A Preliminary Survey of Religion in an Urban Location

Abstract:
This report had its genesis in a proposed thesis, purporting to investigate the part that Religion (including both Christianity and the indigenous beliefs of the Bantu) is playing in the lives of the people at Langa, the Municipal Native location lying about eight miles from Cape Town. It was felt that, after some two hundred years of missionary endeavour in South Africa, the time was ripe for an assessment of the degree to which Christianity had become part of the Bantu scheme of things, to see how far it has changed the culture and outlook of the people, and how far it, in its turn, has been modified by the ever-menacing mass of Africa heathendom. It was hoped that the finished work would be of use, not only yo students of sociology, but also to the practical man on the mission-field who so often, working hard in his corner of the vineyard, has no opportunity to estimate what effects his labour is having on the bulk of the people.
The original project was to attempt to cover the whole ground , and include every church 1n Langa - there are 22 different denominations 1) - in the survey, but a change of plans necessitated the cutting down of the time available for the investigation, and a report 1a the result . I should like to call it a preliminary report as I feel that it could serve a s the starting point of a very profitable and Interesting line of research; one which would be of great practical, as well aa theoretical interest . The nature of the subject makes it fairly easy to get what might be called the structural norm - the idealised conception of what should be done - and very difficult to assess what is done - the actual reality. In matters of belief particularly, men are reticent, and any heretical or worldly tendencies are carefully concealed from the ministerial eye or ear. In this report I have attempted to get at the actual reality, but time did not permit much contact with the congregation as individuals and most of the information was gathered from interviews with native ministers.

The period of study was from April to June 1947. Practically all the information was obtained from personal interviews, although I relied to a limited extent on published church manuals and financial reports. On one occasion it was necessary to v1s1t the European Headquarters of a native mission. Great difficulty was experienced 1n some cases in getting into contact with ministers. The life of a native pastor is so full , especially a s he often has charge of anything up to 15 to 20 outstations, that he is very seldom at home. However, I managed to arrange visits on an average of about f our to five times a week and attended a few services and I . prayer meetings. In arranging the material I have thought it beet to devote a chapter to a church and not discuss various aspects of the church's activities, as this would tend to be contusing, especially in the more unfamiliar denominations. The treatment is rather formalised, but this has the advantage of facilitating comparison, and each church is discussed under ·such headings as History, Organisation, Discipline, Finances etc . In the final chapter certain tentative conclusions are drawn but, as the churches investigated were neither a selected sample nor were they all covered, it is impossible to asses their validity for the whole of Langa . As it was impossible to cover the whole field , it was decided to concentrate on the six churches already surveyed and actually they present a fairly typical. cross-section of the church going population . They are of ·the following types:- two native missions of European churches - the Anglican, to illustrate the liturgical, "catholic" type with its centralised government. and the Presbyterian, illustrating a Free Church mission. Then two autonomous native churches, the Bantu Presbyterian and the Ethiopian Church of Africa , the former being an all-Bantu sister church of the Presbyterian Church of South Africa and the latter a separatist church.. Finally two churches originally from America . One , the African Methodist Episcopal , all-African, the other. Seventh Day Adventist, a native mission . Thus it 1s hoped to present a varied but balanced picture of the religious position in the location . There was not opportunity for treating the more exotic type of sect such as the Sixapaya and Ethiopian Baptist Church but, although the majority of Africans belong to the more orthodox types, either Missions or offshoots from missions, differing little in_ organisation or doctrine from the parent church, these spontaneous African churches are very real and significant part of the African religious milieu . Much research remains to be done on them. On the other hand I feel that the more familiar, orthodox churches a.re more typical in this context and the picture· is not so out of focus as might be expected . This report suffers from insufficient time both for investigation and the digesting of the material, but it is hoped that it will stimulate others, better qualified, to continue the investigation of the subject . With the removal of tribal sanctions and the new temptations and maladjustments of urban life, it is essential that some ethical code, should replace the salutary influence of public opinion. Where all restraints are relaxed and social organisation is disintegrating, Christianity has an extremely important part to play in helping the African find himself and his destiny in the brave new world before him. Finally, I would like to express my thanks to Prof . I Schapera and Dr. H. J . Simona of the University of Cape Town for their advice and guidance, and especially to the native ministers of the location who gave so generously of their time and knowledge .
Subscribe to access this work and thousands more
Overall Rating

0

5 Star
(0)
4 Star
(0)
3 Star
(0)
2 Star
(0)
1 Star
(0)
APA

D, H (2021). A Preliminary Survey of Religion in an Urban Location. Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/a-preliminary-sur-vex-of-religion-in-an-urban-location

MLA 8th

D, Hammond-Tooke "A Preliminary Survey of Religion in an Urban Location" Afribary. Afribary, 15 May. 2021, https://afribary.com/works/a-preliminary-sur-vex-of-religion-in-an-urban-location. Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

MLA7

D, Hammond-Tooke . "A Preliminary Survey of Religion in an Urban Location". Afribary, Afribary, 15 May. 2021. Web. 25 Jul. 2024. < https://afribary.com/works/a-preliminary-sur-vex-of-religion-in-an-urban-location >.

Chicago

D, Hammond-Tooke . "A Preliminary Survey of Religion in an Urban Location" Afribary (2021). Accessed July 25, 2024. https://afribary.com/works/a-preliminary-sur-vex-of-religion-in-an-urban-location