Bernard Mizeki Shrine

Bernard Mizeki Shrine is a shrine and is located in Mashonaland East Province.It is famous because of the fact that Bernard Mizeki is buried there.


Why Visit

The place of Bernard Mizeki’s death has become a focus of great devotion for Anglicans and other Christians and one of the greatest of all Christian festivals in Africa takes place there every year around the feast day that marks the anniversary of his martyrdom, June 18. The shrine reminds us of the conflict between traditional culture & Christian beliefs led to the death of this now-famous martyr in 1896. His legacy is the Bernard Mizeki College which has educated and instilled good qualities of character and leadership in thousands of young men since its foundation in 1959. Today this College stands close to where he lived and the Mangwende's kraal, above the village, is crowned with a large cross to commemorate Bernard Mizeki.


History

Bernard Mizeki was born Mamiyeri Mitseka Gwambe in Inhambane, Mozambique in 1861, he left his home and went to Cape Town, South Africa as a migrant worker just as millions of people continue to do to seek new opportunities and better prospects.

He worked as a labourer for the next ten years, living in the slums of Cape Town, but seeing the disastrous effects of drunkenness on many workers, refusing to drink alcohol. After each day's work, he attended night classes at an Anglican school. Through the work of the Cowley Fathers' mission and particularly the German missionary Baroness Paula Dorothea von Blomberg, he became a Christian and was one of the first to be baptized in St Philip's Mission, Sir Lowry Road, on 7 March 1886. Besides the fundamentals of European schooling, he mastered English, French, high Dutch, and at least eight local African languages. In time he would be an invaluable assistant when the Anglican Church began translating its sacred texts into African languages. Shortly after his baptism, Bernard also started work at St Columba's Hostel, which was run by the missionaries for African men and then was sent to Zonnebloem College to train as a catechist.

In January 1891, Bernard accompanied the new Bishop of Mashonaland, GWH Knight-Bruce, as a lay catechist among the Shona people in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) He began work in the Marondera district among the Nhowe people, and settled in the kraal of Mangwende Mungati. Bernard built his home there, and took people into his home to teach them the gospel. In March 1896, Bernard married Mutwa (later named ‘Lily’), an orphaned granddaughter of the Mangwende and a Christian convert.

Although he had the chief's permission to move to a sacred grove believed to be inhabited by spirits of the tribe’s ancestors; he angered the local religious leaders when he cut some of the trees down and carved crosses into others. Although he opposed some local traditional religious customs, Bernard was very attentive to the nuances of the Shona Spirit religion. He developed an approach that built on people's already monotheistic faith in one God, Mwari, and on their sensitivity to spirit life, while at the same time he forthrightly proclaimed the Christ. Over the next five years (1891-1896), the mission at Nhowe produced many converts. Zimbabwe Historic Graveyards And Cemeteries