African Apostolic Church of John Marange
Founder(s)Johane Marange

The African Apostolic Church of John Maranke was founded by the late Muchabaya Momberume popularly known as Johane Marange in the year 1912 in Manicaland Province

Formation of the Church

According to oral tradition Johane Marange was born Muchabaya Momberume and his father was named Fuleni. While working for Chief Marange, Fuleni fell in love with his daughter in Mafararikwa leading to the birth of Arnold, Cornolius and Muchabaya and some girls.

Fuleni couldn’t afford to pay lobola to Chief Marange. As a result, Chief Marange decided to adopt Muchabaya, the youngest of the boys, as payment for lobola.

That’s how he became Muchabaya Marange. In 1917 at the age of five, Muchabaya received the Holy Spirit which revealed to him he was to be called John the Baptist. This happened while he was herding cattle and people went to report to Chief Marange how the young boy was speaking in tongues. The chief thought he had been possessed by a spirit and was contemplating returning the child to his parents because he was speaking about God. At that time only the missionaries were allowed to speak about God and lead churches. Yet this child was contemplating registering a church. This scared the Chief and he planned to disown the child before the missionaries.

On the other hand, Fuleni had sent his brothers to consult sangomas, they confirmed God was in control of the situation. Through the Holy Spirit, Muchabaya spoke in English about Basil Bridge’s journey coming into Zimbabwe thereby convincing the missionaries to register his church.

On realizing that the missionaries liked the boy, Chief Marange confessed that Muchabaya was his son resulting in Muchabaya carrying his surname. This would strengthen his chieftainship.

He was to be called Johane Marange from then on. This saw the birth of his church — Sangano reMapostori.[1] According to Noah Taguta This is how Johane Marange Apostolic Faith church, the first African church, was born in 1912. From then, he was told by the Holy Spirit to preach the word of salvation. His theme being “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand”.

Between 1912 and 1930, he was preaching and performing miracles. He spoke of Jesus and healed with water. He would also prophesy about what was happened during the liberation struggle and how the whites would be defeated. The church seemed to attract poor people because at that time those who attended the likes of the Methodist, Roman Catholic and Anglican were well to do people. As a result, Johanne Marange embraced them all.

Message and Teaching

When Johane the founder started his work in colonial Zimbabwe, it is said that he encouraged people to sabotage the colonial regime by refusing to pay taxes because the word of God did not allow for the domination of fellow human beings through colonialism. The message of Marange resonated with other communities outside of Zimbabwe as well such as Malawi and Mozambique and as far afield as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since the days of Johane Marange, the church has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. The church encourages its members not to go to hospital to seek medical attention, they believe in divine/spiritual healing.

Succession Debates

Over the past years since the death of the founder of the church, the apostolic sect has been battling with the issue of succession. Some of the succession battles are said to have caused several splits in the apostolic sect with splinter groups forming their own churches.[2]


There have been media reports linking the church to alleged acts of satanism and the abuse of young girls who are said to be married off to men as old as 50 years. Some of the girls were said to be as young as ten years and were being married to 50 year olds that allegedly already had up to five or more wives.[3]

Child Marriages

It is alleged that At the Easter conference which Congregants of the Marange group refer to as pasika (Passover), people from different Marange provinces all over Zimbabwe celebrate Easter and waiting for mutumwa (the Marange leader), their leader to come with chidyo (holy communion) for Easter. At the occasion, a lot of young girls will be taken by the elder men as their wives.It is also alleged that fathers of these young brides negotiate the marriage with their fellow male counterparts in the absence of the mother or the girl in question. After the camping is over, the girl will just be told that she is now married and is supposed to prepare for marriage even if she had not reached their puberty. To them, school is nothing and marriage is everything.[4]


It is alleged that the Marange church doctrine promotes polygamy and it is normal for a man to have more than 10 wives.[5]

Shunning hospitals

The church ideology does not permit its member to seek medical care from hospitals or to take drugs prescribed by doctors or nurses. It is alleged that Hundreds of Apostolic sect members, particularly children, are dying as their church bars them from seeking medical health. Their deaths go unrecorded because of lack of documentation.[6]


  1. The Origins of Johane Marange | The Sunday Mail, retrieved: 15 Jul 2018
  2. Fatima Bulla The origins of Johane Marange, The Sunday Mail, Published: March 29, 2015, Retrieved: June 16, 2015
  3. Kingstone Ndabatei Johane Marange sect satanic: GCN, The Zimbabwean, Published: January 9, 2012, Retrieved: June 16, 2015
  4. [1], retrieved: 15 Jul 2018
  5. POLYGAMOUS Johane Marange apostolic sect man keeps 10 wives in 2 rooms, PaZimbabwe, published: 12 Oct 2016, retrieved: 15 Jul 2018
  6. Apostolic sect causes health crisis, retrieved: 15 Jul 2018