The African perception of death, with special reference to the Zulu : a critical analysis

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dc.contributor.advisor Van Niekerk, A. A.
dc.contributor.author Jali, Nozizwe Martha
dc.contributor.other University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy. en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2010-05-04T14:30:01Z
dc.date.available 2010-05-04T14:30:01Z
dc.date.issued 2000-03
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/897
dc.description 99 leaves printed on single pages, preliminary pages and numberd pages 1-87. Includes bibliography. Digitized at 600 dpi grayscale to pdf format (OCR), using a Bizhub 250 Konica Minolta Scanner. en_ZA
dc.description Thesis (MPhil (Philosophy))--University of Stellenbosch, 2000. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Death is a universal phenomenon and each culture develops its own ways of coping with it. The reaction of people to death also involves a complex network of relationships. To appreciate their responses to this phenomenon requires an understanding of the socio-cultural context in which these responses occur because they influence the individual's responses to issues of life and death. In the African context and indeed in the Zulu culture, death is a continuation of life in the world hereafter. The deceased renews his relationship with his ancestral relatives. Various rites and ceremonies are performed to mark his reunion with his ancestral relatives. For the living, the rites and ceremonies mark a passage from one phase of life to another requiring some readjustment. The belief in the existence of life after death also affects the nature of these rites and ceremonies, the social definition of bereavement and the condition of human hope. The belief in the existence of the ancestors forms an integral part African religion and its importance cannot be over-estimated. This belief flows from the strong belief in the continuation of life after death, and the influence the deceased have on the lives of their living relatives. The contact between the living and the living dead is established and maintained by making offerings and sacrifices to the ancestors. The ancestors, therefore, become intermediaries with God at the apex and man at the bottom of the hierarchical structure. However, for the non-African, the relationship seems to indicate the non-existence of God and the worshipping of the ancestors. Women play a pivotal role in issues of life and death, because African people recognize their dependence and the procreative abilities of women to reconstitute and to extend the family affected by the death of one of its members.Social change and Westernisation have affected the way the African people view death. Social changes have been tacked onto tradition. A contemporary trend is to observe the traditional and Christian rites when death has occurred. The deceased is then buried in accordance with Christian, as well as traditional rites. The belief in the survival of some element of human personality is a matter of belief and faith. It lessens the pain and sorrow that is felt upon the death of a loved one by giving the believer hope that one day he will be reunited with his loved one and thereby easing the fear and anxiety of death. Thus, the purpose of this investigation is to critically analyse the African perception of death and its implications with special reference to the Zulu people. The objective is to expose the complexities, diversities and the symbolism of death. The essence is to demystify the African perception of death and to indicate that the perception of death is not necessarily unique to African people in general and to the Zulu people in particular. Other groups like Christians have perceptions of death particularly with regard to the world hereafter. The aim of the investigation of the topic is to reveal some of the underlying cultural beliefs in death, enhance those beliefs that are beneficial to society and discard those that are anachronistic. Since culture is dynamic, not everything about African tradition will be transmitted to the future generation; there is bound to be cultural exchange. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die dood is 'n universele fenomeen en elke kultuur ontwikkel sy eie manier om daarmee om te gaan. Mense se reaksie op die dood geskied binne 'n komplekse netwerk van verhoudinge. Om mense se reaksie op hierdie fenomeen te begryp, is 'n verstaan van die sosio-kulturele konteks nodig waarin hierdie reaksies plaasvind, aangesien dit die individu se reaksie op lewe en dood beinvloed. In die Afrika-konteks en ook in die Zulu-kultuur word die dood beskou as die kontinuasie van lewe in die hiermamaals. Die oorledene hernu sy verhouding met sy voorouers. Verskeie rituele en seremonies vind plaas om hierdie gebeurtenis te identifiseer. Vir die oorlewendes is die rituele en seremonies die oorgang van een lewensfase na 'n ander en vereis dus 'n mate van aanpassing. Die geloof in die lewe na die dood beinvloed die aard van hierdie rituele en seremonies, die sosiale defenisie van rou en die toestand van menslike hoop. Die geloof in die bestaan van die voorvaders vorm 'n integrale deel van Afrika-religie en die belangrikheid daarvan kan nie oorskat word nie. Die geloof vloei voort uit die sterk geloof in die hiermamaals en die geloof aan die invloed wat oorledenes op hulle lewende nasate het. Die kontak tussen die lewendes en die lewende oorledenes word daargestel en onderhou deur offerandes aan die voorvaders. Die voorvaders word dus gesien as intermediere skakel in 'n hierargie met God aan die bokant en die mens aan die onderkant. Maar, vir nie-Afrikane, dui hierdie struktuur op die nie-bestaan van God en die aanbidding van die voorvaders. Vroue speel 'n deurslaggewende rol in kwessies van lewe en dood aangeslen Afrikane hul afhanklikheid besef van vroue se voortplantingsbekwaamhede om die famile wat deur die dood geaffekteer is te herkonstitueer en te vergroot. Sosiale veranderinge en verwestering affekteer Afrikane se houding teenoor die dood. Sosiale veranderinge is bo-oor tradisie geplaas. 'n Hedendaagse neiging is om Christelike sowel as tradisionele rituele na te volg na 'n sterfte. Die oorledene word begrawe in ooreenstemming met sowel tradisionele as Christelike praktyke. Die geloof in die oorlewing van elemente van die menslike persoon is 'n kwessie van geloof. Dit verminder die pyn en lyding na die afsterwe van 'n geliefde deur aan die gelowige oorlewende die hoop van 'n herontmoeting te bied - en verminder dus die vrees en angs wat met die dood gepaard gaan. Dus is die doel van hierdie ondersoek om 'n kritiese analise te maak van die Afrika-siening van die dood en die implikasies daarvan, met spesiale verwysing na die Zulu-nasie. Daar word probeer om die kompleksiteite, verskeidenhede en simbolisme van die dood aan te toon. Die essensie hiervan is om die Afrika-houding teenoor die dood te de-mistifiseer en te wys dat die siening van die dood nie noodwendig uniek van Afrikane in die algemeen en spesifiek van die Zoeloes is nie. Ander groepe soos Christene het beskouinge oor die dood met spesifieke verwysing na die hiernamaals. Die doel van die ondersoek is om sekere onderliggende kulturele oortuiginge aangaande die dood te onthul, om die beskouinge wat voordelig is, te versterk en om die anachronistiese beskouinge aan die kaak te stel en so te diskrediteer. Aangesien kultuur dinamies is, sal nie alles wat betref die Afrika-tradisie oorgedra word aan toekomstige generasies nie; daar sal noodwendig kulturele interaksie wees. af_ZA
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch en_ZA
dc.subject Dissertations -- Philosophy en_ZA
dc.subject Death en_ZA
dc.subject Zulu culture en_ZA
dc.subject Ancestral relatives en_ZA
dc.subject Death ceremonies en_ZA
dc.subject After life reunion en_ZA
dc.subject Death and sacrifices en_ZA
dc.subject Theses -- Philosophy en
dc.subject.lcsh Zulu (African people) -- Religion
dc.subject.lcsh Zulu (African people) -- Rites and ceremonies
dc.subject.lcsh Ancestor worship -- South Africa -- KwaZulu-Natal
dc.title The African perception of death, with special reference to the Zulu : a critical analysis en_ZA
dc.type Thesis en_ZA
dc.rights.holder University of Stellenbosch en_ZA


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