A Watchtower Church. Image credit abbarch.com

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: The Struggle for Independence in Colonial Zimbabwe 1900-1980: The Watch Tower Movement

  • The movement was influenced by the black American missionary activity in South Africa of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses)
  • the movement converted miners who then spread elements of the movement northward from their South African base
  • Besides preaching the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom,
  • they also preached racial equality,
  • equal pay for equal work, and the impending struggle for the restitution of Africa to Africans
  • Although anticolonial in ideology, the movement had no concrete strategy of revolution,
  • It became popular when it challenged the living and working conditions of mine workers in Wankie, Que Que, Shamva and Shabani mines
  • The Watch Tower organized and coordinated the Shamva mine strike which was the countries first ever strike involving about 3 500 workers in 1927
  • However with time the Jehovah’s Witnesses were surpassed by indigenous churches formed in Zimbabwe such as the Apolostic Faith and Zionists
  • These churches interpreted the bible in an African way and were more concentrated in the rural areas
  • Their messages were that of praise for the Africans and they gave them hope that they would be independent
  • They could circulate information opposing the government and they sometimes resisted tax payment and the Land Act

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