Bulawayo 24 has recently run a story on the scramble for lost souls among the Churches. There we learn about some curious ideas of a social commentator Prof. Claude Mararike. He thinks that Africans have their own culture which does not need any conversion and teaching. “People, particularly Africans, should refrain from exotic religious beliefs and follow the indigenous African traditional religion, which they know best.” “Our people have their own religion, the African traditional religion, which does not have the system of conversion and which most of us know very much,” he said. “The problem with our people is that of following exotic religions, which enhance the colonisation of the mind.”
Let me disagree with Prof. Mararike by stating that conversion is not really a cultural issue. It is true that cultural and economical factors influence a person’s decision to pick a religion, but, from the point of view of faith, any decision to come to God is a transcendental phenomenon. In the plan of God, there should have been a reason for a people to come into knowledge of a certain religion. Missionary work and evangelization done by foreigners cannot be downplayed to reflect political or social dimensions of life.
I also think that Prof. Claude Mararike’s belief that most Zimbabweans “know” African traditional religion “very much” is overstretched. It’s merely a matter of opinion, given the lack of reliable up-to-date statistical data on the religious situation in this country. African traditional religion,-itself,- is a generic term, used to describe various, often very diverse religious practices. Just look at the difference between traditional religious practices in Zimbabwe and DRC or Togo.