In defence of Apostles Church

I am an ardent Apostle of Johane Marange. My own father who, born of non-Apostle parents, was only converted into the church when he had gone through the other side of life - gambling, playing guitars, smoking heavy material and all that illicit stuff.

Apostle John Mushwatu: At no time was it ever envisaged in the history of the Church that a non-member would be dressed not only in our Church garments.
Apostle John Mushwatu: At no time was it ever envisaged in the history of the Church that a non-member would be dressed not only in our Church garments.

He was a boxer, professionally known as Bob Sheakie before he was converted to become another type of a fighter. Like Damascan Paul He became a great Evangelist. He married my mother in the church and this is how I was born an Apostle which gives me an edge over him – as Apostles will say it in our lingo that I am a child of the water (ndiri mwana wemvura).

To my father’s credit, he got me to school and I am proud to have walked in the same corridors of Kutama College where our highly esteemed President learnt. At that time, most Apostles’ children barely went beyond Grade Seven. I thought I should take it upon myself to put things in perspective at a time when the Church of Johane Marange is being abused left, right and centre for political expediency.

It was founded by Muchabaya Momberume, whose father Fureni Momberume settled and married from the Marange Chieftainship but originally came from Mutema of the Sithole totem in Chipinge. Muchabaya was baptized and grew to be popularly known as Johane Marange – adopting a maternal surname which is very unusual in Zimbabwe supposedly to show that he hails from the area of Marange.

Johane Marange declared time and again during his life that the leadership of the church would remain confined to his offspring. Taguta – Johane’s elder brother – categorically espoused this when he presided at Johane’s funeral. Accordingly Johane’s eldest son Abel became the first successor to the Priesthood. During his tenure, Abel would frown at overzealous members who tried to equate him to the founder of the church by addressing him as Mutumwa.

He would not profane the church by entertaining any political activity at religious gatherings. He denied political space even to his kinsman the late Rev Ndabaningi Sithole, who brought some maize-meal to a church gathering near Skyline Motel along Beatrice Road. The “gift” was duly taken and issued but I bet no one knew where it came from. Sithole, like today’s politicians, wanted to canvass for support during the campaigning period which ushered our independence in 1980.

This was to be a perennial problem for the church as politicians saw a cheap audience in gathered Apostles. Abel was a man of God who smartly refused to surrender his flock to the shenanigans of the politician.

Today the Church has become a feeding ground for politicians aspiring to be elected into office. They come and dress in sheep’s skin, putting on garments which are a preserve of baptised members. How has the Church opened itself up to this kind of abuse? The reason is very clear as you look at a chronicle of events leading to this sad chapter. It all started when Abel died in 1992. Whereas any of Abel’s young brothers should have simply assumed the Church leadership as per tradition of the Church, it was not to be. Machinations worth of other acres of writing space led to the usurping of power by Taguta’s son Noah.

At first, Noah masqueraded as John Marange. He has now come out clean that he is but Noah Taguta. It is for his ascendancy to the throne and consolidation of power that he roped in political support. He needs it as he is in that position illegitimately. His leadership has been fraught with accusations of excesses where it is alleged he has married over 100 wives, some taken under age. Investigations into these matters have not been made public – as the Church has been sold for 30 pieces of silver.

At no time was it ever envisaged in the history of the Church that a non-member would be dressed not only in our Church garments but go on to put on the most sacrosanct “star of David”.

Lest I be dangerously misconstrued let me end by saying I was there as a student when the president made his first appearance at Kutama College in 1980. Yes I sang along with others what has now been a prayer answered: “Long live comrade Mugabe” and here I say not that I love you less Mr. President but that I love my Church more. – Mushwatu is a member and archivist of the Apostles Church.

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