Colonial Modernity and the African Worldview: Theorising and Historicising Religious Encounters in South-Western Zimbabwe
The Postcolonial and Post-structuralist conceptual and theoretical interventions in African studies in general and African history in particular enable historians to re-read colonial and cultural encounters with a view to liberate them from the inflexible ‘domination and resistance’ interpretation that was installed by nationalist historiography in the 1960s. This article deploys Postcolonial conceptual and theoretical tools to analyse the complex religious encounters that unfolded in the region that was occupied by the Ndebele nation that was built by King Mzilikazi Khumalo prior to the Anglo-Ndebele War of 1893-4 and the subsequent colonisation of the Ndebele-speaking people by the white settlers in 1895. The religious encounters are read as a terrain of meeting of two worldviews- one informed by Victorian capitalist and colonial hegemonic ethos and the other by African communal but equally hegemonic Nguni ideas of assimilation and incorporation. What ensued was uneasy religious dualities, conversations, contestations, blending, interpellation and
transformation of consciousness in which only direct colonial conquest resolved the encounter in favour of Christian missionaries. The Gramscian
concept of hegemony and Jean and John Comaroff’s concept of cultural and colonial encounters are used to assist in teasing out deeper meaning in the encounter between the Ndebele and the early Christian missionaries
prior to inscription of settler colonialism in the area lying between the Limpopo and Zambezi Rivers.
Keywords: Religion, worldview, Christianity, Matabeleland, African traditional religion, hegemony, colonial encounters, conversion