The centenary celebrations of the ANC and their determination to dedicate the country to the ancestral spirits sparked nation wide controversy. How are we as Christians to respond? What does the Bible say concerning the spirits of our ancestors? To whom should South Africa be dedicated? Are there examples in history of other nations that have invoked the spirits of their ancestors? What were the results in those cases?
The African National Congress started off the year by throwing itself a lavish birthday party in Bloemfontein. To celebrate its journey from anti-apartheid movement to ruling party, they scheduled a golf outing, champagne toasts, and an inter-faith service which involved slaughtering a bull and invoking the ancestral spirits.
With drums pounding and chants filling the air, the ANC president, Jacob Zuma, initiated the traditional cleansing ceremony by ritually sacrificing a bull, killing it with a spear, while it was tied to a tree. ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, explained: “traditionally the act of slaughtering has different meanings. All nations have a way of celebration through slaughter… it is the same but in different circumstances.” The inter-faith service included messages and blessings from representatives of all major religions, including Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Rastafarian, and traditional Animist witchdoctors. Despite the ANC, secretary general’s assertion that “all nations have a way of celebration through slaughter…” journalists could not think of how the Queen of England, for example, marks national events by ritual slaughter of a helpless animal.
For your edification, and for intercession, here is a small selection of remarkable written responses we have received from our literature ministry. Please do continue to lift up these people and countries in prayer and please continue to intercede for our publications that God may use them to renew minds, transform lives, change hearts and disciple nations.
“You sent me the Discipleship Handbook. I have read it all and made comparison with the Islamic theology and I finally reached the conclusion that what Jesus said is right and the Bible is true. I need some more books to read. Can you please send me more.” Karachi, Pakistan
“Your book ‘Putting Feet to your Faith’ is very strong and effective for Nepal.” Nepal
“Oh behalf of the Kanyama Pastors Fellowship, I would like to say thank you so much for the donation of library books we received. The Pastors were filled with Joy. It has come at the right time and the College now has a library.” Pastor Hakobwa Kennedy, Kanyama Pastors Fellowship, Zambia
“I have read your article entitled Raising God-Fearing Children. I must congratulate you on this beautiful article. I must say, I receive many magazines and other Christian information from all over the world, but your magazine Christian Action is quite unique in its contents and articles.” Rui Barandas, South America
Traditional African religion in Zimbabwe is a combination of Deism and Spiritism. Both the Shona (80% majority) tribe and the Ndebele (20% Minority) tribe recognise "the Most High God", “Mwari”, or “Mlimo” who speaks through the Rozvi priests in the Matopos. Traditional religion also recognises the role of ancestors (“Midzimu”).
These ancestors are seen as intermediaries between man and God with mediums playing a major role, especially amongst the Shona society.
The “Chaminuka”, “Mhondoro” (lion spirits) and “Matshave” ancestor cults are particularly well known. Wizards breathing fire, mermaids, familiar spirits, snakes and reptiles which lead people off into the bush as if by a strange compulsion, witchcraft, seances and illicit intercourse with the dead, are clearly condemned by Scripture (Lev. 20:6,27; Deut. 18:9-1 3). This was the rocky ground into which the Word of God had to be sown by missionaries like Robert Moffatt and David Livingstone.