Mangwe priest pens book on Kalanga, Ndebele burial rituals

Updated: October 5, 2014

FATHER Innocent Makawule Ndlovu, a priest with the Roman Catholic Church has written a book that addresses succinct issues concerning death and burial rites among the Kalanga and their Ndebele counterparts in the southern region of the country.

African traditional culture is one of the much debated subjects which sociologists have found interesting to explore. Although African traditional religion still exists, it has in the past been slowly changing as a result of the widespread impact of Christianity.

Critics have in the past condemned the handling of death and burial rites among African folks today as compared to yester years. They question what they call “lack of respect of death and the dead” largely seen as influenced by Western cultures.

But Ndlovu in his book Culture and Christianity: Death and burial among The Kalanga and Ndebele Today strives to highlight the importance of African traditional practices in the wake of fast growing Christianity.

He juxtaposes Christianity and African traditional religion and shows how the two can complement each other in an effort to merge traditional culture and Christianity.

Some Christian movements suggest that there is no mutual relationship between Christianity and African traditional culture, but Ndlovu brings out a concise clarification on how and why particular traditional practises ought to be conducted in respect of the dead.

He vividly notes the respect, love, honour and fear accorded the dead by the Kalanga and Ndebele communities and gives explicit instances of the adoration and respect of the dead shown by these constituencies.

His book published this year by Ilizwi Publications, Plumtree, arguably goes a long way in recollecting the flickering Kalanga-Ndebele culture and will come in handy in providing both cultural and pastoral answers towards an understanding of Christianity and African culture.

“One of the most important areas of the Ndebele and Kalanga cultures in which the significant presence of traditional beliefs can be seen through death and burial rites,” Archbishop Alex Thomas wrote when reviewing the book. For this reason I greatly thank Fr Innocent Ndlovu for his book that spearheads reflection on culturally and pastorally relevant topics and issues.”

Ndlovu is currently a priest at St Anne’s Mission in Mangwe’s Brunapeg area.

by Divine Dube, reprinted from the Southern Eye


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