O level Notes : FRS - Religion And The Liberation Struggle - Role of Indigenous Religion in the Chimurenga/Umvukela 1 and 2

The independence of Zimbabwe did not just come on a silver platter.  There are men and women who worked tirelessly towards the attaining of independence. Some died and some were left orphans, widows and widowers for Zimbabwe to be free.

This topic is going to deal with the people who worked tirelessly for Zimbabwe to gain its liberation from colonial rule.


Sacred practitioners like Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, Mkwati and others played a pivotal role in the liberation struggle. Tribute goes to Matongeni, Tangwena and Nehoreka spirits that inspired our leaders on their journey to Mozambique. Indigenous spirits undoubtedly remain the liberators of Zimbabwe from White rule.Dickson Chingaira led Chimurenga choir singing:“Nehanda mutsa  mudzimu...Mutsa  mudzimu…Mutsa  mudzimu…MuZimbabwe” meaning 'Nehanda awaken the Zimbabwean ancestral spirits, Nehanda awaken the Zimbabwean ancestral spirits. Consulting medium spirits and magodobori (n'angas) in Shona or inyanga in Ndebele was a revered ethos for liberation cadres. Indigenous spirits that fermented the spirit of the war of liberation are an'unforgettable tribe'. In songs, in verse and in myth, Nehanda came to represent the inevitable but so-long awaited victory of the Shona and the Ndebele over their oppressors.

As a heroine of the nationalist resistance she was rivalled only by Chaminuka, a medium or royal ancestor of the Zezuru people of central Zimbabwe, who came to be regarded as her spiritual brother. In the years that followed, the guerrillas in the Zambezi Valley met and lived with a number of other mediums. Many of these, such as Chiwawa, Musuma, Nyamapfeni, Mazhambe, Mutota and Madzomba, played a big role in the struggle, but all inspired by Nehanda.

Mbuya Nehanda

She was a spirit medium who worked tirelessly by encouraging people to resist colonisation and she developed successful plans for resistance and attack. Her encouragement led to a huge uprising. She forbade Africans to touch anything belonging to the whites

Sekuru Kaguvi

He was a spirit medium. He told people to kill and get rid of whites but not touch their things. Chiefs like Mashayamombe, Svosve and Nyandoro did as Kaguvi ordered.

Other roles

Indigenous practitioners advised workers, masses and fighters on what to do and their orders were obeyed. Led by the spirit, they advised the fighters when they were supposed to attack. They made sure their beliefs and practices were practised and maintained even during war. Religious and sacred days were strictly observed for example, the resting day (Chisi or Izilo)  where they were not allowed to do any work. They provided the fighters with the basics they needed during the war. Fighters were also given charms, herbs among others which were for protection and making sure the enemy does not succeed.They provided morale for fighters like singing. Chimurenga songs to motivate them.