Over the past month Zimbabwe was mourning the passing on of the veteran clergyman and ZAOGA FIF founder, Archbishop Ezekiel Guti.
Baba Guti, as he was fondly known for his fatherly and larger-than-life role, passed on last month and was conferred with national hero status.
His hero status was well deserved. He was preacher, a teacher, a father and mentor. He was also an author whose writings influenced people globally the ZAOGA FIF church grew across the world, changing lives and bring people to God. Today as Zimbabwe celebrates his life, we are joined by the rest of the world in marking the life of the cleric.
The accordance of national hero status to Baba Guti illustrates that people, ordinary people can do extra ordinary thing s and get due recognition. Baba Guti is the second religious figure to be given this status. Indeed, as cited above, he achieved so much in his lifetime and carried the light for the world.
He was not a fly-by-night character, having worked on his church for over half a century and he did this in a credible and typically painstaking way.
The empire that he built to serve society, which includes education and health facilities, indicate that he was not just focused on people’s religious or spiritual side, but also wholesome material advancement.
His standing and achievements are especially instructive at a time when there has been an upsurge of questionable characters who are after money, engage in questionable practices and rituals and are themselves of questionable characters.
None of the kind of scandals that are typical of today’s churches applied to Baba Guti and his church – fallible as he might have been, like all of us. We are all sinners.
The lesson here is that citizens must continue to strive for excellence.
Recognition will come – even at local levels.
People from all walks of life have the capacity and chance to do go, be it in sports, music, social work, religion or responsible citizenship.
Not so long ago we had Roman Catholic cleric, Father Ribeiro being conferred with hero status; and also, Oliver Mtukudzi, Zimbabwe’s iconic musician.
It is a matter of public knowledge that in the previously politicised process of giving national hero status, a number of people went without being accorded the national hero status, which they otherwise fully deserved.
This includes even some politicians themselves, who happened to “fall by the wayside”, as it commonly rationalised.
While some might argue that one doesn’t need to be recognised by Government to be a hero, we argue strongly that such a recognition is important because it sets historical record, and the people will be remembered for a long time to come.
Those who are denied, unjustly so, will quickly be forgotten and their stories and contributions will remain fables.
This is why Government’s attempts to revise some of the decisions of the past and honour the likes of Ndabaningi Sithole and Chief Chirau, and others, is noble if done in good faith.
At the end of the day, politicians in Government shouldn’t do this for themselves but for the larger good of correctly narrativizing our history and preserving our collective memory.
We are happy that with the new direction, more heroes will emerge, and be honoured for their good works.
For the Church, we need more heroes to be raised like Baba Guti.