Field Report from Tony Balcomb - Treeplanting Rituals in Southern Zimbabwe
Tony Balcomb is professor at the School of religion at University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. His REDO project is "Dressing Mother Nature. Earthkeeping rituals and democracy in Southern Zimbabwe". Assistant researcher in the project is Sophi Chirongoma
Tony has undertaken three trips to southern Zimbabwe in Feb 2013, Feb 2014, and May 2014.
These visits have been to the Masvingo province where the tree planting rituals took place. The Zirrcon archives were visited in Masvingo. A translater was hired to translate a section of the minutes of meetings and speeches during the ceremonies that took place in the heyday of the project.
Meetings were also held with a spirit medium – Vazazira – who was a key leader in the project. During the May trip Tony met with the translater who gave him approximately 224 written pages of foolscap that he had translated from the Shona into English. This material will be part of the data that will be used in research project. He also met with Bishop Marinda, an AIC bishop who was a key player in the project.
Dr Chirongoma is based in Zimbabwe and has also been doing field research with Raviro Mutonga who also played a key role in the project.
Dr Chirongoma has given a paper at the Theological Society of Southern Africa conference on June 20 2014 entitled An exploration of the role of Karanga-Shona women within the ZIRRCON ecological project in Masvingo, Zimbabwe: Towards an indigenous eco-feminist theology and is scheduled to give another paper at the African Association for the Study of Religion Conference (AASR) to be held in Cape Town, from the 30th July to the 2nd August, 2014 on the theme Woman Religious Scholars and Activists in Dialogue with Southern African Women's Ecological Wisdom.
The title of her paper will be Navigating Indigenous Resources that can be Utilized in Constructing a Karanga Eco-Feminist Theology: A Case study of Karanga women within the ZIRRCON ecological project in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. The conference is hosted by the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town.