Burial sites as Contested Memorial Terrain: Historicising burial places of African Indigenous church founders in Zimbabwe





AICs, Bindura, Chipindura hillside, Defe-Dopota, Shrines, ZAOGA ZCC


Abrahamic religions emphasise remembering their origins, how they began, where they come from, and possibly where they will keep the flock moving forward without losing focus. “Then Joseph made the sons of Israel (Jacob) swear [an oath], saying, “God will surely visit you and take care of you [returning you to Canaan], and [when that happens] you shall carry my bones up from here.” (Gen 50:35 Amplified Version). Against this backdrop, this article discusses the centrality of the burial sites of the late Bishop Samuel Mutendi and Archbishop Ezekiel Guti. In July 1880, Bishop Samuel Mutendi was born in Zaka, Masvingo, and died at 96 in 1976. Bishop Samuel Mutendi was buried in Gokwe, Defe-Dopota. Archbishop Ezekiel Guti was born on 5 May 1923 in Ngaone, Chipinge, and died at 100 on 5 July 2023. Archbishop Guti was buried in Bindura, Mashonaland East Province. What is critical to note is that the burial places of these two church founders were not the places of their birth. From an African traditional worldview, family members should be buried in their rural villages closer to where their late departed relatives were buried. Additionally, the article observed that Archbishop Guti was given a hero status and should have been buried at the Zimbabwe National Heroes Acre. Still, Guti was buried at Chipindura in Bindura and not at the Heroes Acre or his rural home in Chipinge. The immediate questions one would ask are: what is the significance of Defe, Dopota in Gokwe and Chipindura in Bindura? Or what is the peculiarity of these two places? The current article found that these two burial places were chosen to preserve these African Indigenous churches’ history and pedigrees connecting the past to the present. This study employs a historical approach to uncover the significance of Gokwe and Bindura. Theological reflection was also used to interpret the meaning of choosing Gokwe and Bindura as burial sites for Samuel Mutendi and Ezekiel Guti, respectively.


Metrics Loading ...


Amplified Bible. 1958. Accessed on 10 January 2024

Bujo, B. 1992. African Theology in its Social Context. New York: Orbis Books.

Chimininge, V. 2014. “Zion Christian Church: A Case Study.” In: Chitando, E., R. Gunda, R. and J. Kugler. (Eds). Multiplying in the Spirit: African Initiated Churches in Zimbabwe. Bamberg: University of Bamberg Press: 33–48.

Chimininge, V. 2016. “Biography of Mutendi, Samuel 1880–1976 Zion Christian Church Zimbabwe” The Journal of African Christian Biography. Accessed 28 July 2023. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=Samuel+Mutendi&btnG=

Dana, L. 2018. “Samuel Mutendi of the Zion Christian Church: Interpretations of a Prophet.” Journal of African Christian Biography, 3(2): 22–33.

Dana, L.R. and M. Daneel. 2007. “Worship among Apostles and Zionists in South Africa.” In: Farhadian, C. (ed.), Christian Worship Worldwide: Expanding Horizons, Deepening Practices. Indiana, Michigan: Wm.B.Eerdmans.

Daneel, M. 1994. Old and New in Southern Shona Independent Churches: Church Growth: Causative Factors and Recruitment Techniques. Hague: The Hague Mouton press.

Daneel, M. 2018. “Living Memories: The Legacy of My Father and Friend Samuel Mutendi.” Journal of African Christian Biography, 3(2): 22–33.

Goldade, J. 2017. “Cultural Spotlight: Zimbabwean Funeral Traditions.” Frazer Consultants. 15 December 2017. Accessed 13February 2024 https://www.frazerconsultants.com/2017/12/cultural-spotlight-zimbabwean-funeral-traditions/.

Erwin, D.G. 1985. African Apostle: The Life of Ezekiel Guti. Toronto: Abe Books.

Gundani, P. 2007. “Memory as Contested Terrain: Historiographical Challenges in the Historian’s Quest for Objectivity: A Case Study of Epworth Mission.” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, XXXIII (1): 133–151.

Gundani, P.H. 2019. “Church Mothers of Mbare Township: In memory of Mrs Elizabeth Maria Ayema (Mai Musodzi) and Sister Barbara Threadgold.” HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies, 75(1): 1–7. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i1.5192

Guti, E. 1999. History of ZOAGA Forward in Faith: The Book of Remembrance How it Began and Where it is Going. Harare: EGEA Publication.

Guti, E. 2001. Saved Baptised and Filled with the Holy Spirit. EGEA Publication.

Guti, E. 2004. Eye Opener to the Baptised and the Baptiser: Balancing Salvation and Water Baptism. Harare: EGEA Publications.

Guti, E. 2014. History of ZAOGA Forward in Faith: The Book of Remembrance How it Began and Where it is Going. Harare: EGEA Publications. 5th edition.

In-Kook, Ko. 2013. “A community as a testamentary executor: The journey of Joseph’s bones from Egypt to the Promised Land” Stellenbosch University, Issue December. Accessed 11 January 2024. https://scholar.sun.ac.za/server/api/core/bitstreams/7e6feadc-387e-4ae1-ab3d-9e0ee92e36fa/content.

Makamure, C. 2019. “Religion and Disability: A Reflection on the Role of Pentecostal Churches in Curbing Marginalisation of People with Disability in Zimbabwe.” In: Togarasei, L. (ed.) Religion and Social Marginalization in Zimbabwe, Bamberg University Press, Bamberg.

Maxwell, D. 2006. African Gifts of the Spirit: Pentecostalism & the Rise of Zimbabwean Transnational Religious Movement. Ohio: Ohio University Press.

Mbiti, J. 1970. Concepts of God in Africa. London: SPCK.

Morton, B. 2019. “The Story of the Enigmatic Man Who Founded Southern Africa’s Largest Church.” The conversation, 20 January 2019. Accessed on 26 November 2023. https://theconversation.com/the-story-of-the-enigmatic-man-who-founded-southern-africas-largest-church-109599

Mpoko, N. 2019. A History of Assemblies of God Church in Zimbabwe 1951–2019. Bulawayo: Kingdom Life Publishers.

Mujinga, M. 2020. “A Reconstruction of Matthew Jacha Rusike’s Contribution to the Re-Humanisation of Dehumanised Children in Zimbabwe 1950–1978.” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, 46(3). https://doi.org/10.25159/2412-4265/7970

Mukonyora, I. 2001. “Marginality and Protest in the Sacred Wilderness: The Role of Women in Shaping Masowe Thought Pattern.” Southern African Feminist Review (SAFERE), 4(2), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.4314/safere.v4i2.23927

Mupanedemo, F. 2015. “Defe Dopota an Oasis of Hope.” Chronicle, 15 September.

Musoni, P. 2017. “Inculturated African Spiritual Elements in Johane Masowe weChishanu yeNyenyedzi Church in Zimbabwe.” PhD Diss. University of Pretoria. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM187303060881006

Muzurura, J., E. Mutambara, and T. Mahohoma. 2022. In Search of HeterotopiaRreligiosity? Motives for Religious Tourism and Pilgrimages to Zion Christian Church Mbungo Shrine: A Case from Zimbabwe. Pharos Journal of Theology, 103(2): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.46222/pharosjot.10327

Nwadiokwu, C.N., E.S. Nwadiokwu, E.N. Favour, and M.E. Okwuazun. 2016. Rites of passage African traditional region. International Journal of Education and Research, 4(9): 41–50. Accessed 21 March 2024. www.ijern.com

Rumble, A. 2013. “Introduction: Church Leadership and the Anglo-Saxons” (Issue February). Cambridge University Press, February. http://www.theasa.org/publications/asaonline.htm https://doi.org/10.1515/9781846158339-005

Shereni, W. 2020. “History of the Development, Use and Impact of Tsetse Control in Zimbabwe.” PhD Thesis, University of Pretoria.

Shorter, A. 1977. African Christian Theology: Adaptation or Incarnation. London: Geoffrey Chapman.

Tagwirei, K. and M. Masango. 2023. “Rethinking the Identity and Economic Sustainability of the Church: Case of AOG BTG in Zimbabwe.” HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies, 79(2): 1–10. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i2.8129

Takavarasha, R. 1987. The Remained Unspoken in the African Apostle, ZAOGA Forward in Faith Harare. Harare: ZAOGA Forward in Faith.

van der Merwe, W. 1957. The Shona Idea of God. Morgenster Mission Press.




How to Cite

Musoni, Phillip. “Burial Sites As Contested Memorial Terrain: Historicising Burial Places of African Indigenous Church Founders in Zimbabwe”. Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, 14 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2412-4265/14410.



Received 2023-08-21
Accepted 2024-04-09
Published 2024-06-14