African Instituted Churches in Southern Africa: Paragons of Regional Integration?
While the role of Christian churches in the struggle for liberation in Southern Africa has been acknowledged, most writers have glossed over the importance of religion to regional integration. Most studies on the churches tend to be limited to specific countries and thus overlook the transnational connections. This study explores the activities of African Instituted Churches (AICs) in Southern Africa. It examines the emphasis of some Apostolic churches on black economic empowerment and outlines their dominance in the informal sector. It argues that AIC members are actively involved in cross-border trading and have formed transnational support systems. Fellow believers in Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique, for example, host AIC traders from Zimbabwe. This study maintains that whilst politicians and technocrats on the continent are still debating issues concerning indigenisation, the NEPAD initiative and other strategies for integration, AICs are already implementing these ideas. The study recognises the importance of religion to Southern Africa and analyses the role of spirituality in the quest for total liberation in the region.