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Title:Of spirits and healing: cultural values and post-conflict reconciliation agenda in Zimbabwe
Author:Tarusarira, Joram
Periodical:The African Review: A Journal of African Politics, Development and International Affairs (ISSN 0856-0056)
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:Ndebele (Zimbabwe)
African religions
conflict resolution
death rites
healing rites
Abstract:This article discusses dynamics in the appropriation of Christian and 'African religious' traditions in post-conflict reconciliation and healing in Zimbabwe. It shows that sickness and healing in the Ndebele tradition and culture are understood within a two-tier system which consists of 'normal-natural' and 'deviant spirit-induced' sickness. Consequently, healing has to be understood in spiritual dimension as well. The article examines how victims and perpetrators of violence can heal from the sickness caused by the legacies of a violent past of 'Gukurahundi' (1982-1987) in which an estimated 20,000 people were violently killed and not buried in a traditionally accepted manner. Not burying one's dead in Ndebele religion, to which many of the victims of Gukurahundi belong, implies living outside their protection, and killing innocent people leads to suffering the consequences of avenging spirits. Unfortunately mainline churches have not attended to this spiritual need of the relatives of the dead and disapppeared victims and perpetrators of Gukurahundi. The article begins with discussing reconciliation, followed by an outline on the history and legacy of Gukurahundi as well as Ndebele funeral rites, together with the consequences of their desecration. It concludes with the effect of Christianity and urbanization on traditional rites before evaluating the dynamics of reconciliation and traditional rituals in the light of Christianity.The mixture of Christian and Ndebele traditional religion in dealing with the dead and disappeared in the wake of Gukurahundi is a key aspect of social and cultural dynamics. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]