Life in KwaMhlanga

    ROAD WORKS ministers in the greater KwaMhlanga area of South Africa. KwaMhlanga is part of the original KwaNdebele Homeland, where the Ndebele people were located during the apartheid era. 

Today, this area is made up of mostly Northern Sotho, Southern Ndebele, as well as small pockets of Isizulu, Isixhosa, and Isivenda speaking people.  There are vast differences between these language groups. This is considered a rural area and traditional African ways of life are still mostly practiced.

It is an animistic society, one whose world is perceived to be controlled by spirits (mostly ancestral spirits) and forces that pervade life. Ancestor Worship is a practice that is still very common among the people of this community. Many Christians mix forms and legacies of ancestral worship with Christianity. 

The African Traditional Religion (ATR) believes that spirits (especially ancestral spirits), demons, etc. can be consulted and manipulated for personal protection and wealth. Sacrifices made (like a white chicken, or a goat or a cow) in the African Culture are intended to avert sickness, promote recovery from illness, avert failures in business, or some other form of misfortune which is attributed to evil spirits or witchcraft.

Sangomas are witch doctors that are consulted by many Africans (as priests, alternative medical doctors or psychiatrists) to deal with spiritual influences which are believed to lie behind all experiences. Through rituals, Sangomas determine the cause of the trouble and then give medicine, exorcise evil spirits, conduct a witch hunt to discover the guilty person or sell charms to protect you from evil. The power and influence of traditional sangomas should not be underestimated. The majority of them use a variety of occult practices to perform their services.

African Traditional Religion finds expression in rituals, ceremonies, festivals, shrines, sacred places, religious objects, dancing, riddles, myths and legends of former heroes and victories. The Christian Churches constantly face a challenge of syncretism where many of these old traditional beliefs and practices are mixed with biblical beliefs. 

In African culture, older people are treated with utmost respect.  When meeting a group of people, it is necessary to greet each person in that group individually. When greeting, it is appropriate to greet the oldest person first.  Children and teenagers will wait for you to greet them out of respect. Younger people usually won't initiate conversation with an older person out of respect.   

In Africa, time is not measured by the clock, but rather by events that happen. In African culture, thoughts of the future are virtually absent, because events that lie in it have not taken place. There is no concept of history moving forward. The focus is on the past, with ancestors playing a large role in the here and now.

The line between physical death and life is a thin one. After physical death, the person is still thought to exist and to have power in their society. This is what causes many people to fear the 'living-dead' as they are considered to continue to interact with the living. The African community celebrates four rites of passage: Birth, Puberty, Marriage & Death.
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