Does conducting prayers at blackspots help?
Lovemore Meya Features Writer
Many traffic accidents have occurred at these darkspots and families have lost loved ones. Coutnrywide, road carnage has claimed at least 2 000 lives a year. On countless times, various church denominations in an attempt to help “cleanse” the darkspots have gathered at the accident scenes for prayer sessions.
Chinhamo Shops along Seke Road has become one of the darkspots on the outskirts of Harare.
The prayers, too, have taken place at various “blackspots”.
Blackspots are generally known as places where road traffic accidents have historically been concentrated or have a record of large numbers of crashes.
There are often common problems at these sites which can be treated with engineering methods.
And the recent accident that claimed 10 people when a kombi driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed onto a tree killing some of his passengers, church organizations were quick to hold services at the site.
The tree that was hit by the vehicle was cut down as people tried to erase the horrendous memories associated with the tragedy.
Social commentators, however, have had mixed reactions to the idea of holding such ceremonies, unlike looking at the physical and technical causes of such accidents.
Memory Kaseke of Chitungwiza said accidents can happen whether churches conduct their prayers or not.
“We can spend time dwelling on this issue but what we need to know is that accidents can take place no matter where and how. Sometimes it is the work of the devil’s agents (Satanists) or nature itself. People using the road should just exercise extreme caution,” she said.
TV personality and social commentator Mai Rebecca Chisamba said it was not bad to hold prayer sessions at these blackspots.
“If people have time to visit a blackspot, it does not matter but it holds no weight save for the degree of the prayers. At times we can say we are going for the same purpose, but some people may not have the zeal for the prayers.
“Prayer is the key to everything. We can go to the scene but doing the same while we are at our different churches helps a lot for God listens to our plight through prayer no matter where we are,” she said.
Mai Chisamba said Christians should visit the sites with the same spirit and motives.
“You can be involved in an accident at the same spot because of geographical layout although sometimes it sounds so spooky with some people being afraid whenever they approach the spot but nothing can surpass prayers,” she said.
She said serious accidents sometimes occur at such places because of the volume of traffic or the outlook of the area.
“Our roads were built a long time ago and were designed for a small volume of vehicular flow. It is high time that the engineers visit such places and do some analysis.
“Considering the number of vehicles in the country, it is not advisable for motorists to travel bumper to bumper along these curved roads. There is reason why accidents occur at these places, for example, at Chinhamo the road is very bad,” she said.
University of Zimbabwe sociology Professor Claud Mararike said the purpose of prayers, whether at church or at a darkspot, is communicating with God to draw confidence and inspiration.
“Prayers are there for communicating with God. The results of prayers are not something that you put in a laboratory and say this is the answer that there is a micro-belief.
“The purpose is to ask God to make such a place safe. Religion is about our uncertainty, being weak in some areas. In metro-belief religion you do not argue whether they are good or bad,” he said.
Prof Mararike said when people go on the spot, the assumption is to exorcise the demon, but the power of prayer to God means prayer can be conducted anywhere.
“It is symbolic to say we went to this place to exorcise the demon. Prayers are of different types. Christians pray as Africans do the African way,” he said.
Spirit Medium Sekuru Morrison Mafuta said prayers at blackspots do not help when it is about death.
“Kupedza ngozi kuiripa, kupumha nzvimbo kuzorodza mweya. It helps but not on blackspots as people may conduct more prayers when even their colleagues are not holy. Some of the women will be on their monthly periods while some would have become unholy after sinning through sexual activities.
“These places should be visited by village heads and spiritualists to appease the spirits of the dead and brew some traditional beer. This cannot be done by a single lineage but different people with each praising one way or the other,” he said.
Sekuru Mafuta recommended that the prayers be conducted by clean people while church leaders should ban who might have sinned through sex.
He said it would be bad if another accident occurs at the same spot after such prayers.
However, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Harare of the Church of the Province of Central Africa Dr Chad Gandiya said handling the situation depends on Christian tradition.
“There are many Christian traditions and I believe as a Christian, you can pray wherever you are under any situation, but there is also nothing wrong to go on the spot,” he said.
Archbishop Gandiya said accidents can happen anywhere but there was need for prayer for all road users and ask for God’s protection.
“As a nation, we need to educate our drivers and pedestrians on how to use the roads which can minimise the number of accidents if we take all the necessary measures,” he said.
Dr Gandiya said that there were many stories about blackspots where strange incidents are reported to be observed.
“In those circumstances, there is need to go to the spot to cast out the demons,” he said.
Bishop Noah Pashapa said there was no need for exorcisms or prayer vigils at blackspots.
“There is need for clear marking signage warning motorists of the hazardous nature of the road section and preparing them to adopt appropriate safe speed limits as they approach the sections.
“The blackspots require traffic police presence and assistance during peak hours. These measures plus punitive fines meted out to reckless and irresponsible drivers will do the trick,” he said.
He added that those whose religious sensibilities convince them that such spots require exorcisms can satisfy their religious sensibilities.
Zimbabwe has a number of areas that have been labeled blackspots including the dreaded Wafa-Wafa along the Harare-Chirundu Highway.
Another deadly spot was the bridge across the Mukuvisi River commonly known as Eleven Months near Jaggers Msasa.
In Nyanga, there is also a blackspot referred to as the “Valley of Death.”
At the extreme side of this dangerously curving tarred road is a massive stone embankment at whose peak is a small white cross adorned with a wreath of drying flowers.
It was erected as a memorial for the 82 Regina Coeli schoolchildren and five adults who perished at this “blackspot” after their crowded bus crashed into the embankment on August 4, 1991.
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