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This n that with Mal'phosa:- Tongues and Miracles

by Clerk Ndlovu
13 February 2013 | 4658 Views
Ever wondered where all those Scripture Union Bible Bashers or fanatics who used to ambush you anywhere around the school premises during your school days disappeared to? Me too.

I have waited with abated breath for some of them to join the hoardes of international prophets that throng the planet as it were. Liyabazi musi oMaphepha, osikamtanta, owafa-wafa, oNgwenya, oMazibaba, oMkhandiwa and many more competing for our attention and our money.

We used to have many of those boys at Mzingwane High School - boys who did not have a life outside the scripture union; boys who would forever be peering at that small "Gideons  New Testament" even during the Ndebele lesson. They would carry the Little Bible everywhere; the sports arena, the dining hall, the lower fields, and during house improvement.

They presented a most united and disciplined front as they went fishing for boys, especially amadzwinyu, within the school premises, and at other schools too. I have always believed that the Scripture  Union of the eighties was the strongest ever, the world over. And in our case, the boys believed in and loved so much what they did.
                        
Or did they? One of them who became so trusted by the headmaster and the care-taker once smashed the care-taker's stolen bicycle on that wide gate - e turn off ye Mzingwane. Apparently, he had stolen the bicycle and watshaya ama round to eHabane just for the booze. Wayesedakiwe and that wide  entrance was too narrow for him.

We had boys who used to take the morning and evening prayers by the scruff; convincing everyone who cared to listen that Jesus was coming soon. They filled up the Beit hall with visitors from far and wide. I am sure if these guys had stuck in there, they would either be zonal, national or international prophets.

Your zonal prophets are mostly the local ones whose family sicelelana itswayi; those whose white over-grown beard looks too Old-Testament and whose 'windolene' clean scalps reflect so much light the submissive congregants can hardly stare at him. His belly-button gawks through the opening of his starched 'gemesi' where two or three buttons have inevitably capitulated.

His shoes look up at him as he paces side to side in his limited space and his trouser is clasped awkwardly into position with an old, multi-coloured tie instead of a belt. He casually punctuates every comma and full-stop in any chosen scripture with a loud "Amen bathandekayo" and a simultaneous shudder of his trained, stiff shoulders.  

He presides over a congregation whose gender difference is emphasized by a wide path between males and females, and his mouth dribbles as he surveys all the 'virgins' at the mercy of his dreams or prophesies. These prophets will give you isifutho to chase away your demons, and tell you about ukuzila. These have a congregation of above ten but less than thirty, and are conspicuous in their starched, multi-coloured uniforms. They know their sheep by their names, and are usually accused or raping a child or the wife of another congregant. They accept tithes ranging from a rand to a live chicken. Uyababona labaya abase Sizinda?

Your national prophets don't tell you about your head-ache, your philandering husband or your mthakathi of a makhelwana. The national ones tell you about the imminent gold rush and the death of prominent persons like football coaches or ministers of this and that. They challenge other prophets to miracle-performing contests like making people to lose weight instantly - like your  Makandiwas or Mbhoros or Angels.

They mostly exalt themselves and come short of glorifying God. They can only accept umnikelo from fifty Rands and above. They use mostly hired halls or class-rooms or play-grounds for their all day sessions. They can pray for you if you want inzalo, umsebenzi, or umshado. And they pray for the healing of the nation and long life for the president!
                    
The international ones traverse the world in chartered planes and connect with limousines to big national stadia, announcing the imminent arrival of Christ or the inevitable end of the world. If they have to speak in tongues, it will be a word or two - unlike your zonal ones who still seek to impress!

I once went to one prayer meeting one evening after studies. And there was this new comer who spoke in tongues. After the service one Form One boy asked me - "What is tongues?" "What do you mean?" "I mean what language is tongues?" When he saw I still couldn't comprehend his question he continued. "We are Ndebele because we speak Ndebele. What do we call people who speak tongues?" I was at a loss. Having grown up in one of the mainstream churches, Brethren in Christ Church, all this 'tongue' thing was quite foreign to me.

Worse-still, on this night the tongues were spoken by almost the whole group of about two-hundred excited boys. It was so disorderly I wanted to go out to refresh. My belief was that the tongues were spoken just once at Pentecost, as a gift or miracle or sign to the Apostles. I never expected to see such during my life time. But then, now it is no-longer surprising to here congregants in more than half the churches in the world speak in tongues.

But where are those boys now - yes they are men now. Kodwa bangaphi? I can remember Dlabane (Eater of four), some boy we used to call import because he was from South Africa. He cheated us into believing that Afrikaans was tongues. He would go, "Ingilosi ingasheshe ilambe uma ingadla one slice sesinkwa." And then, pronouncing each syllable carefully and emphatically, he would go, "Jy statig werk jy is mors 'n klomp van die tyd praat nonsense.

Jy brand, gaan nou terug by die huis." And we would all glorify him for his heavenly exploits. And there was Domingoes, a minister's child who had grown up in Mozambique; "Olhar para os passaros la; eles nao sao um grande todas as mulheres foi! Foi?" Wow. This is definitely the language of the angels! Lalathi (here with us) would always question such behavior, saying at best it was ungodly.  Especially when it was spoken by one Mnyaradzi, whom we referred to derogatory as Munyankomo; an annoying boy who always seemed to operate on fast-forward. "Two times eleven Maria ane mwana diki, halleluya! T √¢‚Ǩ‚Äút-t-t-t-t-t-t- gr-r-r-r-r'Rabi! Messiah is a god iveco hysen Jericho riveco bilico!"  This was a clear case of glossolalia or echolalia.

By definition, tongues means to prater, natter, stutter, chat or make a sound. This is the indiscernible sound that was made by those young men there. The speaker strings together syllables taken from all the languages the speaker knows. He puts them together haphazardly but emerging nevertheless as word-like and sentence-like units because of the realistic, language-like rhythm and melody. At times the speech reflects the patterns of speech of the speaker's native language. And no one ever tried to interpret to us what the speakers said.

I guess there was no one gifted with interpretation. But then there is no use delivering a message to people who cannot understand it. But then again, when people speak in tongues, they are supposed to be speaking to God, not humans.  One thing is clear though; the tongues spoken today are just too complicated, as the speakers claim to be getting a revelation. They are used for show, excitement, to glorify the speaker, entertainment, and confusion is rampant. Is it surprising though, that even when we are healed by these people, it is our faith that must heal us, and not the faith of the healer (Acts 3;7)? If we are not healed, then we had no faith. And Jesus' healings were instant. Today, healing can take months to years of sweat, and remission or relapse is certain.

Miracles were known by miracles - that is, a miracle would happen for all to see. Now, miracles are accepted by personal testimonies. All those who go to these churches can bear witness.  These languages or tongues were said to be real human languages - but now it's all gibberish and nonsense.  And in Corinthians, it is said that there was a maximum of three gifted with tongues √¢‚Ǩ‚Äú now everyone speaks n tongues, hence the confused  hullabaloo that meets the eye and ear as one goes past any building where " - - - ababili labathathu bahlangene ngegama lami."

I know one guy who has committed a few phrases to memory and says them over and over again. His tongue gets twisted but he must continue trying. Finally he is stammering, muttering and stuttering and he blames it on the Holy Spirit. I wonder if Peter and the other apostles were practicing while they waited for the Holy Spirit in acts 2? Tongue speaking, as some fundis reckon, can be the crisis climate of our time from which people seek escape and relief from a personal religious void.

The common phenomenon of tongue speaking is often confused with the New Testament gift of speaking in other languages, and contemporary tongue speaking is often called glossolalia. In psychiatric wards it is called echolalia. There is nothing harmful or bad about glossolalia any more than laughter. It is a common human experience. It is wrong, however, when it is claimed to be a miracle or is substituted for rational, religious expression. One shouldn't confuse a common human phenomenon or hysterical act with a divine act. Pagans speak in tongues too, and this makes me believe that the source of the tongues spoken nowadays is not God. It is some mysterious superhuman force that tries to imitate God and therefore snatch a few of his followers.

The School Nurse at Mzingwane those years, an old man who also treated by the grace of God, interpreted this phenomenon as mental illness, hysteria, hypnosis or learned behavior. I almost believed the hysterical part since most of the tongues were spoken towards examination time where stress levels could be said to be very high. He argued that if the brains of those possessed by the spirit were to be scanned, there would be decreased activity in the brain and a marked increase in the emotional centres of the brain.  

The material explanation arrived at by a number of studies is that glossolalia is learned behavior. What is taught is the ability to produce language-like speech. They agree this is just a partial explanation that however has withstood much testing.  They say it is possible to train novices to produce glossolaliac speech.

"Tongues is something you learn," says a fraudulent friend of mine who recently bought a car form being a prophet. "It is a releasing that you teach yourself. You are told by your peers, the church, and the Bible - if you accept it literally that the Holy Ghost speaks in another tongue, you become convinced that it is the ultimate expression of the spirit flowing through you.




The first time may be you will just go "Dut dut dut um dut dut," and that's about all that will get out. Then you will hear other people and the next night it gets better. Before you know it, it's "Ela-hando eek condele-monsadrey-assaya, and it's a new language you have got down!" Condele-monsadrey?

Ngiyabonga mina! 

Maluphosa Miracles


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All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

Source: Clerk Ndlovu

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