Search this journal:     Advanced search
Original Research

The African traditional religious landscape: An examination of the role of traditional leaders in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Chipinge, Zimbabwe

Joel Marashe

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 35, No 1 (2014), 8 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v35i1.871

Submitted: 20 May 2013
Published:  02 June 2014


This study examines the role of traditional leaders, as custodians of culture, in the fight against infection with the HI virus and the AIDS pandemic in the Chipinge District of Zimbabwe. The research aims to assess traditional leaders’ knowledge of HIV and AIDS and its causes. It also examines some traditional practices to determine whether they expose people to HIV and AIDS, and it evaluates the traditional leaders’ roles in curbing the pandemic. From a phenomenological standpoint – and grounded in the African traditional religious landscape – the study uses a survey research design. A convenient sample of 18 participants for the study consisted of 3 chiefs and 5 headmen who completed a questionnaire as well as 5 village heads and 5 elders who were interviewed and involved in four focus-group discussions (FGDs) that provided a variety of insightful information. The study identifies promiscuity as a major cause of HIV infection in communities. The results show that traditional leaders discourage barika and kuputsa as being harmful traditional marriage practices. Furthermore, the study indicates that traditional leaders encourage behavioural change amongst the youth and adults alike to curb the spread of HIV and that the pandemic could possibly be contained if government fully empowered the traditional leaders. The research has value in attempting to minimise the spread of HIV if communities discontinue harmful cultural practices. Therefore, donor agencies involved in intervention projects concerning the HIV and AIDS pandemic and government should work closely with traditional leaders who wield considerable power in areas under their jurisdiction to arrest the spread of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in the Chipinge district in Zimbabwe.

Full Text:  |  HTML  |  EPUB  |  XML  |  PDF (418KB)

Author affiliations

Joel Marashe, Department of Old Testament, University of Pretoria, South Africa


African Traditional Religion; AIDS; barika; Chipinge district; HIV; kuputsa; Shona culture; traditional leaders; traditional practices


Total abstract views: 5288
Total article views: 8153  


1. We Remember… Elders’ Memories and Perceptions of Sleeping Sickness Control Interventions in West Nile, Uganda
Vanja Kovacic, Inaki Tirados, Johan Esterhuizen, Clement T. N. Mangwiro, Michael J. Lehane, Stephen J. Torr, Helen Smith, Grace Adira Murilla
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases  vol: 10  issue: 6  first page: e0004745  year: 2016  
doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004745

Comments on this article

Before posting your comment, please read our policy.
Post a Comment (Login required)

ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

Connect on: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube

Subscribe to our newsletter

All articles published in this journal are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license, unless otherwise stated.

Website design & content: ©2018 AOSIS (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved. No unauthorised duplication allowed.

AOSIS Publishing | Empowering Africa through access to knowledge
Postnet Suite #110, Private Bag X19, Durbanville, South Africa, 7551
Tel: 086 1000 381 
Tel: +27 21 975 2602 
Fax: 086 5004 974

publishing(AT) replace (AT) with @

Please read the privacy statement.