Beyond the rainbow: Madzibaba garments unveil spiritual symbolism

Amos Mpofu, [email protected] 

ADHERENTS of the Apostolic faith have illuminated the meaning behind the vibrant garments exhibited at their places of worship, dismissing the misconceptions that surround their symbolism. 

Johane Masowe is the name given to the African church, which is associated with fellowship and wearing white garments. 

The church was founded in 1932 by Shonhiwa Masedza in Marimba Park, Norton, Mashonaland West province, as a fellowship rooted in the tradition of the white garment African church.

However, internal disagreements over beliefs caused the church to splinter, spawning other denominations that still operate under the Johane Masowe name, but with variations in their attire. 

Some Madzibaba groups don red clothing as their uniform, earning them the nickname “Madzibaba enguwo tsvuku”.

The clothing displayed at specific denominations’ worship centres has long aroused public curiosity, prompting various unsubstantiated theories. 

According to interviews conducted by the Saturday Chronicle in Bulawayo, the colourful garments hold deep significance within the apostolic sect’s religious practices. Congregants explained that these garments are a conduit for connecting with guardian angels and drawing them closer to God, who they believe heals them and gives purpose to their prayers.

Lovejoy Sibanda said: “The primary purpose of some of the colourful garments hanging at our praying sites is to indicate that we pray here. This encourages many people to pass by, pray with us and seek deliverance for their problems.” 

He explained that specific colours hold different meanings and are used for different intentions during their prayer routines.

“Each colour symbolises something specific. For example, the deeply respected red signifies blood, which represents our church’s ability to confront death, bloodshed and avenging spirits. Individuals afflicted by such spirits are prayed for while wrapped in and sometimes kneeling on the red cloth.

“Green represents life within our church. It signifies our emphasis on restoring broken lives through prayer and seeking deliverance from God. Similarly, blue symbolises Heaven, underscoring our belief in one God reigning in Heaven. Yellow signifies wealth, intended to support the servants of God, and the white stars adorning some garments symbolise individuals receiving their talents and breakthroughs in life,” he said.

The survey also revealed that the followers view the colours as divine guidance from their leaders, intricately linked to shaping the spiritual atmosphere of their worship spaces. 

“It is a matter that raises questions for many, but when we adhere to the teachings of our founder, who was divinely sent, we understand that colours like red and black symbolise the presence of avenging spirits. 

“Certain prominent prophets within the church are tasked with confronting and dispelling these spirits, hence the need for such garments. Unfortunately, this influence has led other branch leaders to adopt similar practices, hanging these clothes at their praying sites. However, I believe such garments should be reserved for specific circumstances and not displayed indiscriminately at prayer sites,” said Steven Charumuka.




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