I did not leave Jehovah’s Witnesses for any one reason. Oh no! I’m not impulsive like that. It was the sheer net-effect of ‘JWism’ that finally took its toll on me. I’d spent what seemed like my entire young adult life preoccupied with everything but the self; I was more machine than person – not that I was ultimately profited by my labours. In fact, if anything, my commitment was met with contempt.

While my eventual departure may have seemed sudden to a bystander, truth is, I had left long before I had left. My continued physical stay was contingent on a suspensive condition brokered with the Most High. I was effectively on pause in my latter years as a Witness. Oddly enough, I was looking for a reason to stay. I was craving that ‘divine’ understanding – that ‘antidote’ – that would allay all my deep-seated concerns. That one thing that would neutralise what deep-seated fears had emerged over the years. That one thing that would vindicate my beliefs and renew my conviction that I was indeed on the right path. But, alas… the more I would try to find for the Witnesses, the more slippery my grasp became. It is almost as if there was a deliberate attempt by forces within the organisation to vindicate my reservations.

Mistakes were made. One concession was followed by another. Pieces of myself were being taken quicker than I could replenish. It was a revolving door. This was the substance of my existence as a Witness. It escalated to a point where the only way I could hope to convince myself to stay was to resign my thinking ability, to subscribe to philosophical reasoning, trap myself in an endless loop of justification; I’d have to fool myself with mental gymnastics in order to bypass all the ‘logical’ stop signs which militated against the survival of what had become a treasured fiction of mine. Also, I was not assisted by the fact that I needed this movement to the truth. I had, after all, placed such a high premium on it, backed up by tangible investment.

Reality, however, had no sympathy for this fiction that was implanted in me in the days of my youth, this fiction I had become a living surrogate of. Reality’s lack of sympathy came in the form of cognitive dissonance. For years a great war was taking place in the sanctuary of my mind. In the end, however, truth had to prevail. ‘Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable.’ Anything that did not contribute to this reality, or, indeed, my peace of mind, had to be jettisoned. It occurred to me that I wasn’t going to find any relief… unless I gave it to myself.

Disassociation is a quantum leap. And, yes, the cost of leaving was very high; but, as time can attest – at least in my case – it remained exponentially better. For someone not impulsive, that should tell you something… The time that has elapsed has allowed me to nourish my soul and replenish myself with water from freedom’s well, until my once dim eyes became bright again.

Meeting With the Elders

Two anniversaries ago, after the Sunday Watchtower Study, I found myself in the ‘B’ school with three elders. I only expected two. I’d always understood three to be a judicial case. Surely this wasn’t…

When the three fine shepherds had all taken turns ‘serenading’ me with rhetoric I was not unfamiliar with, I attempted to throw them a few pearls. My effort, however, was met with unbridled laughter by His Royal Highness, Giambiasi. So, I kept quiet and assumed a role that men of his sort had become accustomed to. Docile.

As the remnants of his amusement trickled away, I listen to him ‘reassure’ me that I don’t qualify. His statement strikes me as a non-sequitur. Furthermore, he does not furnish me with an explanation of what it is precisely that I don’t qualify for. I don’t ask. But… on a plain assessment of his statement, what emerges in my mind is the possibility that he’s pinning my departure on the lack of appointment. Pour l’amour de Dieu. As he shares this insight with me, I sit quietly calculating my spiritual net worth. I’ve grown so tired of this pettiness… this culture. More than just a waste of time, it was a waste of life. These poor fellows, in their symbolic role as elders, have the capacity to syphon your will to live.

I found particular solace, however, in the knowledge that I’d be cured of this institutional pettiness shortly. That knowledge and my sense of compunction were probably the only things that kept me temperate, which is just as well, because, mounting a case under these circumstances would have a kafkaesque quality. I had to appreciate that I was engaging people who were thoroughly captured, which, for the most part, rendered any cerebral engagement nugatory; indeed, a futile exercise akin to throwing pearls at swine. They were spiritually insolvent, so far as I could see, albeit harnessing an illegitimate and artificial authority imbued unto them. They were corporate men. Institutionalised. Worse part was, they could not see it; seduced by their titles; thoroughly medicated doctrinally; textbook examples of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Captured!

I know this, for I too was once there. So I smiled… and paid my three ‘comforters’ the courtesy of an audience as they showered me with their infinite wisdom.

Letter of Disassociation

When the clever speeches came to an end, Giambiasi tells me I have to write a letter expressing my wish to disassociate. I knew I didn’t have to. I wondered if he was genuinely ignorant of protocol or if he was cashing-in on what he believed to be my ignorance. I couldn’t tell. No doubt my objection would be construed as recalcitrance. But, having read the secret elders manual – a book I thoroughly detest; authoured by cowards; slick piece of literature – I knew I didn’t have to. [1] If anything, this underscores the importance of access to information.

Jehovah's Witnesses - Disassociation Letter is Optional
A disassociation letter is optional, not mandatory. - Shepherd the Flock of God page 111.

Notwithstanding that I was under no obligation to write a letter, I wanted to. I preferred it. When I got home later that evening, I edited a letter I had pre-authoured and emailed it to the Service Committee of Randburg-French congregation: Franck Giambiasi (Co-ordinator of the Body of Elders), Yannis Papaconstantinou (Secretary), and Felly Futa (Service Overseer).

Letter of Disassociation - Clement Mabunda - Two Years Out

It’s been exactly two years since I sent that letter; I haven’t looked at it since… it just occurred to me that I still haven’t so much as received an acknowledgement of receipt.

I shan’t hold my breath…


[1] Shepherd the Flock of God (2010) p.111. See also 2 Corinthians 13:2.