Politics of Spiritual Warfare

The Making of a Pentecostal Big Man in Tanzania

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
Päivi Hasu Global Development Studies, University of Helsinki Helsinki Finland

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This article examines the transformation of Pastor Josephat Gwajima of the Glory of Christ Tanzania Church in Dar es Salaam into a Pentecostal Big Man characterized by neopatrimonialism and clientelism. It argues that Pastor Gwajima’s status rests first, on religious mediation and individual as well as collective deliverance, and second, on the long-term creation of a Christian electorate. The paper focuses on Gwajima’s political activism during election campaigns that culminated in the 2020 elections when he became a member of parliament. The article concludes that Gwajima has built his religiopolitical profile on popular discourses of suspicion, witchcraft, and conspiracies, and that his Pentecostal politics expand the field of political power beyond political institutions to include demonic entities. Gwajima spiritually mediates people’s failed efforts to participate in the world of development while acknowledging the national and global inequalities, power asymmetries, and associated moral problems resulting from material and power accumulation.

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