From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mandela's ancestral funeral rites

Tembuland 1911 Map (by Abu Shawka)
Although Nelson Mandela had been associated with Christianity during various periods of his life – he, like many other South Africans, also remained connected with the traditional animist beliefs of his people.

Xola Potelwa of Reuters reports that Mandela "will be laid to rest
on Sunday in an elaborate ceremony combining a state funeral and all its military pomp with the traditional burial rituals of his Xhosa clan…"

These latter rituals include those that will welcome Mandela into
"the world of ancestors."  They are also meant to insure that his
spirit will be at peace.

Mandela's ataThembu (aka "Tembu") people, whose ancestral land is on the Eastern Cape about 500 miles south of Johannesburg, will perform "salutations to the dead" for Mandela.  They will slaughter oxen as part of the funeral rites, and "wash the spades" (that were used to dig his grave) a week after the burial.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica explains that the "work of Christian missionaries accelerated the erosion of the traditional Tembu way of life and their structures of authority."


Copyright December 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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