Elder Edward Dube was born in the far away land of Zimbabwe, and in his new book, Beyond the Shade of the Mango Tree, he discusses how the gospel of Jesus Christ helped him step out of his comfort zone. On this week’s All In podcast, Elder Dube shared a specific time he left his comfort zone: proposing to his wife. They had planned to wait several years before getting married, but a talk from a living prophet propelled Elder Dube to action. He also shared how his wife helped him step out of his cultural comfort zone simply by reaching for his hand.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones: In the book, you write about the inspiration and revelation through a living prophet that led you to marry your wife. And I thought that this was so neat. And I wondered if you would be willing to share a little bit about that?
Elder Edward Dube: Well, in Africa, the challenges we have is to help most of our young adults move from the traditions which our forefathers had. You know, be it that marriage is when you're about 30, that's really when you think you're old enough to marry. You need to work and do certain things and so forth, and then get to that stage…and so when I got off my mission that was what I thought.
I knew Naume and I loved [her], I just didn't think I was ready to marry her. So when I read President Ezra Taft Benson's words talking about those who were 27 years old, I mean–can you imagine? I'm 27 years old, and I'm reading exactly those words where the prophet is raising concerns about those who are 27 years old.
And even after reading that, I still doubted. I still said, "Oh, no. No. This doesn't apply to us. I'm sure he's talking to those in North America and maybe some parts of the world, not here, because you know, we just have a different situation." I still had doubt. So I really felt the tender mercies of Heavenly Father. I mean, just to think I just read the article and my branch president calls me in his office and he said, "Eddie, you realize you're getting old.” …I guess even Heavenly Father saying, "Well, he doesn't listen, let's see if I can give him all these, you know, visual aids and help," and so forth, and finally I got it. You know, I got it on that conversation with my branch president, John Newbold, and I just felt "Yes. Yes, I can do it."
Morgan Jones: I want to make sure that we touch on a couple of things that really stood out to me in the book. You tell a story about letting go of some cultural traditions, and you highlight the idea that sometimes being a member of the Church means letting go of some of the things that we may have grown up with—traditions or customs—and instead embracing gospel traditions. And I would imagine that your culture has some pretty specific traditions, so I wondered if you could give us some examples of traditions that you had to let go of, and then gospel traditions that you have learned to embrace.
Elder Edward Dube: You know, when you say that, Morgan, I just think of my early experience. When [I had] just married Naume, we were out visiting with my mother in the village. I went and stood by my mother, who was sifting some ground nuts. And as I was standing by her, Naume came, and she came and stood by me. And then Naume held my hand. And I kind of brushed her hand gently aside. And, you know, she held my hand again. And I gently slide, you know, sliding it aside. In my mind, I was saying, "I never saw mom and dad holding hands," you know, and so I was uncomfortable. And, you know, Naume stood there, holding hands. And, and so that was strange for me.
And I mean, and I'm truly grateful that Naume helped me to overcome that. To love and to embrace each other is really the keys . . . you're not only embracing each other, you express love for each other, and so forth. And what that does is strengthens your love for each other, but also it binds you together. And so that was one of the traditions, if you were, if you were to come to Zimbabwe…in early 90s, they would–you would go into a chapel, you would see men sitting on the other side and women sitting on the other side. You know, that's the tradition.
But over the years with the rising generation, our returned missionaries, you know, taking leadership in the Church, you know, serving as bishop, stake presidents, we see a different culture now, where they're not only sitting together, but they’re holding hands, they’re sitting as couples and so forth. And so yeah, so that's one of the cultures which we had to work hard to make sure we overcame.
Lead Image: Courtesy of Deseret News
Elder Edward Dube grew up in rural Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), against the backdrop of civil war. From humble beginnings, he worked hard in the fields, walked miles for water, and sacrificed for the privilege of education. There, in Silobela, his mother would sometimes gather her children and teach them in the shade of the mango trees near their home. But we can't learn everything we need to know if we stay in the comfort of a tree's shade. Beyond the Shade of the Mango Tree shows us how our Heavenly Father speaks to and magnifies His children who turn to Him. Elder Dube's story is in some ways the same as many of God's children's, but in other ways his experiences are vastly different. From growing up in war-torn Zimbabwe, where he discovered the gospel at age twenty-two, to his Church leadership experiences in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, and the United States, Elder Dube's stories and insights offer fresh perspectives on core gospel teachings. Through Elder Dube's own personal experiences along with teachings of latter-day prophets and the scriptures, Beyond the Shade of the Mango Tree teaches us that we can come to see ourselves as the Lord sees us—His beloved children, with the potential to become like Him.