DIFFERENT RELIGIONS OF SOUTH AFRICA

 

In this unit you will:

  • Learn about different religions that are practiced in South Africa
  • Find out where the different religions came from
  • Find out when some of the religions came to South Africa
  • Learn about some of the important books and rituals that the religions practice
  • Be able to answer questions about various religions
  • Know about some of the rituals that the religions practice
  • Say where the different religions come from
  • Use some words that refer to places of worship and sacred books in the religions.

 

South Africa has many different religions. African traditional religion and the religion of the San people come Africa, but other religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, were brought to South Africa by people from Europe and Asia.

 

INDIGENOUS RELIGIONS OF AFRICA

 

 

 

 

THE RELIGION OF THE SAN PEOPLE

 

Religion is part of the everyday life of the San. They believe there is a great God who is powerful and good and they either pray to him by themselves or else they pray through a healer who is known as a shaman.

 

One of the most important religious rituals in San religion is the trance dance.  The women sit in a circle around a fire and clap the rhythm of the spiritual songs that they sing while the men dance. As the San clap, sing and dance, the spirit enters the shamans and they go into a trance where it is believed they get special healing powers. 

 

(A trance is a dream-like state)

 

 

AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION

 

African traditional religion:

·        believes in ancestor worship.

·        practices Ubuntu which shows itself in treating others kindly, showing concern for them and working for the good of the community.

·        focuses on the family and special events in people’s lives such as birth, initiation, weddings and death (funerals).

·        sacrifices animals for special events and to honour the spirits of the ancestors.

 

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IMPORTED RELIGIONS TO AFRICA

 

1.   BUDDHISM 

 

The symbol of Buddhism, the wheel of life.

 

 

Buddhism started in India about 2 500 years ago by Prince Siddhartha Gautama.

 

 

 

Map of Asia showing the continent of India – the birthplace of Buddhism

 

 

 

GAUTAMA’S LIFE STORY (BUDDHA)

 

When Siddhartha Gautama was a baby, a wise man predicted that he would one day refuse to be a prince and become a monk. The wise man said that Gautama would do this after he had seen an old man, a sick man and a dead man. His father was so worried about this that he tried to protect his son from all the sadness of the world outside his palace.

 

But one day, Gautama slipped out of the palace. He saw an old man, a sick man and then a dead man. Now he knew that there was lots of sadness in the world. Then Gautama saw a religious beggar wearing a simple yellow robe. The beggar looked full of peace and joy. Gautama then realized that while there was lots of sadness in the world, there were also ways to live a good life.

 

Gautama then decided to travel as a monk, studying with many teachers and meditating. When you meditate you clear you r mind of all its thoughts and keep very still.

 

One night Gautama went to meditate under a tree and there he found the answer to the problems of life. After this he became known as Buddha. He taught people that they should be satisfied with very little, and should help and love others.

 

During his lifetime, Gautama set up many communities of monks who lived and mediated together.

 

Brass statue of Buddha in full meditation.

 

 

These statues are often placed on altars where people offer incense to them.

 

 

HOW BUDDHISM CAME TO SOUTH AFRICA

 

Buddhist  teachings have been introduced into South Africa and there is a Buddhist temple in  Bronkhorstspruit, Mpumalanga.

 

Buddhist temple in Bronkhorstspruit, Mpumalanga

 

 

 

 

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2.  CHRISTIANITY

 

Jesus: 

·        was a Jew who lived 2 000 years ago in the country that was then called Palestine and is today part of Israel.

·        was a teacher and a healer.

 

 

 

 

A map of modern-day Israel

 

 

 

Jesus on the cross

 

 

 

  • At the time, Palestine was ruled by the Romans and they, plus the Jewish leaders, thought Jesus was a trouble maker and so he was arrested by the Romans and died when he was crucified (nailed to a wooden cross) in Jerusalem.

 

  • Christians believe that three days after Jesus died on the cross, he rose again from the dead and is now with God in heaven.

 

 

 



The cross and the fish– both      symbols of Christianity

 

 

 

 

 

Christians:

 

  • take their name from Jesus Christ.
  • believe that Jesus is the son of God.
  • read their holy book which is called the Bible.
  • have as their symbol the cross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW CHRISTIANS CAME TO SOUTH AFRICA

 

Some missionaries came to South Africa to start schools so they could teach people how to read and write. These schools were known as missionary schools.

 

 

 

Christian missionary

 

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3.  HINDUISM

 

http://gbgm-umc.org/missionstudies/interfaith/f-hinduism.html

 

 

This is the Aum sign which is a symbol for Brahma.

 

 

 

Hinduism:

    •  is one of the oldest religions in the world.
    •  comes from India and began about 4 000 years ago.

 

 

 

Map of India

 

 

 

  • Hindus believe:
    •  that Brahma is the Creator of the universe.

 

    • in many gods and goddesses who show different parts of Brahma’s power.

 

    • believe in reincarnation. This is the belief that when a person dies his or her soul lives on and can be born again into a different body.

 

 

 

 

Brahma – creator of the universe

 

HOW HINDUISM CAME TO SOUTH AFRICA

 

Hindus first came to South Africa in the 1850’s as workers were very much needed in the sugar plantations of Kwazulu-Natal. Soon after they arrived, they built small shrines and temples on the sugar estates.

 

 

Sugar plantation in Kwazulu-Natal

 

 

 

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4.  ISLAM

 

 

 

Islam began with the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad who was born in the city of Mecca in Arabia just over 1400 years ago.

 


                                     The Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

When he was about 40 years old, the angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad in a vision and told him that the one true God, Allah, was the same God as the god of the Jews and the Christians.

 

The Qur’an is the holy book of the Muslims and it contains Mohammad’s words and instructions as to how a true Muslim should live and worship God. It also gives guidance to Muslims in their everyday lives. It is written in Arabic.

 

The place of worship for a Muslim is the mosque. 

 

                                                                                    


                                  

                                                               The crescent and the star, the symbol of Islam

                                    

 

HOW ISLAM CAME TO SOUTH AFRICA

 

When the Dutch needed slaves to help with the work at the Cape, they captured many people from the East (Indonesia) and sold them off as slaves at the Cape. These people brought their religion with them. The Muslim leaders encouraged their people to keep their religion and in time Islamic schools were started which taught the Muslims about Islam.

 

 

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5. JUDAISM

 

                                                                   The Star of David is a symbol of Judaism

 

 

 

The Jewish people believe:                                                                       

 

  • they all descended from Abraham who lived about 4 000 years ago.

 

  • God promised Abraham that one day his descendants would live in the land of Canaan which is now part of Israel.

 

·        God gave Moses their law (10 commandments) which form part of the Torah (the Jewish holy scriptures) that tell the people how to live their daily lives according to God’s laws.

 

 

HOW JUDAISM CAME TO SOUTH AFRICA

 

Many Jewish people came to South Africa:

  • when the diamond and gold mines started in the 1800’s and
  • after the second world war.

 

They came from Europe and brought their religion with them. They built synagogues so that they could worship God and study the scriptures.

 

 

 

 


                                                                         The Torah