Let me show you where the scriptures are. Ezekiel 4:4, "Lie on your left side." I believe that was Ezekiel; he finished making everything that the Lord made as a symbol of Jerusalem. Having finished it, he would probably have worn his robes or whatever. I mean, he is going to wear that robe for one year in the rain or sunshine. It says he was the one to lie down. The moment he lies down he was locked in the power.
And he was released after the set number of days. God doesn’t turn him, the power doesn’t catch him and turn him. He was released and then he went to the right side and lie down and then he was locked in that position by the power of God. â€¨What is that saying to us? When the power of God is flowing, there is a part that is from us that must learn to yield and there is a part that is from God that gives the flow. So when the power of God is flowing, you have a choice to yield or not to yield.
Now these are spiritual things. When the power was flowing, there is a point of time that you could choose not to let it go. Up to the moment where Ezekiel has not lay down yet, he could choose to disobey. He could choose to walk away from his call. He had a free choice. But from the moment he obeyed and agreed to lie down, the power was fully released and locked in.
The moment he was locked in there was no way out of that. There is a moment and a very thin, fine line from free choice into being bound in the Spirit. Paul said in the book of Acts 20 to the Ephesian elders at a place called Miletus that he went bound to Jerusalem. He called it being bound. He is being bound by the Holy Spirit. This is the magnetic drawing that he chooses to yield to. The same Greek word used for bondage is fully used there but not in a negative sense. He yielded so much that he is now like a bondservant to God. Not only as a servant but a bondservant. In the year of Jubilee, a servant can be free. A bondservant chooses not to be free. â€¨â€¨
In Matthew 4 and Luke 4 it says Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. That sounds very dignified, sounds very pleasant. But wait till you read Mark 1; "and the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness." There is a point where you can choose, and as you choose, God understands your commitment, God understands your love for Him. God knows the freedom He can now have with you because you love Him so much and He takes you over. You move into the bondservanthood. As you move towards the tidal waves, you can still back off. But when you plunge yourself into the tidal waves, it is too late to back off. The tidal waves now carry you. By this time, even if you want to choose to come out you cannot.
You are flowing there now. â€¨â€¨Now this is one possible illustration that you could experience. For example, if the power and the presence of God is strong. It depends on the type of that anointing that is manifesting. Sometime I could yield to the power of God that is being manifested. Not all the time but sometimes as I worship God, I sense that His power wants to shake my hands. Note this: as I am shaking my hands I have full control and I can stop it anytime. But as I yield to a certain extent, it reaches a point where it comes to the level of the subconscious. It can come to the point where I keep on yielding until the movements are more on the subconscious level.
I could purposely move my hands this way and that but it is definitely conscious. But as I keep yielding to the anointing more and more, the hand movements come faster and faster until it cannot be at the conscious level any more. It sends a signal to your brain and say just keep it going. It's just like when you lock your car at a particular speed using cruise control. You don’t have to press the pedal any more. You could press the kilometers per hour all you like and you could just lock it in. And you could take your legs off the pedal. To release it you just press it again. So your brain sends a signal to the automatic department and he locks it. So there is a realm where it goes into the automatic section.
But that is under the power of God and not under our voluntary shaking. â€¨â€¨Under the power of God there is a certain realm. For example, the Spirit of God moves into your life where you could chose to yield or not. Then as you yield there is a certain level of yielding where you still can choose to stop. But you could yield so much that you are literally caught in the flow of the current of God. At that point, even if you want to stop you have to wait till the current subsides before you could really stop.
There is such a realm in the power of God in the anointing of God. â€¨â€¨I could have a relationship with you and I know you well enough. If I don’t know you well enough, before I visit your home, I make sure I call you. I don’t want to catch you in your pajamas or when your house is in a mess. I make sure that I don’t embarrass you. If I know you on a normal level, I make sure you know that I am coming.
If I know you very well and you gave me the liberty to come to your house anytime, I would do so. So according to our relationship, we take liberty. If I really know you very well, sometimes I make myself at home in your house. I will be the one who welcomes your guests. I go to the fridge and help myself and serve all the food. It is not my house but you have given me the liberty to treat the house as though it were my own. So God’s relationship with us is the same since He knows our level of free will.
There are different levels of our free will. And that’s the position where your free will has been surrendered to God and you say, “Lord, do anything you want with me. Send me anywhere; I will do anything.” But yet you need to pray that prayer of consecration and dedication. God sees the depth of your meaning. People pray that but with different degrees of meaning. As God knows your meaning, He takes the liberty at times to just flow through you while you appear to sit at the sidelines. You welcome it and God knows you welcome it. That is why He took the liberty.
â€¨Another illustration is when you fall. There is a position where you could lean back a little and you could still get back and don’t fall. But you reached a certain position and you start falling even if you want to get back to standing you cannot get back any more. The gravitational pull is too strong already. There is no way you could resist it. So to a certain extent when we work with the power of God in different degrees, there are different degrees of yieldedness that you could choose to go through. Sometimes the power could be operating at fifty volts but yet there are different types of responses. Although it’s fifty volts, yet it’s flowing in some people at fifty, some at forty, some at thirty and some at twenty.
The manifestation may be at fifty volts but the degree of resistance in the people prevents the electron of the Holy Spirit from fully flowing through them. So there is what I call the phenomena of falling under the power and if you understand how it operates and what it’s operating, you could flow along and open yourself to the things of the Spirit of God instead of closing yourself up.
For that reason some people never fall. â€¨â€¨Now let me put all these things together. It is not necessary to fall to get a blessing. Sometimes you fall and don’t get a blessing. Sometimes, you remain standing, but you may still get a blessing. Falling under the power as I mentioned has nothing to do with your spirituality. Some people say if you don’t fall you are very resistant to the Holy Spirit. That is why you don’t fall. On the other hand there is another group that says if you fall there is something wrong with you.
For that kind of reasoning then the one who remains standing is a stronger Christian. The one who falls is the weaker one. It’s the opposite altogether. It has nothing to do with that. God’s power as I have illustrated has different ways of working. You have people who fall under the power who are very spiritual people in the Bible like Ezekiel, Daniel, and Paul. But you have other people who fall who have nothing. When Jesus came out from the Garden of Gethsemane and the soldiers came for Him, Jesus said, “Whom do you seek?” They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus in the gospel of John said, “I am He.” They all fell (John 18). Nothing happened to them. They just got up and arrested Him.
Their hearts were not changed. â€¨â€¨In the book of Acts 26 Paul recounted the incident in Acts 9 where he fell from his donkey. He said he was not the only one who fell. Because in Acts 26 he said "we fell." That tells us Paul and his team was going along. And when the light of Jesus came, all of them fell but only one got touched and changed. So falling under the power has nothing to do with spiritual level. The bottom line is people have always fallen when they encountered God, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. People are falling today. And people will keep falling. So, let them fall! â€¨
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org