The Sunday Mail
Every year, the month of August is synonymous with camp meetings, conferences and summits. To some, these are days characterised by powerful prayer and fasting.
As different religions perform different rituals honouring their deity, traditionalists take time to appease their ancestors.
This often leaves one asking, why the month of August?
While various churches have their own explanations, Traditional Medicines Practices Council (TMPC) chair Sekuru Friday Chisanyu said during the month of August, a month specifically selected from spiritual guidance, they conduct the rain-making ceremonies.
“We have several other celebrations that we do in a year but as for August, this is a special month in which we conduct the rain-making ceremonies and we do it specifically this month as it is when our ancestors specifically instructed for reasons we are not aware of.
“While the rain season seems to have slightly shifted due to climate change, the rain-making ceremonies remain an August thing until the ancestors instruct us to shift,” he said.
Sekuru Chisanyu believes that August is a special month from its nomination by the ancestors which could be the reason why many churches also adopted the month for their conferences during that month.
“From history, tradition is part of us but as we grow, some adopt dual membership.
“ The fact that this month was specially picked by the ancestors, it shows that it is a chosen month which could be the reason why churches also use the same month.
“This is the month we conduct our rain-making ceremonies as we prepare for the next agriculture season and during this ceremony, traditionalists from across the nation gather and we consult our ancestors.”
He said the venue and province of the ceremony is decided by the ancestors and it is only the traditionalists who are supposed to know because the ceremony should not be publicised lest it is tainted.
United Family International Church (UFIC) spokesman, Pastor Prime Kufa, said the month of August marked the birth of the church’s journey in 2008 which makes it significant to them.
“We believe this is a spiritual month for us because it is the month we began our spiritual journey in 2008 and this year becomes a special year for the church as it traces its roots since establishment. This year the conference will run under the banner “UFIC at 10” as the church celebrates its 10th anniversary between 24 and 26 August.
As a thanksgiving year, Kufa said UFIC will reflect on how much the church has achieved and as a way of expressing God’s sacrificial love the church will offer free medical services in various districts country wide.
“This is going to be a special event in which we will be giving thanks to the Lord for the 10-year journey that we have travelled as a church and for us the special gift ought to be passed on to the less privileged as well.
“We will look at what we have managed to achieve in the past 10 years and give special thanks to God for the capable leadership of Prophet and Amai Makandiwa who have been the anchor of this vision.
“A special gospel of thanksgiving will be preached and miracles will happen where many will be healed and delivered,” said Kufa.
Across town, the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) will troop to the Defe Dopota grounds in Gokwe for their August annual conference.
ZCC spokesperson, Mr Raymond Muringani, said Defe grounds are a special spiritual shrine where the founding Bishop Samuel Mutendi was laid to rest on July 23, 1976.
Before he was buried, a shining star is said to have descended and marked his grave.
“With this conference we commemorate the day of Samuel and await to witness the shining star that was witnessed all over the night sky of Southern Rhodesia by both zionists and non-zionists when he died.
“The star is a great experience because the first-hand accounts of those who saw it are still being written after so many years.
“The first one was recorded in the Rhodesian Herald of July 27 1976,” he said.
Although Mutendi was laid to rest in July, the church had to shift the conference dates to August to accommodate school children and the working class.
Still running under the theme “The Year of the Shining Star of Zion” which was launched at the beginning of the year, the celebrations will run from 5 to 12 August.
Muringani believes the Defe conference provides an environment where congregants will get to appreciate the late Samuel Mutendi’s faith to God.
“By getting a first-hand feel at the Defe shrine, congregants will appreciate that Reverend Samuel Mutendi was the founding leader of the oldest independent church in the country dating back to the year of his spiritual bath in 1913,” he said.
Could all these be coincidences with the month of August?
City of God Apostolic Church Priest Molson Butawo said from 10 to 12 August, the church will celebrate its Pentecostal conference in Hwedza under the theme “Gore Rezvibereko Zvomweya”.
Annually, the church has three conferences and the mid-year conferences are held during the month of August instead of June to accommodate those who want to travel with their school children.
“Gathering from the Holy Trinity, we should have three conferences yearly meaning the beginning, the middle and the end of the year.
“For our mid-year, we decided we had to accommodate school children, which is the reason we shifted from but the month is nothing spiritual.
He said the conference will run under the theme “Gore Rezvibereko Zvomweya” gathering from 1 Corinthians vs 12 as the theme scripture.
“After baptism each one of us had hands laid on their heads to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, therefore, the camp is a platform to concentrate on the manifestation of the gifts.
The gifts include gifts of prophecy, gifts to speak in tongues, gifts to foretell dreams and gifts of healing among others,” he said.
Under the same belief as the City Of God Apostolic Church, Sangano Dzvene Revapostori church Bishop Cuthbert Nyaruvenda said to them, August conference is regarded as Musangano we Mweya although without spiritual attachment as to why specifically that month.
“From Acts of the Apostle, the Bible says . . . the Holy Spirit filled the room they were in, instantly they began to speak in different tongues but they could fully understand each other.
“At this gathering we concentrate on receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit and we understand this can only be achieved by confessing our sins and waiting upon the Holy Spirit to fill up the holy shrine,” said the clergyman.
Seventh Day Apostolic (SDA) church North Zimbabwe Conference will also hold their camp meeting from 12 to 18 August under the theme Jesus Saves while for East Zimbabwe Conference it will be Christ-like membership.
SDA Pastor Xolani Chikuni said the month does not have any spiritual bearing but it is rather a convenient month for its holidays.
“The month has the Heroes and the Defence Forces holidays which gives time for our congregants to gather without pressure of going to work.
“Our conferences hold camp meetings at different venues although under the same dates and unlike other churches our themes vary from conference to conference,” he said.
The cleric said camp meeting provides a platform for the congregants to renew their relationship with God away from the community.