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Journal for the Study of Religion

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


MASON, Garth. A Gift of Grapes: What Biography Reveals of the Uniquely Religiously-based Friendship between P.Q. Vundla and Nico Ferreira. J. Study Relig. [online]. 2017, vol.30, n.2, pp.228-256. ISSN 2413-3027.

This article examines the forgotten historical narrative in the social history of South Africa of the unique friendship between P.Q. Vundla and Nico Ferreira. The two men stood at diametrical positions on the South African political stage - P.Q. Vundla, an ANC activist and Nico Ferreira, an Afrikaner working for the Department of Native Affairs. Their friendship was forged through their membership to the Moral Re-armament Movement, a Christian inspired international peace initiative in the mid-twentieth century. The article focuses on the beginnings of their friendship during the time of the Sophiatown forced removals in 1955. The study is a close reading of the biographies of their lives penned by the two men's wives Nchibadi Betty Kathleen Mashaba (Kathleen Vundla) - P.Q.: The story of Philip Vundla of South Africa (1973) and the Nico Ferreira's biography - In case anyone asks (2006) written by Loël Ferreira. Kathleen Vundla and Loël Ferreira's biographies provide important information about P.Q. Vundla's and Nico Ferreira's spirituality in the context of their community work and friendship. Both biographies offer privileged information about the inner life of the two men that assists in understanding their motivations behind their political work. First, they are read as mediated renderings of their respective husbands' lives and therefore the data offered is filtered through memory and interpretation. Second, the biographies have a unique status as privileged windows into two forgotten lives. The friendship between P.Q. Vundla and Nico Ferreira is an untold story of racial conciliation, religiously inspired, within a politically contested space. A nuanced analysis is required to provide an adequate explanation for the friendship between the two men. This article makes such an attempt by establishing an ethical lens via Levinas's religio-ethical writings on alterity and transcendence through which to view their friendship.

Palabras clave : P.Q. Vundla; Nico Ferreira; Moral Re-armament Movement; Biography; Sophiatown.

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