Dorias Pedzisai Pedzisai was born on 12 January 1934 to Joni Chantsira and Margretta Muzangwa in Gororo village in Masvingo Province of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). His father, also known as Bishop Andreas Shoko I, was leading the fledgling Zion Apostolic Faith Mission Church (ZAFMC) in Rhodesia. Pedzisai’s mother died tragically after childbirth when he was about three years old, leaving him to be raised by his father and his step-mothers. She died after giving birth to his younger brother, Eliazel, who also died after his mother.
Although the exact date is not known, Pedzisai was baptized into the ZAFMC as a child, and as he grew, he embraced the faith as his own. During his childhood, he attained basic literacy to standard three. He was a gifted bricklayer like his father, as well as a tinsmith, a tailor, and a farmer. He once worked as a store keeper and tailor for several white business persons in Fort Victoria (modern-day Masvingo) because he could communicate in English.
In the 1950s, a seer named Samson Mabhigiri instructed Shoko I to anoint his son Dorias Pedzisai Pedzisai as his successor while he was alive. So, in 1954 Pedzisai was to be anointed as successor, although he was reluctant due to his young age. Nonetheless, a year later at a homestead conference at Matumbatumba, Pedzisai was anointed with oil and successfully received as his father’s successor.
As he continued to mature, Pedzisai remained loyal and worshiped under the mantle of his father’s leadership until Shoko I passed on 15 March 1985. After the death of Shoko I, Pedzisai was ordained and installed by Ruben Mutendi, leader of the ZCC in Zimbabwe, at Andreas Shoko I’s memorial service in August 1985.
Leadership and Ministry
On his assumption of duty in August 1985, Pedzisai, now Bishop Andreas Shoko II, officiated at major Easter celebrations called Passover conferences, as well as memorials, weddings, and birthdays. Additionally, he conducted funeral and burial rites for several church leaders, and commissioned businesses, church buildings, and home projects. Shoko II visited various cities, towns, villages, and mines to conduct religious ceremonies for his church members. He travelled more widely than his father, itinerating to South Africa, Mozambique, and Zambia in order to conduct Passover ceremonies. In the course of these efforts and voyages, the ZAFMC grew geographically and increased numerically in these other countries.
Like his father, Shoko II quickly became renowned for his supernatural giftings. He is especially known for how he miraculously healed many forms of illnesses; delivered people from possession of demons and avenging spirits (ngozi); healed barrenness and infertility; and prayed for rain.
At one point, Shoko II reported that he had a vision in a dream in which an angel of the Lord showed him the “form of the spirit of the devil, who appeared as a huge black eagle.” Partly because of this, the bishop was constantly housing the sick and those seeking spiritual deliverance from demons, evil spirits, witchcraft. His homestead eventually became a spiritual hospital, where those who were sick with mental disorders, physical ailments, demon possession, and witchcraft were sent. In light of his popular success in healing these victims, even traditional healers and diviners sent patients to Shoko II.
In one story, Shoko II rescued a man who was about to be taken by a mermaid. The bishop simply threw a holy cord that touched the man, and so pulled him back from the mermaid’s power. Since his childhood, Shoko II was known to order and exorcise demons with authority, and often in the company of his lifelong friend and step brother, Josias Marin’a Mambume.
Across his adulthood, Shoko II married six women: Sorofina Chinamatira; Sarah Matongo; Sara Sibanda; Ferbie Mhofu; Ketura Shumba; and Saliwe Ndhlovu. Through his wives, Shoko II had 35 children, including 18 sons and 17 daughters.
One of Shoko II’s major contributions to the ZAFMC was a major building project at his church’s headquarters in Museva, Chivi District of Masvingo province. Shoko II had a dream in which he saw an expansive infrastructural development, with tower-lights, tall buildings, and streets around the preexisting ZAFMC headquarters. Shoko II saw this dream as prophetic, and deeply connected to his understanding of salvation. For him, salvation was not only individual, but also corporate, and this necessarily included community development. A large complex of buildings at the ZAFMC headquarters would allow people to thrive by offering healing, teaching, and other services. Happily for Shoko II, a professor at University of South Africa named Inus Daneel collaborated with him on an initiative called Fambidzano, which helped to build a large community hall along the lines envisioned by the bishop.
Death and Legacy
Up until the end, Andreas Shoko II led a highly active life of ministry and leadership. In 2012, he was involved in a car accident on his way to a conference in Hwange Town on 29 September 2012. In that accident, two persons died on the spot while a number of other passengers sustained various injuries. Shoko II dislocated his kneecap, and was transferred along with the other injured passengers to Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo. The bishop stayed in the hospital for almost a month before passing away there on Tuesday the 9th of October 2012. He was 78 years old at the time of his death.
At his funeral on Saturday, the 13th of October 2023, Shoko II was honored by the country as a hero. His funeral was attended by the acting president, other government officials, local leaders, and heads of several denominations. The Government of Zimbabwe granted him a spiritual hero’s status, and flew the national flag at half mast. Finally, his body was given a ceremonial exit as it was escorted out of the city to the place of his burial, at the top of a small hill east of his father’s homestead, near his father’s grave.
Shoko II played a pivotal role in the formation of the ZAFMC as the first successor to his father. He successfully grew the church numerically and expanded its influence geographically. Many religious leaders were shaped or influenced by his leadership, including Jeremiah Shava, Ruka Tschanga, Matuva, Mabhena, Magodhi, Abinel, Simon Tawanda, Madhidhi, Goredema, Njeke, Ngara, and Masiya. Additionally, the building project he helped oversee has been used by thousands of Zimbabweans to pursue their spiritual and practical improvement.
Although Shoko II does not leave behind a large corpus of written works, Daneel has covered many of the man’s teachings and activities in his various publications (see below). These include the several instances of persecution, schisms, miracles, teachings, and healings that occurred under Shoko II’s leadership.
For all these reasons, Shoko II is seen by many Zimbabweans as a national hero, and the full implications of his efforts will only be more clearly revealed in time.
Ezra D.A.J. Pedzisai, Luke B. Donner, Sheunesu Dzipai, and Sunungurayi Charamba
To Access Dr. Daneel’s Digital Photo Gallery on Shona Religion, please access the following: Old & New in Shona Religion
- The sources for this entry were submitted by Ezra Pedzisai on 19 July 2023.
- Daneel, Inus. Fambidzano: Ecumenical Movement of Zimbabwean Independent Churches. (Gweru: Mambo Press): 188. An extended description of the ceremony is available in this book, pp. 188-203.
- Ibid, 469.
- Ibid, 472.
- Priest Makadho and the owner of the hired car.
- Shoko II’s wives Ketura Shumba and Saliwe Ndlovu, as well as pastors Paul Chinounda and Severino Madyira. Shoko II’s daughter Kudzai Pedzisai escaped without a scratch.
We are indebted to Professor Inus Daneel for his scholarly works that covered in great depth and breadth the African Independent Churches of which ZAFMC is one. While additional research was conducted to living church and family witnesses, the largest contribution of the information recorded by Professor Daneel. His contribution to the information in this document is immeasurable. Living witnesses were interviewed, pictures, audio and video recordings also collected. A list of the consulted persons can be provided if necessary.
For further information, please refer to the works of Professor Daneel, which covers many of his publications, including information about the foundation, persecutions, schisms, miracles, teachings, healings. Photos, videos, and recordings gathered by Prof. Daneel are available here, and a compilation of his digitized works is accessible at this link.
Additionally, a book that covers Shoko I’s life and the first hundred years of ZAFMC existence will be released soon. A documentary is also under production.
This article, received in August 2023, was written by Ezra D.A.J. Pedzisai, Luke B. Donner, Sheunesu Dzipai, and Sunungurayi Charamba. Ezra D.A.J. Pedzisai, also known as Bishop Andreas III, is the head of the Zion Apostolic Faith Mission Church in Zimbabwe. Luke B. Donner is a PhD Student in Theology, with an emphasis on the history and hermeneutics of mission, at Boston University. Sheunesu Dzipai is the Director of Information, Communication Technology and Media in ZAFMC. He collected data through interviews and drafted portions of the manuscript. Sunungurayi Charamba is a lecturer at Midlands State University and practicing social worker interested in spirituality and leadership. She collected data and drafted portions of the manuscript.