The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends

By Gerald O. West; Musa W. Dube | Go to book overview

THE IMPACT OF THE BIBLE ON
TRADITIONAL RAIN-MAKING INSTITUTIONS
IN WESTERN ZIMBABWE
Hezekiel Mafu

From the time Christianity was first introduced into Western Zimbabwe, a tense or perhaps a hostile atmosphere has existed between the adherents of African Indigenous Religions and Christian religious systems. This has often become most conspicuous in times of disastrous situations, such as droughts. Such catastrophic events have generated accusations and counter-accusations by protagonists of both religions for the prevailing conditions. Communities and families have been torn apart especially when religious convocations have been called by either side to remedy the situation. Traditionalists consider the Bible a tool to undermine indigenous religious systems and have urged communities to reject it totally. The underlying cause for this acrimonious friction between the religious groups has been occasioned by conceptions, or perhaps misconceptions, held by each group, on the source of and the methodology used to acquire rain. As a prelude to the main focus of this essay, I shall endeavour to briefly outline what could be called the fundamental belief systems of each of the two religions relative to the source of rain.

According to the Old Testament biblical literature, Yahweh (God) is the only source and provider of rain. In his rhetorical questions to Israel, the prophet Jeremiah asked if any of the worthless idols of the nations brought any rain or the skies themselves sent down showers? Responding to these questions Jeremiah reiterated that it was Yahweh, the God of Israel who provided rain (Jeremiah 14:22). Echoing the same sentiments Job stated that it was God who ordered the snow to fall on earth and determined the quantity and quality of rain (Job 37:6). It was further believed that rain could be used by God to express divine displeasure and punishment for people's delinquency. Such was the situation in the account of the flood in Genesis where Yahweh destroyed the antediluvian people with rain, save Noah and his family and specimens of every animal species (Genesis 7:1–4). In his final warning to the nation of Israel, Moses

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