GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY OF THE NDAU PEOPLE

Get Complete Project Material File(s) Now! »

 African Indigenous Religions

The current thesis is a project in African indigenous religions, specifically on how these intersect and co-exist with Christianity on the African continent and in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, in particular. Misconceptions about Africans and African Religions in particular by Westerners were characteristic of colonialism. Much has been written about this by scholars from different disciplines and backgrounds, among them Mugambi (1989: 40-42), Thorpe (1991: 2-3), and Olowola (1993: 8). The impact of the Westerners’ perceptions and actions is still present in Africa long after colonialism has been put to rest.
According to Long (2004: 89), “… ‘indigenous’, from the Latin, means literally being born from within, which leads to the notion of being produced or living naturally in a particular region.” Indigenous religions in this sense would refer to religions that were produced naturally in Zimbabwe as opposed to those that were imported like Christianity, Islam, among others.
‘Indigenous’ is, however, not to be confused with ‘autochthonous’. The Shona and/or Ndau are understood to be ‘indigenous’ but not necessarily ‘autochthonous’ in Zimbabwe. Bullock (1950: 9) asserts that, “The great bulk of the people of this Colony [Zimbabwe], however, are Bantu whom we call officially the indigenous Natives, although… they are not the autochthonous inhabitants.” The Shona and/or Ndau are not autochthons in Zimbabwe because, as shall be seen later in this study, they formed part of the Bantu people who migrated southwards in Africa, displacing the San in the process. According to Cox (2013: 13-14) “Restricting the term indigenous to autochthonous populations is neither necessary nor is it desirable…”. This is because that would be overlooking “the fact that populations around the globe for centuries have migrated and have conquered lands, oftentimes displacing those who were living originally in the region”.
European scholars perceived African indigenous religions as primitive and held Christianity to be superior. In other words, the African and his or her worldview were viewed as inferior to the Westerner and to her or his worldview. The Westerner viewed the African as having been incapable of “producing meaningful, sophisticated religious traditions” and as one who lacked “true knowledge” of a Supreme God. Whatever would suggest anything to the contrary was said to have originated anywhere else but in Africa. These “diffusionist” views usually pointed to the great Mediterranean as the origins of African civilization (Olupona, 2014: xx).
Mohawk (2004: 117) mentions that indigenous cultural values and religious traditions were devalued in the West simply because they were not part of the discourse of the West. He adds that they did not qualify for serious consideration. He further asserts that, “Since these indigenous traditions do not support, enhance, or otherwise further
the projects of Western domination, they are treated as though they are of no value at all.”
Such belittling of the African’s mind had far reaching consequences. Almost everything that was African was ‘second best’ if anything good was found in it at all. In most cases, everything African had to be discarded. This applied to numerous African practices, marriage included. The African’s marriage practices were regarded as evil, especially polygynous marriages and the roora system.
In the light of the above, Olupona (2014: xxi) notes that early scholarship on Africa and African religions reflected a pernicious racism that hindered any appreciation of anything African.
Contrary to misconceptions about African religions, mostly by some Western scholars who perceived African religions as a homogenous entity throughout Africa, Olupona (2014: 1) asserts that African religions are as diverse as the continent itself. He goes on to say, “Africa is home to more than fifty countries, nearly every form of ecological niche found on Earth, and hundreds of ethnic groups who together speak more than a thousand languages. It is not surprising … that this enormous range of peoples, cultures and modes of living would be reflected in a diverse range of religious expressions” (Olupona, 2014: 1; Idowu, 1973b: 82). Olupona (2004: 18) also mentions that “Across the globe, hundreds of indigenous cultures have developed their particular responses to modernity, based upon the dynamic characteristics and histories of the indigenous peoples.” In the light of the above, it is of no use to lump everything in Africa as belonging to a homogeneous African religion. Each one of the African indigenous cultures needs to be understood in its own right. Consequently, this thesis will limit itself to the Ndau of Chimanimani to avoid overgeneralising.
It ought to be mentioned, however, that there is no agreement among African scholars themselves as to whether to use the singular or plural form in referring to indigenous African religious traditions. Some concentrate on what is common among the African Indigenous Religions and call for the use of the singular form (African Indigenous Religion) while others emphasise the differences and advocate for the use of the plural form (Shorter, 1997: 562-578; Thorpe, 1991: 3-4; Shoko, 2012: 53-54). This thesis identifies with both positions. It admits the fact that there are similarities in African religious traditions but there are likewise unique characteristics in each of them that warrant a treatment of them as separate units. Both the singular and plural forms will be used in this thesis in the light of this understanding. The thesis nonetheless leans more towards the singular form with the view that Ndau Indigenous Religion ought to be viewed, understood and appreciated as an entity on its own that, although sharing common characteristics with other African Indigenous traditions, is unique to a great extent.
It should be noted that African Indigenous Religion(s) have been traditionally called ‘African Traditional Religions’. The ‘traditional’ has been dropped by progressive scholars because it suggests that African Religions are ‘static’ and/or unchanging and backward or primitive. On the contrary, African indigenous religion(s) are as dynamic as African cultural traditions. The study of these African religions has evolved from the the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries where extended accounts were written by travellers, missionaries, and settler colonialists to the current era where African scholars have taken up writing about their own indigenous religious traditions. Accounts by the former were characteristically negative in outlook (Ray, 1976: 2-3; Cox, 2013: 3; Shoko, 2012: 54, 63; Shoko, 2007: xiii; Idowu, 1973b: x, xi, 85-86; Thomas, 2005: 131, 180; Isichei, 2004: 4; Platvoet, 1996: 51; Westerlund, 2006: 2; Westerlund, 1985: 89; Bourdillon, 1973: 11).

Worldviews

Many scholars acknowledge that the Westerners failed to realise that Africa was different compared to their European ways of life. They were quick to judge. The European ways of life became a yardstick by which all was to be measured. Anything that did not conform or showed any signs of deviating from the traditions known to them was suspect and had to be condemned and or advocated against.
The worldview of the African(s) pertaining to religious issues is very different to that of the Westerners. By ‘Westerners’ this thesis refers to the wider European understanding or perception and not, as some may want to argue, that of European peasants and others of a low social status that may identify with what is said to be the African worldview in this thesis. Olupona (2014: 1) asserts that religious worldviews reflect people’s identities and determine how they relate to one another and to the world at large. He adds that these religious worldviews encode, as well as influence, ethical practices, taboos, and the knowledge particular to each group. The mention of identity here is noteworthy for this concept will remain critical throughout the study.
The fact that religion permeates all aspects of an African’s everyday life stands in contrast to the dichotomy and/or separation that characterise European and American societies. African religious worldviews are interconnected with economics and politics without a clear separation between the sacred and the profane (Olupona, 2014: 1). This is why, as indicated, Mbiti argues that Africans are notoriously religious since religion permeates all aspects of their existence (Mbiti, 1989: 1-3; Ochieng-Odhiambo, 2010: 40-41; Shorter, 1997: 563; Thorpe, 1991: 52; Mugambi, 1989: 141; Cox, 2000: 231). For adherents of African traditional religions, the dichotomy is neither desirable nor possible. Religious beliefs pervade every other aspect of life including birth, puberty, marriage and death, family dynamics, diet, dress and beauty, heath care, governance and all other areas. Religion in Africa thus permeates the daily affairs and conduct of African societies (Olupona, 2014: 2).

READ  The Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy (MPRS)

 NDAU ETHNIC IDENTITIES

Identity

The question of identity is a central concept that this study will have to grapple with. The identity of the Ndau people will be discussed at length in Chapter 3. Not much has been written about these people and their identity in particular. Elizabeth MacGonagle, as already indicated, is the only scholar who has attempted to extensively tackle the question of identity among them.
MacGonagle (2007: vii) mentions that her book, Crafting Identity in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, began as a dissertation on history and identity in the Ndau region. She carried out fieldwork in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Portugal in the 1990s. In Zimbabwe, the researcher went about in and around Chikore and Chimanimani. She travelled to Vhimba, a village in Chimanimani on the border with Mozambique where she undertook fieldwork (MacGonagle, 2007: viii). It should be noted that her research on the Ndau and on their identity was on a much broader scale. The scope of the current study limits the question of Ndau identity to some parts of the Chimanimani District only.
MacGonagle (2007: 1) took much interest in issues of identity formation. She asserts that her study examines the complicated and ambiguous process of identity formation over several centuries in a corner of southeast Africa, in the region of eastern Zimbabwe and central Mozambique. She notes that the Ndau people drew on cultural, social, and political aspects and in the process crafted a sense of Ndauness between 1500 and 1900. According to MacGonagle (2007: 1), the histories and material culture that shaped this sense of identity form the subject of her book. Houghton (2016) defines material culture as “physical objects, resources, and spaces that people use to define their culture.”
The term ‘identity’ is a complex one. MacGonagle (2007: 2) admits that writing about identity gives rise to questions about the concept itself. Identity may mean different things to different people and might sometimes not mean anything at all. MacGonagle, however, admits that identity still means something to many, and as such she was not prepared to abandon the term. Although the concept of identity is imprecise and full of baggage, she notes that substitutes such as self-understanding, identification, or groupness have their weaknesses as well (MacGonagle, 2007: 2). For the lack of a better term, identity will be used throughout this study as well.
Identities have a story and a meaning behind them. They are therefore able to make a contribution to history. MacGonagle defines identity as a broad sense of group belonging, or being something. “Being something” is relational and opposed to the existence of an “other”. In other words, the identities of a group of people exist “in a context of oppositions and relativities” since groups classify “others” during their own acts of self-identification (MacGonagle, 2007: 2).
As MacGonagle (2007: 3) notes, identities are dynamic. They change “in intriguing ways and often shift in a slow, imperceptible manner”. Though fluid, cultural identities have long histories. This study, therefore, will attempt to show how Ndau identity has changed or developed over time.
Identities are not easily confined in close settings. They cross over boundaries. The Ndau identities are exactly like this and Chapter 3 of the current thesis will explore this further. Ndauness crosses temporal, geographic, and theoretical boundaries. MacGonagle notes that a sense of being Ndau continues to exist into the present irrespective of colonial histories, postcolonial trajectories, and official languages in Zimbabwe and Mozambique (MacGonagle, 2007: 3).

Table of contents :

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND GENERAL ORIENTATION TO THE STUDY
1.1 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.2 AREA OF INVESTIGATION
1.3 RESEARCH PROBLEM AND RESEARCH QUESTION
1.4 JUSTIFICATION
1.5 AIM OF THE STUDY
1.6 OBJECTIVES
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.7.1 The Phenomenological Approach
1.7.2 Postcolonialism as the Research Paradigm for Study
1.8 DATA COLLECTION METHODS
1.8.1 Interviews
1.8.2 Focus Groups
1.9 SAMPLING
1.10 DATA ANALYSIS
1.11 DATA VERIFICATION
1.12 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.13 CLARIFICATION OF KEY TERMS AND/OR CONCEPTS
1.13.1 Religion
1.13.2 Ethnicity and Identity
1.13.3 Marriage as a Rite of Passage
1.13.4 Social Stratification
1.14 STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS
1.15 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 AFRICAN INDIGENOUS RELIGIONS AND WORLDVIEWS
2.2.1 African Indigenous Religions
2.2.2 Worldviews
2.3 NDAU ETHNIC IDENTITIES
2.3.1 Identity
2.3.2 Ndau People
2.3.2.1 The Ndau Setting
2.3.2.2 Ndau History
2.3.3 Ethnicity
2.3.4 Research on the Ndau
2.4 MARRIAGE
2.4.1 Rites of Passage
2.4.2 Ndau Marriage Ceremonies
2.5 MISSIONARIES IN ZIMBABWE
2.5.1 Early Missionaries to Zimbabwe
2.5.2 Zimbabwean Missionaries and the Place of South Africa
2.5.3 Christian Missions in Zimbabwe in the 1890s
2.5.4 The South African General Mission (SAGM)
2.5.5 Christian Villages or Mission Stations
2.5.6 Rigid Church Laws and Discipline
2.6 LAWS
2.6.1 South African Marriage Laws
2.6.2 Zimbabwe Marriage Laws
2.7 PROBLEMATIC AREAS
2.7.1 Polygamy/Polygyny
2.7.2 Church Weddings
2.7.3 Bridewealth
2.7.4 Social Stratification
2.7.5 Abolishment of Church Weddings
2.8 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 3 THE NDAU PEOPLE OF CHIMANIMANI, ZIMBABWE
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY OF THE NDAU PEOPLE
3.2.1 Zimbabwe
3.2.2 People of Zimbabwe
3.2.3 Gazaland
3.2.4 Chimanimani
3.2.5 Chipinge
3.3 NDAU IDENTITIES/NDAUNESS
3.3.1 Identity
3.3.2 Shona and Ndau
3.3.3 Ndauness
3.3.4 Reciprocity/ ‘Mixed pot’
3.3.5 Mbire and Rozvi
3.3.6 Mfecane.
3.3.7 Shangaans.
3.3.8 Ndau Common Suffering
3.3.9 Totems and Clans
3.3.10 Chieftaincies
3.4 MARRIAGES
3.4.1 Shona Marriages in General
3.4.2 Ndau Marriages in Particular
3.4.3 Bridewealth (Roora)
3.4.4 Polygamy/Polygyny
3.5 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 4 SOUTH AFRICA GENERAL MISSION (SAGM) MISSIONARIES
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 MISSIONARIES IN AFRICA IN GENERA
4.3 MISSIONARIES’ WORK IN ZIMBABWE
4.4 SOUTH AFRICA GENERAL MISSION (SAGM)
4.4.1 The founders
4.4.1.1 Andrew Murray
4.4.1.2 Martha Osborne
4.4.1.3 William Spencer Walton
4.4.2 Geographical Expansion of the Mission
4.4.3 The Trek into Zimbabwe
4.4.4 The Holy Spirit’s Visit at Rusitu (1915)
4.4.5 Later Years in the Mission/the Church
4.4.6 United Baptist Church (UBC)
4.4.7 Serving in Mission (SIM)
4.5 SAGM MISSIONARIES’ ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE NDAU AND THEIR CULTURE
4.6 NDAU PEOPLE’S ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE MISSIONARIES
4.7 MISSIONARIES AND IMPERIALISM
4.8 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 5 RESEARCH FINDINGS AND LITERATURE CONTROL – PART 1
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE OF THE PARTICIPANTS
5.3 THEMES EMERGING FROM THE DATA
5.4 THEME 1: MARRIAGE PRACTICES AMONGST THE NDAU PEOPLE
5.5 CONCLUSION OF THE CHAPTER
CHAPTER 6 RESEARCH FINDINGS AND LITERATURE CONTROL – PART 2
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 THEME 2: MOST PREFERRED WAY OF MARRIAGE
AMONGST THE NDAU PEOPLE
6.3 THEME 3: VARIOUS REASONS FOR HAVING A WHITE/CHURCH WEDDING AFTER TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE
6.4 THEME 4: PERCEIVED RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE RITES AND CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
6.5 THEME 5: DIFFERENT VIEWS ON THE SUFFICIENCY OF TRADITIONAL MARRIAGES
6.6 CONCLUSION OF THE CHAPTER
CHAPTER 7 RESEARCH FINDINGS AND LITERATURE CONTROL – PART 3
7.1 INTRODUCTION
7.2 THEME 6: THOUGHTS ON THE EXPENSES OF CHURCH WEDDINGS
7.3 THEME 7: HOW PARTICIPANTS MARRIED AND REASONS THEREOF
7.4 CONCLUSION OF THE CHAPTER
CHAPTER 8 SUMMARIES, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
8.1 INTRODUCTION
8.2 SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 1
8.3 SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 2
8.4 SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 3
8.5 SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 4
8.6 SUMMARY OF CHAPTERS 5-7
8.7 RECOMMENDATIONS BASED ON RESEARCH FINDINGS
8.7.1 Recommendations for United Baptist Church and other mission- founded churches
8.7.2 Recommendations for legislation changes
8.7.3 Recommendations for practice
8.8 CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY

GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT

Related Posts