One giant leap for the faithless

I was shocked by the recent story of the return from the grave of maskandi musician Khulekani Kwakhe Mseleku, known as Mgqumeni. For three years the musician, who died in 2009, was held captive by tokoloshes, zombies and members of the ANC Youth League’s Supernatural Shadow Cabinet. I find it completely and utterly unacceptable that, in this supposedly enlightened day and age, authorities have to run DNA tests to establish whether, in fact, he has been resurrected.

Imagine if we ran DNA tests on every prophet who claims to have returned from the grave? The world would be a sorrier place indeed. Have these people no respect for other cultures? Such a pragmatic approach to belief would have us questioning all sorts of useful truths and I think you all know to which ones I’m referring. You people and your “science”, as you call it. This is why the rest of Africa hates South Africa. We have lost our soul.

Mgqumeni died after drinking what the so-called liberal press, again pushing their so-called rationalist agenda, refers to as “a poisonous concoction he got from a traditional healer”. Not so poisonous now that he is back from the dead, huh, Mr Newspaper! This is why we need a media appeals tribunal. If he had been killed by an incompetent traditional healer, forgive the redundant adjective in that sentence, would he have rushed straight to one after he escaped from the zombies and the youth league? No.

The only newspaper that has made any stab at objectivity is City Press, which illustrated its story with a picture of Mgqumeni from before his death, with the caption: “He says he lived with zombies”. Less objective media, reluctant to take the resurrected singer at his word, might have used a picture of the person who they paint as only “claiming to be Mgqumeni”. So full marks to City Press for their suspension of disbelief.

Thousands of people turned out to welcome Mgqumeni back from the dead. According to him: “I have been suffering a lot at the place where I was kept with zombies [and members of the ANCYL].” Half of his family welcomed him back. The other half rejected him. Leaving satire aside for a moment, this is very sad. It is also very stupid, obviously, but mainly sad.

I am happy to live in a country where we believe in supernatural beings, zombies, tokoloshes and life after death. Hey, if it works for the Vatican, it works for me. But I cannot help worrying about the potential for misuse of our honest, workmanlike credulity. If we are burning witches and fêting zombie escapees, there is a chance that we will be capable of making that even greater leap of faith and start believing that politicians know what they are doing. Imagine, the Congress of the People might even be able to return from the dead.

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisRoperZA

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Chris Roper
Chris Roper

Chris Roper was editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian from July 2013 - July 2015.

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