Entrepreneurship. That’s the buzz word. Everywhere you go, it is the word that’s fashionable to brandish about.
It is also the word associated with first world status, as we all know we are dreaming of such a status in this country. It is of course not a bad thing to dream; we are told to dream big, and this first world status by 2022 is not just ambitious but it is also quite a dream. It is the dream in the proportion of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream; his is still ringing fresh in our minds and those of Americans still battling racism, inequality—and Donald Trump.
But, Martin Luther had a dream. A big dream too. And we are encouraged that for as long as we aspire to it, all our dreams can be achieved. As such, Swaziland chasing a first world ambition in just under five years will be achieved—at some point; 10 years perhaps, or even more. But it will be. It is the mantra we must continue to live by. We have a dream.
This then is why entrepreneurship is such a big deal. It is what we must be introducing at schools—primary schools for that matter. It is something we should be encouraging for people to understand, to go into.
Entrepreneurship is when Swazis begin to break down what it takes to get to the next level of a first world status. But, as long as Swazis don’t understand this complex thing, then we are forever going to be chasing big dreams.
This is what occupied my mind the past week when I allowed my mind to look into this monster of a church that was officially launched in Fairview last week. What an impressive structure. What a project.
Of course, let us start at the beginning. The Metropolitan Church started as a vision, and has come to life. It was someone’s dream, and wherever he is Kaiser Fakudze is smiling, warmly, proudly. He is impressed with what he started, and what his people have achieved. This of course is matched with the same pride with which the current management at Metropolitan, or is it leadership, that they are feeling at having completed this structure. They have achieved something that the doubting Thomases would have never imagined would happen. They accomplished something really great. For that we must appreciate them. For that we need to give them the credit they deserve. Well done to them and the church for this.
The church of course is important, for it is these people that contributed their hard earned money to turn this into reality. It is the belief in the project. It is the belief in the vision. The belief in the vision. More importantly, it is the belief that in this lifelong project lies the success of what they stand for—a church growing in its numbers to justify the amount of money—running into the millions. This church costs over E30m they say.
That, by the way, is the subject for today. The cost of this church required this much amount of money that was generated from the membership. This means for years people have had to contribute to ensure this project is sustained. Maybe they sourced other funds, but that would also require that any financial institution, or whatever donor that financed this project, see the value and vision in this.
But, the money also tells us something. It tells us that those people inside the church, who contributed for decades in the belief they wanted to see this through, have money. Ahem. True. They have loads of money.
They have of course, the belief in abundance. But, that is not without question and not my interest. I cannot doubt their faith, nor their standing with God. That is their business.
What I see in this is that they have enough to invest in a church—a E30 million church.
A church, by the way, is not a business. It will never be. It is a house for the Lord, of the Lord, by the Lord. A church, in my humble understanding, is a modest place where He lives. A church worth this much is therefore a big enough statement that we have to start asking ourselves if we will ever accomplish what God desired for us.
The point is, in a country whose economy is in such terrible state; where the government is failing to pay for essentials; where the government is failing to educate its people by paying for scholarship of the children whose citizens are paying tax; a country whose government really has to borrow to finance the very salaries of its civil service. Mind you, the situation is so bad the people are turning against the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) for its efficiency in collecting the tax, and ensuring that public servants are paid. But of course, the SRA does not tax the church. And that’s the whole point. The church is not taxed. The church now is building fancy structures—worth these millions. There again is the mute point that we as a nation must really interrogate. The church should now be taxed—certainly the church that can afford to collect E30 million to build such a beautiful structure when all the Lord asked for was a modest place to stay.
Anyway, I digress. Let me make my point. The Metropolitan Church is not the sore thumb in this business that has successfully put up some amazing building. The Jesus Calls Worship centre probably gets the accolade for being among the first, if not the first church to cost in the millions of Emalangeni. Well, let me just say they were the first. They created this buzz for status and opulence. They got us talking with the way they became the type of church where everything was about who’s there and who’s not; even extending to power and prestige. But, that’s not the point too.
There are other churches. I believe Pastor Hlatshwayo recently launched another church just a few months ago—again, whose construction was in the Millions of Emalangeni.
Perhaps to emphasise this position, we have to consider that one of the country’s finest ever gospel artists and producer Rev Elias Shongwe, is attempting to build a church too—worth E12 million.
Now, there’s a problem. Never mind why churches are creeping up in such fashion. Ask yourself, and we should ask ourselves, what would have happened, were we to focus our energies into building and investing our millions into something of commercial ventures. Why are we not actually, doing so?
When a nation will be taxed to the cleaners, and then further tax itself in the House of the Lord, should we not be concerned? I saw a video somewhere that linked poverty to the mushrooming of fancy churches. Therein lies the problem.
But I was drawn to this point by the amount of money that was apparently thrown to bribes by people desperate to get into the army. There are some very sad tales of how people spent money they never even had, bribing their way into a conmen. One such individual paid a staggering E50 000. You have to ask yourself that if a person was to seriously focus on what he would do with E50 000 as a start-up, where would this country be? Consider too that this person was able to raise this money, which basically means that there are some securities that were put up. Is it because this person didn’t know what opportunities lie ahead for him if he could raise that much? Is this down to our education system? Is this down to us being brought up to be dependant than independent? Is this because people are illiterate even to the point they cannot think clearly around finding a lasting solution, than just the security of a job?
But, if churches are going to confine us to poverty like this, then what chance we will see this first world status then? Imagine if churches forced us to pay this much in tithes the money would then be invested somewhere, where it would then be used to enrich the same congregation? As I was saying; the buzz word is entrepreneurship. Once people understand that they have a chance to build something for themselves, and invest in it with their might, they will be powerful beyond measure. For now though, the people masquerading as pastors have got it nailed down.