Original Research - Special Collection: Youth marginalisation as a faith-based concern

‘The church should teach us to do respect’: Voices from rural youth in Mpumalanga, South Africa

Christina Landman, Hannelie Yates
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 3 | a5272 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i3.5272 | © 2018 Christina Landman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 September 2018 | Published: 06 December 2018

About the author(s)

Christina Landman, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, South Africa
Hannelie Yates, School of Christian Ministry and Leadership, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa


During research conducted between December 2013 and November 2017 with young people in Sakhelwe and Emthonjeni, the ‘townships’ of Dullstroom-Emnotweni and Machadodorp in the east of South Africa, the youth themselves placed ‘respect’ on the research agenda as a value to be discussed with their churches. This article therefore focuses on this ‘discussion’. Additional research was conducted with a third research population, that is, with the youth in Siyathuthuka, the ‘township’ of Belfast. The latter is an adjacent town which, because of mining activities, is affluent in comparison with Sakhelwe and Emthonjeni. This article explores definitions and meanings of ‘respect’ as voiced by five young people from Sakhelwe, three from Emthonjeni and seven from Siyathuthuka. These voices are supplemented with voices from the youth expressed in the previous research conducted between 2013 and 2017. After having explored to what extent the youth saw ‘respect’ as a religious value, their voices are retrieved on their expectations of how their churches can influence society towards the youth being respected and respecting. It is explored to what extent the youth, in a poor and marginalised rural community such as Sakhelwe, in comparison to a more affluent semi-urbanised community such as Siyathuthuka, allowed the church to bring a corrective on the dominant discourse amongst the youth that ‘money, sex, violence and political activism bring respect’.


Dullstroom-Emnotweni; Belfast-Siyathuthuka; marginalised youth; embodiment of respect; church in South Africa; rural South Africa


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doi: 10.4102/hts.v75i1.5492