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Title:Mai Chaza's Guta Jehova (City of God): Gender, Healing and Urban Identity in an African Independent Church
Author:Scarnecchia, Timothy L.ISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:African Independent Churches
urban population
faith healing
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Cultural Roles
Abstract:This article examines a social and religious movement ('Guta re Jehova', or 'City of God') created by a female healer, Mai Chaza, and her followers during the 1950s in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Based on interviews and archival sources, the article examines social transformations in an African urban community and the relationship of these changes to Mai Chaza's popularity and her appeal to followers. The conventional historical treatment of African Independent Churches is reassessed, suggesting that churches such as Mai Chaza's 'Guta re Jehova' should be analysed as specific groups within larger urban communities, rather than focusing narrowly on the symbolic innovations within the movement itself. The ability of a charismatic female healer to provide an alternative community for specific groups of women and men is examined, with the community serving both as a critique and as a reflection of the prevailing gender relations in the African townships of Salisbury in the 1950s. Notes, ref., sum.