Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
LAST year, Justice Maphosa made a decision. The 2019 edition of the Gwanda Gospel would be the first one without fireworks display.
For many, that decision came as a bombshell. For those people, there was simply no Gwanda Gospel Festival without the famous fireworks display. For three nights in the year, the fireworks display would brighten up Gwanda, briefly making that piece of sky over Jahunda Stadium as rich as the mineral filled soil of the Matabeleland South Town.
“The reason that we did fireworks was that we said if our God is so angry at us and has gone and moved away to a place so far away that we cannot access him, we need to illuminate ourselves so that when he sits in Heaven he will wonder what’s happening down there,” Maphosa said as he explained the rationale behind the brilliant display. “He will say let’s go and see what’s happening down there and he will find us worshipping him. He would join us and we would have something that no ear has heard, no eye has seen and no mind has convinced. That’s what we were hoping for.”
Last year however, Maphosa decided that enough was enough, the fireworks had to go. For some, this may have been a sign that Zimbabwe’s biggest gospel musical extravaganza was now losing its sparkle. For Maphosa this was a well calculated decision which, when it eventually paid off, would be more rewarding than watching the sky catch fire for a mere three nights.
“Last year we didn’t do fireworks. I felt it in my spirit that we cannot be displaying such opulence through fireworks. We realised that there was a lot of pain in Zimbabwe, a lot of unemployment, inflation, shortage of petrol and long queues at the banks. We therefore said that you cannot go to such a community as a normal person and have a party while praising God. Yes, we know you are praising to praise God but what is the commandment that God left us?” he said.
Feasting and celebrating while his countrymen starve is not what Maphosa embarked on a mission to bring the cream of gospel music to his hometown every year.
“We said there’s pain in South Africa but Zimbabwe has more needs. This is why we said we are not going to do fireworks, with that money, as a gospel mission, we are going to wait for the opportunity where God is going to say this is the time. So, we put away that money for the fireworks and we then decided we would give away this money as an offering to God,” he said.
With the coming of Covid-19 and the great suffering it has brought along, the time has now finally come for Maphosa and his team. Last week, Maphosa donated food hampers and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to 1 100 vulnerable families who included returnees from South Africa. This was after the businessman had already come to the rescue of 400 Zimbabweans based in South Africa who had no money to pay for their transport to return home. The money that was supposed to purchase fireworks is now being put to good use, as it fills empty bellies instead. This, Maphosa said, is all a part of the legacy he wants to leave behind.
“In as much as we are a business, money is just money. Money is old. When we came here there were rich people and when we die there will be rich people. There will also be poor people. Even the Lord Jesus Christ says there will be poor among you. When a vase full of perfume is broken Judas Iscariot laments and he is in pain. Why is such expensive perfume broken for the Lord Jesus Christ? The Lord Jesus Christ answers and he says, ‘There will always be the poor among you but I won’t be among you.’
“Do I know how long I will live? One day I will be gone. Do I want to be remembered as the rich man who enjoyed his life with his monies? No, I don’t. I want to be remembered as a man who feared God and did right before his God. That’s why we are doing what we are doing,” he said.