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The Durawall of Faith: Pentecostal Spirituality in Neo-Liberal Zimbabwe

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image of Journal of Religion in Africa

This paper considers the nature of Pentecostal spirituality in contemporary Zimbabwe, taking as its case study Zimbabwe Assemblies of God, Africa (ZAOGA), one of the continent's largest and most vital Pentecostal movements. The analysis centres upon a lexicon of key words, phrases and narratives used in song, preaching, testimony and prayer. For example, there is a preponderance of images of security, including the 'durawall', the protective concrete fencing surrounding a factory or a suburban home. The paper demonstrates how Pentecostalism, as quintessential popular religion, is able both to satisfy deep existential passions and to aid those struggling for survival in the specific social conditions of neo-liberal Zimbabwe. While Pentecostalism helps create an acquisitive, flexible person better suited to coping with neo-liberalism's economic agenda, it rejects the neo-liberal cultural project. Instead Pentecostal communities provide believers with security in the face of state retrenchment, the capriciousness of global capitalism and growing levels of violence and crime. Pentecostal religion also offers hope to those suffering from a sense of personal abjection created by the shattered hopes of independence and the elusive promise of modernity.


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