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UFS Faculty of Theology hosts expert on African Traditional Religion (ATR)
2016-05-20

Description: African Traditional Religion  Tags: African Traditional Religion

Dr Nokuzola Mndende, Prof Fanie Snyman (Dean of the Faculty of Theology), and Dr Luvuyo Ntombana (Department Head: Religion Studies)

Dr Nokuzola Mndende, an acclaimed theologian, researcher, and practitioner of African Traditional Religion (ATR), is often called upon in the media to offer her expert opinion or participate in interfaith panel discussions. Thanks to an initiative from the postgraduate diploma class in the Faculty of Theology and the efforts of Dr Luvuyo Ntombana (Department Head: Religion Studies; Faculty of Theology), Dr Mndende accepted an invitation to present her paper, “From the periphery to the centre: African Traditional Religion in a democratic state”, on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS). In his opening remarks, Dr Ntombana stated that he was heartened by his students’ desire to be “co-workers in knowledge production” by engaging with Dr Mndende.

Dr Mndende’s contention is that African Traditional Religion (ATR) was suppressed throughout colonial times, and, despite a 22-year-old democracy, continues to be moved to “beyond the periphery” by what she terms “spiritual subsets”; those who strive to amalgamate their African Traditional Religion rituals with the practices of Christianity. Quoting statistics from a 1995 survey by the SABC, she stated that ATR is a minority in its birthplace (with only 5% representation), and posed the question: “If ATR is a minority in its place of birth, where is it a majority?” Her presentation put forward the need to study and interpret ATR introspectively, but acknowledged that more “homework” would be needed in this regard.

Dr Mndende thanked the university, Dr Ntombana, and the Dean of the Faculty of Theology, Prof Fanie Snyman, for inviting her, and expressed a desire for the relationship with the UFS to continue.

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