The influence of Bemba traditional religious belief in mystical powers on Bemba Catholics and its implication for catholic faith in Mpika district, Zambia.

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Chanda, Armstrong
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The University of Zambia
The phenomenon of Bemba Catholics‟ continued belief in mystical powers has continued to interest many scholars and people. Some Bemba Catholics have continued to adhere tenaciously to their traditional belief in mystical powers and their manifestations in the 21st century Mpika district despite the 122 years of an intensified Catholic missionary and local priests‟ evangelisation. The African synods from 1994 to 2009 have shown the inclination of the many African Catholics toward the belief in mystical powers to be the most overwhelming of other African traditional religious beliefs and wondered about its influence on the African Catholics. This study intended to investigate the influence that Bemba traditional religious belief in mystical powers has on Bemba Catholics and its implication on the Catholic faith in the twenty-first century Mpika district in Zambia. It explored mystical powers in Bemba cosmology, discussed the Bemba Catholics‟ belief in the mystical powers and examined the Catholic Church‟s response to Bemba Catholic‟s belief in the mystical powers. The study employed a descriptive case study design and a qualitative research method. In-depth interviews and focus group discussion methods were used to collect data. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data. The population of the study included lay Bemba Catholics, priests and community traditional leaders. A homogenous purposive sampling technique was used to sample 34 participants. The study has established that Bemba Catholics believe in the mystical powers of the Bemba cosmology and practise their manifestations. The reasons were socioreligious and cultural dynamics, and fear and anxiety. This belief influenced them to create a worldview that everything that happened in life had either their source in the supernatural world or manifestations of these powers. Mystical powers influence every aspect of the Bemba Catholics' life. Although this belief contradicted both their Catholic identity and faith, they have continued holding on to the belief which has consequently influenced them to suspect, use and practise: witchcraft, divination, magic, traditional medicine, rituals, vows and oaths to consult with the traditional healers and so on. However, the local Catholic Church was involved in sensitisation, dialogue and inculturation as means of responding to the problem. The research has recommended that in its response to the Bemba Catholics‟ belief in mystical powers the Catholic Church promotes mutual, prudent and reverent engagements. Keywords: Mystical powers, Inculturation, Dialogue, Cosmology, Bemba Catholics
Christianity and culture. , Inculturation. , Anthropology of religion. , Inculturation--Catholics.