Ruth Butaumocho : Gender Editor
Are you among the people who badly want to join the apostolic sect, but the idea of abandoning your hairstyle in favour of bald head or short hair just freaks you out? And you cannot imagine replacing your make up, manicure and clunks of jewellery with a plain sobriety look. Look no further! You will now be able to don that long white “gemenzi” you had always wanted to while you are pimped up from head to toe amid revelations that Masowe eChishanu (UK) is revolutionising the apostolic sect in line with the modern trends of worshipping.And they have already gone miles ahead of legions of their local counterparts, whose doctrines remain ingrained in philosophies taught by their leader, Johane Masowe, nicknamed Sixpence.
Instead of the stoic-look of a white garment and head gear void of any accessories, Masowe eChishanu (UK) have really gone gaga and are now competing with worshippers from conventional and Pentecostal churches, brewing a shocker among local Johane Masowe eChishanu followers.
The Diaspora chapter has pushed the boundaries and their women’s folk are pimped from head to toe, what with unbridled makeup, jewellery and different hairstyles beneath the head gear.
Buoyed by pimped female congregants, men have also gone a gear up, to match the finesse’ displayed by their women through sporting trendy hairstyles like the Mohawk among a coterie of such styles.
They are also accessorising their dressing by wearing chunky gold or silver necklaces.
The UK chapter which is in Zimbabwe for its annual praise and worship pilgrimage which coincides with the Johane Masowe eChishanu annual gathering currently being held in Buhera said the time was nigh for the sect to be properly constituted both structurally and its worshipping trends.
The affirmation to revolutionise the sect was bare leaving nothing to imagination at the Old Hararians Sport Club, which was the venue for the praise and worship segment recently.
From the white long marquees, catering, set and the congregants in attendance who were adorning designer apparel in light colours with clunky jewellery, it was practically impossible to draw similarities to the local apostolic sect Zimbabweans had grown accustomed to.
Spokesperson of the Masowe eChishanu (UK) Madzibaba Absolom said the church was on a path to revolutionise the sect in line with modern trends as the world becomes a global village.
The changes include tithing, reading the Bible, purchasing land for the construction of places of worship and putting in places proper leadership structures guided by a constitution as was the case with other churches.
“We want to align our church and be up to date with developments happening around us, hence our decision to effect necessary changes to ensure that we are not left behind,” said Madzibaba Absolom.
He added that the issue of buying land to build places of worship needed to be addressed with expediency to ensure that the reputation of Masowe eChishanu remains intact amid a coterie of sexual abuse allegations of women being levelled against some of its followers.
“We are against the proliferation of many small breakaway gatherings of worshippers calling themselves members of Masowe eChishanu yet they are just bogus groups bent on tarnishing the reputation of the sect.
“It as a result of these small breakaways that there is an increase of rape cases being perpetrated by bogus prophets under the guise of Masowe eChishanu.
“We believe we need to protect women and children from these abusers and fraudsters, that is why we want to build places of worship,” he said.
Once the church has been registered, it would be able to acquire land for infrastructural development to ensure that its members would not continue to be displaced from their places of worship as was the case at the moment.
“Yes it had become part of the church’s tradition to worship in the middle of hail storms and blistering lightning, but we need to change that and build places of worship,”
He said contrary to assertions from the local Johane Masowe eChishanu leadership that they wanted to cause mayhem within the sect by introducing practices that were not in tandem with the churches’ ideologies that have been in existence since 1931, Madzibaba Absolom said the changes were long overdue and necessary.
“When Madzibaba Johane started ministering to people, he did so on foot and so were his followers. We now sit on lounge suites, we use mobile phones and have adopted all modern trends, yet we are adamant about building churches.
“Vangani nhasi mapostori arikufamba mitunhu nemutunhu netsoka, vachienda kunonamata? Inga wani tava kufamba nemota kuenda kunonamata? (How many sect members are walking long distances for their pilgrimages or to just go and worship. Are we not all driving)?” quipped Madzibaba Absolom.
Properly constituted leadership supported by a constitution was necessary to ensure that challenges and matters pertaining to the church would be addressed with due diligence, said Madzibaba Absolom.
Turning to the adornment of women in the church Madzibaba Absolom also referred to as Bishop said, the decision was firmed on the need to curb adultery and polygamous relationships by ensuring that men will not find excuses of engaging in extra-marital affairs.
“There is nothing wrong in having women in the church dressed well and looking nice. One should feel being a woman and part of being a woman is looking good,” he said. However the attempts by Masowe eChishanu to revolutionise the church has stirred the hornet’s nest with the conventional local sect, with its leaders accusing the Diaspora’s cohort’s decision as a” cheap attempt” to lead multitudes of followers astray.
“Kuzadziswa kwechiporofita kuti kuchauya varasise vechinamato nehwai kumasowe,” (What is happening in a fulfilment of a long standing prophecy that, there is a group of people who will lead followers astray), said Madzibaba Pecknage from Kuwadzana.
Turning to the one week praise and worship segment, he said the approach of the congregation resembled a huge advertisement gig, or the mad dash of a bunch of hippies, than a group of people humbly searching for divine intervention.
However Madzibaba Absolom said attacks from some members of the local Johane Masowe eChishanu apostolic sect will not stop the chapter from effecting the changes to ensure that its members can worship freely without any impediments. Masowe eChishanu (UK) is in the process of establishing a local chapter that will embrace the new changes within the church. Johane Masowe eChishanu is the largest apostolic sect in Zimbabwe with an estimated membership of close to six million. Johane Masowe eChishanu was formed by a man called Shonhiwa Masedza Tandi Moyo, a man who hailed from Gandanzara under Chief Makoni.
His moniker was “Sixpence”, because whenever he did menial jobs, he only asked for six pence.
Johane Masowe is one of the pioneering and most prominent founders of the independent African churches.
The religion has since spread over the southern region with some of its followers now domiciled in Tanzania, United Kingdom and the United States.