The conferment of martyrdom is a thorn in the flesh in the Anglican Church today.
Bernard Mzeki has been commemorated annually since the late 1930s as a martyr in
the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe. This is because Mzeki died a mysterious death on
18 June 1896 during the period of the first War of Liberation (Chimurenga) in
Zimbabwe. Although there are other factors that might have contributed to the death
of Mzeki, the church strongly believes that he died for his Christian faith. Whilst it is
a fact that the Church of the Province of Central Africa does not have official, written
criteria to confer martyr status, the mystics surrounding the death of Mzeki—as
documented by Farrant (1966) and Broderick (1953)—authenticated his martyr status.
In this regard, the martyrdom of Mzeki remained unique from the 1940s during the
bishopric of William Paget, who accepted the unwritten “bottom-to-top” procedure in
canonising his martyrdom. It is interesting to note that from the 1990s the church in
Zimbabwe has had figures like Rev. Peter Wagner and Mrs Mandeya, who were
presumed to have died for their faith, but were not recognised as martyrs. In the same
period, Zimbabwean Bishops like Ishmael Mukwanda and others were advocating for
an official, written procedure to canonise them. It is based on the above analysis that
this article will examine the role played by Mzeki in the strengthening of the Anglican
faith in Zimbabwe.