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4— Missionaries, Migrants and the Manyika: The Invention of Ethnicity in Zimbabwe
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Language and Ethnicity: the Anglican Church

The influence of the American Methodists alone would certainly not have sufficed to make most people in Makoni district come to think of themselves as 'Manyika'. The AMEC influence was most marked in those areas of Makoni district in which relatively large-scale production of maize for the market was possible—in the Gandanzara area of the Makoni Reserve, which had unimpeded access to the Umtali urban and mining market, or in those areas of the Chiduku Reserve which were close to the district centre at Rusape or to the railway line. It was much less felt among the peasant families who produced a small surplus for sale or among those who lived so far from markets or communications that they had virtually no opportunity to sell produce: families who between them were, of course, in the large majority.[38] I have argued elsewhere, however, that missionary influence did reach these other two groups; that Anglican influence was especially strong amongst the smaller surplus producers and Catholic influence especially effective in the subsistence production areas in the east of the Makoni district.[39]

Different though their spheres of influence—and their theologies—were from those of the American Methodists, one thing the Anglicans and Catholics did share with them. They were equally committed to language work and ultimately equally committed to the production of a specifically Manyika language. The Anglicans began with a rather delightful series of speculative assertions about language. Archdeacon Upcher concluded in 1893 that 'the Mashona have two languages, High Mashona and Low, they use the former while clapping their


hands'.[40] Douglas Pelly told his parents in July 1892 that he was 'learning the language rather quickly or rather 4 tongues, i.e. all the languages between Beira and Matabele, i.e. Shangaan, Mashuna, Makone and Matabele'; which suggests that at that time he was thinking of the eastern dialects in terms of Makoni's rather than of Mutasa's people.[41] But even as they speculated, and long before they had mastered the language, the Anglicans began linguistic work.

From the beginning Bishop Knight Bruce thought of the eastern districts as the natural site for the main base of Anglican missionary work amongst Rhodesian Africans. This was partly because they were the part of Southern Rhodesia closest to the sea and to international communications; partly because he had been impressed with the evangelical potential of the region. During the early 1890s the bishop pondered where best to establish this eastern headquarters. The two possibilities were Mutasa's country or Makoni's country. In May 1893 Pelly told his parents that he had been chosen 'to start the work at Umtasa's kraal' and to build a station 'which in time the Bishop wishes to be the big station of the diocese. I shall have lots of boys, cart, oxen, etc and everything I want and am to build dwelling houses, church, native hospital, etc and also to begin teaching there. . . . Fancy being chosen to build . . . the first church and station for natives in Manica.'[42] In January 1894 the bishop himself wrote from the Mission House, Umtali, that:

The House is being dedicated by our beginning the first methodical translation into Seshona of parts of the Bible, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Creed. Our party consists of our two leading Catechists—Frank and Bernard—who have been learning the language now for 2 1/2 years, Mr Walker, who has been studying it with Frank, and Kapuiya, a Headman's son, and myself. . . . Every word in the grammar and its pronunciation has to be passed by [Kapuiya] before it is allowed to exist. The peculiarities of grammar are extraordinary.[43]

Language work thus began for the Anglicans where it had begun for the American Methodists—in Umtali district. But Mutasa's kraal turned out to be hotly contested territory; rival parties formed there, one backing the Methodists, another the Anglicans, and a third under the chief himself seeking to repudiate both of them. Knight Bruce's successor began to think of Makoni's territory as a more attractive base. After Pelly's ordination he was posted to:

Maconi's, a Mission Station to the East of Salisbury, founded by my predecessor, and a very important centre which, I hope, will become a strong 'base of operations' for work throughout the district, and, in time, develop into a 'school of the prophets', with its influence radiating through the whole of Manicaland. . . . Much, I am sure, depends upon our having one strong centre of Native work to begin with, where two or three clergy can live in community, and associated with them a number of Catechists, who shall go forth to various stations around.

The bishop planned a hospital and industrial training centre at Makoni's:

I am not eager for a mere literary education of natives. . . . English manhood and womanhood had acquired its distinctive character and nobility long before School boards were dreamt of.[44]

Despite these strictures on literate education, Pelly's work at Lesapi Mission, Makoni, began with teaching and translation. In October 1895 he told his parents that some fifteen boys 'had learnt the catechism which I have been translating and


also could sing well some hymn tunes which Bernard has taught them. . . . I am going to translate for the singing at once.' A letter in December 1895 gives a vivid glimpse of the linguistic complexity of this little station, where Pelly, the Englishman, Frank, the Zulu, Bernard, the Mozambican, and Kapuya, the local convert, worked daily:

Frank comes to my hut and I give his Bible lesson. . . . Then I read and work and copy translation. . . . Frank meanwhile gardens and helps Kapuia to read S. Mark in Zulu. . . . At half past six Evensong with Kapuia present. The hymns, creed and Lord's Prayer and Advent Collect being in Chino [Pelly's name for Shona]. Then tea followed by school, the first half taught by Frank, while I taught Kapuia English and he taught me Chino.[45]

It is intriguing for a historian of Makoni district like myself to imagine what would have been the consequence of the development here, rather than at Umtali, of the major Anglican school and language centre. Perhaps the 'Anglican language' would have come to be called 'chiUngwe' rather than 'chiManyika'. This did not happen. Chief Makoni and most of his people came out in arms during the Chimurenga Rising of 1896, sacking the mission station, while Mutasa and his people maintained a somewhat ambiguous neutrality. Thus it was determined that Anglicanism's chief centre should be established in Umtali district.[46]

The cumbrous machinery of Anglican linguistics was now focused once more on Mutasa. In August 1896 the Zulu priest, H.M. M'tobi, wrote an account of his visit to Mutasa's kraal in which he revealed both his ignorance of the vernacular and of long-established chiefly linguistic ceremony:

I am only just beginning to learn the language of this country, for although I am a native, Mashonas speak quite a different language from any that I have ever heard. . . . I have visited [Mutasa] several times, and he has spoken with me through three interpreters, although I have always taken with me a young Mashona who fairly speaks Zulu, and through whom we might speak to each other. . . . He must have seen white people being interpreted for whenever they go to see him, and he must have thought it expressive of dignity to have so many interpreters. His plan is to sit among the councillors, and then speak very lowly to the one nearest him, which passes what has been said loudly to another and then this one passes it on to the young man I always take with me.[47]

But Mutasa and his people were to have the last linguistic laugh, as their speech became the model for the Anglican Manyika 'language'.

In March 1897 the decision was taken to set up the Anglican educational and missionary base at St Augustine's College, near Mutasa, whose prestige and the antiquity of whose line began to be built up in missionary reports. Bishop Gaul described him as 'His Majesty occupying the throne of the Monomotopo dynasty, dating certainly from King Solomon's time, 3000 years ago, and who knows how much longer'.[48]

The missionary brotherhood at St Augustine's set out to learn the local language from their first pupils. Ronald Alexander, writing in December 1898, described the chaotic state of collegiate language learning at that time. 'We want this place to be a college for natives to come from all parts of the country to learn to read and write', he noted. But at that time there was only one full-time pupil, a Mozambican, upon whom they were completely dependent linguistically, together 'with three or four little boys from a kraal close by', upon whom, in turn, the Mozambican depended for his Manyika vocabulary. 'Talking is rather a slow


business', confessed Alexander, 'as one of us speaks first in English, then John [a Zulu teacher] puts it into Zulu, and then our pupil . . . puts it into Chino.'[49] But less than two years later, in August 1900, Alexander was himself engaged in the business of translation: 'Mr M'tobi and I have been translating Collects today and have done several. We appeal to the boys for some doubtful word, and then a great and often heated argument takes place.'[50] By 1904 this method, so dependent upon local pupils, had achieved translations of 'all the most useful parts of the Prayer Book . . . together with St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John.'[51] As with the American Methodists, the missionaries contributed orthography and word-division; their pupils contributed vocabulary.

Meanwhile, Pelly's first catechumens in Makoni had been scattered by the Rising and only slowly came together again. Nevertheless, when the Anglican mission in Makoni reopened at its twin centres of Epiphany and St Faith's, its clergy, and particularly Edgar Lloyd, at once resumed translation work. What happened was that Etheridge at St Augustine's and Lloyd at St Faith's collectively produced an Anglican version of Manyika.[52] 'Our educational aims will not appear very high', wrote Lloyd in 1905. 'To enable our people to read and write in their own tongue, and to understand what they read, seems the only ideal practicable and perhaps desirable at this stage.'[53] So he and John Kapuya continued language work. 'After breakfast John Kapuya arrives', wrote Lloyd. "Thanks to the labours of the priest in charge of Penhalonga [St Augustine's] . . . we no longer lack so woefully translations in the vernacular. Yet there remains much to be done and our mornings are made busy in copying and correcting translations.'[54]

Gradually Anglican language work intensified and hardened into what was no longer called 'chiNo', but 'chiManyika'. Gradually, too, teachers from Makoni and Umtali came to play the same role as their peers were playing in American Methodist work. In 1914, for example, a committee appointed by the bishop at the Native Conference was hard at work at St Augustine's; it consisted of Etheridge and Buck of St Augustine's and Christelow from St Faith's:

When they meet, the discussion of points of grammar . . . is long and learned and often loud; till two vote one way and the third is silenced. . . . What a laborious work it is, and what an immense deal there is to do. . . . Cyril, the eldest of the three native teachers living here, is relied upon most of all, I think, in the translation work. And he is constantly to be found in the afternoons, sitting by the side of Mr Buck; who must first make sure that he really understands the English, and then must get the English turned into the Chimanyika.[55]

The mission press at St Augustine's had 'three great works on hand . . . the Provincial Catechism, which was originally translated at Rusape and published by them, and now has been entrusted to the St Augustine's Mission Press'; a shorter catechism; and a reader compiled by Buck. 'Rusape have a "Lives of the Saints" in hand.'[56]

Thus, the Makoni mission remained a major centre of the production of Manyika, ultimately producing a set of 'Rusape Readers', in which the history of Makoni district was presented in the new language. Moreover, as with American Methodist Manyika, but even more so, the teachers and catechists of Makoni and Umtali, who had come to possess this new language, found themselves carrying it into other regions of Southern Rhodesia. The material published at St Augustine's was used in Anglican churches and schools throughout the territory.[57] And as white missionaries and their African agents encountered rural populations in


other parts of the country, so they came to think of the Manyika language as one aspect of a superior Manyika ethnic culture.

Anglicanism in the east was buoyed up in the late 1900s and 1910s by a grass-roots demand for learning in the new language. In Makoni district schools and churches sprang up, often under the leadership of young men who themselves took the founding initiative, setting up their own Christian villages and only later being appointed as agents of the Anglican church. The area around Umtali clamoured for teachers 'due to the general desire for the New Learning'.[58] 'Here in Manicaland', wrote Canon Etheridge in 1909, 'it is no longer a question of the conversion of individuals—it is a question of the conversion of a district—practically of a people—the Manyika.'[59] But it was very different in other parts of Southern Rhodesia, and disillusioned missionaries contrasted these with 'Manicaland' in terms which assumed an identity between language, ethnicity and culture.

Thus S.J. Christelow, earlier based at St Faith's, Rusape, was posted to Selukwe in the Midlands. In December 1914 he drew the contrast between them:

My earlier labour . . . had been at St Faith's, Rusape, where I was privileged to see the wave of enthusiasm for teaching, etc, then passing over that part of the Diocese. . . . Here it seems that many years of hard work must precede the harvest. . . . Instead of about thirty schools as at Rusape, here I have only two in my care. Perhaps you wonder why such opposite conditions exist in our diocese. Geographical position seems to have much bearing on the answer—the Mashona in the north and the Matabele in the south. The Matabele has all along been less responsive to missionary work, whereas the Mashona has, after much labour, responded to an abnormal degree. Here at Selukwe, between the two tribes, we have the Wakaranga. . . . They are bi-linguists. The old men speak fluently both the language of the Mashona and the Matabele. Further, it would seem that in habits they conform more to the Matabele and are slow in embracing the Gospel.[60]

In the same year another missionary made the same contrast: 'The Wakaranya, as the people here are called, are not nearly so keen or enthusiastic as the Manica.'[61] 'It is clear', wrote Etheridge from Selukwe in 1916, 'that we must not expect quick results amongst these Makaranga folk; they differ in many ways from those with whom we have to deal in our larger stations. . . . Much more intent upon ploughing than learning, they need different treatment from our Manica people.'[62] Nor had the situation changed by 1920. 'The Wakaranga', wrote a missionary in that year, 'are very slowly turning to God and his Church; there is no enthusiasm as there is among the Manyika people.'[63]

In this way the Anglicans gave more and more reality to notional entities such as the 'Karanga' and the 'Manyika'. And wherever else they went in the territory, they longed for the network of mission stations which gave Anglicanism in 'Manyikaland' its almost 'national' character:

It is a weird country, is Matabeleland, dry—physically and spiritually . . . with a proud native race, that shows almost no desire for education, and almost less than no desire for our religion. . . . I want to show you a few contrasts in our work between this district and Manyikaland. Manyikaland appears to me to be a garden watered from above, and with springs and rivers of water rising within it. . . . There growth came from within by native initiative; here it must be organized, and fed, and fostered. We have here no large centre humming with life and devotion, to which the out-stations look for encouragement and


with pride as their birth-place. Thus here we have no esprit de corps, we are split into tiny parishes, and there is almost no inter-communication between stations, congregations or teachers. . . . Again up north there is practically a homogeneous people, and not more than three types of Missions at work. Here the tribes are mixed up, and every imaginable type of Christianity is at work.[64]

It was, indeed, this esprit de corps, this 'intercommunication between stations, congregations . . . [and] teachers', which brought the African Anglicans in Makoni, Umtali and Inyanga districts into one Manyika identity. Thus Maurice Nyagumbo, whose Nyashanu ancestors had been integrated into Makoni by means of a shared hostility to the Manyika, but who himself was a pupil at St Faith's, regards himself and his family as 'Manyika'. In 1934 the Anglican missionary B. H. Barnes illustrated the situation with reference to language and ethnicity by taking the examples of of the peoples of chief Makoni of the Ungwe and chief Zimunya of Jindwe:

In our Mashonaland there is no single race and language which is definitely representative of the whole area. There are, instead, a large number of small tribes or clans, and almost as many divergent dialects. Any individual will declare himself to be of this or that clan and a speaker of this or that dialect. None calls himself Mashona and there is at present none who will say that his speech is Shona. You will find that he speaks Ciungwe or Cijindwi and belongs to the the Ungwe or the Wajindwi. Either of these may claim to be Manyika and to speak CiManyika, but they know nothing of a Shona race or a Shona language. . . . In the various districts you will find that the lesser divisions are already able to recognize themselves as included under one or other of four or five principal groups, such as Karanga, Zezuru, Manyika, Ndau, Korekore. The process of unification has, in fact begun . . . [uniting] neighbouring sub-dialects under the main dialects.[65]

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4— Missionaries, Migrants and the Manyika: The Invention of Ethnicity in Zimbabwe
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