Munyaradzi Mawere, Munyaradzi Elton Sagiya and Tapiwa R. Mubaya
Cultural heritage sites in Africa have since time immemorial attracted diverse spiritual beliefs, practices, political and socio-economic activities thereby creating cultural remains and settlements now referred to as heritage. The formation and conservation of heritage sites has always been a welcome idea given that they significantly help conserving the African culture and exhibiting the wisdom of Africa that for centuries has been overshadowed and subjugated by western imperialism. Yet due to the legacy of colonialism and the consequences of globalization, heritage sites in many parts of Africa have become centers of rivalry, antagonism and rarely centers for mutual conversations in so far as religion is concerned. In post independence Zimbabwe for instance, religion along with political, socioeconomic factors continue to play a pivotal role in the cultural and spiritual realms of societies. However, globalization which has brought about religious independence in the country has resulted in the emergence of multiple religious sects and beliefs with almost antithetical doctrines resulting in serious conflicts at heritage sites. Using stories, written documents and informal interviews, this paper draws from past and current experiences at Great Zimbabwe monument, a heritage site and shrine that was and is still revered for its religious significance. It notes that there is a universal religious connection between heritage sites and the beliefs that followers of different religions such as Christianity and African traditional religion hold. The piece furthers to point out that from this universal connection, conflicts on religious use of heritage sites arise between different religious groups and for heritage sites managers.
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