THE STORY OF STEPHEN LUNGU
Stephen tells his own story in the book Freedom Fighter, Monarch Publications, 1994. As a terrorist he was sitting at a Christian gathering in Zimbabwe, Africa, carrying a bag of bombs with the intention of killing as many people as possible; sitting and listening when he was seized. But not by the police; it was by the Holy Spirit of Jesus that he was arrested.
“Death spread to all men because all men sinned” (footnote*)
Part I Stephen, An Unloved and Unwanted Boy
It was in 1943 that he was born. His home was in slums on the edge of Salisbury, which was the capital of Rhodesia, as the country was then called. Its powerful Government was controlled by white landowners. He tells the story in his own words starting as far back as he can remember:
“My mother was always cross with me because, as a small boy aged four, I was often sick with chest pains; and whenever I coughed, she would scold me. But I did love the times when she had drunk beer and was relaxed, and then I could cuddle up against her big warm body. She was very, very black; and I thought her beautiful.
“Mama and Papa used to fight, on the few occasions that Papa came home. He didn’t like me, telling me I wasn’t his son; but he liked my brother John The very fact that I existed seemed to be the cause of their quarrelling; and that too was what made her angry with me.
“Then there was a time when Papa didn’t come home at all. I was seven, John was five, and we had a baby sister. And one day Mama took us from our hut, and we walked into the square of the black township called Highfield. There she said, ‘Stephen, I want you to stay here. Stay!’, then, ‘Here’ as she pushed little sister into my arms, ‘Take care of her. And watch your brother; don’t let him run off. I must go … to the toilet (gsang spyod).’
“We waited. But she didn’t come back. The police found us. First they put us in an orphanage. Then they found our Aunt Bete; so we were put to stay with her. But she did not want us.
“Then Papa came from the country of Malawi and took us away to live there with his new wife. He used to slap her frequently, and she in turn would beat me. So, finally, I ran away. I took the long train journey back to Rhodesia with no ticket and hiding under the seats. And back to Aunt Bete.
“But Aunt Bete was furious and locked me up in the chicken coop, and fed me with food left-overs that were just poured onto the wire netting. I had to sleep in the chicken dung. Later I was allowed to sweep and fetch water, and to sleep in the house; but I had to get out by day, and was always hungry. I discovered that, if I walked across town, I could find and eat thrown-away food in the waste bins of white houses. It was food that was often slimy or green with mould. And sometimes it made me horribly sick, but I was no longer hungry all the time.
“I was eight years old by now, and found other poor boys. With them I would go to carry clubs for the white gentlemen at the golf club, if they asked us. Or we could fetch mis-hit tennis balls at the tennis club for the players. I earned a little money that way, but Aunt Bete found out and wanted the money. So I left and had to sleep in a scraped-out hollow in the sand under a bridge. With the other boys I learned to smoke tobacco, take drugs and drink alcohol. We would go to the cinema, and see the cowboy films; then learn how to throw knives. But before long less and less money could be earned at the white sports clubs. So I was forced back to scavenging for discarded food from garbage bins.
“I was 13, unloved, unwanted and depressed; and one day I unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide. Rescued, I was given a nice bed and food in the police station, and again in the hospital; but soon was sleeping under the bridge, and scavenging for food again. I thought, ‘Commit a crime, and the police will make sure I die properly!’ After this I and the other boys turned into vicious teen-agers. We used stolen knives and used our power over people, causing pain and fear and robbing them for their money.
“When I was 16, I came to realise that Rhodesia did not belong to the whites; it was our country, its real name was Zimbabwe. And that also was when some men found us and told us that they could train us to become Freedom Fighters for our liberation from white rule. We did not know that they were being paid to do this by communists in other countries.”
Next time, Part II: How Stephen came to hate the whites in Rhodesia, and was trained in terrorist methods.
*This quotation is part of Romans 5 verse 12. The story of how the first man sinned and died is told in Genesis Chapter 3. As a result (rgyu rkyen snga phyi), men are born with the three poisons (dug gsum) of desire, hatred and ignorance.