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The sociological impact of curses among the parishioners of St. Peter's parish, Durban: a comparative analysis of the Judeo-Christian and African traditional religious perspectives.

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Part of indigenous spirituality has always been to curse the enemy to succeed in one’s own efforts towards achieving wellness, advancement, employment opportunities and a suitable marriage partner. The belief held, is that Africans live in an 'intentional world' where nothing occurs by chance; all occurrences have supernatural causes in the primal worldview. Imprecatory prayers and curses are used to prevent evil from happening. In consonance with anecdotal evidence and informal conversations with the African parishioners of St Peter's Catholic Church, indication was that many believed in ancestral or bloodline curses, based on the assumption that some of the repercussions of the sins committed by their ancestors were repeated in their families in various forms. For this reason, this study interrogated the sociological impact of curses and cursing among the parishioners of St Peter's. It queried their perception of curses against their traditional African and Christian backgrounds, and sought to demystify the associations of this phenomenon with their social existence. The research attempted to problematise curses as a metaphor in both the biblical text and African Traditional Religions (ATRs). Using the qualitative research methodology, which aimed to provide an in-depth understanding of the world as seen through the eyes of the people being studied (Wilmot, 2010) the phenomenological research design was adopted to study the lived experiences of the parishioners and their phobia of curses. The phenomenology of religion provided the theoretical lens through which the goals and objectives of the study were viewed and achieved. The findings indicated that there existed an intense fear of cursing among the participants. Most participants implicitly believed in curses and their impact on human activities. They believed that when one had been placed under a curse, he/she could make less financial, social, or material progress. Sin or disobedience to God and the ancestors was viewed as the primary driving force for a curse. Likewise, participants were unanimous in their belief of the role of curses in their Christian belief system. The inculturation of the biblical answers to curses was recommended to assist African Christians in their response to the curse problem.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.