This paper considers the nature of Pentecostal spirituality in contemporary Zimbabwe, taking as its case study Zimbabwe Assemblies of God, Africa (ZAOGA), one of the continent's largest and most vital Pentecostal movements. The analysis centres upon a lexicon of key words, phrases and narratives used in song, preaching, testimony and prayer. For example, there is a preponderance of images of security, including the 'durawall', the protective concrete fencing surrounding a factory or a suburban home. The paper demonstrates how Pentecostalism, as quintessential popular religion, is able both to satisfy deep existential passions and to aid those struggling for survival in the specific social conditions of neo-liberal Zimbabwe. While Pentecostalism helps create an acquisitive, flexible person better suited to coping with neo-liberalism's economic agenda, it rejects the neo-liberal cultural project. Instead Pentecostal communities provide believers with security in the face of state retrenchment, the capriciousness of global capitalism and growing levels of violence and crime. Pentecostal religion also offers hope to those suffering from a sense of personal abjection created by the shattered hopes of independence and the elusive promise of modernity.
This article reviews the literature on African Christian Studies from the 1990s onwards and suggests new directions for research. The field has drawn great impetus from a series of historical/anthropological debates over conversion and the relative significance of missionary imperial hegemony and African agency. But there is a great need for work on twentieth-century missionaries and their contribution to colonial science. And there are too few studies of African leaders within mission churches, particularly in the era of decolonisation. Research on Pentecostalism has flourished but needs to be historicised. New areas for research are: African Christian diaspora and its impact on host communities; the impact of development and human rights agendas on the church; the effects of the AIDS pandemic. As the African Church becomes a more prominent part of World Christianity, scholars need to assess how African moral sensibilities are recasting the theology and politics of the historic mission churches.