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Open Access Migration, Transnationalism and the Shaping of Zimbabwean Pentecostal Spirituality

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Migration, Transnationalism and the Shaping of Zimbabwean Pentecostal Spirituality

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This article explores the effects of global expansion and the importance of diasporic transnational connections on the theology and practice of an African Pentecostal church. It takes the case of Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZAOGA), one of the largest and oldest Pentecostal churches in Zimbabwe. The growth of this Pentecostal movement, both within and without Zimbabwe, has depended centrally on the homeland church leadership’s capacity to maintain transnational connections with its own external congregations, termed Forward in Faith Ministries International (FIFMI). The article examines how transnational ties, strengthened through the phenomenal exodus from Zimbabwe from 2000 and the associated creation of new diasporic communities, have affected the church’s teaching and practice. Existing literature on globalised African Pentecostal movements elaborates how these churches can provide modes of coping, cutting across geographical and conceptual boundaries to create powerful new transnational notions of community that enable congregants to cope with circumstances of rapid change, uncertainty and spatial mobility. Here, I argue that ZAOGA’s teaching encouraged emigration over the period of the Zimbabwe crisis, but combined this with an emphasis on departure as a temporary sojourn, stressed the morality and importance of investing in the homeland, and promoted a theology of Zimbabwe as morally superior to the foreign countries where diasporic communities have grown up. A sense of transnational Pentecostal religious community has thus developed alongside the circulation of essentialised notions of national cultural difference hinging on derogatory stereotypes of foreigners while elevating the moral supremacy of Zimbabwean nationhood.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Religious Studies Classics and Philosophy, University of Zimbabwe, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe kudzibiri@gmail.com

This article explores the effects of global expansion and the importance of diasporic transnational connections on the theology and practice of an African Pentecostal church. It takes the case of Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZAOGA), one of the largest and oldest Pentecostal churches in Zimbabwe. The growth of this Pentecostal movement, both within and without Zimbabwe, has depended centrally on the homeland church leadership’s capacity to maintain transnational connections with its own external congregations, termed Forward in Faith Ministries International (FIFMI). The article examines how transnational ties, strengthened through the phenomenal exodus from Zimbabwe from 2000 and the associated creation of new diasporic communities, have affected the church’s teaching and practice. Existing literature on globalised African Pentecostal movements elaborates how these churches can provide modes of coping, cutting across geographical and conceptual boundaries to create powerful new transnational notions of community that enable congregants to cope with circumstances of rapid change, uncertainty and spatial mobility. Here, I argue that ZAOGA’s teaching encouraged emigration over the period of the Zimbabwe crisis, but combined this with an emphasis on departure as a temporary sojourn, stressed the morality and importance of investing in the homeland, and promoted a theology of Zimbabwe as morally superior to the foreign countries where diasporic communities have grown up. A sense of transnational Pentecostal religious community has thus developed alongside the circulation of essentialised notions of national cultural difference hinging on derogatory stereotypes of foreigners while elevating the moral supremacy of Zimbabwean nationhood.

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/content/journals/10.1163/18725465-00701007
2014-01-01
2017-12-11

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