Zimbabwe: More unheralded African Apostolic churches on the rise

…as the society fear Satanism – By Alan Rushesha – Over the past half a century, the combat for leadership in the African apostolic cult has gradually resulted in the formation of more unheralded churches in the country.

Such power -hungry spirit driven by the ‘self-anointed’ prophets paved way for the leaders to separate themselves from the traditional apostolic white robes to green, yellow, red, pink and even black-a color believed to be associated with evil, making it more difficult to identify the ‘real’ followers of the VaPositori sect.

To this day, consultation of prophets has become blood and life of those who mainly seek jobs, promotions, marital remedies, deliverance from suspected witchcraft, charms only just to mention a few and this has left many Zimbabweans, undoubtedly prone to Satanism.

A snap survey conducted by this reporter showed that a number of people received ‘a wrong side of the stick’ after visiting ‘prophets’ at their shrines in the ‘wilderness’ in search of deliverance.

“After visiting one prophet at the kirawa (holy place) for healing sessions, I was shocked when he instructed me to bring a few drops of blood of my mother-in- law,” said a source who spoke on conditions of anonymity.

 The Shout-Africa recently linked up with one popular Chitungwiza-based prophetess Madzimai Gracious from the Vadzidzi sect who expressed fear that the existence of multitude apostolic churches in the country may lead the community to be unknowingly absorbed into Satanism.

“We are living in a world craving for fame, leadership and riches but in reality, they are not even prophets who received a call from God.

“I have met a dreadlocked prophet (name supplied) who wore a red and black robe. He could tell your phone number, date of birth and even the color of your inner-garment but could not deliver any of your problems.

“He claims to be an apostolic prophet but most of his healing tools are similar to those of traditional healers. I am not in a position to confirm or deny whether the man is a true prophet. It’s your own bone to chew,” she said.

There is fallacy in most parts of the society over where most of the ‘prophets’ mushrooming literary almost under every tree and bushes in the country receiving their powers from.

 Herbalist Sekuru Timothy Sithole said most ‘prophets’ that have dotted around the country were more of traditional healers than African Apostolic prophets.

“Most Zimbabweans shy away from consulting us (n’anga) so some healers have decided to disguise as VaPositori and others use the powers from the dead for their healing sessions,” said Sekuru Sithole

A case study of the Zimbabwean Vapostori conducted by Robert Reese showed that the pioneers of the VaPositori sect (Johane Masowe and Johane Maranke) had common appearances hence making it much easier to identify them.

Reads part of the study: “The Vapostori stand out because of their distinctive look: their women are clad in white dresses and scarves and the men shave their heads and let their beards grow. Not only do they look different, but they also abound in public life, especially on the streets of urban areas, where they conduct commercial activities.”

Social experts who spoke to Shout-Africa.com blamed the ‘prophets’ for compromising the religion in the society saying they should stick to their tradition.

“There is need to separate African Apostolic sects from traditional healers in order to have a free flow of religion in the country since both religions (traditional healers and African Apostolic churches) have the constitutional freedom of worshiping in the country,” said David Nenzou, a Harare based social commentator.

The major sects of VaPositori- which started independently in Africa and not directly by missionaries from another continent were founded in 1932 in eastern Zimbabwe by similar prophets, Johane Masowe and Johane Maranke. Both groups extended to nearby countries such as South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique.

And  it remains unclear whether the twenty-first century prophets are different from the biblical era since the inventory of new ‘healing tools’ and one wonders if prophecy is dynamic.