Thursday, 22 August 2013

SEFULA 2013 – MCF (WP) Annual Conference

Those of us from the area going to the Men’s Christian Fellowship held this year at Sefula met in Sesheke on Thursday morning last week at the UCZ Church. We departed from there after sharing a late breakfast of Coke and Tennis biscuits at a church member’s shop beside the market, whilst the vehicles were fuelled and we waited for the bus and the Minister from Livingstone. Sefula is about 300km away and our convoy of 3 cars rolled onto the M10 just after 11am. The first car contained the 3 Reverends from Livingstone, Mwandi and Sesheke. We were 6 MCF from Mwandi consistory, 2 from Lipumpu and 7 from Sesheke divided into 2 people carriers.

Participants at the MCF Conference

The first hold-up was at the police road-block at Katima Mulilo where we were directed to park inside the fence at the police post as our vehicles were suspected of being pirate taxis. However, our trip had been cleared as an official Church event by the Traffic Police in Sesheke, so after a phone call and explanation we were brusquely released.

The road from Sesheke to Sioma is now completely tarred. We took a break at Silumbu under a muhuluhulu tree (strychnos coculoides) while friends and relatives living nearby were greeted and visited. Shortly after this our Ministers’ car suffered the first puncture of the day which was quickly fixed at the side of the road. At Sioma we tried to see if the new pontoon at Muziba was working. However, it transpired that one of its engines was broken and a duff replacement had been sent from Lusaka, so the pontoon was still tied up to the bank just gathering dust. It would have saved us so much time crossing here, had the pontoon been working, as there is a good new tarred road on the East bank all the way to Senanga!

At Sioma the tar runs out but there is a good graded gravel road now all the way through Nangweshi and Sitoti to Kalongola. The sharp ‘chuckies’ embedded in the gravel road play havoc with ordinary tyres, so after a few hundred metres on the gravel we turned right and took the old sandy low-road that runs parallel to the Zambezi  through Nangweshi and Kaanja coming out at Sitoti to cross the Matabele Plain. This was a very pleasant route through small rural settlements and riverine trees. From there it is an easy drive to the Kalongola pontoon.

The name Libala la Matebele (The Plain of the Matabele) commemorates a victory over the Matabele who were ambushed here sometime in the 1840s. A group of Matabele under Nxaba, known in Lozi as Ngabe or Sikwanda, crossed the Zambezi near Senanga looking for the Makololo army under Sibitwane who were pursuing Mulambwa’s sons Imbua and Litia to Nyengo. The Matabele were betrayed by their local guides and fell into a trap. Nxabe hid for a time afterwards in the Kalamba Forest then surrendered. It was considered sacrilege if royal blood were spilled so he was drowned by his captors.   

At Kalongola, we were second in a queue of 6 vehicles and to carry all 6 it was necessary to double park on the pontoon. This meant our left front wheel was off the edge usual metal decking on the lower part where passengers normally stand. It had to bump up to get off at the other side of the river. This was enough to puncture our tyre. We managed to push the vehicle up the sandy bank to the top where the wheel was changed.  Restored by fried fish, groundnuts and boiled cassava, the party headed across the plain to Senanga. This is only a distance of 15km but takes over an hour because of the atrocious state of the road.

Because of broken and washed away culverts there are three major deviations where you leave the raised embankment and do a loop through sand on the plain. There are several areas where the dry sand is so liquid that without a 4x4 you get stuck and have to push. Here we had a stone jammed inside our wheel hub close to the break calipers. This meant another session with the jack and wheel spanners to remove it.

It was dark when we all reached Senanga market for further refreshments. We purred along the still good road towards Mongu for another hour or so, passing through Itufa Muoyo, Namushakende, the Nalikwanda turn-off and finally reaching Sefula safely, where we were issued with our mattresses and were given supper –buhobe and roasted beef.

The three day Conference on the first day dealt with three topics, the Prosperity Gospel which actually is no Gospel for it lacks God. Next came the Poverty Mentality and Debt lecture. It was suggested that an opportunity for change is available here as some of this can be self-inflicted and self-fulfilling from unwise lifestyle choices. The last theme of the day was seeking the Church transformed through prudent stewardship. This was a call to look after and use wisely all that God provides for us.

On Saturday we started with Man in God’s Picture of Creation, followed by your Gift was meant to produce service. Our gifts are meant for the glory of God and to serve others in love, using our whole heart and soul. The last lecture was on Giving. Giving is a command, a form of worship and an appreciation of God’s love for us. At a meeting in the evening we agreed to give the money we had collected to refurbish the girl’s ablution blocks at the dormitories. This is where we had been sleeping and we could see they were in need of repair. We also took time out to visit Rev Lubasi’s grave and held a short time of remembrance and thanksgiving. Three ZAF jets flew overhead as we were doing this.

At the service the next day the Western Presbytery Bishop Rev Sipalo dedicated 12 new members including the 3 Ministers (Revs. Manyando, Sivile and Manda). After a quick lunch we left Sefula at 2pm. A short break ensued in Senanga until we had the new tire put on at Senanga.  All was quiet following the recent arrests and detention of 45 people from Mongu, Senanga and Kalabo the previous day, in connection with allegations concerning the propagation of secession.

To avoid the broken culverts this time we took the road behind the prison through the compound and across the plain to join the road to the pontoon closer to the river. The return journey was fairly uneventful, barring a further puncture at Lusu. We got in to Sesheke just after 8pm and reached home to Mwandi at around 2230h.

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