Letter from Africa: Farai Sevenzo on prophets' predictions

A man in Malawi reads from a bible Image copyright AFP
Image caption Prophets are popular in many African countries

In our series of letters from African journalists, film-maker and columnist Farai Sevenzo looks at the new year predictions of some of Africa's many self-proclaimed prophets.

A new year is upon us and I for one wonder what the fuss is all about - why the fireworks, the endless parties, the resolutions, the yearning to know the future - when in reality the new year for each and everyone should be the day our mothers gave birth to us.

But let us run with the herd and pretend there is a new year to celebrate and that making it into 2014 is worthy of raising a glass and that being alive at the beginning of January is somehow worthier of notice than being dead in December.

And it is a time to look ahead and speculate about the immediate future of this, our continent.

Increasingly, this has become an impossible task - for who could have known that before December was over South Sudan and her precarious peace would have unravelled and the prospect of another war loom large over the long-suffering South Sudanese?

Or that more than 100 people would die in the Democratic Republic of Congo as followers of evangelical Christian pastor Joseph Mukungubila attacked state institutions with gunfire on the second last day of 2013?

Pastor Mukungubila is known as the "prophet of the eternal" and he issued a press statement on his Facebook and Twitter accounts from "the office of the prophet" saying his followers had spontaneously rebelled against soldiers who had attacked his home.

And perhaps it is to these so-called prophets, the seers said to be blessed by holy visions that we should turn in predicting what this year has in store for us all.

'Divinely gifted'

Not only do these men say they can predict our uncertain future, they are also credited with performing astounding miracles.

Prophets are everywhere you look, ministering to the poor, the needy and the rich.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Will 2014 deliver more jobs for Africans?
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The insurgency in Somalia shows no sign of ending

In Zimbabwe, Uebert Angel, a young charismatic prophet, arrives to preach to his flock by helicopter and tells them that God wants them to be rich, as rich as he is.

In Lagos, TB Joshua receives men and women of influence and presidents of different lands.

In Ghana, for these holy men are everywhere, Victor Kusi Boateng replenishes the spiritual needs of other prophets.

It would be foolish for anyone to cast aspersions on the acts of the divinely gifted, these miracle workers, these gardeners of the desert.

But seeing as so many of Africa's urban populations are filling the churches and the prayer halls in search of signs and miracles and salvation, I thought it wise to spend some time surfing the web in search of 2014 predictions for you from those in the know.

For the World Cup, no prophet goes out on a limb to hand the trophy to Africa, although one sees Nigeria's Super Eagles making it to the semi-finals.

'Roving eyes'

If you are a Liverpool supporter, you will be disappointed to hear that another prophet has denied recent reports of that he predicted the Reds would win the league this year.

Yet another prophet believes there will be an explosion in prostitution in 2014 as the hard times continue to roll.

What of more serious issues, I hear you ask.

Another man of vision informs us that African politicians who depend on corruption for their wealth will fall by the wayside in 2014.

Image copyright AP
Image caption A preacher has predicted that Nigeria's football team will reach the semi-finals of the World Cup

It seems, though, that a principal talent a prophet needs is the ability to foretell a leader's death, or to warn of some kind of attack or natural disaster before it occurs - but without giving us the specifics.

So it is possible we may hear a prophecy that a long-serving African leader will leave us in this 14th year of the new century and we, believing our prophets, will cast our roving eyes around to Eritrea, Zimbabwe or Cameroon and wonder where the prophet really wanted us to look.

We will watch the explosions in Somalia and the kidnappings in Libya or the murders in northern Nigeria and Mali and understand that the prophets have been telling us for some time that terrorism in Africa has been strengthening its grip and our governments must remain alert.

And what of the fate of all Africans all over the world? Despite the Bible and a love of scriptures, the world at large will watch us die in leaking boats in the Mediterranean or killed while crossing deserts as we demonstrate for the right to stay in places like Israel and Saudi Arabia where we are not wanted.

One thing you can be sure of is that 2014 will come and go of its own accord regardless of the prophecies - and it may well be more of the same but not necessarily in that order.

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