Birth of Zimbabwe Location Churches

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Perhaps the greatest triumph over the resistance by blacks to move to the locations {also known as lokishi by the locals} came with the authorities’ success in moving churches to the locations by 1910.
In the early years of the 20th century, a large number of Shona and Ndebele Africans were becoming Christians. Meetings of these early black Christians were held in the town but soon the white authorities would have none of it.

Demands for the removal of these Christian church meetings from the town soon led to their eviction. The first to be affected was the Anglican church. The Anglicans had been having services since 1899 in a wood and iron building near the old cathedral along 2nd street in the then Salisbury town {now known as Harare}. Due to increase in membership and the need for an African church, the council in 1905 had allocated land for a new church, ST Michaels, outside the township near then Umtali road.

Soon the authorities were dissatisfied by this site and started advocating for a new one. This was because Africans were still shunning the new location settlement created in 1907. To encourage Africans to settle in the location, the council then made it compulsory for all missionary churches to be located within the location. In addition, missionaries were offered plot to engage in missionary work and among the first to accept these new offers were the Salvation Army and Presbyterians.

However, security concerns soon forced the council to rescind its decision of having the churches within the location. This was after realizing that in Bulawayo, the location which had a population of 700 people was attracting as much as 2000 people all coming to attend church services. The council felt that this was giving strangers a chance to enter the location in the guise of attending church services.

As a result a church reserve was created in 1909 outside but adjoining the location. Despite opposition to this new development, the church reserve came into being and the Catholics were the first to move to the reserve.

In 1910, the Presbyterians laid out plans to build an African church and school in the Kopje area. This was much to the ire of the white living in that area. In reaction to these plans, Kopje residents sent a petition to the council arguing that church services by the new church would render the their residence unsuitable for their families. The Presbyterians were urged to shelve their plans and as a compromise they were allowed to build on the southern side of the railway station not far from the location. Later on, this site became the headquarters of the Presbyterian church.

As such, African religious services disappeared from Salisbury town by 1910 and all the churches were located around the location except for the Anglicans who had their church located to the east of the town. The resultant effect was the luring of African Christians and school pupils to the unpopular location area. Before long, the location and its surroundings became a religious and education centre for blacks in Salisbury.

As evictions of dissenters, police raids, resettlement and church removals climaxed, the location dwellings were slowly taken up and were soon filled.

By the start of the First World War, there were 156 huts in the location, accommodating over 400 adults and over 50 children. The location, slowly though, seemed to be becoming an acceptable home for African urbanites

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