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Death, religion, and cultural schemas of South African indigenous societies: a case study of funeral services and burial rites of households and families of e-Macambini Community during the alert level 5 of National Lockdown.

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This thesis anthropologically and qualitatively explored death, religion, and cultural schemas of the eMacambini community during the COVID-19 alert level 5. A sample of 20 participants were recruited through the purposive snowballing technique. Through the Social Constructivism Theory and Cultural Relativism Theory, this study revealed that the eMacambini community was heavily threatened by COVID-19 which affected patterns of their burial rites, cultural schemas and rituals. This study recommends that government authorities together with advisory committees (the South African government and the World Health Organization) should in times of the pandemic be considerate of indigenous knowledge systems that guide the process of death, cultural schemas and rituals of indigenous communities. This study recognized the use of isiZulu language by research participants as a phenomenological expression of painful experiences. It further validates that it is possible to study indigenous communities in their own languages which falls within decolonial ethnography. This study recommended that the content of this research and all other related studies on pandemics versus Africa cultural schemas and rituals should be integrated into the content of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Anthropology (102) Culture and Societies and Anthropology 201- Culture, Health and Illness curriculum as a new section which will deal with the impact of pandemic outbreaks in African traditions, cultures and religion. This study concludes that cultural schemas, rituals and burial rites shape or socially construct one’s identity and promote one’s cultural relativism which is the sense of pride and belonging.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.