Title page for ETD etd-01082009-161905

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Munyai, Alidzulwi Simon
URN etd-01082009-161905
Document Title Understanding the christian message in Venda : a study of the traditional concepts of God and of life hereafter among the Venda, with reference to the impact of these concepts on the christian churches
Degree Master of Arts
Department Science of Religion and Missiology
Advisor Name Title
Prof P G J Meiring Supervisor
  • South Africa
  • death
  • Vhavenda
  • God
  • burial rituals
  • Venda culture
Date 2008-09-04
Availability unrestricted

This dissertation reflects on the problem of the Vhavenda experience of simultaneous belief in the life hereafter and the Biblical God. The study therefore indicates a systematic analysis of the Vhavenda concept of God as well as of life hereafter with regard to their own traditional and cultural experience. It became clear that Africans through the ages did believe in God. The human beings are created by God and life is a gift from God to the individuals, which means that they believed in God long before the missionaries came to this country. Africans had their own culture and their own religion. It is stated that God was worshipped as the greatest one. His Venda name was Nwali. In certain areas he was called by other names such as Raluvhimba and Khuzwane. This is a clear indication that the Vhavenda worshipped one God although they referred to him in three names; other tribe had other names for him.

Burial rituals play a significant role in Venda culture as it a pointer to the new world of the living dead. The burial rites make it quite vivid that bereaved believed strongly and convincingly that the dead is only making a way or taking a journey to his /her final destiny, the new world only know to the deceased .The living are convinced that the deceased have extra - power, as they are nearer to God, and they are now in possession of double powers, the one they had whilst they were still alive and the one they acquired after death.

Death is just a process of removing a person from the present of his being into the past .He / she goes to the land of the living dead which is not very different from this one. It is a duplication of this life. He / she will join the deceased members of his /her family. Life will continue just as it has been. Death is not feared but accepted as something natural and inevitable. After all, it is through death that one joins one’s departed fellows; therefore death is not regarded as annihilation.

The researcher has found out that there are few things which the African traditional religion seems not to understand or come to terms with regard to Christ and Christianity. In this case, the idea of Jesus as the Son of God and only great ancestor of all humanity seems to be a very strange and confusing concept among African traditionalists. They seemed to be failing to understand that Christ is a new great ancestor not in terms of family mediation only, but in the all inclusive and holistic approach in matters pertaining to faith. Christ Jesus is not only the great ancestor, but is God, mediator and saviour.

The Christian eschatology does differ from the traditional Venda belief, in a very important instance, while ‘’eternal life’’ for the Vhavenda means reaching back into the past , joining the living dead whose lives are behind us , the Christian message reaches into the future, the coming of Jesus Christ , the promise of a new Heaven and a new Earth.

At the end a number of conclusions reached and a few points for future research added.

©University of Pretoria 2008

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