughters, and others as well that want a litter free environment, at least there is a reduction of the amount of litter and garbage being thrown out and being dumped by the roadside.
In the context of the foregoing, I therefore call upon other churches to drive this message home at every given opportunity.
When the church plays its part because it commands submission of its members, and when the city council plays its part because it has the resources and the legislative tools to do so, and when the politician plays his or her part because he has got the muscle and voice to do so, then the demon of litter will find Harare hotter than hell and it will find nowhere to hide and that way we will make Harare a better city to live in.
The writer is a social commentator contactable on [email protected]