Tuesday 4 October 2011
Street Pastor G labours not in vain
I had known him long before meeting him for a one-on-one at a café along Angwa Street. He was a regular guest on Pastor Noah Pashapa’s Radio 3 programme.
It was in the afternoon after I had tried to link up with him for several days. He perched himself on a high stool and then peered at me. Looking at him, I had my doubts that this youthful looking and casual man sitting before me was a pastor.
I now believe him when he said: I was a spiritually restless youth too. Then the Lord said to me ‘Why labour in that which does not satisfy?’ That’s Isaiah 55 v 1-8,” the Street Preacher revealed.
Read the interview below
One of the busiest streets in Harare is Angwa Street especially the block between Jason Moyo and Nkwame Nkrumah Avenue where one meets street kids, taxi drivers, dealers, and vendors, loitering youths and most often than not a burly man dressed casually with earphones stuck in his ears.
If he is not in the popular internet café by the corner, look for him in the restaurant on the mezzanine floor of Angwa City, an attraction along Angwa Street. In case he is not there, then try the Ximex Mall, yet another hang out for dealers and such people in Harare.
If you meet him, know then that you have met the Pastor G, the Street Preacher dealer in human souls who represents a new breed of pastors in Zimbabwe today.
After several aborted meetings, the Southern Times finally tracked him down at the restaurant on the mezzanine floor of Angwa City early last week.
“I am sorry for taking long to organize this meeting,” he apologized but added that he had to be careful because the media had not been kind to him.
Then he wanted to know what exactly the Southern Times wanted from him.
The streets, pastor, why are you always on the streets?
“The youth do not like going to church because the church is seen as a place where all sorts of laws are given. This frightens the youth yet God wants them to come to Jesus Christ,” he defended himself.
“You see, I believe in the salvation of the young urban people. They need someone whom they can identify with and not the stereotyped pastor, who carries a big bible, wears a double vent jacket and tie and preaches in a loud hoarse voice.
“In my case, I use music to reach out to the youth. Through it I speak to the discouraged hearts,” the Street Preacher said.
“True religion is about meeting the real needs of the people no matter where,” he added.
And it seems the Street Preacher who has three albums to his credit – Tariro, Freedom Rugare and The Diary of a Street Preacher: I Worship You – has done just that.
In the 80s and 90s, the Street Preacher together with another youthful pastor, Rev Noah Pashapa, ran a radio programme, Beat With A Message on the then Radio 3 (now Power FM), that discussed topics aimed at educating and entertaining the youth.
The programme became a favourite with most youth who quickly identified with the type of American hip-hop and rap music played as well as the topics discussed.
Later when Rev Pashapa had stepped down, the Street Preacher had another radio programme, Shine On, on the same station which was stopped when the then Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation relocated the station to another town, Gweru, about 200 km from Harare.
Today, the Street Preacher acts as the pastor in Zimbabwe’s soap, Studio 263 whose main theme is HIV/ Aids.
“I know that my involvement in Studio 263 has raised many questions with people,” he said. “But let me tell you that the theme of HIV/ Aids is of much interest to me. Most churches treat HIV/ Aids victims with contempt. They have developed a this-is-us and they – are – them attitude.
“I want to change that attitude through my involvement in Studio 263 where I work with people who have lost their loved ones as well as those who are infected and affected,” he justified, a slow smile lighting his boyish face.
Of course, he has every reason to smile because today he is a pastor without a church following his decision to take yup music full time.
“Music is universal,” he expounded adding that ever since he chose to go full throttle into music, he has been invited by different churches to minister to them through music.
“Churches have different w3ays of worshipping but when it comes to music, they speak the same language – the language of music which cuts across borders, beliefs and religious tenets,” he said.
The Street Preacher was born Stanley Gwanzura in Lusaka, Zambia in 1970 when his parents were in exile from the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the war of liberation.
He attended schools in Zambia and then Zimbabwe after independence.
“I had a normal childhood,” he recalled. “My parents were Christians but in my case, I personally came to know Christ when I was doing Form one at Ellis Robins School in Harare in 1984.
‘Then in 1991, the Lord spoke to me through other people such as Rev Pashapa and Roy Musasiwa,” said the father of two whose music is hip-hop, rap and jazz.
“I was a spiritually restless youth too. Then the Lord said to me ‘Why labour in that which does not satisfy?’ That’s Isaiah 55 v 1-8,” the Street Preacher revealed.
When the calling came, he abandoned his career as a trainee manager with a Harare based company and undertook studies in theology in 1992.
On completion, he became a youth pastor with the Calvary Baptist Church in Harare, where he ministered for twelve years before resigning to concentrate of music.
“I feel my primary calling is to reach out to young people through music. I am glad that there is the 75% local content policy that has seen local music being promoted on radio.
“This shows that there is hope in this country. I also believe that we will overcome since what we are experiencing today is like a birth process. Every country has had its own fair share of problems and we are not different,” said the Street Preacher with much optimism.
When we bade farewell, he said, “Do not abuse the information I have given you.”