Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.641772
Title: African independent churches and the challenge to the state : South Africa's first democratic decade
Author: Bompani, Barbara
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2007
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Abstract:
Since the end of Apartheid in South Africa, African Independent Churches (AICs) have grown rapidly. In the past, work on AICs in South Africa has been purely anthropological or theological. The thesis uniquely places socio-political and economic factors at the core of the analysis of this phenomenon. This research embeds detailed narratives of religious life in township AICs within the broader dynamics of political transition in the post-Apartheid era, and in the subsequent reshaping of civil society and its relationship to the state. The thesis describes several AICs in Soweto, and places them within the broader contexts and concerns of politics, economic realities, the search for new identities in post-Apartheid South Africa, and above all the need for tangible socio-economic development. The classical view of the growth andpopularity of AICs has been to focus on their role in granting people protection and fortification against the powers of evil. This research also shows how AICs are involved in important economic activities such as voluntary mutual benefit societies, savings clubs, lending societies, stokvels (informed savings funds) and burial societies that control millions of South African Rand. The thesis highlights how these societies play a strong and supportive role among blacks in a deprived economic situation and that this role is stronger than in other churches. These mutual aid societies have both socio-economic and socio-religious functions. In a period of socio-political transformation in South Africa, AICs were able to answer the needs of the people and their hunger to rebuild an identity. The major critique of classical research on AICs has been its inability to address ‘social change’ in a theoretically adequate way, as something more than just descriptions of ‘traditional’ social structures. By investigating and developing a theoretical framework pertinent to the emergenceof AICs in South Africa this research has demonstrated the significance of different understandings of ‘modernity’ and how AICs develop and articulate their own visions of this. AICs have usually been evaluated in terms of their relationship with the past and with tradition, as black churches linked to African traditional rituals and aloof from Western ideas of development and modernity. However, this work elaborates on a possible avenue of escape from the modernity-tradition dilemma by understanding that the churches, by continually negotiating a path between modernity and tradition, are creating their own vision of what is modern in the post-colonial context by seeking answers to issues of poverty, democracy, instability and inclusion. It is possible to argue that when religious belief motivates people to action, its relation to politics becomes most evident. Most of the people interviewed defined their religious community as a network of solidarity to fight for their proper social rights.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.641772  DOI: Not available
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