A local traditional healer has confessed that some leaders of apostolic sects approach her to get powers to perform miracles at their shrines.
Harare-based Ambuya Simboti said she was also inundated by visits from some local prophets who sought help when they failed to perform miracles in their churches.
“A lot of prophets will line up at the doorstep here wanting help in their churches and I have helped a lot. This especially includes people from Vapostori sects,” she said.
“We usually perform rituals with their shepherd sticks such that they can have power to perform other practices. These people acknowledge what we believe in but don’t want to come out publicly because African Traditional Religion has been associated with witchcraft, but and that’s not the case,” Ambuya Simboti said.
In 2015, the leader of Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries, Prophet Walter Magaya, released a two-part booklet alleging that many people at Vapostori sects were getting their powers from “marine spirits”.
This raised anger within the apostolic sects, who retaliated by alleging that the prophet used magic and ungodly antics to lure people to his ministry.
Subsequently, debate raged with people discussing where apostolic sect leaders and prophets were getting their power to perform miracles.
Another sangoma, Ambuya Efridameja, said that everyone was born possessed with a spirit whose effect was determined by totem and their origin.
“The modern-day churches now want to distance themselves from the ancestral spirit and call it Holy Spirit because they want money from people. The modern day prophets are still practicing African Traditional Religion but do not want to admit because they are after people’s money hence associating themselves with the name Holy Spirit.
“They make people pay them by asking them to pay offering and sowing seeds and us traditional healers tell people to pay as a way of giving thanks to the ancestors who would have helped in dealing with their problem,” she said.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer in the department of Religious Studies, Classics and Philosophy, Professor Tabona Shoko, said similar tools of trade were being used by those who follow ATR and Christians alike.
“You find some churches even now sell holy water, holy oil and the likes. Those are the same things that we also find being used by sangomas. It simply shows how the African Traditional Religion is being transformed to suit people’s needs.
”African Traditional Religion and Christianity are the same because both believe in the existence of a supreme God but only have different channels of speaking to the supreme God. There is nothing new, even speaking in tongues is not a foreign thing. It was practiced by the sangoma back then and is still being practiced now in modern-day churches,” he said.