It started with a flag and a Facebook page. Evan Mawarire, a Christian pastor from Zimbabwe, started a Facebook Live video stream one evening to make an emotional appeal to his country: Wearing the flag of Zimbabwe around his neck, he asked his followers to stand up against the corruption and violence of the Zimbabwean government and its authoritarian leader, Robert Mugabe. Now, as reported by Religion News, Mawarire’s plea has grown into a nationwide movement for change.
Mawarire posts multiple videos a week to both his Facebook and Twitter accounts, warning Zimbabweans not to pay bribes to officials and to non-violently protest corrupt policies. The activism has earned him the nickname “Captain Zimbabwe” and made him a popular political force in the country, where decades of dictatorial rule have left citizens hungry and impoverished. Thousands of Zimbabweans have rallied under the hashtag #ThisFlag in honor of Mawarire’s original Facebook Live stream
Mawarire’s videos started as simple monologues, but he now includes interviews with everyday Zimbabweans and videos of sites around the country that have been negatively impacted by the Zimbabwean state. As he speaks, he alternates between English and Shona, the most widely spoken language in Zimbabwe. Always, he wears the Zimbabwean flag wrapped around his shoulders and carries a Bible.
Mawarire’s Facebook activism has gained him an enormous following in his country, but not without political reprisal. Earlier this month, Robert Mugabe publically lambasted Mawarire, claiming he was not a true Christian. Mugabe’s government also imprisoned Mawarire for subversion, but he was released when a court threw out the charges.
Read more at Religion News.