Pastor or Traditional Healer? You Decide


A lot of the Bible-thumping Pentecostal Christians will not admit it, but they really never left the whole n’anga scene.

They do not go to actual n’angas anymore, but they do.

What we are seeing is how the whole business of n’angas and other traditional rituals has simply been transferred into the modern church.

They will tell you all those rituals, all that belief in the great influence of witchcraft, all those “chuma” worn around the waist and so forth is well behind them.

The truth, however, is somewhat different. What we have these days is just a continuation of the whole “kuenda kun’anga” tradition, disguised as “deliverance sessions.” The smelly bone-throwing, animal-skin wearing n’anga has now been replaced by the smooth talking “prophet” in shiny suit and pointy shoes.

Very little of any deliverance session is grounded in actual teachings of the Bible. I know a hard working pastor who does “deliverance”, but insists that this be done only after he preaches to the converts. His church, and any that take this approach, are never going to grow as rapidly as those that spend six hours each Sunday on “deliverance,” without wasting time preaching and stuff.

What people demand today is instant “help.” People are going to church “kunoshandirwa” – for healing sessions. The Word of God? For who?

Once there, they don’t want a pastor making them open the Bible. They simply want the demons out.

You know, because every problem we face today is not due to anything but evil spirits. That spirit of unemployment; that spirit of “failing to get married”; that spirit of failing exams.

Christians care less about sitting in the pews and paging through the Bible. These days, it takes pastors two seconds to get congregants falling and rolling on the floor, but it takes them hours to find the book of Deuteronomy.

What has really changed from your n’anga days? Nothing.

Anointing oil? We’ve been having it! Your n’angas used to give you some funny oil (likely snake oil) and told you to smear on your house, your kids, and – for that cheating hubby – on his undies. There you are, still doing the same with pastor’s oil.

Remember when your n’angas used to order you to wear “dumwa” and all sorts of necklaces and beads? For protection, he said. Same thing you’re doing now. Recall how that lady in Highfields, according to one news report, claims to have waved her church bracelet at a bunch of robbers. Upon seeing this magic bracelet, they immediately fled. Oh, the joy the testimony brought to the congregants.

The church bracelet is no longer about identifying with your church, but some sort of anointed weapon. Much like the “chuma” you used to get from your sekuru.

N’angas have been having all this. Your “water from Israel” being advertised is no different from the “holy water” modern pastors are hawking today.

For n’angas, it was always a close relative causing you grief. Never a coincidence that you couldn’t get a job, or that you were sick. It was your jealous tete or something of the sort. This is a belief modern pastors love to exploit. This is why, in their interviews with demons, you will always be told: “Ndini mbuya vake. Mwana uyu haarorwe.”

We, basically, are right where we claim to have left.

According to a 2010 Pew Research in 11 African countries, “many people in the countries surveyed retain beliefs and rituals that are characteristic of traditional African religions.”

“In addition,” Pew found, “roughly a quarter or more of the population in 11 countries say they believe in the protective power of juju (charms or amulets), shrines and other sacred objects.”

The Christians that still believe in basing teachings of healing and deliverance on the Bible are in retreat. Those that have simply carried their old beliefs in the dominance of basic spirituality are on the march.

This is why, increasingly, the congregants at churches still holding on to Bible teachings are dwindling, while the “deliverance first” churches are growing.

Gordon Chavunduka, the foremost n’anga and scholar, wrote in one of his papers on this. He said: “Firstly, the African general theory of illness is very broad; it includes African theology. In other words, the theory not only attempts to explain illness and disease but also the relations between God and the universe.”

And this bit: “The second reason, related to the previous one, is that many traditional healers are also religious leaders and vice versa.”

So, if your pastor is giving you oil to use on your errant hubby, with no basis in the word, you are seeing a n’anga.

If your pastor is demanding money for no reason, you are paying “makwati” to a n’anga.

If your pastor is giving you necklaces, rings and cloths for your “protection,” your pastor is a n’anga.

He gave you “special water” or “anointed rocks?” Your pastor is a n’anga.

People have serious problems. And they are looking for instant solutions. The era of the preacher is ending. The era of the n’anga is back upon us.

It never ended.


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