Skip to content
Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Kafirs

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

A term popularly to nearly all the natives of South Africa. It was originally imposed by the Arab traders of the East coast, and means "unbeliever". The natives do not use the word, but distinguish themselves by the names of their many tribes. Even in legal phraseology there is some confusion; but the following is a serviceable list of the native races of South Africa as known to the law ; Kafir, Zulu, Basuto, Bechuana, Pondo, Fingo, Griqua, Damara, Koranna, Bushman and Hottentot. The almost universal language of the South African natives is the Bantu, of which the Kafir group has four subdivisions, Xosa, Zulu, Tabele, Mfengu. It is likely that many of the tribes evangelized by the Jesuits and Dominicans from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries were ancestors of our Kafirs. When the Catholic missionaries were driven out, the native converts could not stand alone, and relapsed into barbarism, although individuals had risen high in the scale of civilization. The terrible Zulu chief Chaka carried on an aggressive war against the other tribes, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and over a million are said to have perished. Thence until 1879 came a series of wars between the Kafirs and the British or Dutch. Today there are, south of the Zambesi, some five million natives, chiefly Kafirs. In Cape Colony, the state which has the largest European population, Europeans are to non-Europeans as 100 to 316. The greatest number of Kafirs occupy the land by tribal or communal tenure, under their own laws and the suzerainty of Great Britain. Some are squatters on private or government lands. There are also mission locations and labour locations. A few have individual titles to land, and some are scattered as servants among the whites. In Cape Colony there are about 5500 registered voters out of a total of about twenty thousand non-European voters. In the other South African states the native voter is a negligible quantity. The importance of missionary work among the Kafirs may be gauged from the following remarkable words of the Native Commission, 1903-5, appointed by all the South African States:

The commission considers . . . that no merely secular system of morality that might be applied would serve to raise the native's ideal of conduct, or to counteract the evil influences that have been alluded to, and is of opinion that hope for the elevation of the native races must depend mainly on their acceptance of Christian faith and morals.

The tribal system is in many ways an impediment to missionary enterprise, but it is a safeguard against political combination. Alcohol is a problem, and abolition is the policy in all native reserves. Polygamy is decreasing slowly but surely. The dangerous Ethiopian movement (the revolt of native Christians from the control of white missionaries) is felt in all Protestant missions, but has had little footing in Catholic stations. The principal Catholic Kafir missions are now in the hands of Trappists, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and Jesuits. Full statistics are not obtainable. The census of 1904 shows that in Cape Colony Catholics of non-European descent were under 5000. The Trappists have 58 priests, 223 lay brothers, and 328 nuns, working among the natives: 82 schools, and 42 mission stations. About 12,000 Kafirs in South Africa today have been trained in Trappist stations.

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Free Catholic PDF's

How to Pray the Rosary, Hail Mary, Our Father, Saints, Prayers, Coloring Books, Novenas, Espanol and more. All FREE to download and faithful to the Magisterium.

Download Now >

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.