Against all odds : Alphaeus Zulu and racism in church and society

Kumalo, Simangaliso R. ; Mbaya, Henry (2015)

CITATION: Kumalo, S. R. & Mbaya, H. 2015. Against all odds : Alphaeus Zulu and racism in church and society. Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, 41(2):4–17, doi:10.17159/2412-4265/2015/152.

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This article examines the response of Bishop Alphaeus Hamilton Zulu to the racism that was prevalent in both the church and society when he was elected as the first African Bishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa. Clergy, especially bishops, are by virtue of their ecclesial positions expected to transcend racial prejudices, to embrace all members of their churches and to transform their churches to multi-racial ones. This means that they have to deal with racial stereotypes both within the church and society at large. This study is based on interviews with key leaders of the Anglican Church who knew and worked with Bishop Zulu, as well as an analysis of media releases and minutes of meetings that he was part of and some that were written about him. This article argues that Bishop Zulu played a pivotal role in the fight against racism, through his episcopal ministry which brought politics and religion into a creative tension, when he worked as bishop, speaker of the Legislative Assembly in Natal and key founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). It also argues that church leaders must hold politics and religion together for their ministry to bring transformation to both the church and society.

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