The Common Good

Nontando Hadebe: 'The Passion of the Christ' in Zimbabwe's Context

Last week I watched The Passion of the Christ - it was my third time watching the film. Each time I watch the film a different facet of the suffering of Christ is revealed to me. This time I watched it in the context of Zimbabwe, a country that is being beaten and brutalized by its leaders in their quest for ultimate power.

What more can one say in the face of ongoing suppression of opposition, harassment, and violent treatment of those who seek justice and a collapse of the economy with an inflation of 2700%? Every item of news and story feels like a lashing and beating and it just goes on and on. As I watched the film, the suffering of Jesus merged with the sufferings in Zimbabwe, and then when all seemed lost and hopeless, the resurrection brought in the first sign of hope against all probabilities.

After the film, we discussed hope as something that does not ignore suffering but arises in the midst of suffering. It is clear to all that the current government is responsible for the crisis in the country and that for progress there needs to be democracy, free elections, and new leadership - but the journey to this is not clear. However, we know from history, especially in Africa, that replacing leaders is no guarantee of democracy. What is next for us?

There are many who are doing their part, faithfully working here in South Africa and sending their earnings to Zimbabwe to support families. Others are involved in civic societies to bring awareness. Others are giving to those in need, and some are praying. Many have accused Zimbabweans of apathy, but I have yet to meet anyone who is not doing something to help their relatives or involved in some form of justice-making. Yet these good works are limited by the lack of a "clearly defined and articulated unifying dream," and leadership that grips the soul and imaginations of people and inspires hope and justice for a truly new Zimbabwe for all.

Pray for us that we as Christians, the people of the resurrection, may participate in the creation of new thoughts, dreams, and visions for Zimbabwe.


Nontando Hadebe, a former Sojourners intern, is originally from Zimbabwe and is now pursuing graduate studies in theology in South Africa.

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