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The deployment of a 'sacred song' in violence in Zimbabwe: The case of the song 'Zimbabwe Ndeye Ropa Ramadzibaba'


Journal for the Study of ReligionJournal abstract

The dominant narrative in the study of religion in Africa is that African indigenous religions are non-violent, peaceful and seek to promote healing and integration. In this paradigm, it is militant missionary religions such as Islam and Christianity that promote violence. Such an approach misses the key learning that no religion is violent in and of itself: only the determination of individuals and groups acting in the name of a particular religion is relevant as to whether/the extent to which a religion can be appropriated and deployed to perpetrate violence. This article explores the deployment of a song, 'Zimbabwe Ndeye Ropa Ramadzibaba' to justify 'sacred violence' to 'defend Zimbabwe against witches/enemies'. The central research question is: How is the song, 'Zimbabwe Ndeye Ropa…' appropriated and deployed to sacralise violence in Zimbabwean politics? The article describes the song and analyses some of the contexts in which the song has been strategically performed. The study seeks to underscore the manipulation of indigenous spirituality in justifying violence. Theoretically, the study challenges the naïve claims that indigenous religions are 'pure and upright' in relation to violence.

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