Landisa: I moved from SA to Canada two months ago. Here's why Christianity there shocked me

2019-10-31 07:51
Lindiwe Mpofu

Lindiwe Mpofu

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Two months ago, I took the leap and immigrated to Canada. While it was a difficult decision to make, the prospect of moving to a country with a higher standard of living appealed to the 29-year-old in me who was desperate to forge a more financially viable career path.

Expecting to be plunged into a foreign way of life, I made sure that my farewell to South Africa included the cultural essentials: a day at a chisa nyama, all the Nando's I could eat and a wine tasting in the Western Cape.

Having prepared myself to experience culture shock, I was more shocked to discover just how much of this new country I was exploring was just the same as South Africa -  I even discovered a Nando's here.

Perhaps the most shocking discovery occurred to me on Sunday morning.

Eager to mingle, I visited a large evangelical church. As I arrived, I was welcomed by a middle-aged man who looked up at my dreadlocks and with an uncomfortable smile mentioned that the church loved having different people visit.

The service began as most do, with songs of worship. We sang five songs and as we took our seats for the sermon I realized that I knew every song we had sung, word-for-word.

As the sermon progressed, I was uncomfortably aware of how the Powerpoint template that the preacher used was just like the ones used in a church I attended in Cape Town.

After the service, I was invited to have a free coffee at the hipster cafe located in the church's foyer, again the church coffee shop was no different than the one from my Cape Town church.

These similarities made me painfully aware of how Western my Christian experience in SA was.

The songs we sang were all from the same American and Australian Christian bands and the style of preaching was imported from the West.

That afternoon I mourned over the state of the South African church, where valuing proximity to whiteness and Western theological traditions has forced us to leave our beautiful cultures outside of church doors.

I realise that the state of the South African church is a remnant of the legacy of colonial missionaries who demonised our traditions and idolised theirs.

My hope is that one day a Canadian would walk into a South African church and be welcomed by warm smiles. I hope that she will learn new songs in various languages that day and that the preacher would draw her in with the dramatic storytelling inherited from our ancestors.

Last but not least, I hope she is invited to an after church chisa nyama that she will tell her friends about at a church coffee shop when she returns to Canada.

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