Doctrine and ritual in an African Independent Church in Botswana: a study of the beliefs, rituals and practices of the Head Mountain of God Apostolic Church in Zion
Kealotswe, Obed Ndeya Obadiah
African Christianity has attracted, and continues to attract, the attention of many theologians, anthropologists and church historians the world over. The interrelation between colonialism and the missionary movement has contributed very much to the formation of Christianity in Africa. However, missionary Christianity and colonialism have lost, and are continuing to lose, their dominance over Christianity in Africa. What have emerged, and still continue to emerge, are the African Independent Churches which are now a major aspect of Christianity in Africa.Many people in Africa are frustrated because of the impact of Western civilization on their traditional cultures, customs and practices. Religion, which permeates all aspects of the African's life, is being challenged by modernization and scientific culture. Christianity, as a Western religion, has failed to address these problems and in many cases has identified itself with them. The African Independent Churches, however, have tried, and are still trying, to make life meaningful through retaining, adapting and transforming some traditional rituals and practices in order to give meaning to the life of the African. Bishop Toitoi Smart Mthembu of the Head Mountain of God Apostolic Church in Zion, founder and one of the prominent leaders of the African Independent Churches, started a church which is trying, through its beliefs and practices, to give meaning to the lives of the Batswana, the Southern African peoples and Africa generally.This study is a monographic account of the contribution of the Head Mountain of God Apostolic Church in Zion to the indigenization of African Christianity.Chapter One discusses the religious and social background of the Batswana. In Chapter Two, European missions amongst the Batswana are discussed, with focus on the methods used by the missionaries to spread Christianity in Botswana. Chapter Three examines the general social transformation brought about by Christianity, leading to the emergence of the African Independent Churches. In Chapter Four, the life of Bishop Toitoi Smart Mthembu is reviewed as is the general establishment of his church in Botswana. Chapters Five to Seven analyse the nature of the HMG with regard to the structure and organisation, meeting procedures and worship. Chapters Eight and Nine discuss the teaching and beliefs of the HMG with special reference to doctrines and rituals, while Chapter Ten is a theological reflection on the HMG and its impact on Botswana society and Southern Africa. General conclusions and suggestions complete the study.