Transcript of Bishop Zuza’s message to Malawians

By Ganizani Desmond, a blogger

My dear brothers and sisters, citizens of Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa:

We have come today to pray for our beautiful country which is at present experiencing a tremor. We’re all afraid of where we’re going. Each one of us is afraid of what is coming next. If you’re not, then ask yourselves why. You may be just like a peacock that hides its head in the ground when danger approaches.

Like the disciples with Jesus in the boat, we’re currently terrified with the storm that is blowing in our country. This is the reason that we have gathered here today. We are a believing nation and, therefore, like the apostles in today’s Gospel, we say: “God, do you not care that we are about to die?”

We are therefore asking God to help us that we may restore the tranquility that our nation needs so that once again we may live in peace and love.

Fellow Malawians, I hope that we all know that the storm we are now experiencing is of our own making as a nation. All of us, in one or another, to varying degrees depending also on our roles, have contributed to it. Since each one of us has a role to play in this storm, let us therefore play our role in calming it down.

His Grace, Bishop Zuza

Normally, when things like these happen among us, the tendency is pointing at each other. We start putting the blame on others. And we try to justify ourselves. And if we feel we have more authority, we even threaten others. Is this not what is happening right now?

For us as Church, sometimes we’re told, for example, not to interfere with politics. We as Church leaders are told to concentrate on preaching and on spiritual things. Za Mulungu – that’s what you should do. The church is therefore seen as an intruder and not part of the society.

Sometimes we put the blame on civil society or non-governmental organizations known as NGOs. We blame them as being misguided and leading people astray. We may go even further saying that these people have not been elected, therefore they do not have a mandate to act on behalf of the society or citizens of our country. Yes, they have not been elected, but they are working for the good of the nation. We may also put the blame on the media, especially these days, when the media reports as things happen. Just imagine that now, as I am talking here, somebody in the United States or Japan or Russia is listening and seeing the pictures live. We may blame the media as misguiding people and igniting dissent. However the truth may be that they are only fulfilling their noble duty of reporting and making people aware of what is happening.

Many times, my dear friends, we blame the Government and its leadership. Here, I tell you, many of us are professionals. And some of us have even doctorates and are called professors in this (or that, yet we’re busy) blaming the government for what is taking place. We may for example say that the Government of our President started very well but now has gone to (the) dogs. The Government does not listen. Members are only enriching themselves at the expense of the masses. We may even ask what type of advisors does our leader have. And the litany may go on and it will go on. And we can say a lot of things blaming others. As we say, “Mutu ukakula siulewa nkhonya,” – big head, big trouble. All the blames are put on the Government and our leader. (But does he have to be blamed for everything?)

Fellow citizens of Malawi, putting blame on others will not help us at all. Always remember that when you are pointing a finger at your friend, three others are pointing at you. Let us examine our own consciences and see what our role is in all these things that are now happening. Let us not be like our ancestors, Adam and Eve. After sinning, Adam said: “It is not I who has sinned but it is this woman, Eve, who misled me.” And then the woman said: “No, God, Our Father, it is not me but it is the snake that misled me.” Fellow Malawians, the culture of blame will not help us.

All of us have strengths and weaknesses. What we need to do is to accept our weaknesses and find ways and means to turn them into strengths. We can always improve for the better. If we are open to this, God will help us.

My dear brothers and sisters, the person who thinks and believes that he or she is perfect is actually the most stupid and foolish person. In Chichewa and Tumbuka we call such people as “chitsiru chamunthu,” (a veritable idiot) or “chindere chakufikapo.” Do we want to be called “chitsiru” or “chindere” because we think and believe we’re perfect and therefore we have all the best solutions for the storm that is passing through our country? Fellow Malawians, let us not become stupid people.

Let us accept our roles and see how best as a nation we can calm the storm that is before us. Remember that with every right we have, there are corresponding duties. We have the right to choose the way things go as a nation, but we also have the duty to make that be realized for the good of all citizens.

Today, we have come here to pray. We believe God will help us face this turmoil. However, we also know that God helps the one who helps himself or herself. If you want a good harvest, you need to prepare the garden well, plant the seed in good time, take care of it until it matures, and finally you reap a harvest. After the harvest, you enjoy the fruits of your work together. In the same way, let us work together to restore the peace Malawi has always enjoyed.

Our ancestors had great wisdom when they said in Tumbuka “Kakwiza kekha kakulaula” or, in Chichewa (I am not very good at Chichewa but I understand in Chichewa the exact translation is “Sikadza kokha kaopa kulaula). Let us, therefore, dear fellow citizens of Malawi, do something, each one of us, on our own to calm the storm that is around us today.

And that’s why we appeal to Your Excellency and to your Government, as well as your party, to do something to calm this storm down. We appeal to the opposition parties to do something, something positive, to calm the turmoil. You civil servants and NGOs, please do something tangible to extinguish this fire that is burning in our country. Politicians, both in the ruling and opposition parties, do something positive and not just blame each other pretending you’re better while you’re just as bad as the others and sometimes you’re even worse than the others. You journalists in our different media houses, please do something positive for the good of our country.

Fellow citizens, challenge us, your leaders, so that we may truly be responsible for our decisions for you. My fellow church leaders and leaders of different faiths, let us all fulfill our prophetic roles. Let us not compromise this by the scone we may be given by those who want us to follow their trail. Let us all do something so that our beautiful nation of Malawi may be a better place to live in.

These prayers we are offering today will be fruitless if, on our part, we do not make any effort to reconcile and to calm the storm that we have.

My brothers and sisters, fellow Malawians, let us choose life and live. I recall the great excitement we had during the referendum in 1993 when we chose to follow the multi-party system of government. During that occasion, we the Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter entitled, “Choosing our future” as a way of guiding the people of Malawi during the referendum. We have been guiding you, fellow citizens, all these years including during the last elections we had in 2009. And, most recently, we did issue our pastoral letter saying “Reading the signs of the times.”

As church leaders, we do not tell you what you should do, rather we suggest possibilities so that you may make well-informed decisions. To you our leaders, you are free to accept it or not. But remember, always, we’re closer to people since we live and we work with them and many times they tell us what they feel.

You know, one of the best gifts God has given us is the gift of freedom to choose. The choices we make shape our lives and make us unique. We have to own these choices we make. For example, today I was asked to give this sermon. I accepted wholeheartedly. And I am happy and proud to do it because I have accepted it in freedom and I have chosen to do it. My dear friends who are married, you made your choice to get married to that particular man or woman. Some people looking at you may wonder “How can such a beautiful or handsome person marry such an ugly one?” Yes, we say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Let us be happy with the choices that we make. As a nation, we have chosen multi-party democracy and have rejected dictatorship. Let us be happy with this choice and let us make it work. It depends on us as Malawians. Like the Israelites in the first reading of today from the Book of Deuteronomy, let us choose what is good for our nation. And let us be proud of our choice.

Pointing fingers at each other will not help us. The ball is in our hands. Let us choose wisely. Remember, God assists those who help themselves. Yes, indeed, “kakwiza kekha kakulaula” as we say in Tumbuka and in Chichewa “sikadza kokha kaopa kulaula.” Fellow Malawians, let us make a good choice as we forge ahead. Remember, “wakutsina khutu ndi mnasi,” “kauzganga nifwiti yayi, kweni fwiti n’tilinganenge.” The choice is ours.

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