Zimbabwe - (Africa)

Information about Zimbabwe

390757 square kilometres
syncretistic (partly Christian , partly indigenous beliefs) 37%, Christian 60% (RCath 12%, Prot and Ev. 40%, Angl, Meth, and Luth 8%), Muslim and other 3%
Christian (%)
Protestant (%)
Reformed (%)

In Zimbabwe, between the 11th and 15th centuries there was a powerful trading society. The ruins of Great Zimbabwe, which means “stone building,” remain near Masvingo. The main tribe were the Shona. In the 18th century the Ndebele invaded the country. In 1889 the country was claimed by the British South Africa Company, and in 1923 it became a colony of the British Crown. From 1953 to 1963 Southern Rhodesia, as it was then called, was, together with Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia) and Nyasaland (today Malawi), part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. After protracted conflicts it gained independence in 1980. Zimbabwe is rich in resources (coal and iron) and is rather strongly industrialized; it has the largest production of tobacco in Africa. Since independence, the presidency has been held by Robert G. Mugabe.
The first missionary efforts were undertaken in the 16th century by Portuguese Jesuits. After initial successes Christianity declined again. Until the end of the 19th century the Christian message found no lasting response. The Ndebele War of 1893 and the revolts of the Ndebele and Shona in 1896/97 against the colonial regime accelerated missionary efforts because of the increased support the mission received from the state after these events. The oldest and, today, largest church in Zimbabwe is the RCath Church (1879). The Angl Church was established in 1891 and functioned until independence as the official church. The Meth Church and the Salvation Army started in the same year, and the Luth Church followed in 1903, mainly through the initiative of the Berlin Missionary Society and Church of Sweden. The earliest Ref missionary effort came in 1859 from the LMS. Other Ref groups followed: the Dutch Reformed Church (Cape Synod) in 1891; the ABCFM at Mount Silinda on the eastern border of the country in 1893; the South African General Mission in Rusitu also on the eastern border in 1897; the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa in Bulawayo in 1898; and the Churches of Christ in Bulawayo and later Dadaya in the Lundi Reserve in 1898.
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) includes in its membership 20 Christian churches.



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