Geography and Population
Zimbabwe means ‘House of Stones’ and it is located in Southern Africa. It is a landlocked country that lies between the Limpopo River in the south and the mighty Zambezi River in the north.
Major tourist attractions include the Victoria Falls, which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Hwange National Park, a wildlife conservancy, and the Great Zimbabwe Monument or ruins from which the country derives its name.
Harare is the capital city and also the seat of government, while Bulawayo is the second largest city. The country has an estimated population of about 16 million people and 16 official languages. English, Shona and Ndebele are the most widely used.
Great Zimbabwe was considered the capital of the Zimbabwe Empire that lasted from 1220 to 1450 Munhumutapa, was the ruler, who met the first Europeans to arrive in the region for trade in the early 16th century – the Portuguese.
The British occupation was led by Cecil John Rhodes with his gold mining companies in the 1890s, and it lasted until the independence in 1980. The territory was administered by Rhode’s British South Africa Company with the consent of the British government, until it became a self-governing crown colony in 1923.
Chimurenga, a Shona word for revolutionary struggle, refers to the Ndbele and Shona insurrection against the rule of British South Africa Company over their territory (1896-1897). They lost the battle but not the desire to overrule the colonizers.
Resistance to colonial rule continued. An agreement among ZANU, ZAPU and Rhodesian government at the Lancaster House Conference in London pave the way for cessation of hostilities and gave room to the first democratic elections in February 1980. The Independence of Zimbabwe was celebrated on April 18, 1980.
The current flag of the Republic of Zimbabwe was adopted after the independence from Britain in 1980. The green represents vegetation, the yellow represents minerals, black represents the black majority of the population, red represents the blood that was shed during the liberation struggle (Chimurenga War) and the white represents peace.
Zimbabwe is a constitutional republic with a presidential system. President Robert Mugabe was first elected in 1980 and stayed in power for 37 years.
The year of 2017 saw a major change in the political history of Zimbabwe. On November 15, 2017 a military intervention forced the departure of President Robert Mugabe at 93 years of age. Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, ZANU PF, was inaugurated as the new president of the Republic of Zimbabwe after elections in 2018.
The year 2019 started with political tension. Street protests against the increase price of fuel were violently repressed by the State. Church and civil society leaders rejected the violence and called upon the State to restore the rule of law and constitutionalism.
Missionary Christianity had arrived in Zimbabwe just before the establishment of colonial rule. The British came in with the Bible and the knowledge of the Christian God. They built schools, hospitals, industries, churches and many infrastructures which are still in use today.
Christianity is the major religion, observed by more than 80 percent of the population. The other 20 percent observe Islam, African traditional religion and Judaism.
Churches and ecumenical organizations monitored the political transition calling for unity and peaceful process. They organized vigils prayers for peace, promoted dialogue between civil society and State leaders to sustain the democratic process.
The major industry in the country is mining of natural resources such as coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, clay, and diamonds. The country produces corn, cotton, tobacco, wheat, coffee, sugar cane, peanuts, and raises sheep, goats, pigs, poultry and cattle.
While the country exports cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys and ivory; it imports machinery, vehicles, chemicals and fuels.
However, with the advancement of neo-liberal policies and political upheaval, the economy of Zimbabwe has shrunk significantly.
The government of Zimbabwe declared access to education a basic human right in 1980. However, education is not free. Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa at 91 percent.
Women deal with legal discrimination, particularly regarding family law, and poor reproductive and maternal health services.
Women look after children with special needs and disabilities finding little to no support from husbands or relatives. HIV and AIDS, cancer of the cervix and breast have affected most women. Typhoid and cholera have killed many people, mostly women and children.
Women play a very significant role in the socioeconomic affairs in Zimbabwe. Many of the households in the rural area are headed by women. The husbands have migrated to towns and mines for employment, while the young women and men have migrated to the neighbouring countries and all over the world for work.
Gender inequality is a very real and persistent problem. Women and girls are subject to systematic disadvantage and discrimination – particularly those who are poor, live in rural areas and are from particular social groups. Gender inequality is manifested in violence against women and girls. Girls face early marriage and barriers to access quality education.
The government of Zimbabwe and other civil society organizations, including ecumenical ones, are lobbying for gender equality. Laws have been enacted to protect women against gender-based violence.
Children find themselves in very difficult situations, like heading their families due to the loss of their parents to HIV and AIDS. Some are staying with their grandparents who can’t afford basic living conditions.
World Day of Prayer in Zimbabwe
In 1962, Mai Rev. Kachidza of the Methodist Church and Mai Major Nhari of the Salvation Army Church formed the first interdenominational prayer committee meeting. These two leaders saw the need for the reverends, bishops, ministers and pastor’s wives to meet, pray, know each other and strengthen one another in doing God’s work.
We have seen the growth of World Day of Prayer Zimbabwe from churches to schools, from universities to girls’ and women’s organizations. It is with deep gratitude that the growing power inherent in World Day of Prayer and the Mibatanidzwa prayer meetings are recognized.
To this day, World Day of Prayer and Mibatanidzwa yeMadzimai follow the tradition of praying and helping the needy in their communities rotating the giving to the needy in the different provinces as identified by the local women in the provinces.
The workshops to launch the writing process and form the working groups to ecumenically develop the worship service materials were held in Zimbabwe under the coordination of WDPIC. More than 30 women and young women from different denominations and regions of the country actively participated in the workshops and the follow up writing process.
The Artist and the Painting
Nonny Mathe is a Zimbabwean born artist who lives in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She studied art at Mzilikazi Art and Craft Centre in the late 90s. She has been practicing art for more than15 years. She is inspired by people’s lives, the way they relate to each other and the way they view things.
The painting portrays people’s lives in the society. Whereby the top part background from right to left represents a transition from a dark difficult past as a nation to a more prosperous and promising future. The bottom composition is more a display of love, healing and reconciliation as inspired by the story of John5: 2-9a.