This article presents a diachronic perspective on rain and water rituals in southern Africa. The authors claim that contemporary rituals can only be properly understood when cognisance has been taken of their deep roots into the past. The authors indicate how water and rain rituals show signs of continuity between past and present, in spite of the dramatic upheavals created by the arrival of colonialism and missionary Christianity. The authors furthermore argue that such rituals are not only of ‘religious’ importance, but also indicative of the material concerns concerning the environment in the communal consciousness of ordinary people. The popular interest in these types of rituals may indeed be understood as the refusal by ordinary people to submit to a dominant globalisation paradigm which has a vested interest in casting them in the role of permanently helpless victims.
J.D. Lewis-Williams‘Wrestling with Analogy: A Methodological Dilemma in Upper Palaeolithic Rock Art Research’Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society57 (1991) 149-162; S. Ouzman ‘Spiritual and Political Uses of a Rock Engraving Site and its Imagery by San and Tswana-speakers’ The South African Archaeological Bulletin 50 (1995) 55-67.
J. Comaroff & J.L. Comaroff‘Christianity and colonialism in South Africa’American Ethnologist13/1 (1986) 1-22. See also R. Moffat Missionary Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa. London: Snow 1842; D. Livingstone Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa. New York: Harper & Brothers 1858.
Kiernan‘The Work of Zion: An Analysis of an African Zionist Ritual’Africa46 (1976) 340-356; Kiernan ‘Variation on a Christian Theme: The Healing Synthesis of Zulu Zionism’ in C. Stewart and R. Shaw (eds.). Syncretism/Anit-Syncretism: The Politics of Religious Synthesis. New York: Routledge 1994; Müller ‘Rain Rituals and Hybridity in Southern Africa’ Verbum et Ecclesia 29 (2008) 819-831.