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'Prosperity gospel' excuses poverty and its true causes in Africa – NewsDay

By Andile Zulu

IN a continent abundant with resources, why does the lavish wealth of a few exist alongside the poverty of millions? Pastor Chris Oyikhalome, leader of Christ Embassy, could answer by telling us that poverty is an affliction of those lacking faith. Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, of the Enlightened Christian Gathering, might beg us to remember that poverty is a demonic force that can only be wrestled into submission through spiritual warfare.

These self-proclaimed men of God sever poverty from the economic systems and political orders which produce it. Instead, like many of the first European missionaries who brought the Bible to Africa, they skillfully manipulate religion in the pursuit and service of oppressive power.

Their followers acclimatise to the inequities cultivated by capitalism, as the multi-millionaire preachers nefariously chase self-enrichment.

Their tool is the prosperity gospel, a branch of protestant Christianity that conceives the salvation of humanity as a contractual agreement with God. Belief and surrendering to Christ delivers not only atonement for one’s sins but also exceptional health and extraordinary wealth. Through potent prayer, positive confessions and generous church offerings, one can access God’s ancient promise of prosperity.

An outsider to the theology may view it as irrational but ultimately harmless dogma. This would be a naive mistake. Our ability to solve social plagues such as poverty or inequality partly depends on how we define these problems. In understanding the fundamental causes of poverty, we move closer to effective solutions to them. By relegating poverty to the realm of the supernatural, prosperity preachers disguise the true and tangible conditions which cause their congregants’ suffering and pacify their political consciousness.

The prosperity gospel succeeds by exploiting desperation caused by economic dysfunction and social instability.

In South Africa, where pastors like Oyikhalome attract large crowds in stadiums, 44% of the working age population is unemployed, more than half of citizens live in poverty and the country stands as the most unequal society in the world. There is a pervasive sense of despair, desperation and disempowerment among ordinary people. Disempowerment drives citizens to disengage from political action which could alleviate their suffering.

All these converge to render many vulnerable to abuse by prosperity preachers.

Attuned to the desperation of their followers and by framing themselves as authentic prophets in a deeply religious continent, such pastors amass reverence which allows them to exploit their congregants.

Pastor Tim Oluseun Omotoso, of Jesus Dominion International, currently sits in the South African prison on trial for 63 counts of rape, human trafficking and racketeering. Bushiri, estimated to be worth $100 million, faces charges of theft, fraud and money laundering.

The prosperity gospel promises power to those who feel helpless and submerged in the storms of socio-economic crisis. But it is ultimately a hollow call because it masks the true nature of poverty, and so leads societies away from tackling it. Instead of questioning the inefficient or self-serving economic policies of politicians, prosperity preachers shame congregants for lacking the faith to banish poverty from their lives. Rather than critiquing the monopolies mutli-national corporations have over resources, sermons encourage people to seek individual financial upliftment through offerings, even though the greatest victories against poverty were gained through collective political action and the redesigning of economic structures.

The prosperity gospel elevates the myth that individuals with endless supplies of will-power can rise from destitution — the religious way of condescendingly telling the poor to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. At best, it is a sedative respite from reality, lulling followers into slumber while we all continue to be ruled by elites who prioritise profits and power over people.

  • Andile Zulu is a political essayist who runs the Born Free Blues blog

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Mai Tt Drops Masibambaneni Teaser – New Zimbabwe.com

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By Mandipa Masenyama


FAN favourite Zimbabwean social media personality Felistas Murata, popularly known as Mai Tt, has dropped an exquisite teaser of a new track which features the phenomenal Afro pop vocalist Sandra Ndebele titled Masibambaneni.

Mai Tt dropped the teaser of Masibambaneni featuring the Bulawayo queen on her social media pages and captioned it “Harare, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe are you ready. Dropping Soon.”

With over excitement, Sandra posted a picture of her, and Mai Tt clad in traditional attire and captioned it “She is in Blues”, before releasing a video of the priceless moments she had with the social media personality in the studio recording the song.

Fans applauded the duo for doing a project together and expressed how anxious they are for the track to be finally released.

“Well-done ladies keep up the good work, we are proud of you and we can’t wait,” one fan said.

“Well done ladies ngasibambaneni ngempela. Even here in South Africa we are waiting,” another fan said.

The to-be-released song is a mixture of Shona and Ndebele which advocates for peace, encouraging people to be one and to love each other.

The multi-talented comedian has featured in many songs with artists from different genres, including Jiti musician Baba Harare.

Mai Tt recently dropped the popular gospel song but with a different twist titled Rumbidzwai Jehovah which fans also applauded her for as the praise song came with a few additional lyrics that touched the hearts of many.

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International artists dazzle at the UGA Performing Arts Center – University of Georgia

Northeast Georgia’s home for excellence in the performing arts is the UGA Performing Arts Center. Over the course of 11 days in January and February, Hodgson Concert Hall will welcome singers from Africa, a string quartet from Scandinavia and a company of dancers and musicians from Mexico.

The vocal quintet Nobuntu (Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.) is a group of multitalented women from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. They sing traditional songs, gospel and Afro-jazz, rounding out their a cappella sound and vibrant presentation with percussion and dance. In addition to a mainstage concert, they will give a morning Performance for Young People, welcoming schoolchildren from the area, and a free midday workshop that is open to all.

The Danish String Quartet (Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m.) is one of the most acclaimed chamber ensembles performing today. Their long-awaited concert opens with Schubert’s intense “Death and the Maiden” quartet, continues with music by Robert Schumann, and closes with their own arrangements of Scandinavian and British folk songs. 

Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández (Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m.) travels to Athens from the Palacio de Bellas Artes, one of Mexico City’s most historic venues. The company is celebrating its 70th anniversary with a program of mesmerizing dances and thrilling music that traces Mexico’s entire rich history. For this event, the Performing Arts Center has joined forces with the UGA Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute to provide 100 tickets to Mexicans and other Latinos in the Athens area. The company will also give a performance for young people.

Further international concerts in the UGA Performing Arts Center’s 25th anniversary season include the classical chamber music ensemble Trio con Brio Copenhagen (March 14), Irish acoustic ensemble Lúnasa (March 24), Austrian comic band Mnozil Brass (March 29), Edgar Meyer and the Scottish Ensemble (April 1) and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (April 3).

To learn more about UGA Performing Arts Center events, visit pac.uga.edu.

For a complete list of UGA Presents performances, visit https://pac.uga.edu/organizer/uga-presents.

Three ways to order

  1. Purchase tickets online at pac.uga.edu.
  2. Call the Performing Arts Center box office at 706-542-4400, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  3. Visit the UGA Performing Arts Center box office, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (five-minute parking is available in the drop off circle at the Performing Arts Center for purchasing or picking up tickets.)

COVID protocols

For information about the Performing Arts Center’s COVID-19 protocols, visit pac.uga.edu/safety-first. will be in place for all performances occurring through May 2022. Patrons may exchange tickets for another performance (including those in spring 2022) or receive a full refund until noon on the day of the performance, if occurring on a weekday, or by Friday at 5 p.m. if occurring on a weekend.

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Gospel Choir, steel pan, marimba, zentangle all here for arts festival's Winter Edition – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

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Twenty years ago, Bobby Lewis and Eustace Johnson agreed to come to Fairbanks to lead a gospel choir for the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. It was intended to be a one-time visit.

One year stretched into every year, every summer and winter, and 2022 will mark the 20th annual year for the popular musical duo to visit. They are here under the umbrella of Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Winter Edition. This is just one of several workshops offered at this year’s Winter Edition for the longtime arts festival.

The gospel choir is open to anyone who loves to sing, ages 15 and older, with any level of experience. No training or ability to read music is necessary. Rehearsals are 6-8 p.m. Feb. 14-19 at University Community Presbyterian Church, 3510 College Road. The performance is 5 p.m. Feb. 20 at Journey Christian Church, 1201 Hoselton Road. Register at www.fsaf.org. Cost is $80.

Steel pan

CJ Menge, a nationally known musician and instructor, will teach steel pan courses. He is the founder and executive director of Inside Out Steelband, a nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas. Since 1996, he has developed many school and community steel bands in Austin and elsewhere. He continues to serve as an artist-in-residence or director with several of these programs. He has worked with K-12 and university programs throughout the country.

For Winter Edition, he will teach Intro to Steel Pans and a more advanced class. The intro workshop is for anyone who has never had steel pan classes, as well as folks with a bit of steel pan experience. No keyboard or music-reading skills are required. Instruments will be provided for participants.

The second workshop is for students who have already developed some mastery of the pans. Music reading skills and at least one year of experience playing steel pans is required. Instruments will be provided. This workshop will be held 7-9 p.m. Feb. 14-18 at The Music Room. Cost is $85.

Marimba

Jim Levine and Jenny Stroyeck will teach marimba classes. Beginning/intermediate Zimbabwe marimba workshops will be held 5-6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 through March 4 at The Music Room, 407 First Ave. Cost is $75.

Advanced Zimbabwe marimba workshops will be held 7-9 p.m. Feb. 28 through March 4, also at The Music Room. Cost is $85.

Zentangle

Sandra Wescott will lead a zentangle drawing workshop.

Zentangle is a method for creating beautiful images by drawing repeating patterns. It’s easy to learn, using simple tools and a small format. It’s fun. It’s mediative and no experience is necessary.

This workshop is 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 19 at University Community Presbyterian Church, 3510 College Road. Cost is $40.

Register for all these workshops at www.fsaf.org. Masking is required at all workshops and performances for participants and guest instructors as part of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival’s Covid policy.

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