Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

African Gifts of the Spirit
Pentecostalism and the Rise of a Zimbabwean Transnational Religious Movement

By David Maxwell

“This is a pathbreaking major work tracing the tangled roots of a significant religious movement in Zimbabwe and beyond.… Richly documented, it explores the relation between social rupture of conversion, and links changes to the movement to historical events from the Great Depression to the rise of independence, and the impact of neo-liberalism. It is a required read.”

David Martin, Professor Emeritus, London School of Economics

“(David Maxwell) should be commended for enriching historical analysis with ethnographic insights and forging a balance between appreciation and critical interrogation.”

Religious Studies Review

“This is a wide-ranging book that succeeds in remaining coherently focused. The author’s beautifully crafted narrative always brings the story back to ZAOGA’s distinctive elements of grass-roots proselytisation and divine healing, and how these aims were served, in chapters that take the reader through a hundred years of global Pentecostalism and African political and social history. Maxwell’s work has (again) set an exemplary standard in the writing of African religious history.”

Canadian Journal of African Studies

“David Maxwell’s multifaceted study of the Pentecostal sect Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZAOGA) complements a growing academic literature on the origins and spread of the global Pentecostal movement.…The book is strongly sourced and combines archival research spanning three continents, official ZAOGA publications, over a hundred oral interviews, and a nearly exhaustive list of academic sources on religion in Africa.”

African Studies Quarterly

This book considers the rise of born-again Christianity in Africa through a study of one of the most dynamic Pentecostal movements. David Maxwell traces the transformation of the prophet Ezekiel Guti and his prayer band from small beginnings in the townships of the 1950s into the present-day transnational business enterprise, which is now the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God. Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa claims one and a half million members in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa and has branches in other African countries, Europe, and the United States. African Gifts of the Spirit illuminates Africa’s relations with American Christianities, black and white.

David Maxwell, past editor of the Journal of Religion in Africa, is a professor at the University of Keele.   More info →

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Retail price: $32.95, S.
Release date: March 2007
272 pages · 6¼ × 9¼ in.
Rights: World (exclusive in Americas, and Philippines) except British Commonwealth, Continental Europe, and United Kingdom

Retail price: $80.00, S.
Release date: March 2007
272 pages · 6¼ × 9¼ in.
Rights: World (exclusive in Americas, and Philippines) except British Commonwealth, Continental Europe, and United Kingdom

Additional Praise for African Gifts of the Spirit

“Maxwell’s scholarly and vibrant history of this African Christian movement should be required reading for scholars and students of world Christianity.”

Social Sciences and Missions

“David Maxwell’s task in this book is to chart the rise of the Pentecostal movement in Zimbabwe against the wider backdrop of global Pentecostalism. It is a task he executes with considerable aplomb, effectively managing the tension between the local and the global.”

American Historical Review

“Maxwell is to be congratulated for this seminal text, which will be of great inspiration to a wide audience of historians, anthropologists, and social scientists, as well as an already burgeoning collection of scholars who have belatedly begun to pick up on African Pentecostalism’s huge significance for Africa and for the world of Christianity.”

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“ZAOGA neither inspires the remaking of society, nor the withdrawal from it. Instead Pentecostalism speaks the language of accumulation, and promotes the successes of individual selves. Maxwell does a brilliant job of documenting the American inception of this discourse and its transnational linkages.”


“Maxwell sets a new standard for studies of non-Western Pentecostalism.... this brilliant study deserves to become a classic...scholars will long be in (Maxwell’s) debt.”

Books & Culture: A Christian Review

“Pentacostalism has become the representative face of Christianity in Africa. David Maxwell’s African Gifts of the Spirit is one of the latest in the growing body of literature on the subject ... a historically detailed and phenomenologically sound account of ZAOGA Christianity.”


“The combination of history with fascinating participatory material makes the book the best and most illuminating account ever written of an African initiated church.… A very important book and a remarkable work of scholarship.”

Terence Ranger, Professor Emeritus, University of Oxford

“Few books on African Christianity match its scope and intellectual rigor. It will define the field of Pentecostal Studies for years to come.”

Harri Englund, University of Cambridge

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