opinionBy Albert Nhamoyebonde
WHILE the news media and many people are obsessed with prophecies of all kinds, be they of deaths of political leaders or of prosperity of individual church-goers or just speculation, I wish to relate a personal experience.
Many church followers may not know that I am a brother to Sandros Cryson Nhamoyebonde.
Sandros, affectionately and popularly known by his legion of apostolic followers as Madzibaba Sanders, was my young brother.
His calling to the church of Johane Masowe was foretold by one of the greatest prophets in Johane Masowe Apostolic Church, Madzibaba Daswesi, or Daswesi Chiwore at Rushanga Shrine, behind Muzika School in Guruve and on the western bank of Dande River.
I was 15 years old when our mother received word that Madzibaba Daswesi wanted to speak to her. Our mother took Sandros and myself to Madzibaba Daswesi's sacred shrine.
The shrine exuded an aura of Godliness, with stonework that defied diction. The stone work without mortar, stood firm with heavenly signs and designs of art.
Huge trees, some of them that bending with age, made a dense forest around the shrine. They swayed with the westwards-bound winds that rose from Dande River in the valley below.
At the shrine, our mother was told that Sandros, who was nine years old then, would become a leader of the Johane Masowe Apostolic Church. We were all surprised but do they not say a cock is seen the day it is hatched?
Thereafter, each morning and evening, our mother who was already a member of the church, would take us to the edge of the yard to pray. Unfortunately, she died before she witnessed the prophecy. After school, Sandros later became a soil technologist working for the then Ministry of Agriculture in Harare.
Years later, he left his employment after he had married the daughter of the very prophet who had predicted his rise to leadership of the church. To me, it was no surprise that the prophecy was fulfilled when he became leader of another branch of the Johane Masowe Apostolic Church based in Chitungwiza.
I did not become a member of Johane Masowe owing to the type of education I received at mainly Anglican schools. I was then baptised in the Anglican Church which I still belong to, despite the leadership wrangles the church has gone through.
But one thing that I followed from a distance was the rise of Madzibaba Sanders in the Johane Masowe Apostolic Church.
We continued to be close though as a family. He would come to our home to tell me about the plans of his church like in education and other social programmes.
Before his visit to Jerusalem, Israel, he came to brief us of his intended visit. Although we did not go to the airport to see him leave with his followers, all wearing white robes, we knew he would fill us in on the visit after his return from the Holy Land.
When he came back he told us about the visit.
One particular aspect that stood out was the revelation that the group was not escorted around the historic places of the Holy Land preferring to be guided by the prophets among them.
In July 1994, Madzibaba Sanders was taken ill and admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital where he died before being attended to.
When I asked his followers what we could do for his funeral, they told me that I could buy a white casket and no other colours, which I did.
We were then informed after his burial that he had told some of his followers that his mission was fulfilled after he visited the Holy Land.
He died aged 41 years and left a wife and six children.
The most difficult experience for me is when the leaders of the church ask me to attend the memorial service that they hold every year in July at his grave in Seke, Chitungwiza.
It is a very emotional experience I cannot bear without breaking down. I have only managed to attend two memorial services so far.
On his tombstone are written some of these words: " Those that God loves die young."
Two weeks after his death, I met a woman who confessed that Madzibaba Sanders had been very spiritual to get her to conceive her baby son after seven years of barrenness.
I was worried at first whether my brother had a fling by the side only to realise that the woman meant that the demons that prevented her from having a child had been banished by Madzibaba Sanders.
I still meet so many people who testify to the good works my brother did to help them live a spiritual life.
What then is prophecy? I think it should not be about predicting other people's deaths but your own.
After all, all of us shall die. There is nothing to predict what is going to happen anywhere.
I remember my brother telling me that, just like the children of Israel spent 40 years in the desert, we shall also spend 40 years after Independence in difficulties.
We have so far gone 32 years facing problems. There are eight years still to go.
Just like the children of Israel were searching for their identity, maybe, as a nation, we are also searching for our identity.
I take it that, the constitution-making and many other problems that need to be addressed, may take us many years to solve.