Mwari also known as Musikavanhu, Musiki, Tenzi and Ishe, is the Supreme Creator deity according to Shona traditional religion. It is believed that Mwari is the author of all things and all life and all is in him. The majority of this deity's followers are concentrated in Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Mwari is an omnipotent being, who rules over spirits and is the Supreme God of the religion.

The same deity is applied and also referred to as Inkhosi in Northern and Southern Ndebele.[1] Mwari's reverence dates back to the age of the ancient king Monomotapa, of the Mutapa Kingdom on the Zambezi River.[2]

EtymologyEdit

The name "Mwari" in Shona means the force behind Creation. The word itself signifies, resembles and is interpreted as "God", but only in the religious context. The furthering of this term's acceptance is when the Christian missionaries interpreted the Bible for the locals, in which they used the term "Mwari" instead of "God".[3]

HistoryEdit

The nomadic Bantu were responsible for bringing the concept of monotheism to the traditional religions of Southern Africa. The first official recognition of Mwari was by the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, whose most notable ruler was Monomotapa of the Mutapa Kingdom. It is believed that this new addition to Shona religion was incorporated into Great Zimbabwe.[4] Mwari was frequently approached via mediums at shrines at Matonjeni in the Matopo Hills of Zimbabwe.[5]

In 1890, Christian missionaries began to translate the Bible into Shona.[6] They translated the name for the biblical God as Mwari. Dora Rudo Mbuwayesango calls this 'in reality a religious usurpation of the Shona. ... The depictions of God in Shona oral traditions were designated as primitive and uncivilized, and so the biblical depiction of God was elevated as the civilized and authentic way of talking about the Shona deity, Mwari'.[7]

CharacteristicsEdit

Mwari is seen as a kind and loving God. Mwari is not only the God of creation, but also of land fertility and blessing rains. Mwari is the one who controls the forces of Earth, from the fortune of journeys to social and political events. Though the Shona and the Ndebele often pray to Mwari alone, it is also very common for the use of spirit mediums to be employed.

Although missionary Bible translations transcribed Mwari as male, the Shona understood Mwari as not having a gender (or neither male and female).[8][9]

Oral history concerning MwariEdit

It was a belief amongst the Shona people that no one had the right or authority to call unto Mwari directly without observing the protocol of airing out grievances or thanksgiving supplications to the deity through spirit mediums (who were possessed by ancestral and other spirits). In northern Zimbabwe, Mwari was contacted through spirit mediums or spirits; in other parts of Zimbabwe, he spoke to the people via an oracle.[10]

It was also believed that anyone who defied this spiritual law would develop leprosy as the name of the ineffable and unknowable God was believed to be holy and beyond everything.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The Shona Religion, by M. Gelfand, Journal Zambezia, Vol. 01, No. 1, 1969: 37-46. From the Archive of African Journals at Michigan State University Libraries
  2. ^ "THE MONOMOTAPA EMPIRE AND KING MUTATO(1440)". www.nbufront.org. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  3. ^ Chidester, David (2012-04-23). Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520951570.
  4. ^ Chidester, David (2012-04-23). Wild Religion: Tracking the Sacred in South Africa. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520951570.
  5. ^ Kapya John Kaoma, 'African Religion and Colonial Rebellion:: The Contestation of Power in Colonial Zimbabwe’s Chimurenga of 1896-1897', Journal for the Study of Religion, 29:1 (2016), pp. 57-84 (75).
  6. ^ Dora Rudo Mbuwayesango, 'The Bible as Tool of Colonisation: The Zimbabwean Context', in Colonialism and the Bible: Contemporary Reflections from the Global South, ed. T. B. Liew and F. F. Segovia (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2018), p. 34.
  7. ^ Dora Rudo Mbuwayesango, 'The Bible as Tool of Colonisation: The Zimbabwean Context', in Colonialism and the Bible: Contemporary Reflections from the Global South, ed. T. B. Liew and F. F. Segovia (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2018), pp. 34-35.
  8. ^ Obvious Vengeyi, 'The Bible in the Service of Pan-Africanism', in The Bible and Politics in Africa, ed. M. Gunda and J. Kugler (University of Bamburg Press, 2012), pp. 85-6.
  9. ^ Daneel, Marthinus L. (1970). The God of the Matopo Hills: An Essay on the Mwari Cult in Rhodesia. The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton & Co. p. 16.
  10. ^ Mickias Musiyiwa, 'Shona Religion and Women's Justice in Modern Zimbabwe', in (Re)Interpretations: The Shapes of Justice in Women’s Experience, ed. L. Dresdner and L. S. Peterson (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), p. 174.