An Introduction to the Letters of Isaiah Moteka: the correspondence of a twentieth-century South African Zionist minister
Cambridge University Press
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Cabrita, J. (2014). An Introduction to the Letters of Isaiah Moteka: the correspondence of a twentieth-century South African Zionist minister. Africa, 84 163-198. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972014000011
South African Zionism, one of the most popular Christian movements in modern South Africa, has frequently been interpreted in narrowly indigenous terms, as a local, black appropriation of Christianity, heavily invested in orality and ritual performance. The correspondence of the twentieth-century Zionist minister Isaiah Moteka tells a different story. Moteka honed the craft of letter-writing in order to build and sustain his relationship with Zion, Illinois, the headquarters of the worldwide Zionist church. Through the exchange of letters across the Atlantic, Moteka affirmed his own and his congregants’ place within a multiracial Zion diaspora. And through their complex invocation of overlapping local and global affiliations, Moteka's writings proclaimed his standing both as a regional clergyman and as a cosmopolitan internationalist. In particular, these ambiguous missives became the platform for Moteka's engagement with apartheid-era state officials. Seeking to persuade state officials that his organization fell under ‘white’ supervision, Moteka's letters proclaimed his accreditation by Zion, Illinois, thereby casting himself as a deputy of the worldwide movement. But these documents’ citation of transatlantic loyalties also suggests Moteka's own conflicted loyalties. His letters asserted loyalty to the nation state while they simultaneously subordinated earthly power to the Kingdom of God.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972014000011
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/245265