The Christian population in Zimbabwe is caught up in a fiery debate following the death of High Priest Noah Taguta, leader of one of the biggest apostolic churches in the country.
Following confirmation that High Priest Taguta leader of Johanne Marange was dead, it emerged that his body was kept for two days, as his congregants fervently prayed that he would resurrect.
For the past few days, there has been a debate on the decision by the Church to keep his body after his demise hoping he would come back to life. The story which has gripped the nation of over 15 million citizens has become stranger with new details indicating that the revered leader’s body was being massaged and washed with hot water for two days after his death.
The 82-year-old priest who died on Thursday, April 14, after a long illness was only announced early morning Sunday, April 17, after fervent efforts to bring him back to life failed.
The Church Leadership was optimistic that Taguta would resurrect and come back to life just like in the Bible when Jesus rose again from the dead after three days in the grave. They kept his death a secret and only came forward when all efforts to rouse him had failed.
Efforts to rouse him included prayers, fasting and bold declarations. It is also alleged that even his family was not allowed anywhere near his body during the vigil period which only came to an end after the intervention of a cultural leader.
Local Headman Mafararikwa intervened to end the vigil when he checked on the body and realized it was in a serious state of decomposition. He advised the Church Leaders to announce the death.
According to information now filtering from all angles, the late High Priest who is the child of the founder of Johanne Marange did not leave a succession plan and a leadership wrangle looms large as the Church seeks to fill his shoes.
“Many would want to take over and there is going to be a huge, ugly fight for succession. The high priest had not shared on it yet, maybe,” said Saidi Mwenda a congregant from Mutare.
Mwenda said divisions were emerging already. But government officials have urged the Church to unite and carry forward the legacy left by Taguta.
“We want you to follow his footprints on peaceful co-existence and we do not want divisions within the Church. The Church should continue to grow,” said Nokuthula Matsikenyere, the Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution.
Taguta who had 25 wives, 125 children, 300 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren was buried with the state’s assistance after President Emerson Mnangagwa announced that the late High Priest had made great contributions to the Christian community.
“In recognition of his contribution to the spiritual and material well-being of our nation, I have directed the government to accord the late Mutumwa Noah Taguta a state-assisted funeral,” he said on state television.
Taguta was buried at the sacred summit of Chinyamukumba Mountain in Mafararikwa village, in the Mutare constituency.
Huge crowds of congregants numbering over 1,000 thronged the mountain from all over the country and region.
Government officials also graced the sombre occasion with the Deputy Sports Minister, Tino Machakaire, lauding Taguta whom he said had laid a blessing on him when he was appointed to government.
Also speaking during the funeral and standing in for President Mnangagwa, Manicaland Minister of State Matsikenyere said: “There is need for the Church to be guided by the doctrine left by high priest Noah who was development-oriented and had close relations with the government.”
Speaker upon speaker heaped praises on the enigmatic Taguta who was born on March 20th, 1940 in Chipfatsura village of Marange, Mutumwa.
The testimonies told of how Taguta moved to Mafararikwa at the age of six for his primary education.
He was to become one of the greatest supporters of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and an avid farmer.
Of note is his effort to bring electricity to Taguta Village as well constructing nine schools in Manicaland and Mashonaland East provinces.