Due to economic hardship and some incurable diseases, Batswana have become vulnerable to some self-proclaimed messiahs (Saviours). Our people have become prey to religious and political predators who promise them a better tomorrow and good life.
The mushrooming of churches and so-called men of God and unity of opposition political parties give our people hope. The question then arises: Is this hope being offered to our people good hope or evil hope? Apart from some churches and some so-called prophets, politicians have also joined the chorus of those who are giving our people hope either good or evil hope.
Where there is hope, there is religion says; Ernst Block. He makes however an important addendum: where there is religion, there is not always hope. In this, Block has made us aware of the world religions’ ambivalent relationship to hope. The infinite hopes of human beings are preserved in the religions but by the same token, they are also abolished, betrayed and rendered ineffective by the religions. Can hope become a key for understanding the world’s religions and indeed human beings’ religions yearning itself? Can hope become the measure of our criticism of religions’ illusions spawned by nations and people? These are some of the critical questions we need to ask because by answering them we shall be able to know whether the hopes our people are being given are good hopes or evil hopes.
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed, announced Feuerbach and Marx. Religion is a collective obsession, maintained Sigmund Freud. Under these presuppositions man comes to himself, his freedom and his ego-intensity only when he gives up his religion’s projections and illusions and devotes himself exclusively to his earthly reality. The criticisms of religion without doubt, made modern man enlightened and clear-headed, but also poorer. He took up the task before him with sobriety and realism. Becoming a realist, however, meant not only losing all distance to his work, but also accommodating himself to his industrial society. The argument is that there are forms and symbols of hope which can impoverish people and there are also forms and symbols of hope which can enrich people. My concern always is about the people. Exploitation, oppression, abuse and deception are always evil whether done in the name of God, politics or revolution. We need hope which does not deceive or limit our people. We need hope which opens our people for new horizons for their future, embolden them for freedom and inflame for the possible, thereby subduing their depression and melancholy over the present state of their lives and society. Greek mythology speaks of hope in the legend of Prometheus who enters through rear door, behind the back of Zeus the father of everything. Prometheus slunk into Olympus, lifts a torch from the sun’s fiery car and stealthily made his way back to earth undetected. Through Prometheus’ theft from the divine quarters, humankind was gifted with fire and when Zeus realized this, he swore revenge.
He made a woman, PANDORA, the most beautiful ever fashioned and sent her to EPIMETHEUS, the brother of PROMETHEUS. This fellow wasted no time in marrying her but she was just as dumb as she was beautiful. She opened the box Prometheus gave her even though it was for bidden. And out of the box came everything evil which from that time on has plagued humankind; sickness, insanity, vices and the worst of all hope. For deceitful hope which Prometheus had also locked in the box restrained human beings plagued by these evils from putting and end to their suffering through freely willed death.
Hope is therefore, according to this myth an evil out of Pandora’s Box. In addition to all other evils, man acquired yet another: hope. It deceivers him with illusions and thus intensifier all his sufferings.
Zeus (God) made a very beautiful woman who was going to open Prometheus’s box which contained evil things including evil hope. What does these teachers in our context, i.e. the Botswana context is that those beautiful pastors and beautiful politicians are carrying Prometheus box, meaning there are the PANDORAS of today. They are beautiful but also dumb. Dumb in the sense that they sold their souls for money. They sold our people for money. They rob our people claiming that they will make our people rich. They deceive our people. They give our people evil hope.
On the other hand there is Goodhope which we learn about not from Greek mythology but from Judeun Christian theology. It speaks of God historically. It speaks of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and it speaks of the father of Jesus. The God of the exodus and speaks of this history eschalogically. That is it speaks of God of Abraham as the God of the promise of blessing for all people. So Abraham experienced this reality of God in which he heard his promise and followed it. He left the familiar patterns of his life which had provided a home and security/or him. He abandoned his fatherland became an alien. He left his friend and he was alone. He left his father’s house and lost his identity. He left even his Gods, those Aramaic nature gods who guaranteed order, fertility and peace in the internal return of the sane and become a godless person who alone followed this call of the unknown lord. The Bible calls this FAITH
Abraham had faith in himself. He trusted the call from within and made it a call of God. True hope is hope in you. Have faith in yourself. It is only you who can make a change in your life and to your country. Batswana must learn to trust themselves. Learn to be suspicious of everyone even the so called men of God or charming politicians. It is you alone who can liberate yourself from all forms of exploitation. What you need is faith in yourself. Jesus said with faith you can move mountains, faith in yourself because you can not trust or have faith in God you have never seen if you do not have faith in yourself and trust yourself.
Beware of these Zeus Prometheus and Pandoros of this world. They are very beautiful but inside their boxes are very evil hopes. They will come to you in the name of religion or politics but they are carrying evil hope don’t accept if you are your own liberators.
*Dr Cosmos K. Moenga is a BNF activist