A critical review of the role of the theological values of the religious vow of poverty in the face of consumerist lifestyle among the youth of South Africa.
Mkwanazi, Anne Thembekile.
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Africans have suffered considerably as a result of numerous forms of devastating encounters with external forces. These include historical episodes such as Africa’s problematic trade relations first, with the Arab world and later Europe, and secondly, the notorious North Atlantic slave trade which saw millions of young African men and women being shipped out of the continent of Africa. In addition, colonialism legitimized the looting of most of Africa’s mineral wealth and other forms of natural resources, also negative environmental effects caused mainly by the industrialized North, and lately globalization through which both neo-colonialism and neo-liberal economics have impacted African countries. Because of this history, it is no surprise that Africa’s scholarly and intellectual traditions are replete with responses to injustices, particularly those that are directly or indirectly linked to the historical factors mentioned above. It could be argued that most African intellectual discourse is a coordinated response by Africans to injustice emanating from outside the African continent. It seems that protest scholarship dominates African intellectual discourse generally. Africans have regrettably also suffered immensely from numerous problems related to domestic challenges. These include challenges relating to lack of good governance, power struggles that commonly end up in ethnic conflicts, corruption and looting by government officials, and the list goes on. This raises a number of questions, such as why it is that despite the experiences they have gone through and their being highly conscientised concerning matters of injustice, Africans still perpetrate injustice against their fellow Africans. Against this background, this thesis seeks to investigate a related issue, namely, why is it that despite a well-developed theological discourse regarding the dangers of consumerism, ordinary Africans are still getting trapped in the vicious cycle of materialism and a consumerist lifestyle. Using the theology of the religious vow of poverty as a framework, this thesis investigates factors that may cause ordinary people to disregard the values that encourage simplicity, frugality and responsible consumption.