About the Author(s)

Gift Masengwe symbol
Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, QwaQwa, South Africa

Bekithemba Dube Email symbol
Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, University of the Free State, QwaQwa, South Africa


Masengwe, G. & Dube, B., 2023, ‘Towards a postmissionary review of mission station names in the Church of Christ in Zimbabwe’, Theologia Viatorum 47(1), a170. https://doi.org/10.4102/tv.v47i1.170

Original Research

Towards a postmissionary review of mission station names in the Church of Christ in Zimbabwe

Gift Masengwe, Bekithemba Dube

Received: 19 July 2022; Accepted: 31 Aug. 2022; Published: 15 Feb. 2023

Copyright: © 2023. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Christian missions are historically captured in the construction of mission stations that facilitated religious instruction to advance the gospel with unintended consequences, such as an extension of missionary-colonial ideologies and attitudes. This article discusses how these were captured in mission station naming, inclusive of erroneous or misspelt names. This makes it necessary for the Church of Christ in Zimbabwe’s (COCZ) rural membership, commonly around mission stations, to rename these centres. The distortion of history on mission stations like Dadaya calls for the renaming of the station so as to recover lost values and culture, and the significance of the ecology to Africans. Our discovery of Dadaya macrops, an Asiatic marine species of water flea found in freshwater in this study, denies the assumption that Dadaya was a misspelling of Dayataya. This makes us assume that Dadaya was an idolatrous symbol for missionaries that rhymed with local isotopes to mentally drawn local communities. Norming the mission station, missionaries named Dadaya to transmit images, symbols and meanings known to New Zealand supporting churches. Dayataya Hills has been used as a scapegoat to validate their Dadaya macrops symbol. This study probes into the need to correct and guide people in renaming the mission station. Renaming transforms Dadaya into an African mission station. The article used critical discourse analysis (CDA) from purposive snowball interview results and a hermeneutic of suspicion to probe into naming the mission station.

Contribution: The article is interdisciplinary involving missionary history, humanity, socialisation, missiology, literature and education. it contributes to knowledge through decentering on African discourses, contextualisation, christianisation and decolonised church of christ positioned for healing and transformation where church names are not used for perpetuate Westernisation in African context.

Keywords: mission names; missiology; the Church of Christ in Zimbabwe; religious education; Dayataya Hills; Dadaya macrops.


Missionaries dominated the Christian religious sphere and used it to name mission stations in Zimbabwe. The use of Christianity in helping colonise people led to a reconstruction of a European God using European civilisation in Africa. Missionaries were accused of consistently and persistently denigrating and/or castigating African religious-cultural, ethical-legal, political-ideological and doctrinal-ecclesiological practices (Zimunya & Gwara 2013:188). In other words, the researchers wonder if the naming discourse by missionaries during the colonial era was influenced by their thinking of African culture as an extension of heathenism, and in denigrating the evil culture, missionaries preferred place names that resonated with their own way of life. Unfortunately, European names have remained in the semiospheric discourse of mission stations after the colonial era in order to revive the colonial onomastic immortality in those churches. Names are abstract documents that contain social data; hence, to name is to own and to transform. The public act of naming took full account of local options to get a buy-in from communities upon which symbolic violence was performed. Names are significant in Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (COCZ) institutions, especially those founded by American missionaries who used traditional leaders’ names, such as mashoko [the message], chidamoyo [the choice], pasipanyoro [tender soil], matara [you ruled out], chiromo [the entrance], chamburikira [it has flown], chitiyo [the chick], mukanga [court marshall], magocha [you roasted], zindove [the cow dung], gava [jackal] and chiremwaremwa [the bat] or rivers such as Chiredzi and Devure and national ruins such as Masvingo. The New Zealanders or Australians in Zvishavane used names of communities, such as Sivanga, Simane, Siboza, Bilashaba, Lundi, Ingome, Sindelele and Ndinaneni. This practice has been carried out on many more institutions not mentioned in this study. Dadaya is believed to have been taken from Dayataya Hills near Old Dadaya and erroneously misspelt Dadaya. Much has been written on spelling errors and historical distortions that interfered with space identities (Mazarire 1999:4–9). For this reason, Dadaya was highly likely taken from Dadaya macrops, representing abundance in a dry-savannah region. The presence of a marine creature invited ‘showers of blessing’ to Lundi in those days of colonialism. If so, Dadaya becomes a consistently foreign and colonial educational institution in an African space that needs replacement with a correctly spelt name: Dayataya. Use of correctly spelt local names or legends captures and encapsulates the aspirations of African-Christian spirituality, because ‘place names are discourses of power which are used to express and legitimise power because they are part of the symbolic emblems of power’ (Mamvura 2014:ii). Such legends and ‘fathers of the faith’ in the COCZ should include Sir Reginald Stephen Garfield Todd (1908–2002) (Masengwe & Dube 2021). Garfield carries the immortality of the missionary soul for this mission, hence the significance of his name for the station or its local derivative, Dayataya. This re-engineers the discourses of religious power in the COCZ, as instruments of marginalisation and exclusion are dismantled. Local symbols problematise and deny the brutality of symbolic violence on ecclesial discourses. Indigenous religiosity interrogates the legality, spirituality and legitimacy of colonial ecclesiological scholarship using the first mission in the history of the COCZ.

Study theory

This article is written from within the field of mission theology. It emphasises aspects of the mission of God, missio Dei, in the process of transforming African communities. Social transformation or human development is regarded as missio Dei. Transformation here refers to peaceful relationships by changed people who have recovered their true identities and discovered true vocations in God. Missio Dei refers to ‘fellowship that builds up the Kingdom of God’ (Bosch 2011:531). Fellowship here emphasises communality, hence commitment towards transformation of communities around mission stations (Bevans & Schroeder 2004:61–62). Mission theology thus appraises the merits and demerits of missionary ideologies for both African society and religious education in Zimbabwe. It emphasises social transformation under the purposes of God. Church members are committed towards community transformation by building peaceful relationships, as convicted individuals recover lost identities and discover their God-given vocations.

Research methodology

The study used minutes of the missionaries and interviews with former workers at mission stations, pastors in the missions’ employ and mission stakeholders. Of significant interest are the members of the executive committee for the Dadaya Mission Trust and interested members. They were engaged in personal interviews and WhatsApp discussions because of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions. The study therefore used mobile instant messaging interviews to collect in situ data (Kaufmann, Peil & BorkHuer 2021). Committee members were unwilling to participate due to court cases on the ownership of the mission between the group that supports Garfield Todd’s daughter and the group that subscribes to the Somabhula National Conference ideologies (Masengwe & Chimhanda 2020). Those contacted who participated gave information on the missionary bias towards colonialists. No missionary was contacted to participate in the study, as the church now uses local personnel to advance mission activities. Seven pastors participated in the study as well as five former mission workers. Focus group discussions became difficult due to the sensitivity of the issues at Dadaya, as well as the division in the national church body politic (Masengwe & Chimhanda 2019). The study met the required validity and reliability tests, as researchers acquired verbal consent for the interviews. This article may not propose what represents the will of the mission founders but rather the genuineness in presenting progressive proposals for the future of the mission and the church in Zimbabwe. Engagement of key stakeholders of Dadaya Mission committees made the study reliable. In addition, the study interpreted the data thematically within the contexts of minimum ethical standards of informed consent, confidentiality and anonymity.

Realities of naming and renaming in Zimbabwe

(Re)naming of schools and institutions in Zimbabwe is not a new thing (Nyoni, Nyoni & Mabuto 2014). Land and country categories were renamed (Mashiri & Chabata 2010), such as buildings and streets (Chabata 2007), beer halls (Nyota, Mapara & Mutasa 2009), mountains and rivers (Mapara, Nyota & Mutasa 2011). Shona (Jackson 1957; Kahari 1990; Pongweni 1983) and Ndebele (Hlazo 1934) people are concerned about naming and nomenclature, because names are short telegraphic texts used to signify something (Koopman 1992:9). Furthermore, ‘names of all kinds [for persons] are social documents, which fix a person’s position in the social structure and define his [sic] relations to other members of society’ (Koopman 1992:1):

Among the Nuer, people’s names are used in order to define people’s relations with other members of society. However among the Shona people, the dog’s name is used to define such relations. (Tatira 2004:85)

In addition, place names are ‘social documents’ (Koopman 1986:132) that capture the historical knowledge of citizens. ‘The study of geographical names in any country involves the exposition of many factors that gave rise to the choice of these names’ (Meiring 2010:95). Realising that Africans were not passive victims of colonisation, missionaries strove to recognise their agency and control of space by naming a place in view of the African immediate environment (Mamvura 2014:17). This article suggests that renaming of the COCZ institutions will correct erroneously misspelt names to the correct content and context of the true meanings of places for the Zimbabwean people and nation.

Dadaya is a pithy and terse ‘social document’ that violates rather than confirms the Dayataya symbols. The government of Zimbabwe once suggested renaming of schools in order to honour heroes and heroines after the liberation struggle and was described as ‘an apparent bid by President Mugabe to pander an anti-colonialist sentiment’ (The Zimbabwean Reporter 2006):

More recently, the government tried to rename all schools with colonial names after what it terms liberation war heroes, but this failed spectacularly and it was forced to abandon the plan. (Shoko 2013:n.p.)

Names were given by people who invested in the construction of schools during the colonial era. Missionaries, with a colonial mentality, undermined history by naming schools and hospitals without consulting indigenous people. While renaming institutions that were constructed by colonialists and missionaries can be seen as distorting colonial history, it is an acknowledgment of the attitude to undermine indigenous people which this article condemns.

One pastor critiqued: ‘Did these schools exist before 1890; if they did, changes are justified; if they didn’t, history is corrupted’ (Chikwanda 2018). There are places such as Gokwe (Sebukwe) that colonialists failed to penetrate. Gokwe constitutes the framework of ‘the power to refuse to be named by and for another’ (Worby 1994:372). Those institutions’ colonialist names have been difficult to change after independence (Magudu, Muguti & Mutami 2014). Renaming distinctly reconstructs important vectors of identifying a place (Chabata 2007, 2012). It targeted Allan Wilson, Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II, Theodore Roosevelt and Cecil Rhodes due to their ideological positions (Pfukwa & Barnes 2010). The then Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Aeneas Chigwedere, urged schools to choose new local names that redrew African ideology and culture (Reuters 2001; The Daily News 2002; Zenenga 2002). Renaming Prince Edward High to Murenga Boys High; Queen Elizabeth to Sally Mugabe Girls High; and Winston Churchill to Josiah Magamba Tongogara appropriately reconstructed identities, but it also disproportionately corrupted history (The Standard Reporter 2002; The Zimbabwean Reporter 2006). This makes renaming a mammoth task of gigantic proportions, economically and politically. Government struggled to rebrand Victoria Falls to Mosi-Oa-Tunya and King George VI Barracks (KG6) to Josiah Tongogara Barracks. The same was for Harare International Airport to Robert Mugabe International Airport (Shoko 2013). They feared to negate tourism at a time when foreign earnings were needed desperately. This article, however, is not motivated by an apparent bid to pander antimissionary sentiment, because mission stations depend on ‘foreigners’ finances’ (Baka-Nyoni 2018). This study suggests that renaming Dadaya should engage geosemiotics (complementing geography, semiotics and pragmatics) and to fully engage locals in order to fully capture their thoughts (Makondo 2010; Scollon & Scollon 2003).

This leads the researchers to ask the question: what is a place? A place is ‘a physical location imbued with meaning’ (Cosgrove 1989:104). Place names are selected and used in particular social contexts. Space waits ‘without meaning’ for people to give it a name in order to turn it into a place. Place names are spatial texts that communicate to people meanings of particular periods and objects (Pinchevski & Torgovnki 2002). ‘Naming was part of the corpus of strategies used to show domination, possession and control of the immediate environment’ (Mamvura 2014:17). Names are durable symbols which carry a political economy of toponymic practices that outlive most material artefacts of a civilisation, even when cultural landscapes are destroyed (Saparov 2003:179). This forces one to consider the criticality of place-naming needing erasure and replacing in Zimbabwe (Rose-Redwood et al. 2010:454). Onomastics relates to a theory and content of place-naming deserving toponomastic attention, especially on schools built for the colonial project. It ‘was a strategic ideological state apparatus that the colonial establishment used to inculcate its ideology into the minds of the colonised’ (Mamvura 2014:19). The school curriculum thus was also ‘littered with justifications for colonialism and racism’ (Chung 2007:43), as the regime strove to use schools to transmit symbolic discourses of colonial ideology. Thus, ‘[a]n examination of naming schools is important because it sheds light on the totality of social variables that gave rise to different school names during the colonial period in Zimbabwe’ (Mamvura 2014:19). The issue of naming Dadaya Mission is important because it draws upon the memories of those who lived with the people of the area, who are the ‘the living dead’ (Mbiti 1992) or the ‘shades’ (Berglund 1976).

Dayataya erroneously spelt Dadaya

Dadaya is a key institution in the growth and expansion of the COCZ. Dadaya is arguably misspelt from Dayataya Hills located at the old mission school. The name strikingly resembles a misspelt Dayataya Hill from the local land forms. Place names were commonly misspelt and corrupted by colonisers in Zimbabwe. Colonisers there struggled to pronounce and spell Shona names, because ‘most interpreters were Ndebele as the whites came to Zimbabwe through Bulawayo’ (Baka-Nyoni 2018), such as Sivanga [Chivanga]; Simane [Chimane]; Siboza [Chivodza]; Bilashaba [Mbirashava]; and Lundi [Runde] in Ndebele–Shona communities. These names had particular meanings in their Shona language; for instance, Chivanga meant place of resilience; Chiname meant something that sticks on (referring to the type of grass in the area that sticks onto the clothes when passing over it); Chivodza meant something that causes deterioration; Mbirashava meant brown rock rabbits in the local mountains that had brown rocks; Runde referred to the river that thundered when full; and Dayataya referred to nearby hills that whispered when the rains were about to come. Use of these names thus had to achieve the listed intended meanings shown in Table 1 if they were spelt correctly. Homogenous Ndebele community schools returned to their local variations, such as Ingome, Sindelele and Ndinaneni (a school that was named after old Dadaya under Chief Mafalala).

TABLE 1: Comparison of place name spelling conventions used by the colonisers in Zimbabwe and the indigenous community.

For Dadaya, other issues besides errors and misspellings were at play. Dadaya was probably a genuine Ndebele misspelling for Dayataya, since the old Dadaya was a school under Chief Mafalala, a Ndebele traditional leader who probably wanted to honour the Shona isotopes in this land. An interviewee said: ‘Why didn’t they change the mission-name to Hokonui High School or Musengezi/Ngezi High School after relocating to Hokonoui Ranch?’ (Baka-Nyoni 2018) Misspellings distorted histories and disconnected people from each other and their ‘dear’ past (Reuters 2001; Shoko 2013; The Standard Reporter 2002; The Zimbabwean Reporter 2006). The infamous Sir Garfield Reginald Stephen Todd lived, died and was buried at Dadaya, hence the need for renaming in order to recapture, rekindle and revive local histories (Masengwe & Dube 2021). Mr Todd at once confessed: ‘Throughout the colonial years, white power had been based, in the first instance, on the occupation and the subjugation of the indigenous population, and second on administrative expedients’ (Todd 1989:118). The question arises why Garfield Todd popularised Dadaya and ‘registered it as a trust, so that no one could touch it, or even change the name’ (Baka-Nyoni 2018; Mamvura 2014). Surprisingly, he did not attend the name-changing.

Striking resemblances in Dadaya macrops and mission name

The researchers’ survey on the term Dadaya finds that it is strikingly spelt the same as the name for a marine freshwater plant found in most Asian countries, including Malaysia, India, Australia and New Zealand, Dadaya macrops. Dadaya macrops produces rich nutrients for sexual prowess. Much has been written on the plant, found in many parts of the Asiatic world (Brehm 1953; Fernando & Kanduru 1984; Michael & Sharma 1988; Raghunathan & Suresh-Kumar 2007; Rane 2006; Sharma 2008; Sharma & Michael 1987; Sharma & Sharma 2009, 2011; Venkataraman & Das 2000). There is a high possibility that Dadaya is a genuine corruption of Dayataya that arose because Ndebele interpreters did not understand Shona names, but it carried deeper ideological, sociological and religious incentives for the missionaries due to its striking resemblance to Dadaya macrops (Von Daday 1898). Corrections of the name from Dadaya to Dayataya brings significant meaning from the name change to the indigenous people, hence the issue of wanting to correct it, so that it addresses the issues of African people. Resemblance to a marine plant casts doubt on the genuineness of the error. If the error was not genuine, Dadaya was adopted from the marine plant by missionaries. Dadaya macrops was discovered at the magical infancy of the New Zealanders’ mission incursion into Zimbabwe. This provided satisfaction to the missionaries on the mission station, as one pastor questioned the meaning of Dadaya, saying: ‘What did Dadaya mean to missionaries? What is its significance towards mission success? What did Africans lose/gain by it?’ (Chikwanda 2018). Dadaya macrops is a common ‘[c]ircumtropical’ species (Smirnov 1996) in Asian zones (Idris 1983; Maiphae, Pholpunthin & Dumont 2005; Tanaka & Ohtaka 2009), pictured below.

Dadaya macrops is useful in sexual dimorphism (sexual distinction), that is, within the areas of human sexuality or potency. This is cause for concern regarding what it represents to the New Zealanders and their missionaries. This calls for a contemporary name change to its derivative, Dayataya, or any other name, such as Garfield Todd, in order to overcome this dichotomy.

The naming of Dadaya Mission

Naming the mission Dadaya was a political enterprise that achieved several political, emotional and cultural configurations of missionaries during the colonial era. Naming takes the cooperative efforts of the community with selected committees approving proposals, but choices depended upon sociolinguistic processes using set-out laws and national regulations (Diver 2011; Mamvura 2014; Neethling 2004). Names are ‘instrumental linguistic units’ for power exercises (Rofe & Szili 2009) such as having absolute control over public sphere discourses by the Rhodesian Regime Cabinet (Mamvura 2015). They gave place names that ‘communicate[d] a sense of the landscape to which they [were] attached’ (Rofe & Szili 2009:362–363). Naming is ‘a political act’ (Pinchevski & Torgovnki 2002:366) that constructs and reconstructs spaces. It declares change of culture, power holding and media control (Azaryahu 1990:34). Place naming is used to demonstrate, normalise and legitimise power by setting up a new spatial order using space configurations (Kearns & Berg 2009). Naming was bureaucratic, centrist and potentially conflictive, because the place-naming process left out the input of Africans, who had different spatial meanings for the sites (Pinchevski & Torgovnki 2002:367). Restructuring space is a political contest, for instance, in education that sparks liberation struggles (Zvobgo 1994). It demonstrates power by exclusively classifying and inscribing meanings on a social space (Pinchevski & Torgovnki 2002:367). Political actors create collective memory by engraving their ideologies on space (Pinchevski & Torgovnki 2002:367). Naming is a dominant toponomy that is represented by an ‘official text authorised by the ruling order’ (Azaryahu 1992:351). Giving Dadaya a foreign name declared the presence of foreign missionary power (Carter 1987). This became a ‘manipulation of semiotic processes carried out within the overall context of reconstructing official culture in the light of major political ruptures’ (Azaryahu 1992:352) by the ruling elite (Azaryahu 1990). This helps to understand missionary naming patterns during the colonial era and motivates name changes to inscribe local versions of truth. Misspelling was used to potentially commemorate European success; however, name changes are new imprints on the colonial text.

Renaming to proclaim change in administration

Renaming is a revolution that modifies space, achieves a political act and commemorates the apparatus and superstructure of a political process. A revolution (social transformation) manifests a creative capacity in daily public life experiences using human creativity (Azaryahu 1996:318). In an indispensable period of onomastic practice and ritual revolution, Dadaya can be changed to Dayataya or a significant church leader’s name like Sir Garfield Todd. It reflects and solidifies a new ecclesiastical order of high ideological sovereignty (Mamvura 2014:39; Yong 2007:66). Renaming is commemorative; it reminds one of the past (Koopman 2012). It is a time to remember the past and to celebrate current successes coming out of the history of the people. Renaming transfers and immortalises the landscape, from the enclaves of the past to the aperture of the present (Mamvura 2014:33). Renaming contextualises the past in the present and brings history into the contemporary. Renaming is associated with new agencies determining and creating a new view of the past that reshapes contemporary values and attitudes of the local people (Alderman 2000:658). Renaming involves decommemoration (name removal) and recommemoration (name replacement) (Khotso 2012; Lombard 2012). Renaming involves a twin process of removing discursive vestiges of the past (toppling toponyms) and creating new social patterns of power (securing identity) (Kadmon 2000:6). Statutes and monuments inconsistent with the new ordering should undergo an ‘orderly dismantling of colonial [religious] relics’ (Fischer 2010:65), so that by renaming, history is corrected and the great memory of those who live in the area is restored.

Resetting secure identities in the Church of Christ in Zimbabwe

The past secures social memory and keeps people together (Balode 2012). Memory is a network of past identities that helps people to come to terms with the present realities. Identity is in two forms, individual and collective; that is, an individual has ‘persistent self-sameness’ and ‘collective sameness’ (Pfukwa & Viriri 2011). Names carry transferrable memories and redirect toponyms (Koopman 2011:110). Collective identities are cohesive devices that enforce ties and bind groups together (reducing social distance). Naming thus spatialises memory (Mapara & Nyota 2016). Commemorating Dayataya Hills in the name of Dadaya resonated with the memories of people in Runde District. It used symbolic imaginings of geographies interwoven in contemporary materials of these sites (Rose-Redwood 2008:876). Name changes formed new spaces, concepts and historical records that created new memories for those communities (Alderman 2002:99). Renaming Dadaya to Dayataya, for example, revives the past in the present, weaving the COCZ history into the present geographic fabric of life. Renaming significantly redefines spaces that transform religious texts into memorial texts. Renaming Dadaya ensures that COCZ Christians regain their past and contemporary religious values in both their ecclesiastical order and ecclesiological heritage. This phenomenological situation of the history of the COCZ mission stations brings significance to the importance of missionary work towards the communities and the nation.

This does not suggest that every school in the COCZ was given an erroneous symbol. Those with erroneous, misspelt or disguised names, however, require both erasure and new imprints (Mamvura 2014). Renaming Dadaya to Dayataya or Garfield Todd inversely erases European memories and histories and recaptures the African past that was erased by colonial violence (Attenbrow 2005:1; Rose-Redwood 2008). Former place names continued to impose ‘spatial symbols of colonialism, racial appropriation, segregation and apartheid’ (Guyot & Seethal 2007:86). They erased and reconstructed indigenous thought patterns (Chabata 2007, 2012; Magudu et al. 2014). Dadaya was a well-thought name that strategically decapitated African mnemonic stability (Zerubavel 1997:85). Africans underwent European identity control (Mamvura 2014:46). Christianity was used to decapitate African identities by ideologically making them subservient to European domination. ‘Religion was used in order to legitimatise, sustain and even promote political tyranny and oppression, as well as in other instances for reasons of political liberation of the people’ (Zimunya & Gwara 2013:188). The authors hereof contend that regardless of Sir Garfield Todd’s opposition towards colonial domination, some missionaries remained part of that superstructure that brought an alien religion that colonised Zimbabwe (Masengwe & Dube 2021). COCZ missionaries attended to both science and spirituality through their mission work. Unfortunately, American missionaries displayed the spirit of ‘manifest destiny’ in their dealings with Africans. Their mission institutions thus commemorated conquest over African landscapes that, as this article advocates, require new identities.

Converts to Christianity during colonialism were given European names termed Christian; thus, even enslaved people in the United States had their names changed to capture European histories and thoughts (Laversuch 2006). Postcolonial Christianity should erase such texts in a new identity formation that reinterprets African memories and histories. The same is true for Dadaya, which rhythmically sounds like Dayataya but is disguised under the European baggage (Mamvura 2014:48). Onomastic violence was exercised through natural landscapes and built environments across the world (Jackson 1986). Institutional ‘place naming was a conscious strategy embedded in the politics of creating a colonial state’ (Mamvura 2014:45). Schools were such strategic institutions that created and developed a colonised people. Church of Christ in Zimbabwe ministers also concur that Zimbabwe Christian College discourages its graduates from pursuing further ministerial formation, as they struggle to decongest dogmatic catechism received during initial training. This calls for name changes in school mottoes and curriculum reviews (Nyoni et al. 2014:1–6).


This article indicated that name changes for Dadaya are justified in that it is erroneous, misspelt and disguised. Dadaya is a name that retains the semiospheric discourse of missionaries that revives colonial onomastic immortality in the COCZ. It abstracts missionary social data in symbolic ways that violate local symbols. Name changes are meant to rewrite history that was distorted. The authors are, however, convinced that Dadaya was neither misspelt nor erroneously identified but distorted to interfere with local identities (Mazarire 1999:4–9). Dadaya was more likely adopted from Dadaya macrops in reference to abundance and fertility in the tropical savannah. This article argues for the use of inclusive or correct symbols such as Dayataya or missionary legends such as Garfield Todd to recapture and encapsulate local Christians’ aspirations. Dadaya carries symbolic discourses of power, if not idolatry, as a repository of New Zealand values. Continuing with Dadaya becomes a celebration of memory loss that encourages continuance of colonial immortality to COCZ Christians (Mapara & Nyota 2016:289). The seriousness of contemporary church leadership on discourses of power argues for a much more informed analysis of mission naming that interrogates missionary dogma and ideology as well as capturing indigenous spirituality in African Christian scholarship. Dadaya is the first and legendary institution of the COCZ that needs to set its identity history straight by adopting correct nomenclature.


This article acknowledges the contributions of study participants, especially Revd Peter Baka-Nyoni and Revd Mordicai Chikwanda, who consented to being named in the article. Some participants were uncomfortable with being named for personal security reasons. The authors understood their concerns, because the Church of Christ in Zimbabwe was undergoing transformation at the time the study was conducted.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors’ contributions

G.M. conceptualised and drafted the manuscript. B.D. analysed, critiqued, edited and completed the manuscript.

Ethical considerations

Ethical approval to conduct this study was obtained from the University of the Free State General and Human Research Ethics Committee (ref. no. UFS-HSD2022/1559/22).

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article, as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.


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