Molly Manyonganise

Daring Patriarchy?

A Biblical Engagement with Gender Discourses on Political Participation in Post-colonial Zimbabwe


This volume (coming out from a Humboldt Research-Fellowship) critically engages with gender discourses on political participation in Zimbabwe, focusing on how the Bible has been used to deny women political offices in the land. The study’s reference to political office needs to be understood broadly, that is, to include women participating in decision-making in their homes, religious institutions, local government, political parties to mention but a few. Dominant religio-cultural discourses on political participation have deployed biblical texts in ways that have shaped Zimbabwe’s political terrain to be gendered space. The study uses gender as a category of analyzing political participation in Zimbabwe. The study argues that the challenges women face in their endeavor to participate fully in politics in Zimbabwe are not only embedded in culture, but have also been reinforced by the way biblical interpretation pertaining to women’s public roles has been done. It is against this background that this volume seeks to examine the utilisation of the Bible by church leaders who find support from male politicians in a bid to safeguard the space from women perceived as ‘dangerous’. In other words, the study endeavours to examine how the Bible has been deployed to control gender discourses on political participation in Zimbabwe. To a large extent, this study shows the centrality as well as the influence of the Bible in shaping gender relations, even in those areas that have to a large extent been perceived as non-religious. This volume, therefore, seeks to open up more political space for women by examining how the everyday is suffused with politics, that is, politics as affecting interactions between individuals and groups thereby facilitating women’s participation in politics at all levels. It is envisioned that such a study would contribute greatly to social transformation.
Molly Manyonganise holds a PhD in Biblical and Religious Studies from the University of Pretoria. She is a senior lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at the Zimbabwe Open University. She is a research associate of the Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion of the University of Pretoria. 2020-2023 she was a Georg Forster Postdoctoral research fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany. Her research interests comprise religion and politics, gender and religion, religion and sexuality, African Indigenous Religion(s) as well as African Christianity.