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Title: Religious change in the trans-frontier Nyungwe-speaking region of the middle Zambezi, c.1890-c.1970
Author: Marizane, Antonio Santos
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 7002
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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With a few exceptions, earlier studies of religious change in Southern Africa have generally focused on Christianity in select areas, ethnic groups and polities within one state, confined by the colonial boundary. This approach made light of the existence of expansive African traditional religious networks across ethnicities and boundaries. Traditional religion was often relegated to the periphery, with predictions of its imminent demise under the impact of colonial rule, global forces and proselytising world religions. The constantly mutating perceptions of group belonging across established borders were often overlooked. By focusing on the trans-frontier Mid-Zambezi region from c.1890 to c.1970, and reviewing oral histories, documents, primary and secondary literature, as well as carrying out oral interviews, the present study uncovers the survival, continuity and disjuncture in traditional religion in a changing religious landscape across borders. The Mid- Zambezi region was populated by a mixture of Shona groups and pockets of a multi ethnic Nyungwe-speaking group. British and Portuguese imperialists divided the area into what became the colonies of Southern Rhodesia and Portuguese East Africa. Thus a region which was once the centre of the indigenous Mwene Mutapa State and a key site of earlier Portuguese mercantile and Catholic missionary activity was now rendered marginal by colonial boundary making. State and missionary penetration was slow, and the region became an important source of migrant labour for Southern Rhodesia. Yet this marginality was a key factor in explaining the continued dominance of the royal ancestral mphondolo or mhondoro traditional religious systems which began to co-exist with the growing but often instrumental adherence to the Christian churches. The change in the religious landscape consisted of adaptations to wider socio-economic changes generated by Christian missionary activities, formal education, wage migrant labour and monetisation. In this flux of socio-economic changes, the religious landscape of the Mid Zambezi was reconfigured.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral