WEEKENDER | The great white colony: The holy scramble for land

By Ranga Mberi

We watched as the mupostori hoisted his flag over that open piece of land near our house.

He stood back and admired it as it fluttered in the wind. Like Major Frank Johnson and his Pioneer Column planting the Union Jack up on the Salisbury Kopje, or Neil Armstrong and his comrades on the moon, here was a new flag raised over freshly conquered territory.

Later that day, I saw Madzibaba in front of his new congregation, dancing sideways, then forwards, then sideways again, as if in some victory dance. That night, all through the night, they sang.

In cities all across the country, more native land is being conquered. Every day, a new Mapostori flag proudly flies over newly found land.

That spot of green next to the Borrowdale racecourse? Conquered. That whole Forestry Commission gum tree plantation up on the Enterprise Road? Colonised. That open field near Snake Park. Flags flying!

Where were you when the Coca-Cola Corner in Graniteside was conquered? The famed Madzibaba Israel and his Johanne Marange church have flown their flag over that colony for ages now.  

Now, it spreads. The number of mapostori groups multiplies exponentially every day. Put together, the apostolic churches are the largest religious group in the country. The politicians know this, hence frequent visits to the kirawa, as is their right.

But unclaimed land is running out. So, it’s a holy scramble out there for new territory. Like back in Berlin, the land, it seems, shall be carved up among the powerful ‘white’ colonialists.

The Johanne Masowe Jerusarema, the ones that wear yellow belts over their white gowns. They have that headscarf too, called the “Samaria”. They are the ones that do the “mhorodai” dance, a rather spellbinding sideways movement, heads thrusted back and forth.

And there is the Johanne Masowe yekwaEsnai, the ones with the big green cross over their gemenz. What about the Johanne Masowe yekwaMitchel. If you want vengeance and stuff, these are your go-to people, so I’m told

And Johanne Masowe Yemwedzi Minomwe (Johane Masowe of the Seven Months). You need an errant lover back? These are your guys. Don’t even get me started with infamous Madzibaba Ishamea, who made headlines a few years ago after they bashed a group of police officers who had dared to wander onto their sacred kirawa to effect an arrest.

All of these groups need land. So, much like Major Johnson of the Pioneer Column, they’re sending out an explorer – a modern day Courtney Selous, but in white gemenz – to scout the uncharted territory out there.

They seek new colonies to conquer, and to bring the light of the Lord they worship to these untouched lands, just like the settlers of old. And, just like Lieutenant Edward Tyndale-Biscoe did that September morning back in 1890, Madzibaba will raise his flag.

No open land shall be spared. Your parks, your community soccer pitches, your gum tree plantations. And your wetlands; if they’re not building Chinese malls on them, a conquering madzibaba flag will soon fly over them.

And they shall do the mhorodai dance in celebration.