Pop-Up Travel: A Beautiful Church in Zimbabwe

Last November I visited Zimbabwe with Ray‘s family. During that trip, while driving back to Harare after our holiday in Nyanga, we turned off the A14 highway at a small sign for St. Faith’s High School. We were in a Zimbabwean province called Manicaland, a few minutes east of a town called Rusape.

We drove for a few kilometers down a bumpy dirt road, sweating in the mid-day heat. Eventually, right in the middle of the bush — in the middle of nowhere, really — we came upon one of the prettiest churches that I’ve ever seen.

St. Faiths outside2

St. Faith’s Church in Rusape, Zimbabwe.

We stopped to visit St. Faith’s — an Anglican church and mission school — for old time’s sake. Ray’s family has a history there. It’s a complicated story but here’s a brief recap:

A couple of decades ago Ray’s dad, Tim (who is a historian), visited St. Faith’s as a favor for a colleague. He was looking for a sculptor named Job Kekana. Kekana, who was South African but moved to Zimbabwe in the 1940s to work for a nun named Sister Pauline, had a workshop at St. Faith’s. Kekana specialized in religious woodcarvings and his work appears in churches all over the world. * (Read more about Job Kekana.)

Tim became friends with Job Kekana and visited him at St. Faith’s a few times over the years. Tim and Diana, Ray’s mom, also commissioned Kekana to carve a few sculptures for them. Kekana died in 1995.

Kekana carvings

Job Kekana sculptures in Ray’s parents’ living room.

Anyway, back to St. Faith’s. I’ve never seen anything quite like this church. It’s so huge and so remote — it seems to defy logic. Apparently the church was built in 1907 and I’m amazed that it has remained standing for more than 100 years. It’s made completely of wood, mud bricks, and thatch.

St Faiths outside1

Another view of the outside of St. Faith’s. I can’t figure out how it hasn’t burned down, or if it has burned down, why it doesn’t just burn down over and over again. It has a massive thatched roof and I didn’t see a lightning rod.

Inside St. Faiths2

Inside the nave of the church.

Inside St. Faiths1

I don’t know enough about the architecture of churches (or architecture in general) to accurately describe this picture. I know it’s beautiful though.

Station of Cross1

A carving of one of the 14 Stations of the Cross. I did some research into these carvings and it seems they weren’t actually carved by Job Kekana, but by another St. Faith’s sculptor named David Chituku.

I wish we’d had more time at St. Faith’s. Other than a friendly secondary school student who walked past and said hello to us, we didn’t have the chance to speak to anyone who lives or works there. I could have spent hours walking around inside and outside the church, taking photos. But we were in the middle of a long, hot car journey and it just wasn’t possible.

Inside St. Faiths4

Maybe I’ll make it back someday.

*Thanks to Tim for lending me a book called The Prophetic Nun, by Guy Butler, which provided some interesting background about Job Kekana and St. Faith’s. Also, today is Tim’s birthday. Happy birthday Tim!

Previous Post Next Post

13 Comments

  • Reply amelie88 February 20, 2015 at 6:29 am

    What a beautiful and funky little church! Also those sculptures are amazing!

    • Reply 2summers February 22, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      I know, right? Such a cool place.

    • Reply Nestovich July 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      Yes beautiful church indeed, but it is NOT funky and little. I also like the sculptures too.

      • Reply 2summers July 21, 2015 at 5:53 pm

        No, it’s definitely not little! Maybe a little bit funky though?

    • Reply J Nyati, aka Robert G Musasiwa/Kazembe aka Brezhnev December 23, 2015 at 3:15 am

      My name is BREZHNEV aka Robert Godfrey Musasiwa aka Kazembe. My secondary schools were St Faiths (FISCO) Form 1 to 4 (1977-80) then St. Augustine’s Penhalonga (SANTA or TSAMBE) Form 5 & 6 (1981-82). Unknown to many I am still looking for further ways of benefitting these formative institutions of mine

      • Reply 2summers December 23, 2015 at 7:10 am

        Hi Robert, thanks so much for the comment. I hope you enjoyed my post about St. Faith’s.

  • Reply #TheGodProject: A Catholic Church in Rosebank – 2 Summers September 19, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    […] A window inside the church illustrating one of the 14 Stations of the Cross (religious images of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion). Interestingly, this is the second time this year that I’ve mentioned the 14 Stations of the Cross in a blog post. […]

  • Reply Garikai October 8, 2015 at 7:07 am

    St Faith’s is my alma mata. I miss the church, glad to see it is still standing. You missed one thing: The Well of Life. I wonder if it’s still there.

    • Reply 2summers October 8, 2015 at 8:21 am

      Oh no, I wish I’d known about that. Thanks for the comment.

  • Reply Ms Monique Chituku May 9, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Hello. My name is Monique Chituku. I’m David Chituku’s niece. I’m fascinated by this wonderful story and this church I once visited at a very young age.

    I know my uncle was a sculptor but never dreamt he had done something for the stations of the cross!

    Pls get in touch with me if possible. David Chituku’s daughters are here in the UK and am sure they would love to discuss this further.

    Kind Regards

    Monique

    • Reply 2summers May 9, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Monique, this is amazing! I’m so glad you found my blog. I’ll email you shortly.

  • Reply Abel Kapota August 17, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I am a relative of David and also gone to St Faiths Secondary. I have seen countless sculptres of his. Great talent

    • Reply 2summers August 18, 2016 at 7:25 am

      Hi Abel, that’s so cool! Thank you so much for commenting.

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: