THE political violence which we have tolerated in Zambia for too long must stop in the name of Jesus, says Northmead Assembly of God Church overseer Bishop Joshua Banda.
Speaking at the funeral of National Democratic Congress Lusaka Province youth chairman Obed Kasongo on Saturday, Bishop Banda said the spirit of brotherly love among Zambians had been lost and there was need to resolve election violence in the country.
Kasongo, 52 died last Wednesday from injuries inflicted on him by suspected PF cadres during the Roan by-election on April 11.
Citing Galatians 5:13-15, Bishop Banda said Kasongo’s sudden departure, in the context of the scriptures, must call Zambians to attention to what was God saying.
“God is saying something to us as we gather here today about brotherly love which we so badly need as a nation. If we did practice brotherly love, the rather difficult circumstances under which Obed lost his life would not be the case,” he said.
“We call these political parties and they are just labels – when all is said and done, we are one family. But we need to be able to create an atmosphere where we continue to have the liberty to make the choices, when certain of us … within the community feel like [they] would like to serve Zambia and serve through the political space that’s been created through the instrumentality of political organs…. Nobody should be restrained. And when we make those choices as ordinary sons and daughters of Zambia, the spirit in which we practice those politics must be done in that atmosphere of brotherly love.”
He said currently the spirit of brotherly love was missing.
“It is necessary to ask ourselves why. What’s going on? … So when you seek to serve us through political space, what we require to see is that you are doing so through an atmosphere of brotherly love…and this is where the Bible comes through with counsel for all of us,” he said.
Bishop Banda said the Galatians whom the Apostle Paul wrote to experienced the same problem that Zambia was currently facing as a nation.
“They were finding it difficult to act as a family. In their case they said you are a Jew, you are a Gentile. They put labels on each other… And one of the leaders that Paul addressed was Peter, because Peter as a religious leader – in this case – was part of the problem. Peter at that time was using the labels as well. And Paul withstood Peter and said you can’t do this. [Paul] says we are all one. There is no Jew, there is no Gentile, there’s no male, there’s no female. So in the context of Zambia, let me say the same … there should be no PF, there should be no NDC, there should be no UPND, there should be no NAREP. We should be able to say ‘we are brothers and sisters seeking to serve the nation’,” he said.
Bishop Banda however acknowledged that this was easier said than done.
“As we sit here, one of our sons, his body lies here. He became a victim of our own making. He became a victim of that lack of brotherly love. He became a victim of political violence which we have tolerated for too long. It must stop in the name of Jesus,” he said as the church responded with shouts of “Amen”.
“We cannot accept this as a status quo in our Christian nation. We have got to resolve this. We have taken ourselves there because of certain negligence that we ourselves as a community are guilty of, so we have got to resolve this.
“…as Zambians … once in a while we are putting labels on each other, we are putting labels of tribe on each other – ‘you’re Tumbuka, you’re Ngoni, you are Bemba, you are Tonga, you are this’ – that must stop, in the name of Jesus. Brotherly love requires that we remember that we are one family.”
Bishop Banda defined brotherly love – taken from a Greek word philadelphia (‘love of brothers’) – as the love for one’s fellow man as a brother, saying all belonged to one Heavenly Father.
“We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. The name of us being a Christian nation cannot just be in name. We have to demonstrate what God requires us to demonstrate – brotherly love,” he said.
Bishop Banda added that as Zambians celebrated Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s 95th birthday recently, it was important to remember that the country’s founding president and other leaders of his generation principally championed a non-violent struggle – in a true spirit of brotherhood – that brought results.
“… I have a worry because we have a generation that we have raised now, which unless they read and unless they hear us narrate that history, they don’t know the peace and non-violent struggle … I’m concerned that we are now building and bearing a generation that will know nothing else but violence whenever we have elections. … You can talk about the peace times, and they’ll say ‘no, I don’t know that’. What they know is that when it’s an election time, it’s time for violence,” he said.
Bishop Banda appealed for Zambians to use Kasongo’s death as an opportunity to turn things around for the sake of future generations.
“Let our children see something else. Let them see brotherly love. Let them see political leaders shaking hands in reality, not just for the cameras, but in reality, that we are one, that we desire to see a one Zambia despite our political ideology, that we all mean well and we want to serve Zambia and we mean to turn the tables so that there is prosperity for all,” Bishop Banda said.
He said the Church would continue to engage political leaders on the issue of violence.
“We won’t give up on you. We want to keep the doors open. We want to talk behind closed doors, away from cameras. We want to keep those dialogue doors open,” said Bishop Banda.
Bishop Banda described Kasongo as a gallant son and faithful member of Northmead Assembly, who on December 31, 2018 had testified in church of how the Lord had rescued him from a car accident.
Kasongo is survived by his wife Ruth, nine children and six grandchildren.
NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and leaders from other political parties attended the service.