Footballers in Zambia will not be slugging it out this Sunday because authorities have ordered Zambians to pray, not to play. Matches fixed for this weekend have been postponed because Zambians will be observing a national day of prayer.
In a typical Taliban style, entertainment has been banned. And bar owners have been asked to close their shops because the government thinks that their businesses would corrupt the supplications of Zambians on this ?sacred? day.
The country?s President, Edgar Lungu, has made it clear that this Southern African nation needed a ?prayer-ful? day ?to ask forgiveness and reconciliation?. He thinks ?forgiveness and reconciliation? are the defining canons of the solutions to national problems particularly the economic challenges which Zambia is facing at the moment.
But my question to President Edgar is this: What is the connection between economic difficulties and prayers?
Which nation in the world has solved its problems by praying? Which economic challenge does prayer solve?
He said that this prayer project was meant to ask for forgiveness. And I ask: Forgiveness for which sins? Sins by who and against who? Sins Against God? Which God? Is he saying that the economic difficulties are forms of punishments from God and that we should not look to the politicians to fix the economy of the country? Is Lungu saying that the economic challenges which Zambia is facing are due sins which God has refused to forgive?
I mean, in which ways are prayers going to help in revamping the economy? Will prayer help raise the value of the Zambia Kwacha currency? Or will God increase the price of the copper exports in the international market? What is the economic value of prayer to warrant a national day devoted to this ?business??
If prayers could add value in terms of solving national problems, why declare only a national day for it? Why not order a national week of prayer or better a national month of prayer? In fact a national year of prayer will be most appropriate so that at the end of the day, all the economic problems facing Zambia must have been solved and fixed. And if prayer was not an effective strategy to tackle national issues, why waste the time and energy of Zambians? Why devote even national second to it? Why cause this embarrassment? Why make this great country an object of ridicule by implying that prayers can fix issues relating to a country?s economy and football? Just think about the statement which the President of the Country?s Football Association, Kalusha Bwalya made endorsing the national day of prayer. He said:
“It’s a time for all of us to rededicate ourselves to God, to re-energise our relationship with him and beseech him to take the lead in our lives, our game and our country,”
I mean this is the kind of statement that one should expect from one of these prowling pentecostal pastors, not a football administrator.
Now think about this: What does Mr Bwalya mean by Zambians rededicating themselves to God? Why does he think Zambians need this re-dedication to the divine ? whatever it means? How will that change the game of football in the country? Will the re-dedication to God make the teams win their matches? What does he mean by re-energizing the relationship with God? What does he mean by beseeching God to lead the game of football in the country? Is he saying that lack of divine leadership is responsible for the poor performance of the national team or the local teams? If God was not leading the game in Zambia, is it the devil that has been the captain of the teams? What have God and the Devil got to do with the game of football?
Well I think Zambia does not need a day of prayer; the people of this country have no business indulging in further beseeching of God. Zambians are already very religious people and say lots of prayers every day.
That alone shows that prayers are not working and that the country needs less of it, not more. So the idea of a national day of prayer is an exercise in redundancy or better an exercise in futility. What Zambia needs is a national day of thought ? a day that is devoted to critical and creative thinking, a day of generating new ideas which the country urgently needs to recreate itself.
A national day of prayer is inimical to the project of economic recovery in Zambia because it will keep Zambians on their knees while the country needs a national program that will keep it on its feet. The cup of prayer is empty and a country that drinks from it in order to satiate the thirst for development and progress will continue to famish and stagnate. What Zambia needs to address its economic challenges is inventive and innovative ideas, imaginative and adventurous thinking, and the logic of discovery, experimentation and exploration.
What Zambia needs is a national day of practical and productive thinking, not prayers.
Source: Leo Igwe