The Decolonising content of African Theology and the Decolonisation of African Theology - Reflections on a Decolonial future for African Theology
African Christian identity
African Christian theology
African theological education
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AbstractThis article offers an analysis of the decolonising content of selected African Christian theologians, namely; Kwame Bediako, John Mbiti, Jesse Mugambi and Mercy Oduyoye. Given their self-conscious and deliberate critique of western and missionary theologies, these African theologians were not only in the vanguard of theological decolonisation but also initiated a species of post-colonial African theology. Given the limitations of these theologies and on the basis of the African critique of the myth of postcoloniality, contemporary critiques of postcolonialism and recent calls for the decolonisation of theology and theological education in Africa, this contribution argues for the significance of the decolonial epistemic perspective in African Christian theology. In charting a decolonial trajectory, the article further highlights possible challenges which decolonial imagination may pose to a traditioned discipline such as theology.
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The understanding of God in African theology : cotributions of John Samuel Mbiti and Mercy Amba OduyoyeBeyers, Jaco; Han, Yong Seung (2014-01-15)This study investigates how Mbiti and Oduyoye articulate their understanding of God in connection with the African traditional religio-cultural heritage to make the concept of God to become relevant to African Christians and to help African Christians feel at home in the Christian faith. Chapter 1 briefly describes the background of the study, the problem statement, the purpose of the study, the research hypothesis, methodology, delimitation, and structure of the study. Chapter 2 provides a historical sketch of origins and development of African theology and diverse types of African theology. This chapter maintains that African theology emerged not only as a theological reaction to the dominant Western interpretation of the gospel in Africa, but also as a theological attempt to secure the African cultural identity by reaffirming the African past. Chapter 3 describes the basic beliefs in African traditional religions, several African ethnic groups’ concepts of God, and the African theologians’ Christianization of the African God by employing Christian theological terms. This chapter concludes that it is not possible to presume a homogenous or one unified concept of God in Africa. One and the same God whom all Africans have worshipped is not real. In chapter 4, Mbiti’s understanding of God is scrutinized in relation to his methodology, the African concept of time, his understanding of revelation and of salvation. Mbiti has maintained African monotheism and ATR(s) as a praeparatio evangelica and has arrived at his conclusion that the God revealed in the Bible is the same as the God worshipped in ATR(s). This chapter criticizes Mbiti’s way of Christian theological interpretation of anthropological data of the African concepts of God. Chapter 5 presents Oduyoye’s understanding of God, her methodology, the status of African women in ATR(s) and the African church, her appreciation of salvation, of the Bible, and of the locus of experience. In Oduyoye’s theology, women’s experience becomes a crucial factor for doing theology, and salvation is understood as liberation from all oppressive conditions. Her understanding of God is closely connected with the theme of liberation. Chapter 6 examines the similarities and differences between the two theologians’ understanding of God, critically compares their way of understanding the interplay of the gospel and African culture, and categorizes the two theologians’ ways with their models of contextualization: Mbiti’s gospel-culture oriented model of contextualization and Oduyoye’s gospel-liberation oriented model of contextualization. By a comparative-dialogical study of the two theologians’ models of contextualization, this chapter attempts to make a dialogue possible between the two, and suggests the interculturation model of contextualization in which each theology keeps its own theological characteristic and has an open mind to learn from the other through mutual understanding. It aims to overcome the absolutism of contextualization, syncretism, cultural relativism, and provincialism, to keep a balance between locality and catholicity, and to affirm cultural identity and Christian identity. On the basis of the interculturation model of contextualization, this chapter proposes some criteria for African Evangelical theology in order to do a biblically faithful and practically relevant theology in Africa. This study also suggests some guidelines to articulate the understanding of God so that it has theological relevance and legitimacy to African Christians as well as to Christians worldwide. Chapter 7, as the final chapter, gives a general summary and concluding suggestions for further research related to the subject of African theology.
Religious (de)politicisation in Uganda's 2016 electionsUniversity of Helsinki, Department of Political and Economic Studies; Alava, Henni; Ssentongo, Jimmy Spire (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2017-02-01)Religion has influenced Ugandan politics ever since colonial times. While the interrelations of religion and politics have altered since the coming to power of president Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM), religion continues to influence Ugandan public culture and formal politics in important ways. Building on ethnographic fieldwork in Kampala and Acholi, as well as analysis of media reporting and discussions in social media, this article focuses on the role of religious leaders during Uganda’s 2016 parliamentary and presidential elections. We argue that the striking differences between Ugandan clerics’ teaching on politics relate in part to genuine differences in religious beliefs, but also to patronage, intimidation, and ethnicity, and to the strategic calculations religious leaders make about how best to affect change in a constricted political environment. In discussion with previous research on religion and politics in Africa, and utilising analytical concepts from the study of publics, the article proposes a model of religious (de)politicisation, whereby both the politicising and depoliticising effects of religion are acknowledged. To do so, the analysis distinguishes between NGO-ised and enchanted planes of religion, and shows that on both planes, religion contributed simultaneously to enhancing and diminishing the space for public debate in election-time Uganda. While many religious leaders actively or silently supported the incumbent regime, religious leaders also took vocal public stands, fostered political action, and catered for vernacular imaginaries of political critique, by so doing expanding the space of public debate. However, by performing public debate that remained vague on crucial issues, and by promoting a religious narrative of peace, religious leaders participated in the enactment of a façade of political debate, in so doing legitimising the autocratic facets of Museveni’s hybrid regime. Acknowledging religion as an important constituent of public culture contributes to more nuanced understandings of election dynamics in Eastern Africa.