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‘Same Bus, Different Driver’

Evan Mawarire of Zimbabwe at the Oslo Freedom Forum in May 2019 (Jay Nordlinger)

One of the most remarkable men I have ever met is Evan Mawarire, a pastor and democracy leader from Zimbabwe. In July 2017, I wrote a piece about him called “Zimbabwe’s Freedom Pastor: Evan Mawarire, the anti-Mugabe.” Robert Mugabe ruled over Zimbabwe from April 1980 to November 2017.

In May 2017, I did a Q&A podcast with Pastor Evan at the Oslo Freedom Forum. At that time, he was out on bail. The authorities had let him have his passport because his parents had turned the title deed to their home over to them. That was the deal: title deed for passport.

Six months later, Mugabe fell from power. This year, in May 2019, Evan Mawarire was back at the Oslo Freedom Forum. I again did a podcast with him: here.

We sat at the same table as before. He was once more out on bail. Once more, his parents had turned over their title deed, in exchange for his passport. Etc., etc.

When we talked, I shared with Evan an old American saying (or perhaps it is British): “second verse, same as the first.” He shared a Zimbabwean saying with me: “same bus, different driver.”

The current regime in Zimbabwe is just as bad as Mugabe’s. In fact, it is a continuation of it. As Pastor Evan says, Mugabe is gone but the Mugabe system remains.

When the old man fell, there was euphoria in the streets, Evan says. People of all ages and tribes rejoiced. There had not been such unity since independence, says Evan. But it quickly turned to ash.

As before, democracy leaders and protesters were arrested (Evan among them). Their wives and daughters were raped. The men were beaten in prison. Evan wound up in the very same cell, incidentally — not just the same prison but the same cell.

I could go on, but he says it all much better than I could. Again, our (latest) podcast is here. “All I have is my faith,” says Evan, “and the hope that the triumph of good over evil is inevitable, and that it’s not an if, it is when.”

When I wrote about him in 2017, I quoted the verse from Psalms that he had adopted as his theme song, so to speak: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” He is standing on this, however dark the clouds overhead.

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