Browsing by Author "Jali, Nozizwe Martha"
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- ItemThe African perception of death, with special reference to the Zulu : a critical analysis(Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2000-03) Jali, Nozizwe Martha; Van Niekerk, Anton A.; University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Philosophy.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.