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Religion in South Africa

According to Countryaah data, nearly 80% of the population in South Africa is Christian, over half of whom are members of Protestant churches (including Anglicans making up about 5%), approx. 7% are Catholics and approx. 22% belong to independent churches. There are minorities of Hindus, Muslims and Jews. An estimated 16% belong to various traditional African religious forms.

South Africa offers a complicated picture of religion. The Reformed Church was brought to southern Africa by Dutch colonists in the 17th century; the English Church communities came in the 19th century, along with missionaries from other European countries (Norwegian mission from the 1840s); Indian immigrants brought with them Hinduism and Islam. The religious traditions of the Bantu people also apply. The situation was further complicated by the apartheid policy.

The colored population is connected to all denominations. Among the church leaders are significant personalities such as Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize 1984). There are over 4,000 "independent churches", but only a few are officially registered churches. They are divided into "Ethiopian" churches, which have retained the teachings and structure of the ancient denominations, with colored instead of white priesthood, and "Zionist churches," sectarian associations associated with a particular place identified with "Sion," the source of salvation and liberation.

The white population is divided into African speakers, mainly affiliated to the Reformed Church, and English speakers (Protestants, Catholics).

Religions of South Africa

British colonization

By the end of the 18th century, the Dutch colonial empire had weakened against England, and in 1806 the British created their own colony in Cape Town. They made trade agreements, made the native leaders the middlemen, and fought the capture of slaves. In this way, they quickly came into conflict with the strong slave tradition of the peasants, and these began to call themselves Africans, to separate themselves from the newly arrived settlers. With the British colonization came merchants, trading capital and big farmers, and a large-scale export of, among other things, was started. wool, cotton, meat and sugar. Slavery was formally abolished. Among other things. because the lack of land among Africans in the Cape region meant that they still had to seek employment with Europeans.

The system of poor reserves for blacks, linked to European areas in need of cheap and unrestricted labor, was further developed. Economic exploitation was not abolished when slavery was abolished, but rather strengthened in line with the modern export economy. Living and working conditions for Africans were tightly regulated. Violations of the strict working and contractual conditions were considered crimes, and the first passport and detachment laws date from the mid-1800s.

Disgruntled with the English, 14,000 Africans emigrated to the interior of the continent in 1834, thus embarking on the great trek - the long march - which led them to the present Transvaal, Orange and Nataal. Here they developed their agricultural production based on the exploitation of slave labor. In 1852 they formally created the Transvaal and in 1854 the Orange Free State. It was a hero in the history of the farmers. The price of their independence was paid by Africans who were killed in battle, driven away from their land or made servants, housemates, land workers or slaves on European estates. In the constitutions of the Boer Republics, it was stated that "no equality should prevail in state or church."

The British recognized the independence of the two regions - especially as the occupation of the new territories contributed to Cape Town's security. On the other hand, the Boers had to trade through the ports controlled by the English. Despite official history suppressing native resistance, this one was very strong and organized and cost a large number of native life. In their expansion to the north, the Boers encountered Xhosa and Zulus. The legendary Zulu chief, Shaka, had built a strong military organization, and throughout the 19th century the Boers and British forces met with strong resistance. It was not until 1880 that the British succeeded in subduing the Zulu people with modern automatic weapons.

For the Boers, the indigenous people were simple savages who had to be subjected to force and forced into slave labor. The ideology of white superiority and racial discrimination was a consequence of the agricultural production built up in the free states. The land was not nearly as fertile as the British estates in the Cape and Nataal provinces. The Boers therefore needed cheap labor.

Faced with this was the commercial and liberal thinking of the British, who saw slavery as an obstacle to the formation of consumer markets. It did not, however, prevent them from posing stiff obstacles to the social and economic ascent of black Africans. The labor laws of 1809 had imposed harsh penalties on workers who wanted to change jobs. With the Master and Servant Act of 1843 and later similar decrees, it was made criminal to break a labor contract.

Around 1850, the English began to hire black workers in present-day Mozambique, Lesotho and Botswana, as well as Indians and Chinese. These "imported" workers came without their families, wages were miserable and they lost their jobs, had to return to their country of origin.

In 1894, a law was imposed on African workers for an amount, a form of labor tax, unless they could prove that they had worked outside their own district for a period. The purpose of the law was to force Africans to work for a salary far below what Europeans received. The Africans were already being forced into reserves where strong social control and miserable living conditions prevailed. When the male population was fetched from the reserves, they could be held down on salaries well below the family subsistence ( labor reproduction ), with the family's reproduction being taken care of in the reserves. The historical consequence was that the salaries of the black miners remained unchanged throughout the period 1910-70.

At the same time as the tax on labor, the African peasants were subjected to a similar tax which they could only pay by working for the Europeans. In doing so, the traditional way of life of Africans was destroyed and wages could be kept down.

Other Countries in Africa

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