African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 192

Full Length Research Paper

Rethinking religious encounters in Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe, 1860-1893

Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni
The Open University, P O Box 75, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, United Kingdom. 
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 12 June 2009
  •  Published: 30 June 2009



This article provides a new interpretation of the religious encounters that unfolded in Matabeleland region in the period between 1860 and 1893 from the perspective of Gramscian concept of hegemony and John and Jean Comaroff’s concept of cultural and colonial encounters. The focus of the article is on the nature of encounters, uneasy religious dualities, conversations, contestations, blending, rivalries, negotiations and transformation of consciousness that developed at the centre of the meeting of the Ndebele speaking people and Christian missionaries prior colonisation. The article challenges previous scholarship that informed by the inflexible ‘domination and resistance’ perspective that had no room for the agency of the African communities involved in colonial encounters.


Key terms: Religion, worldview, christianity, traditional religion, hegemony, colonial encounters, conversion.