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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Millennium Comes to Mapumulo: Popular Christianity in Rural Natal, 1866-1906
Author:Mahoney, Michael
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic terms:South Africa
Great Britain
African Independent Churches
Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This article tells the story of a neglected aspect of changes in belief and social organization in colonial Natal, South Africa: a world of African Christian activity that emerged outside, but not necessarily in opposition to missionary authority. Beyond the hard core of members of the mission church of the Congregationalist American Board's American Zulu Mission (AZM) in Mapumulo Division were many more Africans who participated in church activities without submitting to missionary authority. These 'adherents' sought the material and spiritual benefits of colonial evangelism without becoming church members. Missionaries tended to exclude these marginal 'members' from entering the ranks of the missionary communities. Three episodes in the first half century of AZM involvement in Mapumulo highlight this phenomenon: the emergence of the first independent church in Natal around 1890 as a response to the inflexibility of the missionaries; the heterodoxy of Elder Weavers, an unofficial white missionary, whose activities aroused more interest in Christianity than conventional missionaries had done; and the Poll Tax Rebellion of 1906. In Mapumulo white missionaries were absent or outnumbered by black preachers. Acceptance of the missionaries' Christianity very often did not mean acceptance of colonial hegemony. Notes, ref., sum.