The image of missionaries trekking through deepest, darkest Africa to share the Christian gospel with the indigenous peoples is one of the most enduring in Christendom. On these trips the missionaries met with varying successes. One of the groups they sought to “convert” were the bushmen of the Kalahari desert. But even to this day the bushmen of the Denui village steadfastly refuse to become Christians in favour of maintaining their traditional religion. At night the women and children sit around the fire clapping, while the men shuffle around in a dance. The rhythm gradually picks up and a chant grows. The resident shaman wears a headband with an ostrich plume rising from it. He eventually falls into a trance, and during his trance the people believe he makes contact with the world of spirit.

During the year 2000 a reporter from National Geographic spent some time among the bushmen, and here’s what the village leader at Denui had to say about their religion. “We are traditionalists here” he said. “We are not Christian. But we can talk to whoever Christian talk to. It is all the same God. There are just different ways of talking to him.”

Is he right? What should we think of different religions and their attempts to access God?

Source: Information on Kalahri bushmen from National Geographic, Feb 2001

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