Religious Artefacts, Practices and Symbols in the Johane Masowe Chishanu yeNyenyedzi Church in Zimbabwe: Interpreting the Visual Narratives
Keywords:Artefacts, Inclusivism, Spirituality, Symbols, Religious tolerance, Theology
This study was carried out at a time when most African Indigenous Churches (AICs) in southern Africa were busy rebranding their spirituality and theology. This rebranding was as a result of serious competition in an environment where a new church was emerging every day. Thus, we argue that, due to this religious contestation, the Johane Masowe Chishanu yeNyenyedzi (JMCN) Church has inculcated/borrowed certain religious artefacts, symbols and practices which had never been part of African Christianity in Africa. As a result, this religious movement has inculcated certain African/Islamic religious objects of faith in a bid to demonstrate inclusivism and religious tolerance. In this paper, we discuss the JMCN Church’s religious artefacts, symbols and practices such as clay pots (mbiya), big clay pots (makate), the wooden staff, decorated religious flags, congregating on Fridays and the use of crescent and star as its religious symbols. Artefacts, symbols and practices are borrowed from both African Traditional Religions (ATRs) and Islam. However, what remains critical in this study, is whether the JMCN Church, after its inculcation of such African traditional religious and Islamic religious elements of faith retains the tag, “a Christian church,” in the rightful sense of the traditional taxonomy of the term, “Christian church,” even though the movement itself claims to be a Christian church in Zimbabwe.
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