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History, Remembrance and Religious Education


Edited By Stephen G. Parker, Rob Freathy and Leslie J. Francis

How should the Holocaust be taught in schools, and to what end? What role should religious education play in recounting and remembering this human catastrophe? How has the nature and purpose of religious education changed and developed over time? What contribution should religious education make to identity formation, particularly regarding the role of memory, heritage and tradition? The scholarly reflections in this volume, drawing upon historical, theoretical and empirical perspectives, provide insights into past, present and potential future developments in religious and values education in a range of national contexts, including Germany, Israel, Norway, Canada and South Africa. The chapters fall under three headings: fostering a culture of remembrance; historical perspectives on religious education; and history, tradition, memory and identity. Together they form a unique collection of international perspectives upon these interlocking themes.
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15 Traditional Beliefs and Practices in the New South Africa



In 1994, South Africa broke the shackles of apartheid and held its first democratic election. On 4 February 1997, its new constitution came into force, one of the most progressive in the world. In this new democracy, how important is tradition? Does it still have a place in the new South Africa? This chapter reports on an empirical study that consisted of the application of a questionnaire to a random sample of ninety-five black South Africans in the Johannesburg, Gauteng, area. The results showed that tradition was still a very important part of the lives of the black South Africans who participated in the study. In fact, it was something they had internalized since birth and it had remained part of their definition of self.


In the young democratic South Africa there has been rapid change due to urbanization, greater access to media, and changes in the social, economic and political spheres. During the last eighteen years of democracy, black South Africans have experienced freedom: freedom of religion, of political orientation, of movement, of every aspect of their lives. Due to globalization, black South Africans also have in a short space of time become citizens of the world. In the past, traditional beliefs and practices of black South ← 321 | 322 → Africans, going back many thousands of years, played an important role in their lives. Traditions sit deep in people’s popular consciousness and help define who they are.


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