1st Edition

African Pilgrimage Ritual Travel in South Africa's Christianity of Zion

By Retief Müller Copyright 2011
    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    Years after the end of Apartheid South Africa remains racially polarized and socially divided. In this context pilgrimage and travelling rituals serve to help those who often find themselves at the bottom end of the social ladder to make sense of their world. This book describes a South Africa that is made up of a number of different fragmented worlds. The focus is on the Zion Christian Church, one of the largest religious movements in southern Africa, and a good example of indigenized African Christianity. Pilgrimage plays an important role in reintegrating some of those fragmented worlds into something approaching wholeness. This book tells the story of how the enduring ritual of pilgrimage is transforming African religion, along with the lives of ordinary South Africans.

    African Pilgrimage


    Retief Müller has a PhD in History and Ecumenics from Princeton Theological Seminary. Born and raised in South Africa, he currently lives in Daegu, South Korea. He is assistant professor in humanities at Keimyung University. His research interests and publications include issues relating to migration and pilgrimage, rain and environmental rituals, race and ethnicity, cross-cultural studies, globalisation theory, and the contemporary contexts of World Christianity.

    "African Pilgrimage takes you deep inside another world, that of South Africa's Zion Christian Church (ZCC), a flourishing variety of African-initiated Christianity that few scholars of World Christianity will ever know as intimately as Müller does. Zoom down the hot highway in his 'bakkie' full of pilgrims on their way into rural Limpopo Province, headed for Moria, the ZCC's holy city, and you feel that you are right there with him. On the way, you experience participant-observer field research and all its confusion, comic awkwardness, and clarity. Altogether, a memorable contribution, methodologically, to the study of World and African Christianity!" - Richard Fox Young, Princeton Theological Seminary, USA

    "This is a rich and stimulating book, one of the best in recent years on the important sector of Christianity that it describes. Africa is one of the principal theatres for the development of contemporary Christianity, and the author sets this African Christian movement within the history of religion as a whole. Particularly engaging is his use of the category of pilgrimage to illuminate what is happening; we sense the transformation of the world in the experience of these multitudes of migrant workers from the modern urban and industrial world as they stand upon their own Mount Moriah and witness the power of God there. The author's evident humanity, sympathy, and preparedness for personal involvement are refreshing, and provide more insight than many analyses determinedly clothed in academic abstraction." - Andrew F. Walls, University of Edinburgh and Liverpool Hope University, UK

    "Müller reflects a significant aspect of the religious culture of one of the biggest churches in Southern Africa, the Zion Christian Church (ZCC). [...] His insight into the considerable political impact specifically of urban ZCC pilgrimages bears the contours of a fresh discourse on the public theology of Zionist Christianity in a society in transition." - Andreas Heuser, African Studies Quarterly

    "The category of ritual pilgrimage is such an important part of this type of African Christianity that this study makes what will be undoubtedly an enduring contribution to understanding it." - Allan H. Anderson, Studies in World Christianity

    "" - Victoria Grebe, Fieldwork in Religion

    "" - Tshepo Masango Chéry, Journal of Religion in Africa