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Languages and Churches of South Africa

12 April 2010

Early in my mission, I learned that South Africa alone had eleven official languages.  The only two that were not native African languages were English and Afrikaans, which is a break-off from Dutch.

11 Official Languages

The other nine were:  Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana, Ndebele, Spedi, Venda, Tsonga, and Swati. Actually, those are the names of the tribes, and the languages had prefixes such as isi- or Se-, making them IsiZulu, or SePedi.

These were only the official South African languages.  There were many people from outside of the country who had moved to South Africa, and spoke Portuguese, Shona, Chinese, Hindi, and others.

Also, South Africa has a lot of churches.  I heard a statistic somewhere that estimated that there were at that time about seven thousand Christian religions in South Africa alone.  That is not including all the native religions and eastern religions, which were also common.  If the Palmyra of 1820 was anything like the South Africa of 1998, I could understand why Joseph Smith would have been so concerned about which church he should join, and where the truth could be found.

This is only in South Africa. If you go north, there are far more languages and far more churches. This often led to either willingness to listen to anybody, or frustrated outright rejection of anyone trying to proselytize. It takes great patience and understanding to teach people of such diverse backgrounds. But the Lord helps us out when we do His work

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