n Missionalia : Southern African Journal of Mission Studies - Karanga Indigenous Religion in Zimbabwe : health and well-being, Tabona Shoko : book review

Volume 38, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-9507



This well-written book is a pleasure to hold and read. It is based on ninety interviews with elders, patients, and healers in traditional and Church contexts, and participant observation of rituals between 1989 and 1991. The qualitative interviews were conducted in Shona. The author thoroughly describes the medico-religious beliefs of the Karanga community, a subgroup of the Shona people of southern Zimbabwe. Giving one example after another, Shoko shows convincingly that a concern for well-being in its widest sense, is a central issue in the religion of the Karanga, from rituals for rainmaking and fertility of the land, to inter- and intra-tribal harmony, family well-being, and the health of the individual. The explanation, diagnosis, and treatment of misfortune and illness contribute to wellness, balance, and harmony in the community, by restoring relationships, by retribution, and the paying of damages. In spite of government legislation, modernity, globalisation, and mainline church opposition, traditional healers and the whole belief system are still flourishing.

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