Zimbabweans and their beliefs on social phenomenon
By Precious Shumba
Zimbabweans are a religious lot. They have symbols of their religious beliefs. Bangles. Wrist bands, wooden plates, scarfs, rings, anointing oil, leaders. By religion I am referring to the things that people follow out of faith that their trusting in them would give them powers, what they need in life, and they get peace when they believe in them.
The African Traditional Religion has its followers, and Christianity is one of the most followed way of life. Whatever happens around us is interpreted through religious lenses. For example, the death of person is usually followed by suspicions that someone has caused it. Witchcraft is usually blamed for the deaths of people. It exists. Witches have continued to kill. When someone runs out of financial opportunities, either someone has placed a curse on you or your business, or you have not followed certain things.
The good things come from God or from the ancestors. Mostly Christians attribute the good fortunes to God. The bad things, misfortunes to punishment from the gods or from God for sinning or violating some spiritual covenants. The trouble with these beliefs is that modernity, or the scientific generation regards most of the social phenomenon through the eyes of science, and through the lenses of capitalism, democracy and globalisation.
However, among us is the traditional generation that is always looking for signs and figures to understand the present, the past and predict the future. They view things in the traditional sense of the profane and sacred. There have been debates on the practice of perceived un-African cultures among Africans, and the adoption of western cultural practices is seen as the major cause of societal challenges in most African countries.
It is in that context that the recent utterances by Defence Minister in the Zimbabwean Government, Oppah Zvipangeyi Muchinguri-Kashiri should be interrogated without judging her from a capitalist and democratic or globalisation perspective.
Zanu PF as an institution, and the Zimbabwean Government have had leaders who believe in the sacred mountains, rivers, idols and other such paraphernalia that is evident among them. Some of the leaders have maretso, zvikwambo and some private gods that they worship in order to remain in power, to be victorious in elections or whatever competition you present to them.
This is so because in their political-economic and social upbringing, there is nothing that happens without first engaging with the spiritual world. Madam Muchinguri- Kashiri is exactly in the same place where the likes of Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, long time Party Secretary for Administration Didymus Noel Edwin Mutasa et al were when they were fooled by the spiritist Rotina Mavhunga of the diesel from the Chinhoyi mountains fame.
The death of well- known traditional sangoma, one Ndunge from Chipinge saw the Head of State and other business people and politicians travelling to Chimanimani and Chipinge under the guise of visiting the victims of Cyclone Idai, which ravaged the nation around 9 March 2019. The current fight over the throne of Zimbabwe between some Zanu PF factions and Grace Mugabe have to do with the knobkerries and other items believed to bestow upon the one possessing them the ultimate power to rule Zimbabwe. Such is the mystery around these items that former First Lady has reportedly relocated to Zvimba to be watching closely the place where they buried long time dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The overprotection of the dead body of Mugabe is to be viewed in that context of the strong belief in the sacred symbols among Zanu PF officials and some government bureaucrats. They all believe in ‘kusimbiswa in order to be in their positions forever.’
Therefore it can be concluded that Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri is not alone in that wild but real belief among the leaders of Zanu PF and the Government that God is indeed punishing the western world through corona virus due to their violation of the citizens of Zimbabwe through economic sanctions. Who do the leaders rely on for their final decisions? Is it the Constitution alone, is it God, or traditional healers and sangomas? This is left to the reader to find the answers. There is a strong belief even among the ATR followers that the country’s ancestors and spirit mediums are fighting the current government leadership over poor leadership, the deepening poverty levels and the bad things happening around the President in terms of his public utterances, which are usually very unpalatable. Science has its explanations on the spread of corona virus but the Christians and other religious people believe that whatever happens is a result of God’s decisions on humanity. Therefore Oppah’s comments should not be treated in isolation but around the belief system that dominates our broader society. People should fear God and not try to speak or act on His behalf without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Only through the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit will people speak the message of God. On whose behalf was Oppah speaking?