Religion in Zimbabwe is a very contentious issue. Mainly because we are a religious people from the days of our forefathers and that makes us different from all other cultures. Contentious issue because we have been fought by forcise of evil and deceit to the extend of getting so confused that it is now normal to see a family no longer on talking terms among themselves because of issues of religion.
I will trace back from the early days of precolonial history of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean people mainly of the Shona race were under ancestral spirits, and the centre of governance were the spirit mediums. These were the people who installed chiefs and that by its positioning meant that the chief’s power was derived from their obedience to the order of the spirit mediums.We talk of Chaminuka, Mutota, Murenga, Nehanda, Gwangwadza, Gondondo and many more that we may mention etc. as the centres of power. These were the centre forces of the African religion.
Midzimu determined where to build your houses, which forests to go hunting and which not to hunt in. Midzimu communicated a code of conduct for each particular dunhu/administrative area. They chose the ‘sabath day’ (Chisi) among their people. They had the power to summon the rains and the rains would come. They would prophesy and prepare their people aginst draught, invasions etc. The spirit mediums advised on what to do and where to go in times of war etc. Also the process of choosing the chief/mambo, where three men from a chiefstainship clan would be selected by midzimu, brouht forward, given bute/snuff to hold tight into their closed palms and three times thrown deep into river pond and see which of them would come out with the snuff dry.
Therefore, this was the centre of authority where all chiefstainship authority was derived from. And thios is also where punishments came from. If one was found to be in acts of misconduct and a punishment was meted, all would see exactly that happen.The Zimbabwean people believed and worshiped that. This worked for the shona people and they maintained that always as their religion.
Chaminuka of Dumbwiza(Chitungwiza), told of the coming of the whites, which is well documented. He told of these people’s cunning and evil ways against the national people’s governance and religion. He advised against allowing them any space at all. And he also warned of their mighty power which would defeat the native chiefs and their chiefdom. This all happened. So the shona people remained steadfast. Nehanda commanded the first Chimurenga war. He directed how the fighters should behave and warned against touching any of the whiteman’s things. On the breaking of whjich rules was a defeat for the fighters and subsequently came a demise of the ancestral spirit worship. That was the fall of the Shona rulership and with it the beginning of the fall of the shona culture.
When the whiteman came, they made sure they destroyed that religion first. This again is most dicumented. The whiteman quickly searched and understood where the shona kingdom power derived from. They then went on the hunt for all the prominent spirit mediums and slaughtered them. In a conclusive brutal stop to a shona resistance. They knew that the shona had a religion. They knew that you could not defeat the shona if you let loose their religion and religious practises. And their hunt for the kill went on into the second Chimurenga era, and many spirit mediums too were murdered. They were murdered for the very simple reason of practising an own religion which their only source of solace and source of power.
The spirit mediums blessed the second Chimurenga. Many religious songs were sung to go with that. The war went on and even a simple Mujibha and Chimbwido would tell you it was a sacred war. It was a religious war. And the religion won. If it were not for the religion and if it were not for the worship, the whiteman would have won. But our Zimbabwean religion won the war!
The Great Betrayal! We did not have religious leaders. We did not get religious leaders into the rank and file of ruleship. We got too too excited to recognise and maintain our religion. The liberation war leaders came back on Independence, grabbed power, grabbed influence away, grabbed women, money and all resources of their choice, and they stuck away with their families. They stuck away, far far away from the religion, from the religious leadership and religious influence, and they shunned all that. Also they stuck away and shunned even the religious advice that won them the war and the power and the priviledged.
Education. That too we grabbed. Not that there is anything wrong with being educated but what type of education. The very educational curriculum that destroys us, that destroyed us that which shuns us as a people is what we grabbed and celebrated and glorified. Thsi brought a devout clinging to the bible. The Christian bible which teaches us that there is a Jesus who curses our religion and a Jesus who says serve the whiteman, remain poor so that you will be rewarded in heaven And so we grabbed the Christian religion and that one many follow, especially the current generation, the young and tomorrow generation.
Leadership. That too we grabbed and in that we brought the same same people who were shunned by our religion. And those we celebrated and glorified and in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation we trusted and promoted at the expense of our own. At the expense of our own religion. Our own religion that brought us independence.
Culture. Theirs too we grabbed. And our own we ignored and discarded. All this happened with the blessings of our very powerful and most learned leaders. The very leaders who are still in power today, and have brought our religious Zimbabwe down to its waist.
The War Values. These we abandoned. But these remain the key to a change to our fortune. The war values as dictated by our religion. Through our religious leaders. And so we remain a lost people, a people who shunned an own religion in favour of a foregn religion. The very foregners who became our tormenter, the very foregners who are our tormenters and very foregners who are jeering our ‘new democratic’ leaders. Zimbabwe, a religious people a confused culture,all because of a shunning of a true African religion.