There is a developing trend within mainstream South African Churches to incorporate styles of traditional African music and cultural elements in liturgical functions. This is happening in places where such ideas were hitherto unwelcome because mission churches witnessed the denigration of indigenous African cultures by Europeans during the eras of both colonialism and apartheid. Inculturation Theology underscores the current drive for liturgical transformation. It comprises a part of Black Theology in South Africa, which developed as an intellectual framework for liberation during the time of the anti-apartheid struggles. Using the ethnographic study of the cultural mass at Emmanuel Cathedral in Durban, I suggest that through liturgy and musical inculturation, modern Zulu Christians are reinventing their indigenous cultural forms, which previously had been suppressed in the mission churches. I argue further that Zulu Christians use the process of liturgy and musical inculturation to articulate their religious experience as African people, as well as fulfill their aspirations to maintain their Christian heritage without losing their African and Zulu identities.

Author Biography

Austin Okigbo teaches ethnomusicology, Africana Studies, and Global Health at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Okigbo trained in ethnomusicology and African Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, and church music from Westminster Choir College. He also has degrees in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical Urban University, Rome. His research focuses religious music, musical diasporas, global health, inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogues. Okigbo directs the CU World Vocal Ensemble, which has featured with the world famous South African vocal group, The Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and the multi-award winning popular musician and activist late Johnny Clegg. He has conducted college, church, and community choirs in the United States, South Africa, and Nigeria.

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