Hidden presences in the spirituality of the amaXhosa of the Eastern Cape and the impact of Christianity on them

Mtuze, P.T. (1999) Hidden presences in the spirituality of the amaXhosa of the Eastern Cape and the impact of Christianity on them. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




This thesis is an attempt to reopen the debate on the whole question of inculturation in Southern Africa especially in light of the fact that we are now in a multi-lingual and multi-religious state. It is an attempt to rehighlight the plight of the spirituality of the amaXhosa people over the last century when missionary and imperial onslaught relegated it to the doldrums. This plunged the amaXhosa in a crisis that has left them directionless, to put it mildly. This is said because the total onslaught destroyed their self-respect and their identity and begs the question as to whether their acceptability to God was contingent on renouncing their culture especially the hidden prsences - Qamata, the living-dead and the notion of evil spirits. It is precisely because of these misconceptions regarding African culture and spirituality that the thesis has a strong expository and apologetic bias primarily aimed to address, and put into proper perspective, the significance of the Supreme Being, the living-dead and the evil spirits in African culture. The issues are discussed within the broader socio-historical context. The thesis is basically comparative in that it uses Celtic spirituality and the approach of the early Celtic church to the question of inculturation as its point of departure and as a foil against which the preposterous actions of the church in Africa should be seen. This comparative element is also reflected in the unmistakable `dichotomy’ of Western religion and African spirituality, or better still, lack of spirituality, that was so fervently maintained by the missionaries and the colonialists alike. It is for this reason that I concur with Chidester (1996:xiv) that `the study of religion must find itself, once again, on the frontier’. The study is informed by this approach right through. It should be stressed, from the outset, that the idea is not comparison in order to satisfy our curiosity, nor is it comparison in order to try to authenticate and vindicate the beleaguered African culture. The central idea of the study is to expose the absurdity of the policies of the past century in this regard. The myth of the pure blooded Christianity is confronted, if not exploded. Several examples of both inculturation and continuities between Christianity and other faiths such as the Jewish founding faith are given. The subtheme of cultural domination subtly spans the whole study culminating in Chapter Four where the blacks begin to appropriate some of the Christian symbols and the whites also begin to assimilate African concepts such as ubuntu.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Xhosa, Sprituality, South Africa, Missionaries, Christianity
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
ID Code:2320
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:09 Dec 2011 09:24
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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