South Eastern Africa

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                       28 Jan 2008


High-rise apartments and upscale hotels provide a place for tourists.  They come from all over Africa, Europe, Asia and America to see the sights and to relax and enjoy the time of freedom from work. They ride in rickshaws.  … They stroll along the sandy beaches.  … They watch a black man, his false beard nearly falling off, playing a tin can fiddle.  The two puppets dancing at his feet even attract more attention.  Here a berka-clad Muslim woman looks in at the fast food restaurant as others, dressed much differently, ignore her.  Look at the young man proudly showing off his tattooed back.  It’s a statue of Christ.  Nearby, a street vendor prominently displays a toilet seat. … hmmm.  Is this an illusion or is it really Durban, South Africa?

 In Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu Natal Province and only 40 miles from Durban, … there is a different kind of illusion.  A century ago the British and Dutch settlers built ornate edifices to attest to their skill, their wealth, and their influence.  They were built in the belief that through technical superiority their small white minority would always be in control of South Africa.  However, … with the overthrow of apartheid in 1994, … the illusion ended.  An uncertain and precarious future remains for both the whites and the blacks. 

 In the city of Durban, like many places throughout the world, illusions, myths, and fantasies are taught as truth.  In this magnificent Hare Krishna temple, … called “The Temple of Understanding”, … followers devote themselves to likenesses of their gods, … of their spiritual leaders, … and of their traditions.  This modern-day cult, originating in the United States in 1966, incorporates many of the Hindu beliefs, their gods and worship practices.

 On the other hand, Hinduism originated in India some 3500 years ago and claim to have 330 million gods.  The Hindu temples, with the rocket ship like spires, are common in the city.  However, in the rural areas, temples are often marked with flags and a favorite god.  In Durban, most of the one million people of Indian descent are Hindus.

 The Koran originated some 1400 years ago and is a collection of the orations of the self-proclaimed prophet, Mohammad. The Muslims, the ones who hold the Koran as sacred, now have over one billion followers worldwide.  Islam, the Muslim religion, is becoming strongly entrenched in Southern Africa.  The well-endowed Center for the Propagation of Islam is a major school for teaching Islamic beliefs.  Mosques are all around … their tall minarets punctuating the skyline.  Most of the minarets are capped off with the crescent and star symbol … a non-religious symbol copied from the Ottoman Turks.  It has been omitted in some of the newer mosques while in others, only the crescent is displayed.  This large mosque in downtown Durban is undergoing a major face-lift.  It remains to be seen what symbols will be displayed on its huge minaret.

 Muslim garments and other symbols of their faith are stacked high on the shelves of a store near the Victoria Street Market.  Symbolism is important to the Muslims.  It is important to them that others know that they are Muslim. … They answer the five times daily Call to Prayer, … they attend rituals believing they will receive special blessings, and they adhere to the Five Pillars of Islam,  … It is all done in the hope that, … if Allah wills, … they will go to paradise when they die.

 Religious beliefs and illusions are often mixed with some truth.  These worshippers claim to be Christians.  They gather along the streets.  They chant, they pray, and they sing.  Many wear crosses on their uniforms.  These Zionists have mixed some Christian beliefs with their African traditional religion. They continue their belief in the spirit world, worshipping their ancestors and trusting in the sangomas, … the traditional healers.

 Not far from the famous Victoria Street Market, … and within sight of the Durban city skyline, … traditional African foods are prepared.  The ingredients and method of preparation is much the same as in times past.  Another type of product is in the same indigenous market. …Snakeskins, bat wings, skeletons, herbs and secret concoctions are believed to heal everything from a headache to AIDS.  The smell of decaying flesh, the sight of grotesque animal, bird and snake carcasses and the thought that the sangomas and other traditional healers actually earn money using these items to cure people goes beyond belief. 

 The misunderstanding and misinformation continues with the belief that AIDS can be cured by the sangomas.  The government tells the people to use condoms, but says nothing about the need to change their lifestyle.   Still, … in some places, … 30 to 40% have HIV/AIDS.  A major growth industry in Southern Africa is funeral homes, casket makers and gravediggers.  An entire generation of Southern Africans is facing premature death.

 Reality of life is all around.  Large apartment buildings line the horizon.  They fill the sky as one looks up.  Hindus, Muslims, Afrikaners, blacks, whites, coloreds, rich, and poor … all live here.  Some hang on to their traditions and false beliefs while others are confused and are searching.  … They are seeking a better life. 

 On the parking lot of the huge 23-story Towers apartment building where 1500 people live …there is a party going on; … an evangelistic block party hosted by the Pinetown Baptist Church.  It is an opportunity for all to have some fun, meet their neighbors, do some visiting, and enjoy some food.  It is also an opportunity to learn the truth about Jesus Christ through a simple attention getting presentation.  Hundreds come to see and hear and a few discover the Truth.  … They discover that Truth is a person … Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

 There are several places where Truth is taught … places where God’s Word is preached.  In Durban and Pietermaritzburg there are 85 Baptist churches.

 Arena Park Baptist Church is in the Indian Community of Chatsworth.  The Indian congregation now has two Sunday morning worship services with Sunday School in between.

 Azalea Road Baptist Church in the suburb of Pinetown is a “rainbow” church with a congregation and leadership mix of white, Indian, and Zulu. 

 Durban West Baptist Church meets on the edge of an area that is predominately Muslim. The church is known to be a “colored church” but is also a mixed congregation of white, colored, Indian and Zulu.

 The people in Durban and Pietermaritzburg need to know that THY WORD IS TRUTH.  More messengers are needed in reaching them with this Good News, … the Gospel. Would you be willing to come and walk among them for a week, a month, a year, or a lifetime?  Are you available for God to use in this place?


“Jesus said, … ‘You have a fine way of setting aside the commandments of God

in order to observe your own traditions’. “  … Mark 7:9


Margate                                             MAR gate

Pastor Patrick                                    Pastor Patrick

peZulu                                                 PAY zoo lu

Pietermaritzburg                               Peter MAIR its burg

Sangomas                                           san GO mas

Shaka Zulu                                         SHAH ka zoo lu

Zulu                                                     ZOO lu

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