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Journal for the Study of Religion

versión On-line ISSN 2413-3027
versión impresa ISSN 1011-7601


SIWILA, Lilian Cheelo. An encroachment of ecological sacred sites and its threat to the interconnectedness of sacred rituals: A case study of the Tonga people in the Gwembe valley. J. Study Relig. [online]. 2015, vol.28, n.2, pp.138-153. ISSN 2413-3027.

The problem of encroaching sacred sites is one of the biggest challenges most developing countries face. In the name of development people's sacred sites and rituals are either destroyed or relocated to other sites. This paper uses two cases to discuss the value of sacred sites and sacred rituals and their religious connectivity to Tonga ecology. The paper begins with a brief discussion on the Tonga ecology and the effects of the construction of the Kariba dam in the 1950s to local people's religiosity, worldviews and perceptions of environmental issues. Thereafter the paper deals with another ecological practice of the Tonga people called lwiindi ceremony. Within this practice the paper employs gender lens to analyse the value of religion in the practice and how the practice is slowly being trespassed by political interests thus overriding its significance to peoples' understating of crop production and rain patterns. This study has found out that indigenous peoples' religion is embedded in their understating of ecological sites and rituals. Therefore development programmes working in these spaces need to take into consideration the religious significance attached to these sites by the local people. This will help enhance environmental care and respect for people's religious beliefs and spiritualties. This however does not mean romanticising indigenous knowledge as though it has no ecological challenges.

Palabras clave : Sacred Sites; Tonga Rituals; Ecology; Religion; development; lwiindi.

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