Original Research

The art of establishing and maintaining contact with ancestors: A study of Bapedi tradition

Morakeng E.K. Lebaka
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 1 | a4871 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i1.4871 | © 2018 Morakeng E.K. Lebaka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 November 2017 | Published: 04 June 2018


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Abstract

Looking at Bapedi ancestor veneration constructively, one finds it a source of communication that enhances the community’s norms, values and personal well-being. The Bapedi community has a belief system that is based on the spiritual world, and this includes ancestor veneration. Communication with the spiritual world happens through sacrifices, songs and dance. Malopo is a ritual that not only binds the people to their ancestors (the ancestral realm) but also provides a healing therapy. The purpose of this study was to investigate the religious and social functions of ancestor veneration in the Bapedi society, as well as the relationship between culture, music and identity in veneration in the traditional healing Sepedi context. To achieve this aim, the study employed a naturalistic approach and data were collected through video recordings of malopo rituals, interviews and observations. The main questions the study addressed are (1) what are the religious and social functions of ancestor veneration in the Bapedi society? and (2) what is the relationship between culture, music and identity in veneration in Sepedi traditional healing context? The results demonstrated that ancestors are vital to Bapedi society, and the most effective ways of reaching them are through music and dance – malopo rituals, as well as divination bones.

Keywords

Malopo ritual; ancestor veneration; Pedi people; Limpopo Province; South Africa

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