Christianity and African traditional religion in dialogue: an ecological future for Africa
Marumo, Phemelo Olefile
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Caring for the environment has been an inherent part of every society since creation and has extended across different cultures, influencing their worldview. The African perspective belief portrayed the land as the “mother”, who provides and as the abode of people, and the Western perspective, also Christian in nature, similarly considered the earth as the provider. Both perspectives held the earth in high esteem. However, the arrival of globalisation through technology and enlightenment through reason altered man’s perception of the earth. And the earth became an object that could be exploited. That led to the negligence of ecology as understood by postmodernism and nature as understood by Africans. Ecology is, in simple terms, a science that focuses on the study of the ecosystem – a system populated by animal and plant species, people, community and the biosphere. The main task of ecology is to alleviate the burden that has been placed on the environment by the inhabitants of the earth. From an African philosophy, ubuntu was seen as a vehicle that could address the exploitation of nature and fosters instead to bring about love, trust and commitment. According to Mpofu (2002:10), ubuntu encourages collective efforts in order to secure the optimal survival of society and is a notion that is applicable to the earth. This knowledge that is passed on from generation to generation influences the African’s view of the environment and how humanity relates to it. Ubuntu encourages communalism and from that perspective an African is in relationship with the earth and treats the earth as part of humanity and yet this study shows how the African has gone out of his way to exploit and abuse the earth. The same is applicable to Christians who maintains the ecosystem mentality but yet misuse the earth for their own benefit. Christianity propagates what the scripture teaches about the preservation of the earth and on the other hand do the opposite. That is why the study sees similar actions of exploiting the earth from both the Africans and Christians, thereby from the acknowledgement of the actions, contact points of restoring the earth are possible.
- Theology