Bread and Wine, Beer and Meat: The <i>Kurova Guva</i> Controversy

Nicholas M. Creary

in Domesticating a Religious Import

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780823233342
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241774 | DOI:
Bread and Wine, Beer and Meat: The Kurova Guva Controversy

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This chapter argues that from functionalist anthropological and secular historical viewpoints, abolishing kuchenura munhu would return the Catholic church in Zimbabwe to a time when people are bound to lead two lives. VaShona cultural practices of honoring the spirits of the dead, or kurova guva, were initially banned by Catholic missionaries shortly after their arrival in Southern Rhodesia. As an important ritual, however, it persisted clandestinely on mission farms throughout the twentieth century. Largely at the urging of the Catholic Association and with the support of the African clergy, discussions about lifting the ban and adapting kurova guva to the church began and culminated with the Catholic bishops approving a modified form of the ritual, called kuchenura munhu, which subsequently received the Vatican's approval on an experimental basis. In the late 1990s, several African bishops and priests renewed debate about the validity of kuchenura munhu.

Keywords: kuchenura munhu; Catholic church; VaShona cultural practices; kurova guva; Catholic missionaries; Catholic Association

Chapter.  7745 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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