South African Journal of African Languages

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The church, the state and the stage: Dramatic narratives during the apartheid era

Mzo Sirayi


During the colonial times, many communities in Africa, including South Africa abandoned their traditional religious practices in favour of Christianity. Christianity was embraced because of its perceived stand against injustice and oppression of the poor. Christian religious doctrine on the principles of equality of all mankind attracted many to join the fold. With the passage of time, religious claims have been rejected because of their alleged logical or moral incoherence, and because of some of the church’s practices which are at variance with its ideals as guardian of morality. This article is a critique of the negative role that Christian religion played during the apartheid era in South Africa. The discourse focuses primarily on the exposition of the activities of some religious sects through the medium of theatre in Sinxo’s Imfene kaDebeza neminye imidlalwana (1960) and Dhlomo’s The Girl who killed to save: Nongqawuse the liberator (1936 in Visser & Couzens, 1985) as case studies.

South African Journal of African Languages 2012, 32(1): 43–51

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