A missio-cultural understanding of death and death rituals of the Oshiwambo tribe and the response of the ministry and mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN).
The discourse on the dialectical relationship between Christianity and local African cultures has been explored in depth by many researchers, but a specific study on Oshiwambo ethnic group is yet to be explored, hence this study becomes of paramount importance. The study examines how the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN), through its ministry and mission, responded to the challenges poses by elements of the Oshiwambo death and burial rituals which are different from those of Christianity. It explores rituals of death and burial associated with both ELCIN and Oshiwambo ethnic group. The study further identifies differences and similarities and examines how ELCIN responded to the former. The study use a non-empirical method, whereby data is drawn from available documentary sources linked to the key terms. Since this study is limited in scope, an interpretive methodology is applied to analyse and critique published and unpublished texts by selected scholars identified in the literature review. Qualitative methodology and theological reflection are among the interpretative methods that will be used to distinguish, describe, and understand issues pertaining to the Oshiwambo people, their beliefs and their general culture. The reviewed literature showed that the traditional practices related to the occurrence of death among the Oshiwambo are central to the life of community but the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) has consistently failed to appropriate the necessary positive cultural resources for its ministry and mission. The failure of the church is partly due to uncritical evangelisation strategies deployed by Finnish missionaries who introduced Christianity to the Owambo people. If ELCIN wishes to offer effective care and counselling to bereave Aawambo then it has to seriously consider the pivotal role the culture of Aawambo has on the wellbeing of its Aawambo faithful. The study further argues that if the Christianity does not recognise the local culture and performances, it will remain a potted root plant with limited roots for growth.