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People of Adam: Divine Healing and Racial Cosmopolitanism in the Early Twentieth-Century Transvaal, South Africa

  • Joel Cabrita (a1)
Abstract

This article analyses the intersection between cosmopolitanism and racist ideologies in the faith healing practices of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion. Originally from Illinois, USA, this organization was the period's most influential divine healing group. Black and white members, under the leadership of the charismatic John Alexander Dowie, eschewed medical assistance and proclaimed God's power to heal physical affliction. In affirming the deity's capacity to remake human bodies, church members also insisted that God could refashion biological race into a capacious spiritual ethnicity: a global human race they referred to as the “Adamic” race. Zionist universalist teachings were adopted by dispossessed and newly urbanized Boer ex-farmers in Johannesburg, Transvaal, before spreading to the soldiers of the British regiments recently arrived to fight the Boer states in the war of 1899–1902. Zionism equipped these estranged white “races” with a vocabulary to articulate political reconciliation and a precarious unity. But divine healing was most enthusiastically received among the Transvaal's rural Africans. Amidst the period's hardening segregation, Africans seized upon divine healing's innovative racial teachings, but both Boers and Africans found disappointment amid Zion's cosmopolitan promises. Boers were marginalized within the new racial regimes of the Edwardian empire in South Africa, and white South Africans had always been ambivalent about divine healing's incorporations of black Africans into a unitary race. This early history of Zionism in the Transvaal reveals the constriction of cosmopolitan aspirations amidst fast-narrowing horizons of race, nation, and empire in early twentieth-century South Africa.

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jmc67@cam.ac.uk
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16 Kiernan, James, “Saltwater and Ashes: Instruments of Curing among some Zulu Zionists,” Journal of Religion in Africa 9 (1978): 2732; Comaroff, Body of Power, 194ff; Anderson, Allan H., “The Lekganyanes and Prophecy in the Zion Christian Church,” Journal of Religion in Africa 29, 3 (1999): 285312, 308.

17 Hollenweger, Walter, The Pentecostals (London: SCM Press, 1976), 202; Sundkler, Zulu Zion, 13–63.

18 Maxwell, David, “Historicizing Christian Independency: The Southern African Pentecostal Movement, c. 1908–1960,” Journal of African History 40, 2 (1999): 243–64; Sundkler, Zulu Zion, 57 n. 56, 64 n. 62.

19 Muller, Retief, African Pilgrimage: Ritual Travel in South Africa's Christianity in South Africa's Christianity of Zion (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), 1113.

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22 Campbell, James, Songs of Zion: The African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States and South Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), xiii.

23 Vinson, Robert, The Americans Are Coming: Dreams of African-American Liberation in Segregationist South Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012); Slate, Nico, Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).

24 Hyslop, Jonathan, “The Imperial Working Class Makes Itself White: White Laborism in Britain, Australia and South Africa before World War One,” Journal of Historical Sociology 12, 4 (1999): 398421, 418; Lake, Marilyn and Reynolds, Henry, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men's Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

25 Adzaldua, Gloria, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Book Co., 1999). For a critique, see Sexton, Jared, Amalgamation Scheme: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).

26 Frederikse, Julie, The Unbreakable Thread: Non-Racialism in South Africa (London: Zed Books, 1990); Everatt, David, The Origins of Non-Racialism: White Opposition to Apartheid in the 1950s (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2009).

27 von Harnack, Adolf, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries (London: Williams and Norgate, 1908), 203; Snowden, Frank M., Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991); Buell, Denise Kimber, Why This New Race: Ethnic Reasoning in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005); Elphick, Richard, The Equality of Believers: Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012).

28 Cheah, Pheng and Robbins, Bruce, eds., Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), 2.

29 Glassman, Jonathan, “Creole Nationalists and the Search for Nativist Authenticity in Twentieth-Century Zanzibar: The Limits of Cosmopolitanism,” Journal of African History 55, 2 (2014): 229–47.

30 Curtis, Heather D., Faith in the Great Physician: Suffering and Divine Healing in American Culture, 1860–1900 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007); Opp, James C., The Lord for the Body: Religion, Medicine and Protestant Faith Healing in Canada, 1880–1930 (Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press, 2005).

31 Richards, Eric, “Migrations: The Career of British White Australia,” in Schreuder, Deryck, ed., Australia's Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 168.

32 The Christian Alliance, Feb. 1888.

33 Horsman, Reginald, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), 45.

34 Belich, James, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo World, 1783–1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Lake and Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line.

35 Dubow, Scientific Racism, 167.

36 Putney, Clifford, Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880–1920 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 4.

37 Fuller, Robert, Alternative Medicine and American Religious Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 63; Curtis, Faith in the Great Physician, 104.

38 Haley, Bruce, The Healthy Body and Victorian Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), 12; Putney, Muscular Christianity, 4.

39 Putney, Muscular Christianity, 11, 35.

40 Fuller, Alternative Medicine, 34.

41 Ibid., 57.

42 Dubow, Scientific Racism, 121.

43 Lake and Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line, 99.

44 Ibid.

45 Kidd, Colin, The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in Protestant Atlantic World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 56.

46 Ibid., 213.

47 Leaves of Healing, 29 May 1897.

48 Ibid., 22 Jan. 1901.

49 Ibid., 29 May 1897.

50 Ibid., 11 June 1904.

51 Cook, Philip, Zion City, Illinois: Twentieth-Century Utopia (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1996).

52 Leaves of Healing, Mar. 1901.

53 A Voice from Zion 1, 10 (Oct. 1897).

54 Leaves of Healing, 17 Jan. 1903.

55 Curtis, Heather D., “Houses of Healing: Sacred Space, Spiritual Practice and the Transformation of Suffering in the Faith Cure Movement, 1870–1890,” Church History 75, 3 (2006): 598611.

56 Zion Banner, 3 May 1904.

57 Rolvix Harlan, “John Alexander Dowie: The Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in Zion” (PhD diss., University of Chicago, 1906), 169.

58 Ibid., 175–76.

59 Jansen, Jan, Battle for the Garden City (Green Bay, Wisc.: My Sister Publishing Company, 2011), 63.

60 Leaves of Healing, 22 Jan. 1901.

61 Jansen, Battle.

62 Harlan, “John Alexander Dowie,” 119.

63 Ibid., 139.

64 Leaves of Healing, 28 Dec. 1902.

65 Ibid., 11 June 1904.

66 Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny, 116–38; Kidd, Forging of Races, 129.

67 Lorimer, Douglas, “Theoretical Racism in Late-Victorian Anthropology, 1870–1900,” Victorian Studies 31, 3 (1988): 405–30, 405.

68 Leaves of Healing, 11 June 1904.

69 Ibid., 19 Sept. 1903.

70 Ibid.

71 Wacker, Grant, “Playing for Keeps: The Primitivist Impulse in Early Pentecostalism,” in Hughes, Richard, ed., The American Quest for the Primitive Church (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988).

72 Zion Banner, 1 Sept. 1905.

73 Leaves of Healing, 30 Dec. 1905.

74 Ibid., 5 Sept. and 17 Sept. 1905.

75 Cook, Zion City, 97.

76 Halsey, John, A History of Lake County, Illinois (Lacross, Wisc.: Brookhaven Press, 2000, repr.), 36.

77 Leaves of Healing, 11 June 1904.

78 Zion Banner, 2 Aug. 1904.

79 Leaves of Healing, 14 Aug. 1897.

80 For an exception, see Chicago Daily News, 20 May 1901.

81 Reed, Christopher, Black Chicago's First Century, 1833–1900 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2005), 268.

82 Leaves of Healing, 1 Sept. 1900.

83 Ibid., 27 Nov. 1896.

84 Ibid., 3 Feb. 1899.

85 Ibid., 27 Nov. 1896.

86 Zion Banner, 8 May 1903.

87 Zion City News, 4 Sept. 1908.

88 Jansen, Battle for Garden City, 96.

89 13th Census of the United States, Zion, Illinois, 1910, 88.

90 Harlan, “John Alexander Dowie,” 17.

91 Waukegan Daily Sun, 21 July 1906; Chicago Inter-Ocean, 11 Apr. 1906.

92 13th Census, 88.

93 Boardman, William, Record of the International Conference on Divine Healing and True Holiness, London 1885 (Memphis: General Books, 2012).

94 Leaves of Healing, 31 Aug. 1894.

95 Opp, Lord for the Body, 92, 95, 103.

96 Cook, Zion City, 160; Linsday, Gordon, John Alexander Dowie (Dallas: Christ for the Nations Publishing, 1986), 163; Leaves of Healing 12, 7 (1902).

97 Lindsey, John Alexander Dowie, 165. Programme for the Visitation of Rev John Dowie, Elijah the Restorer, Around the World (Zion, Ill.: Zion Printing and Publishing House, 1903); Cook, Zion City, 157, 160.

98 Mercury Cape Town, 10 Nov., 1903.

99 Leaves of Healing, 28 Jan. 1899.

100 Ibid., 12 Mar. 1904; Jansen, Battle for Garden City, 87.

101 Zion Banner, 10 Feb. 1903.

102 Du Plessis, Johann, The Life of Andrew Murray in South Africa (London: Marshall Bros, 1920), 337–38.

103 Leaves of Healing, 15 Dec. 1900.

104 Sundkler, Zulu Zion, 28. Sundkler wrongly identifies Buchler as Swiss.

105 Leaves of Healing, 10 July 1897.

106 Apostolic Faith Mission Archives (Johannesburg), handwritten biography Pieter Le Roux, no author, n.d.

107 Leaves of Healing, 1 Apr. 1899, “Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, or Transvaal.”

108 Leaves of Healing, 19 Mar. 1898.

109 van Onselen, Charles, Studies in the Social and Economic History of the Witwatersrand, vol. I (Johannesburg: University of Witwatersrand Press, 1982), 111ff.

110 Leaves of Healing, 1 Apr. 1899.

111 Dubow, Racial Segregation, 4.

112 Leaves of Healing, 12 Feb. 1898.

113 Ibid., 10 Jan. 1903.

114 Ibid., 1 July 1899.

115 Ibid., 1 Apr. 1899.

116 Ibid., 2 Dec. 1902.

117 Ibid.

118 Ibid., 6 Oct. 1906.

119 Missionary Correspondence Folder, E. Cox to W. Voliva, 16 Oct. 1947, Christ Community Church Archives, Zion, Illinois.

120 Leaves of Healing, 26 Jan. 1901.

121 Ibid., 31 Mar. 1900.

122 Ibid., 17 Aug. 1901.

123 Ibid., 14 Apr. 1900.

124 Schreiner, Olive, An English-South African's View of the Situation: Words in Season (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1899), 29, 76.

125 Leaves of Healing, 1 Apr. 1902.

126 Ibid., 31 Mar. 1900.

127 Ibid., 6 Sept. 1902.

128 Ibid., 26 July 1905, and 10 Mar. 1900.

129 Ibid., 31 Mar. 1900.

130 Nasson, William, “Tommy Atkins in South Africa,” in Warwick, Peter, ed., The South African War: The Anglo-Boer War, 1899–1902 (London: Longmans, 1980), 127–37.

131 Leaves of Healing, 17 Aug. 1901.

132 Kirkwell Arcadian, 27 June 1903.

133 Ibid.

134 Ibid.

135 Leaves of Healing, 6 Sept. 1902.

136 Ibid.

137 Ibid., 18 Nov. 1905.

138 Zion Banner, 2 Dec. 1901.

139 Dubow, Saul, “South Africa: Paradoxes in the Place of Race,” in Bashford, Alison, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 276.

140 Schreiner, An English-South African's View, 29.

141 Onselen, Social and Economic History, 26–28; van Helten, J. J. and Williams, Keith, “The Crying Need of South Africa: The Emigration of Single British Women to the Transvaal, 1901–10,” Journal of Southern African Studies 10, 1 (1983): 1738, 18.

142 Leaves of Healing, 29 July 1905.

143 Ibid.

144 Ibid.

145 Ibid.

146 Lowry, Donal, “The World's no Bigger than a Kraal: The South African War and International Opinion,” in Omissi, David and Thompson, Andrew, eds., The Impact of the South African War (London: Palgrave, 2002), 269ff.

147 Tilchin, William, “The United States and the Boer War,” in Wilson, Keith, ed., The International Impact of the Boer War (Chesham: Acumen, 2001), 107ff.

148 Leaves of Healing, 26 July 1905.

149 Ibid., 22 Jan. 1901.

150 Ibid., 14 Feb. 1903.

151 Ibid., 15 Dec. 1900.

152 Ibid., 16 June 1900.

153 Anderson, Stuart, “Racial Anglo-Saxonism and the American Response to the Boer War,” Diplomatic History 2, 3 (1978): 219–36, 225.

154 Leaves of Healing, 15 Dec. 1900.

155 John Dowie to Daniel Bryant, “General Instructions Given to Overseer Daniel Bryant,” 5 Nov. 1903, 12, in Christ Community Church Archives, Zion, Ill.

156 Leaves of Healing, 15 Dec. 1900.

157 Dubow, Saul, “Imagining the New South Africa in the Era of Reconstruction,” in Omissi, David and Thompson, Andrew, eds., The Impact of the South African War (London: Palgrave, 2002), 79.

158 Giliomee, Hermann, The Afrikaners (London: Hurst & Company, 2003), 268–73.

159 Garson, N. G., “Het Volk: The Botha-Smuts Party in the Transvaal, 1904–1911,” Historical Journal 9, 1 (1966): 101–32.

160 Leaves of Healing, 16 June 1900.

161 Ibid., 31 Mar. 1900.

162 Ibid.

163 Dowie to Bryant, “General Instructions,” 11.

164 Ibid.

165 Dubow, Saul, “A Commonwealth of Science: The British Association in South Africa, 1905–1929,” in Dubow, Saul, ed., Science and Society in Southern Africa (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), 77.

166 Leaves of Healing, 1 Dec. 1900.

167 Ibid., 29 July 1905.

168 Ibid., 18 Nov. 1905.

169 Transvaal Critic, 24 Apr. 1903.

170 Leaves of Healing, 13 Aug. 1905.

171 Ibid., 19 Sept. 1903.

172 Ibid., 12 Mar. 1904.

173 Ibid.

174 Dowie to Bryant, “General Instructions,” 18–19.

175 Another key figure was Edgar Mahon, near Harrismith in the Orange River Colony.

176 Leaves of Healing, 8 Oct. 1904.

177 Ibid., 8 Oct. 1904, and 3 June 1905.

178 Annual Report for Wakkerstroom, 1905, National Archives, Pretoria (hereafter SAB), LWM 111.

179 Native Commissioner (NC) South Eastern (SE) Division to Secretary for Native Affairs (SNA), 17 Mar. 1904, SAB, LWM 67.

180 Native Affairs Department (NAD) to NC Wakkerstroom, 29 Aug. 1903, SAB, LWM 30.

181 Clerk of the Peace to Magistrate Wakkerstroom, 5 Sept. 1905, SAB, LWM 136.

182 Leaves of Healing, 30 Dec. 1905.

183 NC SE Division to SNA, 3 May 1904, SAB, LWM 61.

184 Maasdorp Attorney to Sub Native Commissioner Wakkerstroom, 20 Aug. 1907, SAB, LWM 132.

185 Lea to NC Wakkerstroom, 5 Jan. 1907, SAB, LWM 139.

186 NC Volksrust to NC SE Division, 8 Feb. 1904, SAB, LWM 25.

187 Magistrate Wakkerstroom to Commissioner for Native Affairs, Johannesburg, 2 June 1903, SAB, LWM 68.

188 NC SE Division to SNA, 5 Mar. 1904, SAB, LWM 62.

189 Flint, Karen, Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange and Competition in South Africa, 1820–1948 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2008), 3766.

190 Booth, Alan, “European Courts Protect Women and Witches,” Journal of Southern African Studies 18, 2 (1992): 253–75, 254.

191 Report for Wakkerstroom District, Dec. 1903, SAB, LWM 25.

192 Sub Native Commissioner Piet Retief to NC SE Division, 10 Feb. 1904, SAB, LWM 74.

193 Leaves of Healing, 30 Dec. 1905.

194 Zion City News, 19 Nov. 1909.

195 Leaves of Healing, 8 Oct. 1904.

196 Zion City News, 22 Oct. 1909.

197 Leaves of Healing, 30 Dec. 1905.

198 Zion City News, 11 Feb. 1910.

199 Ibid., 19 Nov. 1909.

200 Leaves of Healing, 30 Dec. 1905.

201 Zion City News, 22 Oct. 1909.

202 Report for Wakkerstroom, Nov. 1907, SAB, LWM 123.

203 Zion City News, 22 Oct. 1909.

204 Ibid., 3 June 1910.

205 Sundkler, Zulu Zion, 44.

206 NC Volksrust to NC SE Division, 8 Feb. 1904, SAB, LWM 25.

207 Magistrate Wakkerstroom to Sub Native Commissioner Wakkerstroom, 30 Oct. 1905, SAB, LWM 91.

208 Leaves of Healing, 30 Dec. 1905.

209 Rand Daily Mail, 16 Dec. 1908.

210 Dowie to Bryant, “General Instructions,” 18.

211 Leaves of Healing, 30 Dec. 1905.

212 Ibid.

213 Transvaal Critic, 24 Apr. 1903.

214 Leaves of Healing, 30 Dec. 1905.

215 Le Roux to Sub-Native Commissioner, Wakkerstroom, 29 June 1903, SAB, SNA 144.

216 NC SE Division to SNA, 23 July 1903, SAB, SNA 144.

217 Leaves of Healing, 30 Dec. 1905.

218 Ibid.

219 Ibid.

220 Ibid.

221 Ibid., 18 July 1904.

222 Sundkler, Zulu Zion, 40.

223 Sergeant Oriel J. Moilea to NC Volksrust, 9 June 1904, SAB, LWM 35.

224 Magistrate Wakkerstroom to NC Wakkerstroom, 17 May 1904, SAB, LWM 36.

225 Dowie to Bryant, “General Instructions,” 10.

226 Leaves of Healing, May 1903.

227 Ibid., 13 Jan. 1899.

228 Ibid., 18 Feb. 1902.

229 Leaves of Healing, 15 Jan. 1899.

230 Ibid.

231 Ibid., 30 Dec. 1905.

232 Ibid.

233 Pieter Le Roux to Sub Native Commissioner Wakkerstroom, 19 Jan. 1907, SAB, LWM 132.

234 Cook, Zion City, 204ff.

235 Rev. J. Phillips to Officer-in-Charge, Native Affairs Department, 25 Aug. 1925, SAB, GNLB 363.

236 Copy of Leaves of Healing, 19 Apr. 1907, SAB, CS 709.

237 Sub-Commissioner for Native Affairs, Witwatersrand to Secretary for Native Affairs, 13 May 1907, SAB, SNA 361.

238 Burger, Isak, The Fire Falls in Africa: A History of the Apostolic Faith Mission in South Africa: A Centennial Edition 1908–2008 (Vereeniging: Christian Art Publishers, 2008), 31.

239 Apostolic Faith Mission Archives, Johannesburg.

240 Longland's Transvaal and Rhodesia Directory (Johannesburg: n.p., 1908).

241 Burger, Fire Falls, 62.

242 Apostolic Faith Mission Archives, Johannesburg.

243 Ibid.

244 Lindsay, Gordon, John G. Lake: Apostle to Africa (n.p.: Christ for the Nations, 1981), 36.

245 Apostolic Faith Mission, Minute Book, 6 Nov. 1908.

246 Ibid., 30 July 1909.

247 C. De Wet, “The Apostolic Faith Mission in South Africa: 1908–1980” (PhD thesis, University of Cape Town, 1989), 22.

248 Leaves of Healing, 20 Dec. 1913.

249 Ibid.

250 Ibid., 21 Mar. 1914.

251 Ibid.

252 Ibid., 29 Aug. 1914.

253 Sundkler, Zulu Zion, 48–49.

254 Ibid., 40.

255 Leaves of Healing, 9 May 1914.

256 Ibid.

257 Ibid.

258 Uppsala University Archives, Bengt Sundkler Papers, box 130; The Zion Apostolic Faith Mission of the World (Ladybrand: Courant Printing and Publishing Company, 1922), 4.

259 “Constitution and Deed of Trust of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Holy Spirit Church in Zion,” (1922), 1, SAB, DGO 77, file 120/4/69.

260 Leaves of Healing, 4 Oct. 1913.

261 Ibid., 20 Dec. 1913.

262 Ibid., 12 Feb. 1913.

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