O level Notes : FRS - Religion And The Liberation Struggle - The role of Christianity in the liberation struggle

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.


  1. Bishop Dodge
  2. Reverend Hughes
  3. Bishop Muzorewa
  4. Rev. Canaan Banana (British Methodist)
  5. Rev. Paul Burrough (Anglican)
  6. Rev. Christopher Chikasha (African Reformed)
  7. Bishop Lamont (Roman Catholic)

Some of the churches which participated in the Liberation Struggle

  1. The Methodist Church
  2. TheAnglican Church
  3. The London Missionary Church
  4. The Catholic Church
  5. The Jehovah's Witness
  6. The Johane Marange Church
  7. The Zion Christian Church (ZCC)
  8. ZAOGA
  9. The Johane Masowe Church

The role of Christian religious practitioners who participated in the Liberation Struggle

During the struggle for liberation in Zimbabwe, many churches moved from the time in history when the church preached a nationalized triumphalist gospel that sought “conversion” of the “savage” before they could taste the sweet honey of “salvation” with their masters. Rhodesia received some of the best church people the western world could offer. These men and women gave all they had to Rhodesia in terms of their time, energy, money, and even their whole lives to serve theAfrican people.

In the true stature of a God-led church leader, Bishop Dodge had accelerated native  educational,  medical and  church  leadership  and  had  campaigned vigorously against oppressive rules of the Smith regime. He empowered and encouraged the church to continue to fight for justice, peace and freedom. He stimulated hundreds of Zimbabwean church people to take up the torch in the quest for independence. Seeds of the revolution had been sown in the minds of many clergies in the American Methodist Church. One does not have to wonder why many of the American Methodist pastors participated in politics. Bishop Dodge, as a church leader, proved that it is possible to suffer with the oppressed and walk with them in their struggle for liberation. Many clergies joined Bishop Dodge in leading their societies in the battle to recover their own identity and the struggle to be human again before the eyes of white people living on their land.

Another influential missionary church leader was Bishop Donald Lamont of the Roman Catholic Church in Umtali. In 1964 when Ian Smith declared the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), Bishop Lamont was one of those from the Salisbury Council of Churches who stated that the African people did not recognize the Smith regime as a legal authority in Rhodesia. If the Zimbabwean history is to be correct, the names of Bishops Dodge and Lamont deserve special recognition because of their sterling performance in the quest for independence in Zimbabwe.

Bishop Muzorewa was also involved in politics in the quest for liberation in Zimbabwe. One needs to keep in mind that there were many clergies who helped to teach Africans in Rhodesia about their rights to freedom as human beings. Through the leadership of Bishop Muzorewa, a devoted and God-fearing church and political leader, the Zimbabwean people won their country back in 1979, and he became the first black Prime Minister in this country. This shows how religious leaders played an important role in Zimbabwe's quest for liberation. If the history of Zimbabwe is to be accurate, the name of Bishop Muzorewa, as a church leader, rightly deserves a place. What he did will forever be part of Zimbabwe's history whether written or not. It is common knowledge that many criticisms have been made of Bishop Muzorewa's activities in politics.

Many people did not take time to look at his positive contributions as a church leader in the liberation of Zimbabwe. His good deeds have been smeared by the propaganda campaign against his integrity. The American Methodist Church through the leadership of Bishop Dodge and later Bishop Muzorewa, among other Christians from different denominations stood with the African people during the time people needed them the most.

Among other Christian practitioners were Rev. Canaan Banana (British Methodist), Rev. Paul Burrough (Anglican), and Rev. Christopher Chikasha (African reformed), to mention a few. They represent a group of church leaders who spoke out boldly against the Smith regime. The involvement of these people of God gave encouragement to the struggling, oppressed and underprivileged people of Zimbabwe. The church was seen as an organization addressing the real problems of the people. Members of the clergy were in the forefront denouncing the evil system of racial discrimination and the oppressive laws of the Smith regime.


  1. They provided guerrillas with food, shelter, intelligence on enemy movements and location, logistics, essential cover and moral. The masses according to Mao were the sea and the guerrillas were the fish.
  2. The masses carried supplies to and from the bases in neighbouring countries and within the country. Important also, was them recruiting guerrilla training.
  3. They provided the much needed support in monitory and material form. They provided clothes, money, food, cigarettes, radios and boots.
  4. Teachers, nurses and others used their cars to ferry guerrillas’ supplies to the required points.

Here is what has been discussed in this topic

It has been noted that both Indigenous religious practitioners and Christian religious practitioners played a pivotal role in the liberation struggle. The role played by Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, Tangwena and Nehoreka spirits should not be forgotten, for without them, Zimbabwe could have been still under the British rule.  The Indigenous practitioners assisted in cheering up and giving morale to the fighters. Christian practitioners like Bishops Dodge and Muzorewa, Reverends Hughes and Canaan Banana also played a major role as they encouraged and taught Africans to be strong and resist Europeans. The involvement of these people of God gave encouragement to the struggling, oppressed, underprivileged people of Zimbabwe. The church addressed the real problems of the people. Members of the clergy were in the forefront denouncing the evil system of racial discrimination and the oppressive laws of the Smith regime. The workers and peasants also participated in the liberation struggle. They offered moral support, provided guerrillas with food, shelter, intelligence on enemy movements and logistics.

Definition of terms used

Liberation struggle - a period when a nation struggles or thrives to achieve equal rights and status especially after being under oppression from a dominant or supreme power.

Sacred practitioner - is someone who is holy or different from others because the person is consecrated or set aside for some religious purposes. The person might be a traditional healer, chief or a priest.

Savage - barbaric or uncivilised.

Sterling - genuine or of great value.