In October 1994, the Sinomlando Centre, then known as the Oral History Project of the School of Theology, organised an international conference on the theme "The Making of an Indigenous Clergy in Southern Africa". More than half the speakers were black, which was unusual for a history conference in South Africa. They included several indigenous priests who narrated their experience. The papers were subsequently published in The Making of an Indigenous Clergy in Southern Africa.
Black Clergy Under Apartheid
In 1996, thanks to a grant from the National Research Foundation, the Sinomlando Centre was able to pursue its objectives with a research project on "Black Clergy under Apartheid in the Natal Midlands". At regular intervals, workshops, with the participation of archivists, historians, psychologists and anthropologists were held to discuss the results and refine the methodology. Thirty-four ministers, both from the mission churches and the African indigenous churches (AICs), were interviewed. They told of their experience of apartheid not only in society but also, painfully, in their own churches. Extracts from the interviews have been published in The Casspir and the Cross: Voices of Black Clergy in the Natal Midlands.
The results of this research were presented at an international conference organised at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, in 1999. The conference provided an interdisciplinary forum on issues such as story-telling, orality, memory and the past. It also allowed scholars from South Africa and the neighbouring countries to revisit the history of black clergy with the aid of recent research in oral history. The papers were subsequently published in Orality, Memory and the Past: Listening to the Voices of Black Clergy under Colonialism and Apartheid.
Philippe Denis, "The rise of traditional African religion in post-apartheid South Africa", Missionalia 34/2-3 (August-November 2006), pp. 310-323.
Philippe Denis (ed.), "The Making of an Indigenous Clergy in Southern Africa. Proceedings of the International Conference held at the University of Natal", Pietermaritzburg, 25-25 October 1994 (Pietermaritzburg, Cluster Publications, 1995), 210 pp.
--, "Orality, Memory & the Past. Listening to the Voices of Black Clergy under Colonialism and Apartheid" (Pietermaritzburg, Cluster Publications, 2000), 286 pp.
Philippe Denis, Thulani Mlotshwa and George Mukuka (eds), "The Casspir and the Cross. Voices of Black Clergy in the Natal Midlands" (Pietermaritzburg, Cluster Publications, 1999), 102 pp.