The Religious System of The Amazulu by H. Callaway

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C. Struik, 1970. Facsimile Limited to 1000 copies, this being number 668. Dual lingual English & Zulu. 448 pages. 

The Religious System of the Amazulu (1870), by Henry Callaway, describes the beliefs of the Amazulu people. It was written in both English and Zulu. Henry Callaway was an English missionary. His interest in the Zulu people began when he settled on the banks of the Nsunguze river where he created various books influenced by them. One of those books was The Religious Systems of The Amazulu. The book is presented in question and answer format. It is divided into four different sections which include, Unkulunkulu, Amatonga, Izinyanga Zokubula, and Abatakati. Each of these sections focuses on the four main aspects which constitute the religious system of the Zulu people.

In Crowds and Power, Elias Canetti wrote of The Religious System of the Amazulu, "It is among the essential documents of mankind."

The Religious System of the Amazulu still has a direct impact today. An example would be an academic journal called Dreaming in the Contact Zone: Zulu Dreams, Visions and Religion in the Nineteenth-Century in Africa created by David Chidester. In his writing he stated that the British colonialism had obstructed the religious elements of Africa and other aspects of the indigenous patterns. The Africans were unable to dream under the conditions of colonialism because they believed that “power speaks to power” which they indicated that the “European colonial administrator did all of their dreamings”.

Chidester stated that Callaway called the book, The Religious System of the Amazulu, as “subjective apparition or brain sensation of African dream life”. In the context of comradeship, this book has drawn together the forces imposed by local officials, the ethnographic research for Christian missionaries, the indigenous Africans and especially for the community of Zulu converts. His book became popular for providing the basis of religious beliefs for anthropologists E. B. Taylor.

In the context of colonialism, the book has given insights into spiritual and material aspects of aboriginal dreams in a contact zone. They stated that they have found evidence of dreams linking to maintaining traditional rituals of ancestral exchange and presence. Forbye, they discover disruption of dreaming from the colonial circumstances of dispossession and displacement. The academic journal perceived that the dreams had emigrated under colonial state, the Zulu report suggested that the dreaming remained as a medium for negotiation and navigating within the contact zone.'

Category Anthropology