Can paedophiles change?


I was reading about the case of the baby who was allegedly abandoned in Thailand by his biological parents, who took his twin sister and brought her back to Perth. I subsequently watched part of an interview broadcast on 60 minutes. If anyone is unaware of the story, quick google search will deliver the story to you. Recently, it has been revealed that the biological father of these children has been convicted of 22 sex offences against children. In the interview, the father claims he no longer has sexual urges towards children and the woman interviewing him makes a statement to the effect that she has interviewed  many paedophiles and they have stated that they will always be paedophiles.

I understand that children should be protected and that we should be concerned with the safety of children, what I am trying to figure out is; is it right to make statements like “once a paedophile, always a paedophile”? If some paedophiles have stated that they will always be that way, does that make the statement true? We are constantly told we have  the power to choose our destiny, so why are we championing the view that people are victims of their biology? Where is the power of choice? In saying to people, this is how you are and you will forever be this way, aren’t we defeating them in the process? Can’t they choose to be different? Can’t they choose who they will be?

Are we making our society safer by making such statements or are we in fact making it harder for people to decide to change and be better? Are we saying, “you are broken and cannot be fixed” and throwing people in the “discard” pile. Doesn’t it seem weird that on one hand we say to paedophiles that they have no choice in the matter, they are who they are, and yet on the other we a so filled with anger when they offend. I think we are so angry because deep down we know that they have a choice and that they are responsible for those choices and it doesn’t come down to mere biological defect.

I personally believe human hearts  and minds can change. They can be renewed and made whole, and while I don’t think I would leave my child in a room with someone who has been convicted of sex offenses, I don’t believe anyone is beyond redemption. There is always hope and every human being should be looked at as an individual, not based on what others have decided about themselves.

We Africans are a lazy bunch


I once posted the heading of this piece on Facebook. I was praised by some but on a larger scale was bombarded by anger and disappointment. No doubt people were thinking “yes, tell them!” and others probably thought I was looking down my nose at Africans because I am in the Western World. This is not even in the least a licence for any non-African to say, “Africans are lazy”. Believe me when I say I love Africa; There is no place more beautiful, no group of people more lovely, no culture more rich and definitely no group of people more hard-working.

Okay, so why would I say we are a lazy bunch if I believe we are hard-working? I don’t believe in stereotypes and this is by no means a labelling of a whole group of people. The simplest answer would be the analogy that if Africa were a person, God would not come back today and say “well done my good and faithful servant!” That is the simplest answer I can give based on the fact that Africa is the richest continent there is. We have every resource, starting from people right down to minerals, land and food. I will give an example of a small country in Southern Africa, called Zambia. Compare Zambia and Australia, you find that the soil in Zambia is way better; throw seed on the ground, it grows. The rain comes every single year without fail. Australia on the other hand is mostly desert. The soil is not as rich and the rain not as reliable and yet they manage to produce food and even export it.

We have been blessed with so much and yes, our challenges are huge! The thing is, these challenges are meant to grow us, not make us shrink back and stop trying. We have been ravaged by HIV and AIDS, leaving many orphaned, yet we are not leading the effort to find a cure. Malaria is stunting the growth of  our economies and yet there is little effort on our part to get rid of it. We are at the mercy of pharmaceutical companies that have no need to care about Africa. We allow people from other parts of the world to dictate how we run our countries. When the west came with baby formula saying it was better for babies, we let them in and even though we still breast feed our children, they came back years later to teach us how to breast feed. We allow ourselves to be shown as incompetent because at the end of it we will get some money.

Instead of working hard to develop our countries, our politicians are lazy and power-hungry only concerned with lining their pockets, forgetting that the Africa they are building will be the Africa their grandkids occupy. Our mines are owned by foreigners and we all sit back and watch as what is ours is taken from us, tax-free. How can a continent so rich be so dependent on the western world for Aid??? Why is there no justice in our own countries when the one victimising us is a foreigner? Why have we made ourselves so vulnerable? How long will we cry colonialism and how long will we blame the world for our failures?

Belgium and France might have divided the Rwandans but it was a African leader who was too lazy to do his job that he decided it made sense to make a difference as small as tribe be what people focused on, and it was the people, marching with weapons who chose to kill, regardless of who shot the Presidents plane down or who supplied the weapons. It wasn’t Britain that bought designer suits using Zambian Tax payers money while education standards were falling. It wasn’t Britain dividing and conquering us, as people took to the streets with weapons because their political party had internal fractions. It wasn’t colonial masters that took farms by force in Zim and after the white farmers left, it wasn’t them that failed to manage the farms. Yes sanctions were imposed but there was still a whole continent willing to trade with Zim. In the same vein, it wasn’t the Colonial “masters” that mismanaged ZCCM to a point that we couldn’t run our mines. The examples are endless.

We keep pointing to what the Colonial “masters” did but our choices today are ours and we have to take responsibility for them. Our street kid problem can not be blamed on the “powers that are trying to divide and conquer Africa” but us! We have failed to take care of our children. And as long as we blame “them”, aren’t we then saying, we are still under “them”?

I know there are a lot of people who spend sleepless nights studying for exams. There are people tilling the land and people working endless hours trying to provide for their families, but in a sense like the servant in the bible, we have buried the gifts given to us and refused to multiply them. And it seems that even that which we have, is being taken from us.

When God gave  the bags of money to the servants, he gave them each according to their ability. We have been given so much! Have we really realised how able we are to change the lives of our people? We can bless the world! Why would God choose us, to give all this wealth to? Considering to whom much is given, much is required, have we really lived up to the requirements of our gifts?

The issue isn’t how hard we work as individuals but that we as a continent, are waiting for the world to solve our problems. I was asked what I was doing to change my country and continent because all I do is talk. I don’t claim to know it all. I know I am part of the problem and I hope and pray that we will rise up and fight this fight to see ourselves as worthy of more. That we will be able to say “I am responsible for my country and continent!” if anyone has interfered with the goings on of my house, it is because I have let them!

Yes, maybe lazy isn’t the best term but I have racked my mind to find a better term and cannot. We need to stop looking at greener pastures and complaining about what we don’t have and start working with what we have because it is so much more than we realise.  Being in Perth for 6 years has made me realise just how blessed we are as Africans. To whom much is given, much is required and considering how much we have been given, we will be held accountable for a lot!

A21 Campaign walk for freedom


So, was going to say that today was the A21 Campaign walk for freedom but it was actually yesterday, missed it by a few hours. My mum and I walked today but we didn’t finish the whole 7 km walk because we got lost on our way to the starting point and were running late because we had been cooking for an event at our Church, which happened to be African Night.

There are people suffering out there and this might sound self-centred but just walking and donating money towards a cause like this, I think is a good way to help make better choices. In the fight for purity, it’s always a good thing to be reminded that behind the pornographic video or photo there might be a woman who is enslaved. Two slaves; the consumer and the one who matters most, the victim.

Before you access pornography, remember, there is a person on the other end, who in a lot of cases does not want to be where they are. Before you enter a brothel, remember that too. There are so many people who call for the legalisation of the sex trade but do we ever consider the ramifications of such a move? Even if brothels were regulated, so many people would slip through the cracks, especially in countries where corruption is rife.

I pray that God gives us enough compassion for the many who are enslaved by our selfish desires. That even when temptation arises, we will see our own children, family and friends exploited and that “that” will keep us sane enough to say no. Its only in saying no that an industry this big can ever be overcome. On a deeper level, that His love and grace will penetrate to the depths of our hearts and render us only slaves to Him.

Precious…the birthing of a dream


she walked out of the house, throwing the blue new tropicals to the floor, she slipped her feet in and ran towards her grandmother who was walking down the dust path that led to away from their house and onto a dusty road. It was an hour’s walk to Chinfinsa congregation of the United church of Zambia. She could make it in 30 minutes if she picked up the pace but that was not going to be the case walking with her grandmother. she pulled the worn skirt made of chitenge material, to cover her belly button and walked beside her grandmother. She couldn’t hide her excitement at going to church today.

“natwendeshe” her grandmother called picking up pace. she wanted to make it to church before the St Marks Choir arrived. She never complained about the distance from Luano to their Church, which was in Munsenga, on the other side of the Chingola-Kitwe Road; a trek from where they lived.

“But mama, “she replied, “our service never starts on time.” Her grand mother insisted they get to church early every week. she had no watch but they always made it on time. Precious had never heard the St marks Bemba Choir sing, but her grand mother had told her,  how beautiful they sounded. her grandmother had heard them sing many times and had even visited the “mother” congregation. The announcement was made a week ago and everytime she thought about it, she felt her heart skip a beat.

they soon met other people headed in their direction “mujibi yepi?” the woman called walking towards them.

“emwani,” her grandmother extended her hand, clapping the other womans hand and touching her chest and repeating the gesture again in greeting; Kaonde greeting. She had grown up speaking iki Kaonde but now mainly spoke ici Bemba despite being in Lamba country. she greeted the woman and run ahead, knowing her grandmother would be fine with her walking companion for the day.

She didn’t care for the dust that was gathering on her legs with each step she took; the faster she run the worse it got, but she would be at the church in no time. She was out of breath by the time the Kitwe-Chingola rd was in sight. On the other side was the Munsenga junction. A small dirt road that meandered from one end, forming a loop and coming out the other. It was mostly bush on one side of the dirt road and houses on the other. she slowed her pace as she came to the road. It wasn’t as busy on Sundays, but she made sure there weren’t any cars coming before running across. There were other people walking down and she walked with them, not quiet feeling at home, she talked with them, maybe if she showed her excitement at what was happening at church today, no one would see the discomfort she felt.

*                                  *                                  *

Jahdel was glad she had made it to church on time. Her 2 friends Limpo and Mwansa were coming to church with the visiting chior. She was excited. Her and Limpo had become close friends, despite her vow never to become friends with men. He had reintroduced her to Mwansa who she had previously known but had not talked to in years. She walked to her sister Karen and the woman she was talking to. She watched as the young girl walked away from them. Her clothes were worn. Her skirt, made of chitenge was not as bright as it had obviously been before. she kept pulling the skirt that kept riding below her belly button.

“You see that girl.” the woman talking to Karen said, “takonfwa.”

Jahdel wondered why the girl was said to be naughty, she seemed so full of life.

“she sleeps around with different men,” the woman shifted the baby in her arms from one side to the other, settling her on her hip and leaning in closer “Bonse bali mwishiba.”

Jahdel was too shocked to respond, did this woman just say everyone knew her? She watched as the woman clapped her hands, as if shocked at what she was relaying, “ka moneka kwati kalonfwa, kanshi….”

“You honestly think that it’s her fault?” anger rose in Jahdel, “How do you decide she’s naughty on the basis that grown men sleep with her?”

“All I know is they pay her and if they pay her, it can’t be that bad. And she’s so young, imagine what she will be like when she grows up.”

The way she said it only infuriated Jahdel more; worse still, Karen seemed almost ready to agree until Jahdel spoke up

“So all you adults know about it. Even her grandmother knows about it?”

“it’s no secret, and her grandmother has tried to talk about it with her to get her to stop but she just doesn’t listen.”

“So you even know which men sleep with her?” she waited for the woman’s self-righteous yes before continuing, “and all you do is talk behind her back?”

“Yes but what are we supposed to do if that’s what she’s chosen.” the woman didn’t look upset at the challenge rather ashamed and disappointed that Jahdel did not share her enthusiasm at the gossip she had to share,

“No! you fight for her!” Jahdel could almost feel herself shaking but kept her voice calm, “grown men, should know better. It’s not her fault that they can’t control themselves!” she looked at the little girl who was walking towards them

“Anyway, that’s that little girl you see.” she clapped her hands and walked away.

“Baunfwa nsoni.” Karen chuckled to herself.

“she SHOULD be ashamed of herself.” Jahdel felt her whole body shake

Karen chuckled again, “they love gossip.”

“Niwebo nani ishina?” Jahdel asked turning to the girl. She didn’t look older than eleven.

“Precious.” she replied with a big smile,

Jahdel smiled at her, heart breaking, knowing this girl had no one to fight for her. Precious, her name spoke of how God saw her. She was precious in His sight, Yet to men, she was “easy pleasure”. Something they could ride, no strings attached. They talked for few minutes, Precious pointing out where her grandmother stood, when asked who she lived with. She was a bubbly little girl. Some thought her insane.

Just then the small Canter made its way onto the church grounds. Precious ran towards it, Jahdel waiting for the boys to disembark. She said hi to both Limpo and Mwansa and introduced them to Karen. Karen left them as they chatted for a while before they had to go into the church and sit in their designated areas. The men sat on the left hand side and the women on the right.

Jahdel was in a haze; her mind fixed on Precious. Would she make it,or would abuse devour her like it had Jahdel. She knew all too well the horrors it brought, the guilt, the suicidal feelings, the shame and pain that just made no sense. The feeling of being in the wrong body, unwelcome in your own flesh, feeling like dirt had made it’s way under your skin. As the service went on, she found it hard to concentrate. Those men, deserved death! She looked at Mwansa and Limpo and remembered Limpo’s words, How could he expect her to trust any man, when his species could be so heartless and selfish. She had to admit though that both young men were different. They seemed sincere; different, they spoke kindly and offered respect even when she was undeserving. But she couldn’t help but wonder.

After service, Jahdel talked to precious some more, hoping that she could find hope in words that didn’t raise her apparent failings. She talked to Mwansa and Limpo more as well before they all had to go.

Every time she saw the little girl after that, she talked to her, but with exams looming, Sundays at Chimfinsa became a rare happening, St marks or not attending church becoming the options because of the extra lessons she needed to do in order to get ready. Hope reigned still, Precious, was the birthing of a dream, just maybe, Jahdel would one day fight what many refused to see as present. Zambians frowned when they heard about paedophiles in the western world, yet in their own world, this child, had no voice.

Years after meeting that precious soul, reading another story of a girl used by her step-father, Jahdel remembered, knowing there were many such stories. burying her head in her hands, Jahdel wept. She would never forget Precious, she hadn’t the means to help her, but one day, she would fulfil a dream.

Ponderings brought on by a book


Some times, you read a book and find yourself the centre of the story. It puts what you have never been able to articulate, into meaningful sentences, leaving you feeling exposed and raw. It leaves you in tears and tears open the bandages you’ve covered over the wound that have not allowed it to heal. It has festered, and where you once had soft tissue, your heart has hardened. You find yourself in pain again, only you know it’s always been there and sometimes you’ve acknowledged it, but most times, you push it down. In trying to escape it you find you lose yourself and the confidence you once held. You don’t know the person you’ve become and you wonder when the struggle for peace and sanity ends. The book makes you realise that you might never totally heal and the things you are holding on to are things you know are choking the life out of you but you are not willing to let go because you don’t really know what else you have left. That’s what Francine Rivers’ Her daughter’s dream did for me and God I pray that somehow, you soften this heart.

undefiled


There’s a girl, a lot like myself…not much different from any other girl.
She’s never known what it feels like to be pure, to be untouched. She’s been used her whole life by those who should have known better…Those who claimed to love her
She is scared, broken and unable to love…
Christ has saved her but she finds herself struggling with the same demons of the past. She can’t let go.
The thought of trusting any man is just impossible; to love him would be weakness. She can’t bring herself to lie with a man she loves, one she’s married to because it just seems wrong somehow…
If only she was clean, pure, untouched, undefiled…

There’s another girl, lost and pregnant.
She thought it wouldn’t happen to her.
Oh God what is she to do? It was just one time and now she’s paying the price.
She’s only in high school, her parents will kill her. She has nowhere to turn!
She’s given them reason to throw her out…what will she do? She was right after all! “You’re a naughty girl!” she would say
She decides to have an abortion…better that than having to face that witch of a woman…better than proving her right!
As she walks out of the clinic…she wishes she could undo what she had done…but she can’t! the baby is gone…she feels cold inside…empty
They said it was just tissue…not yet alive but she knows it’s more
“it’s moving,” she had heard the nurse say. Her baby is gone
“you’ve already proven her right!!!” she hears a voice say, “you’re naughty even without the baby to prove it! You are defiled, unclean…”
She wishes she were untouched

There’s another girl, she’s a mother.
People ask, “How come? Isn’t it wrong in Christianity to have a baby before you’re married???”
they question her beliefs, they question the existence of her God.
She proclaims Christ and yet is bound by sex. She can’t bring herself to be with anyone, and yet she touches herself. She knows it’s wrong and yet she can’t seem to stop.
She can’t stand men. She’s been hurt to many times to know…to many times to let go…
She met a man, who’s just lovely and knows he’s not like the rest.
She’s been abused and has herself abused.
She is unworthy of him just as she is unworthy of Christ
oh how she wishes she were clean, pure, a virgin,
“Untouched”

There’s a girl, she sees her friends, one after the other, falling prey to the culture around them.
She decides to join in…
They Party like the world, dress like the world and make sure they are in Church on sunday
they sleep around, always making sure they use contraception
they look down on the unwed mother…they gossip about the one caught in the arms of the married man
They pretend that’s not them. Testing forbidden treasures, ,one, two, three, four, playing with toys and all, It’s just experimenting…No one need know, forgetting that “there are no secrets in life.
They are fooling everyone including themselves. And yet Christ knows…he sees them just like the others. Just like those they look down on
They might just be worse off because remorse does not touch them
They are unclean, untouched, defiled

There’s a girl, she introduces her friend to the party scene…tells her friend lies…handing her over to the lion himself.
She sees her friend going astray but only gossips…She doesn’t want to be judgmental, after all, Christ said “judge not!”
her friend is taken by the world…her Masters voice she no longer hears. Yet she has her legs still crossed and that’s all that matters right???
Both are unclean and defiled…touched

There’s another girl,
She dresses just right…nothing vulgar, decent.
She’s in the house of worship every service
she gives her tithe, serves, says her prayers, refrains from forbidden foods, does what is required of her…the whole deal. She sometimes thinks bad thoughts and occasionally lies…but it’s nothing serious…you can’t do everything the holy book says….
She follows the law of God
She sees girls throwing their lives away and sleeping around, living like the world and thinks she’s better than them. She thinks, she is clean, undefiled, untouched.
She doesn’t share Christ because they are unworthy of Him.
She forgets that she like them, like all humanity is  unclean, not untouched, defiled…that it is Christ who cleanses us.

Why I consider myself tribalist


Okay, the heading might be a little misleading, I’m not actually tribalists in the real sense of the word, I just happen to be all for preserving tribes and their respective cultures in Zambian Society. My reasoning is simply that diversity is usually a good thing. Just look at the great cultural landscape in Africa and the richness it provides; the different music, the different dances, ceremonies (some of which I don’t endorse). I love uniqueness and I believe that the different cultural practices of different tribes, generally, if we want them to, add colour to our lives. Also having to interact with so many groups of people, who might have slight differences or possibly major ones, does grow our ability to tolerate differences and improves our interpersonal skills.

I believe I was born a half-caste child for a reason ordained by God. I don’t believe any aspect of my being is an accident and it serves a purpose in the master plan. I mean God makes no errors. I’m half Bemba, half Nsenga, they are my heritage and I hold them proudly. I have to say though, before being any of those, I am Zambian, before being Zambian I am human, a family member, mother, daughter, sister, friend…but above all those, I am Christian and as paul said, “there is neither Greek nor Jew”. What should govern my view of the world is Christ hanging on a tree, not what my children will eat, neither maintaining a job nor having a husband and definitely “I’m Nsenga or Bemba, Zambian or Australian.

As hard as it is, the minute I identify myself as Nsenga above all else, I will live my life for the Nsenga people above all others, even to the detriment of other tribes. I am Christian first, and no, I don’t always get it right, but when Christ reigns, I see my traits and characteristics through the screen of “Christ died for the world and asks the same of me” and through that screen, I can live as umu Bemba/umu Nsenga and practice my culture without seeing “my people” as superior or inferior and that can be applied to every area of life.  What is it that governs your view of the world around you?

Mindsets


This post is sort of an edited version of a post I once posted on Facebook. That was back in February 2011, before I got fed up with Facebook and decided to delete my account…Long story!

So one of my greatest passions is my country. I love most things Zambian and feel burdened by the state of things in Zambia. Yes compared to most places in Africa, Zambia isn’t doing tooo bad, but we’re nowhere near where we should be close to 50 years after independence.

The truth is, Zambia will never develop until we, the Zambian’s change our mindsets. We expect our leaders to walk in integrity when we, the ones meant to hold them accountable, don’t hold ourselves accountable and don’t walk in integrity.

I remember a time when certain high school students (some were my classmates) complained about the state of affairs and how when people were voted for, they only cared about lining their pockets…interesting enough, some of them were the ones passing massive pages of notes in our biology exam…And the invigilator, incensed when summoned to the headteacher’s office, could not believe I had reported the matter…apparently I was meant to “help my friends”. I have never been able to understand that concept. How is sharing answers in an exam helping anyone??? How many of those students missed class, or rather went partying at the expense of studying and discipline and yet, I was meant to help them pass their exams. the fact is the student lacks the integrity in writing his exams and yet expects that when put in a position of leadership he would do a better job than those in power.

What’s going to change to make you get to work on time, when you arrived and left school at your desired time? Or missed school all together?

“Whoever can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” Luke 16:10

Even in parenting, when children show themselves responsible and trustworthy in one area, parents usually increase the level of responsiblity and privileges. How can we take care of a billion dollar building when the $250 000 one is close to collapsing???

How many of us go on a trip and after having some chips, throw the packet out the bus/car window and then complain that the streets are a mess…regardless of what we say, the people in government did not litter our streets. Lets say the government did put bins around, what will stop you from throwing that can of juice on the street when in a rush and a fairways walk away from the bin…

How many of us who are Christian refuse to give money as offering because we have very little and yet expect God to bless us with much??? Or how many of us believe the devil is the one causing us grief when we are the one’s who put ourselves in sticky situations???

How many of us refer to the police as corrupt but never look at ourselves when we pay them a few Kwacha to get out of a road fine???

How many of us vote for leaders because they promised us outrageous things that we knew they couldn’t deliver and yet, we’re filled with disappointment when they leave government a whole lot richer and the country left with more potholes, more broken down buildings and a lot more jobless people?

How many times have you seen a shoprite checkout person refuse to offer the same service offered to a “white” person, to the “black” person? We then complain when the expatriates are given different conditions than the average Zambian. Aren’t both operating on the same principle??? Though there’s more to expatriate rate than meets the eye.

A lot of the time, we look at the “developed” world and see things we would like to have, but if we can’t be trusted to care for what you have now, how can we expect any better? If we see ourselves as victims of our circumstances, how then can we develop. Those circumstances should create in us a desire for change that causes us to think of ways of bettering our lives. It’s funny because I know of people who wouldn’t even consider getting a job as a garden boy when they do not have the funds to get into college or university, rather opting to stay home and wait for a “wealthy” relative to help them out. Others refuse to do odd jobs while applying for jobs after they finish studying even if their parents are struggling, because it’s not prestigious enough. Live your life regardless of how people will view you. Does it matter so much what people think if you know what you’re working towards???

Why do so many of us live in the extremes, either choosing to hold on to all aspects of our culture, even if they don’t benefit us or letting go of our culture altogether and taking on western culture because we feel it’s better. We can learn from the west and they can learn from us. Our differences don’t make us inferior or superior, they are just differences (some things are definitely wrong). Untill we learn to be comfortable in what makes us Zambians and untill we are willing to walk in discomfort and do what is right (not what we think is right but what is actually right based on wisdom) rather than quick fix solutions or copies of the west , we will continue in the same cycles