Mhere, Mahendere boycott festival

HARARE - Gospel musicians Mathias Mhere and Michael Mahendere spoiled the party yesterday after they pulled out of the highly-hyped Peace and Family Festival at the 11th hour citing doctrine differences with the main concert organisers.

The two musicians withdrew following rumours questioning the integrity and doctrines of visiting Korean, Hak Ja Han Moon, the co-founder of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), the organisation that promotes the Peace and Family Festival.

Several Christian groups in the country boycotted the event with the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) issuing a statement distancing themselves from the event. “ As ZCC in light of our convictions and Christian traditions, we do not identify with the teaching and practices of this movement and therefore we will not participate in the event,” reads the statement issued by ZCC.

Mhere in a widely circulated message said his church, Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM), had barred him from being part of the event and also in protection of his name.

But regardless, the festival saw thousands of people drawn from different parts of the country grace the occasion where they were treated to snacks inform of Chicken Inn and drinks.

The event was also attended by several government officials including deputy minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Energy Mutodi. Zanu PF official Josiah Hungwe presented President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the guest of honour. Hungwe hailed Moon as a great woman. “Dr Moon is a great woman who strives to see a peaceful community,” he said.

However, other musicians inform of Kudzi Nyakudya, Hope Masike and Kuda Mutsvene among others attended and performed at the event. 

“I performed at the event to fulfil my contractual obligation. It was for professional reasons,” Masike told the Daily News.

Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) leader Archbishop Johannes Ndanga, who was among the organisers, had no kind words for the people who engaged in the smear campaign. He believes the musicians were misled, describing their pulling out as a drop in an ocean with no capacity to disrupt the event.

“Such mentality is the reason why we remain poor in the country. We dwell on the minor. This was not a church event but an NGO advocating for peace despite one’s background. Is what is happening in AFM Godly? What Mhere and Mahendere did will not affect us in anyway. This is religious intolerance perpetrated by people against apostolic groups and regard us as cults,” he said.

“These pastors try to be holier than thou. They are against the values being preached by Lady Moon that is of marriage, abstinence and purity and they all violate those principles hence their hate of such festivals,” he added.

Established in 1994 and officially inaugurated in 1996, FFWPU sought to build a network of families from every race, religion and culture, united in the belief that is centred on God’s love, happy marriages and successful families as they are believed to be the cornerstones for solving the most fundamental problems of society. 

The first ever Peace starts with me Festival, founded by the late leader of Unification Church Rev Sun Myung Moon, took place in July last year in Madison Square Garden in New York.

It then spread to other areas as more several festivals were organised in Korea, Japan, Europe, Latin America, Thailand and Brazil; and now Africa, Zimbabwe.

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