WorldWide Religious News

Africa - South Africa - Native Religions

Ancestral Worship Common in South Africa
by Lucius Phaiya ("Malawi Standard," October 16, 2004)

Pastor Vic O Kelly, who toured the country on a Christianity revival ministry, recently, told the Malawi Standard that ancestral worship is a culture that is refusing to die in South Africa.

Kelly said the practice, which dates back to old times when Christianity had not yet reached Africa, has managed to survive the tirades of time due to the strong enforcement of cultural beliefs in the country.

"South Africans are very cultural people. They value their heritage so much that even though they believe in Christianity, they still have faith in the powers of their ancestors. They constantly go to them for help on issues they feel beyond their abilities," said O Kelly.

He said that Christian leaders have tirelessly fought against the practice, but it has not worked satisfactorily.

He said the situation grew worse over the past three/four years when the ruling ANC began to consider presenting a bill to parliament, stating that ancestral worship be practised alongside the normal Christian faith.

"The whole Christian community was alarmed. How can a country suggest such a proposal? Who is Mr Mbeki to tell me how I got to run the church? We told them; 'Don't culturalise the pure church. Let the church be the church,'" said O Kelly.

He said the proposal to draft the bill was dropped and there was no more talk of it.