WATCH: Explaining ancestral worship — Pearl Kupe

Dr Pearl Kupe (PHOTO: Youtube video screenshot)

In the video and article below Dr Pearl Kupe of Global Voice of Prayer Africa sheds light on the veneration of ancestors and a Christian response to this religious practice. She also calls on Christ followers to join prayer initiatives in response to a plan to dedicate South Africa to ancestral sprits on Saturday


Many of us in South Africa are aware that there will be an attempt made to dedicate the nation to ancestral spirits on Saturday May 8. Certain leaders in South Africa will be gathering together to perform sacrifices and “cleansing rituals” intended to ward off evil spirits and appease the souls of ancestors. The event will start on the evening of Friday May 7 with the slaughtering and sacrificing of an ox to the ancestors. On May 8 the same leaders will attempt to dedicate the day to ancestors. A call has been made to declare this day Ancestors day.

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Psalm 24:1 declares that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it thereof, and it’s inhabitants. The whole world and all that is in it belongs to God, not ancestors, including South Africa.

As an attempt is being to dedicate May 8 as ancestors day, we invite all sons of God to join with us in prayer to pray for the Nation on Friday May 7 for one hour from 10am to 11am to dedicate the nation to its Creator, Jehovah Shammah. Come and steward your Father’s estate in prayer and prophetic action!

What is ancestral worship? Ancestral worship is also known as animism and is spirit worship involving necrolatry or the worship of the souls of the dead. It is also referred to as ancestor veneration. Departed ancestors are viewed as intermediaries between humans and God who are able to guarantee a good and peaceful life. Offerings are given to them, allegedly to ensure a peaceful and good life, happiness, and wellbeing and if any misfortunes such as accidents or illness take place, they have to be consulted and asked to intervene. Prayers and/or sacrifices are usually offered to the ancestors to remember them and worship them.

Ancestral worship in an international phenomenon and is not unique to Africa. This is not an “African demonic” issue, it is practiced in most, if not all, cultures of the world. Ancestral worship is a practice that occurs in almost every nation and in almost every culture, whether Asian, European, American, British or otherwise.

The practice of using mediums is an ancestral practice. In the USA, for instance it is common practice to watch reality shows involving mediums who have now become “celebrities” as a result of their supposed communication with the dead. This is ancestral worship! As we pray, let us be sure to avoid demonising all African traditions and culture. Let us delineate and separate the many beautiful African traditions from those that are unbiblical. Let us also ensure that we do not allow any divisive spirits to rise up and pave way for the spirit of racism to be entrenched in South Africa.

Ancestral reference vs ancestral consultation/worship

There is a fine line between acknowledging ancestors and worshipping them. The Bible itself acknowledges and refers to ancestors when it refers to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In Genesis 50:24 it says: And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

That Bible verse is in itself an acknowledgment of ancestors. That is not prohibited by the Bible. What is prohibited is worshipping of those ancestors, consulting with them and making sacrifices to them.

What does the the Bible say about communicating and consulting with ancestral spirits? The Bible is very clear that we should not communicate with the spirits of departed ancestors. In Leviticus 19:26 and 31 it says: ”You shall not… practise divination or soothsaying… give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them; I am the Lord your God.”

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 says: “When you come into the land which the Lord your God has given you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.”

Isaiah 8:19-22 says: “Someone may say to you, Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead? Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.”

Call to action!
There are a number of prayer initiatives that have been started, most of which will be praying on Saturday, May 8. Sacrifices and activities related to the ancestral worship, however, will actually begin on Friday May 7 with the slaughtering of an ox. This is why we have dedicated prayers on Friday from 10am to 11am. It is critical that prayers be made timeously.

Our Friday prayer events will be at Moreleta Church, Pretoria and Mowbray Baptist Church, Cape Town. We will be dealing with altars and rebuking and dismantling all foreign and idolatrous altars and raising up an altar to Elohim and establishing His presence. As we go forward, there must be a change of mindsets and we must teach and educate the nation on the worship of ancestral spirits, on what it entails and its implications for the nation and its citizens!

Prayer pointers can be downloaded here. You can also contact Anja Letsatsi of Global Voice of Prayer at +27 71 373 7197 or for more information/resources.

Proudly African!
We are proudly African. We love this Africa and believe in her powerful redemptive purpose. We embrace the many godly African traditions and we reject every ungodly tradition. We salute, acknowledge and worship only the Ancient of Days. He is not dead, He is alive. Sithi Bayede Ngonyama ye zulu. All Hail the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! #KeNako! 

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  1. Thank you so much for the informative session.Ke nako!

  2. Thank you for a most helpful and informative article and video

  3. God is heard saying in the Bible “my people perish because of lack of wisdom” wake up Africa wake up. God is not pleased. Thank you for This write up