If you ever thought religious tourism doesn’t exist in Zimbabwe, its time you start reconsidering your line of thinking. For many years if not centuries villagers have gathered in their different villages to celebrate (bira) and thank their ancestors for various reasons. In some areas it would be for good health, others bumper harvests but most important for the majority is the blanket and safety as well as starting a new year intact. In some areas shrines have been built to commemorate and be set as a reminder of the good and bad memories of past events……but that’s a story for another day.
In the recent years Zimbabweans as well as the rest of the southern have witnessed a growth in religious tourism. Every year end hordes of people travel to different centres for their annual crossover crusades not forgetting the famous 10 days of fasting that follow in the month of January. My main focus today is a very special place in Mutoko. Exactly 143 kilometres away from Harare, you will find Mutoko a small town in Mashonaland East province, Zimbabwe. Far from the mudding eyes of the towns and cities is a leprosy centre but it’s not just the leprosy centre that holds value and is of importance but the mountain that is close by popularly known as Mutemwa mountain. In 1937 at nearby Mutemwa there was established one of the few leprosy treatment centres in the country at which John Bradburne worked from 1969 until he was killed by guerrillas during the Rhodesian Bush War. Mutemwa has always one place to be, for Catholics every September they all travel to Mutoko from different parts of the country as well as the border to celebrate the life and work of John Randal Bradburne, It is believed that Up to 25,000 people attend a service each year in his memory. September 2019 proved to be a year to remember as thousands of Catholics gathered not only to commemorate his life achievements but to celebrate the Vatican approved what is called “the opening of the cause” to canonise Bradburne, the first ever to happen in Zimbabwe.
Mutemwa is well known for its scenic views and pilgrimage, visitors from various churches as well those who love the open area throng the area all year round. What makes Mutemwa so hypnotising is the countless miracles that have occurred over the years. Its breath-taking atmosphere is something one should be able to go through and experience given the chance. Perfect place for meditating as well bridging bondages with friends and family and a bit of exercise lots of laugh….. To be one with yourself and feel the presence of God and his work.