South African Traditional Religion Essay

806 words - 3 pages

South Africa is a very diverse place. It is often called, “The Rainbow Nation” because it has so many integrated religions. The five major religions are Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and, largest of all, Christianity.

Christianity makes up more than 80% of the religious population. Of those, most are protestant, a form of the Western Christian Church separate from the Roman Catholic Church. The main difference between the two is their concepts of God and the way the practice/worship. Some of these churches have Branched off into African Independent Churches. They have combined parts of christianity with native african tradition.

In terms indigenous african religion, it is known as The Religion of the San People. Everything is focused on community. Worshipping, funerals, and births, are all celebrated by the entire tribe. When you are born into a tribe, you usually stay with them most of your life. This helps build security and order, because everyone knows the basics of everyone else's pasts.

Family is also a large part of the tradition. Someone is always guided by their family, even if their family is hundreds of miles away. Ancestors are a major factor too. To communicate with God, that person must speak through their ancestor or through a shaman, because they are not holy enough to speak to God directly. To speak through a shaman, all of the men and woman of a tribe. The woman sit in a circle, with the men around them. In the center is the shaman. The woman clap a beat and sing, while the men dance in the outside circle. While this is happening, the shaman is possessed by an ancestor from someones family. Most ancestral spirits are kind and helpful. If someone is straying down the wrong path, they may spread a minor disease like a cold to warn them and get them back on track.


When it comes to weddings, the tradition does not disappoint. They have several stages. The first stage lasts a few days. In that time, there is a lot of celebration, but there is also a very important decision being made. During the celebration, the two families who plan to be married decide on a price for the groom to pay to the brides father for her hand in marriage. This is called a Lobola.

In Africa, the Lobola is usually paid in cattle. Even after the creation of money, cattle still was used. The number of cattle a family had represented that families success, power, and financial...

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