Editor's Comment

Reading shall set you free

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu (right) receiving a copy of the Holy Bible from Bible Society of Zambia general secretary Abraham Chikasa (left) and Bible Society president Professor Edwin Zulu at State House. PICTURE: MACKSON WASAMUNU

MANY Zambians are vulnerable to everything false: adulterated gospel, fake news and fraudsters. All this is because they don’t read.
We are living in an era where we have to be alert at individual, family, community and national levels. This is essential for making informed decisions and keeping liars in check.
But it is clear that many Zambians have dropped their guard on what they assimilate.
They embrace virtually any piece of information that comes their way and worse still contribute to spreading the half-truths or blatant lies.
These citizens are quick to believe in anything they are exposed to and thus become fertile minds for all manner of anything fake. Those with ulterior motives use such people to perpetrate lies.
These purveyors include politicians and clergypersons. As it were, there is an outbreak of pastors who are not in good standing with the word of God but are thriving on people’s desperation for wealth.
Gullible people are rushing to the so-called men and women of God in search of breakthroughs.
Zambians want instant answers for their problems and are looking to men and not God for solutions.
And the so-called men of God read the people’s desperation for quick solutions and end up prescribing anti-scriptural antidote.
Yet, their solutions lie in the Bible.
That is why the Bible in Hosea 4:6 says: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
The perpetrators of fake news are also thriving because they have found citizens gullible and vulnerable – ready to believe anything.
Even when there are established and credible news channels where factual news can be obtained, citizens still choose to believe in everything the social media throws at them.
Apart from established news channels, there are also institutions from which people can verify their information.
But this is not happening and social media is thriving.
Yet, we all know that social media’s initial good intentions have been eroded and is now dominated by half-truths and outright lies especially against real or perceived social, economic and political rivals.
Added to this category are fraudsters who have also found Zambia a fertile hunting ground.
One morning, somebody is told that he has won several thousands of pounds or dollars through a text message from abroad.
Without consulting, people begin to send their particulars without questioning that lottery or how they were selected to win by a foreign-based agency.
They end up parting away with security fees designed to activate the transaction.
People are told they have parcels in some country from abroad but they should pay some money for it to be sent to them.
Without verifying the source of the parcel, citizens end up sending a lot of money and never receive those parcels – all because they want to get rich quickly, or through shortcuts.
All this is happening because of the poor reading culture in the country.
On virtually all social media platforms, many Zambians get involved in discussions on topics they least understand. Their contributions are so out of place that they become a threat not only to themselves but to society as a whole.
It is bad enough to want to get involved in a discussion on an issue one has little or no knowledge in, but it becomes deeply worrisome for discussions to be woven around non-issues or lies.
As it were, often someone would post a fake story and without verifying the report, people start reacting to it as though it is true. Some of the contributions are vulgar and add absolutely no value to any discourse.
That is why President Edgar Lungu says many Zambians do not read and yet they debate issues which they do not understand.
The head of State says many Zambians do not read national documents such as the constitution but they are in the forefront misleading others.
It is not just the constitution Zambians do not read. It is clear that lack of reading the Bible and understanding it is the reason this country has so many false prophets.
It is also the reason most Zambians do not read books and newspapers to enrich their knowledge but rely on hearsay.
It is also the reason why examination leakages are on the rise because even pupils who are supposed to enjoy their education have no time for it.
So they discover that they invested their time elsewhere, and come exam time, they look for the easy way out – leakages.
There is a popular saying that if you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book. This is precisely what is happening to Zambians because they have no time for books.
The outcome is Zambia lagging in development.

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