‘The Altars Are Holding the Nation in Captivity’: Zambian Pentecostalism, Nationality, and African Religio-Political Heritage
Culture is an inter-generational repository and heritage or set of values, and an active shaping repertoire of meanings and images, embodied in values, myths and symbols that serve to unite a group of people with shared experiences and memories, and differentiate them from outsiders.
2. Theory and Method: The Challenge of Ontocracy
3. African Concept of Nationality
… are not simply political heads: they are the mystical and religious heads, the divine symbol of their people’s health and welfare. The individual as such may not have outstanding talents or abilities, but their office is the link between human rule and spiritual government. They are therefore divine or sacral rulers, the shadow or reflection of God’s rule in the universe. People regard them as God’s earthly viceroys.
An African ruler is not to his people merely a person who can enforce his will on them. He is the axis of their political relations, the symbol of their unity and exclusiveness, and embodiment of their essential values. He is more than a secular ruler … his credentials are mystical and are derived from antiquity. Where there is no chief, the balanced segments which compose the political structure are vouched for by tradition and myth and their interrelations are guided by values expressed in mystical symbols.
4. Pentecostal Ontocracies: The Material Legacies of African Religio-Political Past
5. Zambian Pentecostal Theology of Nationalism: Findings and Discussions
5.1. Integration of the Sacred and the Secular
Zambian Pentecostal worldview is heavily predicated on indigenous worldviews that do not create a distinction between the sacred and the secular or between faith and politics. In much of [the] Zambian traditional worldview, God lives in the state and the state exists for God or gods. The advent of Christianity did not change this predisposition among [Zambians].
5.2. State House—Seat of Authority—National Altar
at the national level, the altar is different, because every church … is an altar, raised to the living God. Every church that calls the name of the Lord in truth and in spirit; it’s an altar to God and prayer is part of an offering that we give to God … Now this altar which is been erected unto God the father is national … this altar speaks for the nation of Zambia. It will speak against poverty, it will speak against disunity, it will speak against occultism, it will demolish the demonic altars that [were] raised by our founding fathers in this nation. When that is erected [it] is a greater altar, because God’s altar, who can raise a fist against God and win? No one, so […] demonic altars are scared of it. Those who understand spiritual things in the demonic world and … in the spiritual sense they know it, they know that the national one is going to smash […] [the] kingdom of darkness.
The nation or society, like the individual, has a body, an organic life, a moral and aesthetic temperament, a developing mind and a soul, behind all these signs and powers for the sake of which they exist. One may say that, like the individual, it essentially is a soul rather than has one.
I Kenneth David Kaunda first President and founding father of the Republic of Zambia wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to God Almighty, the President and the people of Zambia for honouring me as the founding father of this Nation.I hereby pronounce today a blessing of peace, prosperity and stability upon our Nation of Zambia, the Presidency and the people of Zambia.I bless and therefore release the nation, its people and the Presidency from every negative force made against this nation. I submit the souls now living and posterity … and its Presidency to the salvation and Lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father.I further declare that Zambia shall forever enjoy tranquility and shall remain a united and peaceful people under the motto: One Zambia, one nation.The Lord bless Zambia, and keep Zambia.God bless you all. I thank you.
Thirty days after Kenneth Kaunda pronounced a spiritual ‘release’ upon the nation, [the] time is now for the soldiers of the Cross of Jesus Christ to seek out and practically uproot every altar that speaks and works evil towards the present and future of this country. If Zambia were not a Christian Nation, this discussion would be unnecessary. It is all about the powers that the first president spoke of when he ‘released’ Zambia from all ‘negative forces’ at State House on 25 May. Because of his privileged position as the founding father of the republic, he is well placed to be aware of key altars and shrines which are the source of ‘negative forces,’ that were set up at different locations for the purpose of securing the ruling UNIP [United Independence Party] then, and to fortify his rule. It is time for him to work with those children of the Living God who are divinely endowed and assigned to demolish any remaining major altars and shrines that have ultimately impounded the national and familial economies of the land. The children of God have since the Christian Nation Declaration in 1991 been praying and visiting territorial landmarks that are entry points for demonic influence, uprooting altars that hold power over tribes and families. After pronouncing his blessing on the nation, KK can expedite the completion of this process.
Zambia actually started off very well in a Christian background, but over time, evil came in and evil altars were raised … we have several evil altars in this country that were raised during that time and you see, you need to understand that power, when people are in power they are either with God or with the devil.
you cannot discard your culture … that’s what makes us, our culture is what makes us, what you just need to realize … you see in the spiritual world we have what we call altars; you have godly altars and evil altars, it’s a battle between altars. The traditional ceremonies, usually it’s a time for them to sacrifice, it’s a time for them to feed to their altars rather. Before all that happens that you see on TV, they have done things, not all of them, for most of them, for most of those ceremonies … they have to submit to one authority. So there are those of us who submit to the authority of God and those who submit to the authority of the devil, and they have their rituals the way we have our rituals in our churches, Holy Communion, we have tithe, they also have rituals. For us we have the one sacrifice, Jesus Christ, he died once his blood was shed, that’s it. They still have to kill that is why you hear [about] ritual killings, they need blood, human blood for their power to continue, you understand. So those ceremony[ies], they used them for those things to get power to do whatever is it they need to do, to service their altars, because those altars they need to be serviced. So it’s not as easy as it looks, on the top it might look like it’s politics, this one I know, this one no … no it’s very deep, it’s very spiritual. You know to govern, to rule, you have to fight with principalities because they also don’t want to let go.
the core element in Pentecostal praying that has impacted the nation, has reached a spiritual warfare and when you are dealing with spiritual warfare you begin to engage traditional spiritual systems. And so it has [an] effect on all level[s] but in regards to the chief it has brought awareness to the nature of those ancestral spirits. To which they are ancestors their predecessor hold allegiance, it’s a very fundamental thing, practically in every traditional chieftaincy you can’t be a chief without going through a ritual that connects you to the old dead chief. Yeah, you can’t and to break away from that one requires enlightenment and the true nature of those altars that have been raised. The next thing you need to do is to know, to have access to spiritual power that can counter those processes.
5.3. The Presidency as Spiritual Institution
The Bible tells us that all authority is from God. The devil also tries to usurp this authority and give his own authority to men [sic] in order that they may rule. Therefore, it does not matter which spirit—whether God’s or a spirit from the devil—men [sic] will rule because they receive power to do so, from a spiritual source … if he comes in by witchcraft, he will dedicate the throne to the evil spirit. If he comes in by any means but God, then that seat of authority is connected to [an] evil source from the kingdom of darkness.
When people begin to [lose] control or need [some] interpretation of inexplicable occurrences in their lives or territories, they go back to the source of power and inquire from it. If it is an evil spirit then they are required to make sacrifices and promises of relinquishing their territory in a deeper way to the source of their power. If they enquire from the Lord, the Holy Spirit will give them guidance.
Where does God come in because it is the people who decided via a ‘vote’ and many times the voters are not voting with a free will but because they have been bribed, bought, threatened and promised heaven on earth, which promises are usually not fulfilled anyhow? God cannot be brought into this ‘mess’ that we create ourselves? (Mulembwe, 21 June 2017).
What some church leaders do is flower/sugarcoat the result of such an election with randomly selected quotes from the Bible to try to sanitize or launder the result and make it God given. In the meantime opponents are whipped, intimidated, refused decent free campaigns; violence is rampant, media clampdown, etc. How can a true Christian, with a free conscience, pure heart, celebrate such a win and call it God anointed? (Mulembwe, 21 June 2017).
5.4. Covenanting the Nation—“Declaration” of the Christian Nation
He viewed himself as a messenger of God because in Pentecostal theology God can speak through him. Chiluba also saw himself as a tool God would use to kick out Satan out of Zambia … Chiluba took the Pentecostal ideals of “word of faith” to declare spiritual blessings, he believed that once he makes a Declaration, God will bring blessings upon Zambia.
Chiluba played the role of priest and king. As priest, he sought to surrender the nation to God by entering into covenant with God on behalf of the nation. By so doing he entered into [an] unconditional covenant with God. His personal failure therefore could not affect the covenant. His main role was to surrender the nation to God. This was achieved by declaring Zambia a Christian Nation. However, as king he sought to rule the country according to the values reflected in the word of God.
The Declaration was a personal promise to God and an ideal introduced to the national population … In the wording of the Declaration, President Chiluba pledged to honor the Living God and to lead a government based on biblical principles.
- He was not psychologically and spiritually prepared for that high office with its privileges and pitfalls.
- He was neither tutored nor groomed for leadership at that level; and to date presidential entrants have no such schooling or mentoring.
- He lacked the requisite Christian support group. There were believers around him, but they exploited him rather than reinforcing him spiritually.
- Being a young believer at the time of taking power, he did not disconnect himself from old associations that in the end ensnared him by stoking the fires of appetites he had turned away from on committing to Christ.
6. Concluding Analysis—Pentecostal Ontocratic Political Theology
Conflicts of Interest
References and Notes
- Apostle Alunda, interview with the author, Lusaka, 6 April 2016.
- Apostle Bwinga, interview with the author, Ndola, 9 April 2016.
- Dr. Lilanda, interview with the author, Lusaka, 30 May 2016.
- Rev. Kachilambe, personal communication with the author, 2 March 2017.
- Rev. Mulimba, interview with the author, Ndola, 9 June 2016.
- Rev. Mushala, personal communication with the author, 3 July 2016.
- Rev. Mulembwe, personal communication with the author, 21 June 2017.
- Rev. Dr. Chilanda, personal communication with the author, 13 March 2017.
- Anderson, Benedict. 2006/1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, rev. ed. London: Verso. [Google Scholar]
- Asamoah-Gyadu, Kwabena J. 2005. African Charismatics: Current Developments within Independent Indigenous Pentecostalism in Ghana. Leiden: Brill. [Google Scholar]
- Aurobindo, Sri. 1997. The Human Cycle: The Ideal of Human Unity, War and Self-Determination. The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, vol. 25. [Google Scholar]
- Bediako, Kwame. 1993. Unmasking the Powers: Christianity, Authority and Desacralization in Modern African Politics. In Christianity and Democracy in Global Context. Edited by John Witte Jr. Boulder: Westview Press, pp. 207–29. [Google Scholar]
- Bediako, Kwame. 1995. Christianity in Africa: The Renewal of a Non-Western Religion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. [Google Scholar]
- Bediako, Kwame. 2004. Jesus and the Gospel in Africa: History and Experience. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. [Google Scholar]
- Bediako, Kwame. 2005. Christian Witness in the Public Sphere: Some Lessons and Residual Challenges from the Recent Political History of Ghana. In The Changing Faces of Christianity: Africa, the West and the World. Edited by Lamin Sanneh and Joel A. Carpenter. Oxford: Oxford UP, pp. 117–33. [Google Scholar]
- Bujo, Bénézet. 2001. Foundations of an African Ethic: Beyond the Universal Claims of Western Morality. Translated by Brian McNeil. New York: Crossroad Publishing. [Google Scholar]
- Bunda, Alexander. 2006. Effective Strategic Warfare: Prayer to Subdue the Enemy. New York: Xulon Press. [Google Scholar]
- Cheyeka, Austin. 2008a. Church, State and Political Ethics in a Post-colonial State: The Case of Zambia. Zomba: Kachere Series. [Google Scholar]
- Cheyeka, Austin. 2008b. Towards a History of the Charismatic Churches in Post-colonial Zambia. In One Zambia, Many Histories: Towards a History of Post-colonial Zambia. Edited by Jan-Bart Gewald, Marja Hinfelaar and Giacomo Macola. Leiden and Boston: Brill, pp. 144–63. [Google Scholar]
- Clark, Clifton R. 2011. African Christology: Jesus in Post-missionary African Christology. Eugene: Pickwick. [Google Scholar]
- Dickson, Kwesi, ed. 1965. Akan Religion and the Christian Faith: A Comparative Study of the Impact of Two Religions. Accra: Ghana UP. [Google Scholar]
- Dickson, Kwesi A. 1975. Continuity and Discontinuity between the Old Testament and African Life and Thought. In African Theology En Route: Papers from the Pan-African Conference of the Third World Theologians, December 17–23, 1977, Accra, Ghana. Edited by Kofi Appiah-Kubi and Sergio Torres. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, pp. 95–108. [Google Scholar]
- Faix, Tobias. 2007. The Empirical-Theological Praxis (ETP) cycle as a methodological basis for missiology. Missionalia 35: 113–29. [Google Scholar]
- Fortes, Meyer, and Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard. 1940. Introduction. In African Political Systems. Edited by Meyer Fortes and Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard. London: Oxford UP, pp. 1–23. [Google Scholar]
- Fowler, John M. 2009. The Adventist World-View: A Ground to Stand, a Life to Live. Paper presented at the 40th International Faith & Learning Conference, Asia-Pacific International University, Muak Lek, Thailand, July; Available online: http://christintheclassroom.org/vol_40/40cc_561-569.pdf (accessed on 8 February 2018).
- Gallaher, Carolyn, Carl T. Dahlman, Mary Gilmartin, Alison Mountz, and Peter Shirlow, eds. 2009. Key Concepts in Political Geography. London: Sage Publications Ltd. [Google Scholar]
- Geurts, Kathryn L. 2002. Culture and the Senses: Bodily Ways of Knowing in an African Community. Berkeley: University of California Press. [Google Scholar]
- Gifford, Paul. 1998. African Christianity: Its Public Role. London: C. Hurst. [Google Scholar]
- Gifford, Paul. 2004. Ghana’s New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalising African Economy. London: Hurst and Co. [Google Scholar]
- Gifford, Paul. 2009. African Christianities and Public Life: A View from Kenya. London: Hurst and Co. [Google Scholar]
- Gluckman, Max. 1940. The Kingdom of the Zulu of South Africa. In African Political Systems. Edited by Meyer Fortes and Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard. London: Oxford UP, pp. 25–55. [Google Scholar]
- Gordon, David M. 2012. Invisible Agents: Spirits in a Central African History. Athens: Ohio UP. [Google Scholar]
- Hutchinson, John. 2001. Nations and Culture. In Understanding Nationalism. Edited by Montserrat Guibernau and J. Hutchinson. Cambridge: Polity, pp. 74–96. [Google Scholar]
- Jongeneel, Jan A. B. 1995. Science, and Theology of Mission in the 19th and 20th Centuries: A Missiological Encyclopaedia: The philosophy and Science of Mission. Zurich: Peter Lang. [Google Scholar]
- Kachikoti, Charles. 2015a. Africa: Living without Boundary Walls... the Case for Cyber Security and National Sovereignty. Available online: http://allafrica.com/stories/201511060690.html (accessed on 4 August 2017).
- Kachikoti, Charles. 2015b. Let’s Face It: The Meaning of KK’s Spiritual ‘Release’. Times of Zambia, Friday. May 29. [Google Scholar]
- Kachikoti, Charles. 2015c. Let’s Face It: Uproot Altars of Zambian History. Times of Zambia, Friday. May 26. [Google Scholar]
- Kalu, Ogbu. 2008. African Pentecostalism: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP. [Google Scholar]
- Kaufman, Stuart J. 2011. Book review: Ethno-Symbolism and Nationalism: A Cultural Approach, by Anthony D. Smith. (New York: Routledge, 2009), 184. Comparative Politics 9: 208–9. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Kaunda, Chammah Judex. 2017a. ‘From Fools for Christ to Fools for Politicians’: A Critique of Zambian Pentecostal Theopolitical Imagination. International Bulletin of Mission Research 41: 296–311. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Kaunda, Chammah Judex. 2017b. A Nation ‘sold to the enemy’: Zambian Pentecostalism and Kaunda’ humanism. Theologia Viatorum 41: 49–80. [Google Scholar]
- Kibicho, Samuel G. 1978. The Continuity of the African Conception of God into and through Christianity: A Kikuyu Case-study. In Christianity in Independent Africa Edited by Africa. Edited by Edward Fashole-Luke, Richard Gray, Godwin Tasie and Adrian Hastings. London: Rex Collings, pp. 370–88. [Google Scholar]
- Komakoma, Joe. 2008. The Best of Fr. Joe Komakoma’s Ruminations [Texte Imprimé]: Published in ‘The Post’ from 1999–2004. Edited by M. Hinfelaar. Ndola: IDREF. [Google Scholar]
- Kraft, Charles H. 2005. Christianity in Culture: A Study in Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective. New York: Orbis Books. [Google Scholar]
- Van Leeuwen, Arend Theodoor. 1964. Christianity in World History: The Meeting of the Faiths of East and West. New York: Charles Scribner. [Google Scholar]
- Llywelyn, Dorian. 2010. Toward a Catholic Theology of Nationality. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. [Google Scholar]
- Lusakatimes.com. 2017. Every Zambian must Respect the Presidency, Regardless of Who Is in the Office—BIGOCA. April 25. Available online: https://www.lusakatimes.com/2017/04/25/every-zambian-must-respect-presidency-regardless-office-bigoca/ (accessed on 7 August 2017).
- Magesa, Laurent. 1997. African Religion: The Moral Traditions of Abundant Life. New York: Orbis, p. 296. [Google Scholar]
- Mathuray, Mark. 2009. On the Sacred in African Literature: Old Gods and New Worlds. London: Palgrave Macmillan. [Google Scholar]
- Maxwell, David. 1999. Christians and Chiefs in Zimbabwe: A Social History of the Hwesa People, c. 1870s–1990s. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. [Google Scholar]
- Maxwell, David. 2002. Introduction to Christianity and the African Imagination. In Christianity and the African Imagination: Essays in Honour of Adrian Hastings. Edited by David Maxwell and Ingrid Lawrie. Leiden: Brill, pp. 1–24. [Google Scholar]
- Maxwell, David. 2006. African Gifts of the Spirit: Pentecostalism and the Rise of a Zimbabwean Transnational Religious Movement. Oxford: James Currey. [Google Scholar]
- Mbiti, John S. 1969. African Religions Philosophy. Norfolk: Biddles Ltd. [Google Scholar]
- Mbiti, John S. 1975. Introduction to African Religions. Oxford: Heinemann. [Google Scholar]
- Mbiti, John S. 1993. Peace and Reconciliation in African Religion and Christianity. Dialogue and Alliance 7: 17–32. [Google Scholar]
- Meebelo, Henry S. 1971. Reaction to Colonialism: A Prelude to the Politics of Independence in Northern Zambia 1893–1939. Manchester: University of Manchester Press. [Google Scholar]
- Meyer, Birgit. 1999. Translating the Devil: Religion and Modernity among the Ewe in Ghana. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP. [Google Scholar]
- Nwaka, Bernard J. 2007. Invading the Babylonian System. Lusaka: Campus Voice. [Google Scholar]
- Nwaka, Bernard J. 2010. Troops Will Be Willing in the Day of Your Power: The Mystery of the Priesthood and the Altar. Lusaka: Campus Voice. [Google Scholar]
- Oberg, K. 1940. The Kingdom of Ankole in Uganda. In African Political Systems. Edited by Meyer Fortes and Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard. London: Oxford UP, pp. 121–62. [Google Scholar]
- Oduyoye, Mercy A. 1993. Hearing and Knowing: Theological Reflection on Theology in Africa. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. [Google Scholar]
- Olupona, Jacob. 2014. African Religions: A very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP. [Google Scholar]
- Osmer, Richard R. 2008. Practical Theology: An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. [Google Scholar]
- Patriotic Front—PF. 2016. A Leader’s Mandate is from God—President Edgar Lungu. Available online: https://ar-ar.facebook.com/patrioticfrontzambia/posts/1729242217310584 (accessed on 7 August 2017).
- Phiri, Isabel A. 2003. President Frederick J.T. Chiluba of Zambia: The Christian Nation and Democracy. Journal of Religion in Africa 33: 401–28. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Radcliffe-Brown, Alfred Reginald. 1940. Preface. In African Political Systems. Edited by Meyer Fortes and Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard. London: Oxford UP, pp. XI–XXIII. [Google Scholar]
- Richards, Audrey I. 1940. The Political System of the Bemba Tribe—North-Eastern Rhodesia. In African Political Systems. Edited by Meyer Fortes and Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard. London: Oxford UP, pp. 83–120. [Google Scholar]
- Shenk, David W. 1983. Peace and Reconciliation in Africa. Nairobi: Uzima Press. [Google Scholar]
- Sindima, Harvey. 1989. Community of Life. Ecumenical Review 41: 537–51. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Sinyangwe, Sunday. 2017. Pastor Sunday Sinyangwe. Available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFws1nGyKiQ&t=1273s (accessed on 5 May 2017).
- Smith, Anthony D. 1998. Nationalism and Modernism. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Smith, Anthony D. 2009. Ethno-Symbolism and Nationalism: A Cultural Approach. New York: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Sumaili, Godfridah. 2016. A Christian Nation, TV 3 Christian Channel. December 10.
- Taylor, Scott D. 2006. Culture and Customs of Zambia. Westport: Greenwood Press. [Google Scholar]
- Walls, Andrew F. 1976. Towards Understanding Africa’s Place in Christian History. In Religion in a Pluralistic Society: Essays in Honour of C.G. Baeta. Edited by John Pobee. Leiden: Brill, pp. 180–89. [Google Scholar]
- Willoughby, William C. 1928. The Soul of the Bantu: A Sympathetic Study of the Magico-Religious Practices and Beliefs of the Bantu Tribes of Africa. Westport: Negro UP. [Google Scholar]
- Wilson, Monica H. 1959. Divine kings and the “breath of men”. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Wilson, Monica. 1971. Religion and the Transformation of Society: A Study in Social Change in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. [Google Scholar]
- Zambian Eye. 2016. “I Am a Man of Faith that Walks with God…” Lungu Chides the Nation on Violence. Available online: http://zambianeye.com/i-am-a-man-of-faith-that-walks-with-god-lungu-chides-the-nation-on-violence/ (accessed on 7 August 2017).
In this article, the State is defined as legal and political entity with a territorial sovereignty, which is conferred on the people living inside the borders in order to regulate their movements (Gallaher et al. 2009).
Following accepted social scientific and humanities practice, pseudonyms have been used for all participants represented in this manuscript.
Elsewhere, I have discussed on details Pentecostal view of Kaunda’s humanism and its relationship to Pentecostal theology of nations (Kaunda 2017b).
© 2018 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Share and Cite
Kaunda, C.J. ‘The Altars Are Holding the Nation in Captivity’: Zambian Pentecostalism, Nationality, and African Religio-Political Heritage. Religions 2018, 9, 145. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050145
Kaunda CJ. ‘The Altars Are Holding the Nation in Captivity’: Zambian Pentecostalism, Nationality, and African Religio-Political Heritage. Religions. 2018; 9(5):145. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050145Chicago/Turabian Style
Kaunda, Chammah J. 2018. "‘The Altars Are Holding the Nation in Captivity’: Zambian Pentecostalism, Nationality, and African Religio-Political Heritage" Religions 9, no. 5: 145. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9050145