Abstract: The article draws on recent fieldwork to explore the intersection between class and Christian faith in the collective worldview of African labour unions in Botswana. Workers across different churches appeal to a Christian God whom they believe supports their struggle for dignity and a living wage. It is this axiomatic faith that underpins the spiritual interpretation of worker vocation and worker solidarity. Moreover, in Botswana, unlike in some neighbouring African countries, no contradiction is perceived between workers’ left-wing, socialist leanings and their Christian faith. Workers’ identities are equally intertwined in their affiliation to their churches and to the labour movement in Botswana. Above all, I argue, following E.P. Thompson and other historians of early British and American labour movements, that the sanctification of labour dignifies for manual workers their physical labour, despite their lack of formal education.
Excerpt: “There is a tendency, when approaching the relation between Christianity and Marxism, to try to identify some element that would be common to both. This element becomes a third thing that allows us to give sense to the relation between the two initially given things of Christianity and Marxism. Such an approach, naming an element common to both Christianity and Marxism—liberation, for instance—allows us to adjudicate their relation. In fact, this third thing provides a site of adjudication to which each side is already implicitly committed. After all, if both Christianity and Marxism avow liberation, how could either object to being evaluated in terms of its capacity to bring about such liberation?”