The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends

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

of the alliance of the sextet two days were declared as holy days to be observed by all, one for traditionalists and the other for Christians. Juliana makes use of Christians who attend her ceremonies by asking them to pray at the beginning of her ceremonies. Like her counterpart at Njelele, there is a strong ingredient of Christianity in her ceremonies, though Christ does not play as active a role as the Mapa.

The Manyangwa theological reform presents a fascinating example of attempts by indigenous forms of religion to foster an alliance with Christianity. The incumbent shrine-keeper serves a dual capacity, first as minister of the New Covenant Apostolic Faith Mission and secondly as shrine-keeper for Ubabamkulu. The two scarves symbolize that Christianity and African Indigenous Religion are now in agreement. Ubabamkulu assumed all the claims of the God of the Bible such as creation, authorship of the Ten Commandments and the ownership of the Bible itself. He also claims to be the “Word/Voice” referred to in John 1:1–3.

The theological reforms at the cult shrines seem to have attracted considerable sympathy and understanding between African Indigenous Churches and African Indigenous Religion practitioners, dissolving the acrimonious relationships that had existed between these groups for decades. Something of an alliance or fusion might be in the offing. However, what the nature of the alliance or fusion might be, is not yet clear. While the Christianisation of the indigenous Mwali rain-cults described in this essay may appear fairly superficial, its significance should not be underestimated. On the one hand, it illustrates graphically the advance of what we might call “a public biblical and Christian culture” from which the traditional indigenous shrines can no longer stand apart, on the other, it appears to have broken down the barrier of separation between Zionist clergy and the shrine officials. If this is the case, then the 1991–92 drought materially altered the religious complexion of Western Zimbabwe.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Beach, D.N. The Shona and Zimbabwe 900–1800. London: Heinemann 1980.

Bhebe, N. Christianity and Traditional Religion in Western Zimbabwe 1859–1923. London: Longman, 1979.

Carsi, Pietro. Science and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1988.

Cockcroft, I.G. “'The Mlimo' (Mwali) Cult, ” NADA X. 1972. Chronicle. 20 January 1992.

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