From Burnt Bricks to Sanctification: Rethinking 'Church' in Colonial Southern Africa

From Burnt Bricks to Sanctification: Rethinking 'Church' in Colonial Southern Africa

Author: 
Houle, Robert J.
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor and Francis
Date published: 
2018
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
South African Historical Journal
Source: 
South African Historical Journal, Vol. 70, Issue 2, March 2018, pp. 348-369
Abstract: 

This article argues that the early independency efforts of African Christians foundered because of their desire to control church buildings. Given the symbolic and practical affinity breakaway congregations felt towards these structures such a desire is understandable, but the missions, backed by the colonial state, claimed title to these buildings and effectively shut down the early African Initiated Churches by locking out rebellious congregations and their leaders. Both the desire to stay in the churches, and the consequences of this desire, were manifested in the schism of the Zulu congregation at Noodsberg, a small American Zulu Mission station in northern Natal. Led by Pastor Mbiyana Ngidi, nearly the entire body disassociated from the Americans in 1890 and claimed the church for themselves; when the state forced them to cede control, however, the effort failed and most returned to the fold. This pattern repeated itself elsewhere. The article concludes by noting that the power of church was only broken with the atomisation wrought by urbanisation and the corresponding arrival of Holiness/Pentecostalism, which encouraged a radical rethinking of the nature of sacred space.

Language: 
Country focus: 
Subject profile : 
Date created: 
Friday, November 16, 2018