Welcome to Old and New in Shona Religion. This multimedia website showcases the photography and work of Dr. M.L. Daneel. His research among the Shona people of Southern Africa in the 1960s through the 1990s has yielded a wealth of photographs and publications documenting African initiated churches and traditional religions. This website makes those photographs and publications available online.

Dr. Daneel  interviewing a shrine priestess
Dr. Daneel interviewing a shrine priestess

The co-founder of the Center for Global Christianity & Mission and Professor Emeritus Marthinus Daneel spent decades in southern Africa researching African Initiated Churches. His work spanned across religious boundaries into African traditional religions, as new Christian movements became rooted in African soil by selectively embracing and transforming indigenous culture, language, music, art forms, rituals, and religious notions. Living among the people during the treacherous decade and a half struggle for Zimbabwe’s liberation that started in 1964, Dr. Daneel was one of the only westerners trusted to work with both African traditionalists and Christian communities. During upheavals and the aftermath of war, Dr. Daneel documented emerging churches and their pioneer leaders who forged their own Christian paths and carved out new adaptations of traditional religion. Among the traditionalists, Dr. Daneel’s friendship with local spirit mediums allowed him to be the first westerner to visit and document sacred shrines in Zimbabwe. Not content to be a silent observer, Dr. Daneel helped to build and maintain a massive ecumenical and inter-religious treeplanting movement, a cause for renewed solidarity among communities previously united in the struggle for liberation, a struggle that could now be directed to protecting the earth. His work and research has yielded a wealth of photographs documenting African Initiated Churches, traditional religion, and the treeplanting movement. The Center for Global Christianity & Mission has digitized and annotated over a thousand of these images and made them available online. Among some of the features of the digital project, photo stories are organized and browsable by album, and also searchable by subject.

We encourage you to watch the introductory video.

Eva Pascal, Project Director