MWENYA Musenge

Of the things our politicians learned from their colonisers, one they seem to like the most is imprisoning.

Look at how much they delight in imprisoning their political opponents! We used to think our colonisers were racist and cruel to us! But are our leaders less cruel than our colonisers?

The inhumanity and cruelty of our leaders is difficult to match. Our colonisers didn’t treat our leaders the way Hakainde Hichilema is today being treated. Look at the brutal way he was arrested and detained! Look at the visiting restrictions around him!

For a prisoner, visits from relatives, friends and well-wishers mean a lot. This is why even in the Holy Bible, we are encouraged in so many books, chapters and verses to visit and care for prisoners:

Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body”;
Matthew 25:35-46: “’…I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you…in prison and visit you?’”; Psalm 69:33: “For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners”; Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me…to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound”; Psalm 146:7: “…The Lord sets the prisoners free”; Psalm 102:20: “To hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die”; Isaiah 42:7: “To open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness”; Genesis 39:20-23: “And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed”; Psalm 79:11: “Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!”; Acts 16:25: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them”; Acts 12:7: “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands”; Exodus 23:7: “Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.”

Hakainde certainly deserves better treatment. He should be kindly treated and kept. Hakainde is still an innocent man until he is proven guilty. He is simply a remandee prisoner. But he is being treated as if he is a convicted treason prisoner. Why?

It’s said that “neither a person nor a nation can exist without some higher idea. And there is only one higher idea on earth, and it is the idea of the immortality of the human soul, for all other ‘higher’ ideas of life by which humans might live derive from that idea alone”. And the degree of this country’s Christianity or humaneness should be judged by the way it is treating those it has incarcerated. It is this that should define how those in power may be valued as humans.

Remandee prisoners shouldn’t be assumed guilty of the crime they are denied bail and detained for. They shouldn’t be subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment, whether that amounts to how they’re allowed visitations, fed, housed or otherwise treated.

Fyodor Dostoevsky was very right when he said,
You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners.
There was absolutely no good reason for stopping Mwenya Musenge from visiting Hakainde other than cruelty, inhumanity and abuse of power.

Musenge was simply fulfilling his Christian duty in a nation that declared itself Christian. As Musenge aptly put it,

“We are brothers beyond politics and we should show love to one another, especially that we proclaim to be a Christian nation. Jesus taught love. This visit had nothing to do with politics but a personal decision and conviction that we must be humane, we must stand with brothers in such circumstances.” Indeed, are we not children of the same Father, God? If we are children of the same Father, why shouldn’t we be allowed to visit a brother who is incarcerated?

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