Afrika Mhlophe writing book on ancestral worship

Pastor Afrika Mhlophe.

When Port Elizabeth pastor Afrika Mhlophe agreed to pray about the problem of ancestral worship during his prayer slot at a city prayer day in 2011, he had no thoughts of writing a book on the topic.

“But after that prayer something happened. It was just a few minutes of prayer but for months thereafter, all kinds of people came to me talking about the impact of that prayer and asking whether I had written anything on the subject,” he said.

During a flight to Europe he started jotting down some points in response to questions people were asking him about ancestral worship. As he wrote it occurred to him that each of the key points could be expanded into a book chapter.

And then at a prayer conference in Nigeria in 2012 he noticed that Christian speakers in other African countries often write books on their speech topics.

“I realised that we in South Africa limit ourselves by not writing as much as we can.”

On his return from the Nigeria conference in July last year, Mhlophe began writing his book on “Christianity and the veneration of the dead”. He is busy concluding the last of the 20 chapters and hopes that the book will be published by ****.

Mhlophe, who is a regular writer for Gateway News and chairman of the Gateway News board, and a speaker at the Karoo Mighty Men Conference at the end of this month, says that he has relied on the Bible for most of the content of his book.

“Of course I have done some research. I spent some time studying historical issues and the meaning of words. But I have really stayed within the limit of what the Bible says – and it has a lot to say on the topic,” he said.

The book begins with a discussion on the general theme of what the Bible says about death “because I believe that unless you settle that issue first, we would not be able to agree on what happens after death”.

Life after death, ancestors and ancestral spirits, burial rites and practices, syncretism and idolatory are some of the other issues covered in the book.

Mhlophe says that during some stages of the writing process, as he wrote non-stop for four to five hours, it felt as if the Holy Spirit was writing as the words just kept flowing.

But there have also been setbacks which have slowed down the completion of the writing project. In February thieves broke into his home and stole, among other things, the laptop computer he was using to write the book. He lost a month’s writing that he had not backed up. To add to the frustration he had a meeting scheduled with publishers two days after the burglary. Prior to that he had never experienced a burglary at the house where he and his family had been living for 15 months.

Subsequently he lost another chunk of writing when he had a technical problem with saving data.

“I have concluded that the enemy does not want to see the book published because it is
taking on his realm in a big way. But the opposition makes me more determined than ever to complete it,” said Mhlophe.

He said while the book was primarily aimed at Christians who were struggling with the issue of ancestral worship, it would be relevant to all Christians who wanted to no more about the topic.


  1. Rev. Erroll Mulder

    There is a colossal need for such a book to help those of us in cross-cultural ministry. Failure to understand and address the issues is, I believe, one of the main reasons for the general shallowness of discipleship in Africa.
    God speed my brother!

  2. I certainly agree that this topic needs to be addressed as there is much ignorance surrounding it, and I think you are well informed to do the job. Bless you Afrika!

  3. I thank God for Pastor Afrika, and I thank you for this book. I believe this book will help us to know clearly who to worship and why. God bless you and your family Sir.

  4. Margaret Ferguson

    Hello Afrika – Margaret again!In my writing on ‘community’ I have referred to the following books that may interest you re black African spirituality:
    Transforming the heart of Africa by Vaughn Martin (recommended to me by an ex missionary)- no ISBN
    Toyi Toyi, Celebration of Unity of dance of death? A Christian analysis of the actual South African Reality by R.T. Lambert (S.African)- ISBN -620 36625-7 (also recomended to me by a Christian organisation). What is wrong with being Black? Celebrating our Heritage , confronting our challenges by Nigerian pastor Matthew Ashimolowo. An article by a Mozambican pastor who I personally know – in the S African Baptist Journal of Theology Vol 17. African Cultural Issues and Christian Worship. A pastoral Perspective. by Anselmo Vilanculo. I found him very interesting and when he saw what I was writing he suggested I read his stuff- he was interested in what I was saying. We also both had complementary insights on Philemon from a black African point of view also in Vol 17 ‘Reading Philemon through the Eye of an African. A call to a Theology of Presence’ by Anselmo.He was interested in my insights on Philemon – ‘rebellious obedience’ – an insight given in the power of the Holy Spirit. So even a Brit in South Africa can gain some insights!!

  5. Christopher Blackwell

    I find it difficult to read anything that Christians will claim about other religious practices because they always will claim it is evil, when all it is different. While they are free to believe what they will they should realize why other religions do not care to be slandered by Christians. Christians, past and present, have a long habit of slandering religions that they personally don’t like, then trying to wipe those religions out. No religion likes being slandered, nor likes attempts to wipe it out.

  6. I certainly would not like it if someone slandered my faith, but would I know about it? If a Muslim slandered Christianity in a Muslim publication, I certainly would not go looking for it. Afrika has stated that he is writing this book for Christians who are struggling in this area or other Christians who are interested. No one else needs to buy the book, indeed no one needs to buy the Bible itself, which is the source of Afrika’s material, but millions do!

    • Christopher Blackwell

      When Christian talk about their own religious practices, I tend to trust their word. But when they talk about other people’s practices, I would question everything that they say as slander seems to be all that they know. Demonizing other religions and beliefs has been standard practice for most of Christian history. Ancestor worship is a very old tradition once common to all people. It is a belief that your ancestors remain part of your family after death. As such your ancestors were buried on family land, even under the floor of the house in some periods and they were remembered at certain times of the year. As people have lost contact with their ancestors they have become rootless, have no ties and become selfish, thinking only of themselves, careless of honor of their family both living and dead. One sees the moral break down and corruption that has led to.

  7. I thnk as christians, we need such buk,especially when u r married to a family that is involved with this practise!we ought 2 knw what God says about this issue! Big up to pastor Afrika!