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Black ecclesiology: uprising faith praxis for the blackness of humanity.

In this article, black ecclesiology is presented as an uprising narrative of liberation spirituality outside the walls of the Western ecclesiology. The energy that derives from ukunyuka, its rupture within the first and second moments of a Black Theology of liberation, the article argues, cannot be allowed to give credence to dichotomized and bifurcated views of black humanity and black faith. I will first discuss what I have designated as the first moment of the paradigm of a Black Theology of liberation, namely the uprising of the black Africans against oppression. The second moment will offer a quick survey, followed by a glance at the post-1994 dispensation.

Up-rising: Ukunyuka

The isiXhosa word ukunyuka means going up. The permutation of this word, such as in ukunykelana, roughly meaning a quarrel or commotion between people or parties, connotes the rising "temperature" of parties in a quarrel. Ukunyuka connotes temperament and indeed temperature in terms of mood. "Uprising," used to describe the June 1976 Soweto uprisings, conjures the imagery of going up, rising, like yeast in dough. John de Gruchy explains this motif well: "The Soweto Uprising in 1976 was a watershed in the struggle for liberation in South. From then on the tempo of resistance increased, infused with fresh energy. Over the next few years the liberation movement in exile gained new heart and a dynamic was set in motion that eventually led to the downfall of apartheid." (1)

Instead of the image of a watershed, "uprising" here suggests an upward momentum a tempo of increased resistance and struggle infused with energy, like a crescendo, each time the oppressive regime intensifies its repressive machinery. Uprising brings about ideas such as a test of the temperament of a people, the unrelenting spirit of a people, ever-becoming turbulent for as long as the antics of oppression equally intensify: hence ukunyuka, ukunykelana! Uprising leads to an irruption, a complete break in paradigm. In response to the euphoric implementation of oppressive legislation since 1948, when the Nationalist Party came to power in South Africa, one could discern an uprising from the Defiance Campaign, leading to the change of leadership in the ANC, to the Sharpeville Massacre, to an upward surge of this stubborn socio-political praxis of faith, to Cottesloe, the World Council of Churches (WCC) Programme to Combat Racism, the declaration of a Status confessionis, the Hammanskraal Consultation on Racism in 1978, all rising up to a black confessing church, the black confessing church rising up to the declaration of Apartheid as a heresy, to the drafting of the Belhar Confession, and from Belhar to the Accra Confession. This presents a rupture, an epistemological break from Western traditional and orthodox theological concepts and categories.

Ukunyuka is imagined from the underside or underbelly of modernity. It implies analysis of the concealed, mundane experience of this underside and what it reveals as it rises up. Ukunyuka is expressed through ideas such as the Duboisian "double consciousness," the institutionalization of the mediation of blackness against modernity, the inseparability of race and class analysis, the cries of black women and their triple jeopardy of oppression, the valorization of the culture of the oppressed, and the need for the assessment of the ideological orientation of the tools of analysis. These ingredients of a rising momentum and energy of a stubborn socio-political praxis of faith shape the narrative of black faith (2) on which we reflect in the two phases or moments below.

The First Moment of Ukunyuka: A Rudimentary Phase of Black Ecclesiology

We purport not to repeat the history of Black Theology of liberation in this conversation. It is important nonetheless to remember that there was a time when African and Black Theologies developed as two separate schools, almost as antagonists. (3) Gabriel Setiloane, though, does recognize the works of Tiyo Soga as part of the early contributions in the development of African Christian expression, to which the historical development of the school could be traced. (4) But Tiyo Soga is also recognized as a pioneer of a Black Theology of liberation in South Africa. In other words, the projects of Africanization and Black Consciousness as "renewal concepts" (5) of liberation converge at this quintessential prototype of the dilemmas of the blackness of humanity, namely, Tiyo Soga. Two schools that have developed as rivals at a certain time in history are inspired by the same source! This thought by Masoga is important to demonstrate the point:
   GC Oosthuizen (1976) once asserted strongly that the distinction
   between Africanisation and Black Theology is superficial as both
   are parts of a single process. In this process a black person,
   argues Oosthuizen, wishes to emphasize his or her identity as a
   person and a human being created in the image of God, whom he or
   she wishes to approach in his or her own sensitive manner. For
   certain this debate on the distinction, as pertaining amongst
   others to forms and structure, content and function, remains
   classical. (6)

The adjective "classical" should not derail us, save to say that the debate on the same question between Tutu and Mbiti about the distinction that is often made between Africanization and Black Theology is equally classical. Black Theologies are soul mates rather than antagonists, a point poignantly argued by Desmond Tutu (7) almost 40 years ago.

Tinyiko Maluleke (8) makes this point too. He argues that by the close of the 20th century, African Theology appeared to have been at the service of the church, with its public function expressed through a Black Theology of liberation. Maluleke avers that there are many sources for African Christianity, a term he uses to integrate the various notions of renewal strategies of liberation. He says that African Christianity is found where traditional religions meet with Christianity. We must listen, he further argues, to the throbbing drumbeats and the clapping of hands accompanying the impromptu singing in the independent churches in order to establish where African Christianity is. The agenda of African and Black Theologies had become integral by the 20th century.

In tracing the praxis of black faith, therefore, we do not need to give credence to a dichotomized view of African Christianity, but to throw a spotlight on the straws that started the fire, whether in the fields, in the church, in the village, or at the intersections of African traditional religion and Christianity. This approach is reflected in the use of the concept "moment" to capture the ever rising momentum of the faith praxis on which black ecclesiology reflects. After all, the systematic articulation and intentional writings on what Africans chose to name as African Theology, crystallized in the second half of the 20th century. Admittedly, when this happened, the concept "Africa" was consciously treated as a construct in the same way as "blackness." Maluleke aptly states that African Theologians chose to name their model of theology as such with some qualification in the use of the term "African" in the type of theology they chose. (9)

In searching for the straws of fire for black Ecclesiology, we cannot grasp this without demarcating three distinct ecclesiological models in South Africa, namely, the settler, missionary, and African Initiated Churches models. (10)

While the first two of these models are different, they share the same kind of orientation and logic, especially in their relationship with the trinity of conquest, colonialism, and Christianization. Generally, black Africans resisted these ecclesiological models and still do to this day, especially those inspired by black consciousness, while simultaneously the agency of black Africans is expressed in their struggle for liberation. What Emmanuel Eze (11) says is crucial for us to grasp the implications of the relationship between colonialism, conquest, and Christianization:
   By all accounts, Africa remained unconvertible to Christianity
   until well into the late 19th century. This is a fact difficult for
   many to imagine, given the number of Christians in Africa today
   (for example, there are currently more Anglican Christians in
   Nigeria than in England itself). But modern colonial Christianity
   got its foothold in Africa only after Europeans had shifted the
   strategies of colonization from "commerce"--both legitimate and
   illegitimate--to military conquest.

Our South African narrative of Christianity, as in other places in the global South, is a tainted text of colonization and conquest that makes it implausible to exculpate the settler and the missionary models. Thus, the Ethiopian Movement and the African Initiated Churches present a narrative of black African resistance to a Christian presence driven by racial bigotry, the dismantlement of the black African indigenous dispensation, political defeat, and economic exclusion. Gideon Khabela's book entitled the Struggle of the Gods aptly describes this interstice in our ecclesiological history. Khabela reflects on the so-called "Seven Frontier Wars" leading to the defeat of amaXhosa in the Eastern Cape and the symbolic importance of the rivalry between Tiyo Soga and Makanda Nxele Khabela says: "War, disease, drought and loss of land coupled with the loss of cultural integrity caused by the exigencies of the new religion finally weakened the unity of the Xhosa nation and created a guilty feeling and confusion about their future." (12)

Khabela identifies two distinct paradigms of response to this total reality of violent defeat and the dispossession of black Africans: the accommodationist and the rebel traditions. At the core of the story is the contrast between two world views, one undoubtedly European, Christian, and black, ostensibly represented by Tiyo Soga, and another, black African religious, by Nxele. However, both of them are victims of the same tragic defeat of black Africans. The socio-historical order that ensued after their defeat is captured by two isiXhosa words: Amagqhoboka and Amaqaba, respectively. The former refers to black Christians who upon "fleeing" their value system chose to adopt if not adapt to a foreign one, while Amaqaba, the red-blanketed or ochre-smeared ones, defended their cultural dispensation at all costs. While most of those who espoused Western values were often described as Amagqhoboka, the story of Nxele as representative of Amaqaba speaks volumes to a weakened unity of amaXhosa and the fragmentation of the renewal strategies against white presence. The dichotomy between Amagqhoboka and Amaqaba is indicative of the dualistic rationality of the Western narrative about blacks. Incidentally, this reading of the bifurcation of the black African system of knowledge finds expression in the long debate that took place between African and Black Theologies, as discussed above.

What Du Bois designated as "double consciousness" arising from the experience of colonialism captures this order of a bifurcated state too. Double consciousness, according to Emmanuel Eze, is a theory that articulates "a psychology of the racialized black self" (13) against the true self-consciousness of blackness. It is fascinating to observe that the term double consciousness was actually a medical term used to describe what was called "Negro Disease" by the racist establishment. "Negro Disease" was referred to as drapetomania, a mental illness that showed "an irresistible propensity to run away." (14) The historical division of amaXhosa, surely even amaZulu, Batswana, Basotho and others, is not only a physical, territorial division that speaks to the antics of colonial "divide and rule," but also bodily and psychological divisions following Du Bois, and we could include Franz Fanon and Steve Biko. The racialized black "runs away from the black self." This disease is related to the violence of the colonizer and the colonizer's systems of knowledge and indeed faith.

The separation and fragmentation of black African renewal strategies is a misnomer. Mahmood Mamdani cautions against this bifurcated approach not only as an intrinsic deficiency of violent colonial power, but also the presumption at the heart of colonial intellectual constructs such as ethnographic historiography that perceives society as a concept that is made up of basic units of races, nations and tribes and so forth. Thus at the heart of the dichotomy between Amaghoboka and Amaqaba is mirrored the deficient narrative of bifurcated concepts and the categories of race and tribe, civilised and uncivilised, associated with colonial historiography. (15) Importandy, and painfully so, this is a narrative of the propensity of the black flight from the black self. Black ecclesiology does not and cannot be a product of a bifurcated system of knowledge, categories, and concepts. Black ecclesiology is critical, thus criticality of consciousness is a central pivot to grasping the tenets of black ecclesiology and black faith praxis. Ngungi wa Thiongo states,
   In short, education for a critical consciousness is contrasted with
   the education--whether traditional or colonial--that gives the
   recipient a passive consciousness. And the formal schooling system
   is contrasted with the universities of the streets of social
   struggle. A characteristic of the universities of social struggle
   is its transforming effects on the recipients. (16)

In light of the defeat of amaXhosa, the colonial bifurcated order and its violent racist constructs, the Du Boisian description of this order, especially its psychological dimension in relation to the black self, traditional ecclesiology or the colonial model of ecclesiology as Ngungi wa Thiongo (17) suggests, by implication cannot help with critical consciousness. This is the reason why the "streets of social struggle" are an important source for the interlocution of black ecclesiology. Itumeleng Mosala's assertion that African Theology, ipso facto, African Religion, is an ancestor for the spirituality of a Black Theology of liberation is a refusal to dichotomize the narrative of critical consciousness located in the social struggles for transformation and liberation. Itumeleng Mosala explicitly states that "African theologians have long argued that the work of the Holy Spirit was never a function of mercantile capitalism, nor of colonial military conquest, still less of nineteenth century colonial religion." (18) He writes, "Western Christianity is Western Christianity. White spirituality is white spirituality. There is no way of making Western Christianity African. And there is no way of painting white spirituality black. There is such a thing as African and black spirituality which is distinct from Western Christianity and white spirituality. (19) Mosala argues that there is indeed a spirituality, a "spirit in spite of the churches." Ukunyuka valorizes the subversive stories of the colonized in spite of the colonial or missionary ecclesiologies. When the traditions represented by Tiyo Soga and Makanda Nxele are integrated, the comprehensive view they offer for a black ecclesiology as pointing beyond the walls of Christian faith for the liberation of black Africans becomes apparent. Black ecclesiology is found everywhere; the sources of its spirituality are found wherever a black African is struggling for liberation. We could search for this critical spirituality or consciousness within the Ethiopian and AIC traditions; (20) we could go backward a bit in history to trace the roots, concepts, and categories of black critical spirituality or critical consciousness, the arte-facts of Black Theology, and thus black ecclesiology, (21) especially within the underside of modernity.

For this conversation we focus on the story of Queen Nzinga of Angola. According to Mangena, Queen Nzinga "was a great patriot, stateswoman, leader and diplomat, not to mention a military and political strategist." (22) Queen Nzinga was a thorn in the flesh of the Portuguese colonization in the 15th century. The Portuguese presence in Angola subdued African kings and turned them into vassals paying homage to the newly arrived and conquering power. Queen Nzinga took this power by its horns. In one conference in Luanda in 1622, representing her brother King Ngola Mbandi of Angola, she demonstrated her formidable resilience when the Portuguese decided to allocate seats only for themselves with the intension of humiliating her. Her delegation pulled out a royal carpet, putting it on their backs to allow her to sit on it at the same level with the foreigners who had invaded their land. Of course, the colonial power unleashed its wrath against her, and at one point she had to pretend that she was dead, later returning to humiliate the colonialists militarily until a peace treaty was signed in 1656 in Angola.

Queen Nzinga, a heroine most of us know little about, who assumed the throne in 1623 until she died in 1663, marks an important epoch of black African's resistance. While whites named blacks, giving them Christian names, Nzinga dropped her name Ann and renounced Roman Catholicism as she felt that Christianity was converting black Africans to surrender body and soul not to Christ but to the white man. (23) It is fascinating to observe that earlier, in 1518, Henrique Nzinga, the son of King Afonso Nzinga, having become a priest in 1518, caused trouble to Rome. Paul Gundani writes,
   In 1518 Henrique was ordained to priesthood. Because of his fluency
   in Latin, he became a member of the embassy of the Kongo kingdom in
   Rome. According to Hastings, Henrique "apparently studied well and
   made an excellent impression so that the King of Portugal proposed
   that he be made a bishop." There is evidence to the effect that
   King Manuel's suggestion to Pope Leo X caused much controversy in
   Rome. The controversy had a racist dimension to it as the question
   centred on whether it was acceptable or not to have a "negro"
   appointed bishop. (24)

I have reflected on the role of Nonthetha (25) in South Africa, who at the hands of colonial racial and misogynist macho power ended in a psychiatric ward in Pretoria for daring to challenge the powers that be. She too, together with Soga and Nzinga and many others, is an example of a response with the view to restoring sanity in an insane order of death and conquest, ubiquitous on the entire continent: colonizing, conquering, and Christianizing. What do we make of this illustrative story of Queen Nzinga then?

Clearly the settler and missionary models of ecclesiology outlined above served the status quo. In doing so, they lacked a "prophetic instance" (Boesak). (26) An interesting comparison here would be the French Revolution and the Haiti Revolution. If the French Revolution is the arche of liberal thought in the Western world, the Haitian Revolution provides the archaeology of the school of Black Theology and thus black ecclesiology in intercontinental terms. The Haitian Revolution was a slave revolution. (27) Within the revolutionary struggles of the colonized, Queen Nzinga is a quintessential symbol of a spirituality that refuses naming, labelling, or surrendering the body and the soul to a white man and indeed placing one's sanity into the hands of an oppressor. Allan Boesak describes the Ethiopian Movement as a "theology of refusal." Queen Nzinga exemplifies "the theology the black church must make its own if it is to survive, if it is to become truly 'church.'" (28)

The Second Moment: Systematic Articulation of the School

The prophetic instance of a black African response to a total system that excluded black Africans began to find systematic articulation in the 1960s. Cone's first publication, A Black Theology of Liberation, (29) became a classic project for this school. In developing this new way of doing theology, Cone combines Martin Luther King's theology, Malcolm X, and the Blues. Cornel West in his conversation with Judith Buder, Jurgen Habermas, and Mark Taylor describes himself "as a blues man in the life of the mind, a jazzman in the world of ideas." (30) Cone does theology in a way that differs radically from the traditional Western paradigms. Against the Enlightenment paradigm or modernity, a Black Theology of liberation challenges the notion of "objectivity" and argues that it is hard to find a theology that is devoid of prejudice, prejudgements, or presuppositions.

The "grammar" of this new way of doing theology is different from that derived from Western orthodox ways of doing theology, especially with regard to the place of a non-person, a black interlocutor in theological reflection. In South Africa, Black Consciousness (31) provides what could be understood as the side of "reason" if one thinks about faith and reason together in theological discourse. Sage philosophy (32) is also another form that distinguishes Black Theology methodologically. The point here is that there is a philosophy of liberation (33) distinct from the philosophical traditions of Western theology. In a nutshell, the school of Black Theology of liberation employs as its tools Black Consciousness, African Philosophy, and Liberation Philosophy to reflect on black faith in the struggle of liberation for the restoration of the blackness of humanity. In its growth, a Black Theology of liberation has had collaborative relations with the Circle of Concerned African Women and womanist discourses associated with names such as Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Isabel Apawo Phiri, Musa Dube, Puleng LenkaBula, and many others. (34) In my view, the zenith of the Black Theology of liberation found expression in two important documents: the Kairos Document and the Belhar Confession. If one reads these two documents, the surge of the faith struggle for the liberation of humanity through the liberation of a black African person ruptured any form of theologized politics and tyrannical power.

Volume 9 of the journal Missionalia (1981) contains a conversation about Christ in black and white churches and other related themes. After June 16 in South Africa, Christology, anthropology, and ecclesiology could no longer be debated without the question of blackness or race being taken into account. Bonganjalo Goba argues that a "self-conscious ecclesiology in Africa found expression after the independence of certain African nations." (35) Goba argues that a thrust for the selfhood of an African church as shown in the earlier works by scholars such as Bolaji Idowu suggests a departure from the foreignness of the church in Africa not at the surface level but at a "profound theological level." He engages Allan Boesak and then proceeds to suggest "a tentative framework for a black ecclesiology." (36) Among the elements he suggests for this black, self-conscious ecclesiology are culture, Christ, images of the church that ostensibly should be contextual, the problem of the haves and the have-nots. In my reading of Goba's work, Black ecclesiology is thus a self-conscious and self-critical engagement of theology within the lived experiences of the poor and the marginalized in the context of oppressive structures and systems. Some of the elements that Goba suggested are still relevant in post-1994 South Africa. Inequality has even worsened and with a life threatening threat to the culture of the black people in the context of neoliberal democracy and Empire. (37)

Let us recapitulate some of the major ecclesiological features we have identified above. In its rudimentary phase, the spirituality of liberation found expression outside the conventional walls of the church. This spirituality "born of tragedy" (38) was marked by the formation of African Initiated Churches and the Ethiopian Movement as a black response to the settler and missionary models of ecclesiology. Within this phase, in which a black spirituality is distinguishable from white spirituality, we find the roots of black faith as socio-political praxis. The political, cultural, and economic tragedy orchestrated against a black African non-person--as a result of colonization, conquest, and Christianization--is characterized by dualisms, bifurcation, and double consciousness to which the systematic articulation of black ecclesiology sought and continues to respond. The systematic articulation of black ecclesiology identifies the black struggling person as its interlocutor within the tragedy of colonization, conquest, and Christianization and now democratic South Africa and Empire. Everywhere that we find this struggle, we find black ecclesiology. (39) Black ecclesiology does not compartmentalize life, does not operate with dualism, but challenges the bifurcation of life based on the struggles forged by a black interlocutor. Black faith, from the rudimentary and systematic phases of a Black Theology of liberation, ipso facto, black ecclesiology, treats settler and missionary ecclesiologies as racialized constructs. A black self-conscious ecclesiology does this by valorizing black culture and epistemologies for the humanity of black persons.

Is the Black Church in Crisis? Un-concluding Thoughts

Due to the limited space available for this article, a detailed analysis of the post-1994 South Africa through the prism of the heritage of black ecclesiology outlined above may not be feasible. As we conclude, the question is not about the relevance of Black Theology and thus black ecclesiology post 1994, but what the post-1994 democratic dispensation does to the former. It is the progression of racist logic, neo-colonial and economic exclusion related to modernist constructs that the prism of black ecclesiology would focus on. I paint this picture through Eskia Mphahlele's Down Second Avenue. Second Avenue in Alexandra is remarkable. Those of us familiar with township lingo will know that this "location" is divided into avenues. Other townships though are divided into zones, "zone one," "zone two," etc. Meadowlands Township in Soweto is one of them. (40) Hugh Masekela's Meadowlands is a song that evokes the history of forced removals in South Africa. Similarly, Mphahlele's work, especially the division of the land by the river Leshoane between the Christians and non-Christians, is a narrative of the zoning of black life by the West. Franz Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks writes, "There is a zone of nonbeing, an extraordinarily sterile and arid region, an incline stripped bare of every essential from which a genuine new departure can emerge." (41)

I metaphorically see "zone 6" both in South Africa and the globe and "zone 94" (42) as zones of non-being. I read the Accra Confession and remember the dungeons out of which human bodies came as commodities to fuel a racist civilization that thrived on destroying and zoning the lives of others. The Accra Confession (43) is an uprising--faith with a tempo, momentum, and energy away from death, "Zone Zero." Christianity may be in crisis, but not black ecclesiology. The rupture of black faith from Eurocentric categories of ecclesiology will be possible with the convergence of resistance energy found outside Western ecclesiological constructs to build critical consciousness at profound theological and ecclesiological levels.

DOI: 10.1111/erev.12196

(1) John W. de Gruchy and Steve de Gruchy, The Church Struggle in South Africa (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005), 184.

(2) For the term "black faith," see V. Vellem, "Life-giving Assets at Thabo Mbeki Village: Black Faith and the Baal's of Multiculturalism in the 21st Century," in Churches, Blackness, and Contested Multiculturalism, ed. R. Drew Smith, William Ackah, and Anthony G. Reddie (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Black faith simply connotes socio-political praxis as faith expressed in the struggle for liberation by black Africans or better, the non-person. I am making this qualification because I am writing from a Black Theology of liberation's perspective.

(3) On this matter, see J. Mbiti, "An African Views American Black Theology," in Black Theology and African Theology, ed. J. H. Cone and G. S. Wilmore, 477-82 (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1979), 477-82, and D. Turn, "Black Theology/African Theology," in Black Theology and African Theology, ed. J. H. Cone and G. S. Wilmore, 477-82 (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1979), 483-91. One of the most well-known South African scholars, who strongly held that a separation between these schools needed to be kept, was Gabriel Setiloane, see Mogomme, A. Masoga, "A Critical Dialogue with Gabriel Molehe Setiloane: The Unfinished Business on the African Divinity Question," Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 38 (2012), 324.

(4) Masoga, "Critical Dialogue," 331.

(5) E. Farisani in his thesis uses the notion "concepts of renewal," to trace the relationships the popular notion of the African Renaissance now associated with Thabo Mbeki and Pan Africanism. I find this rendition helpful to explain the renewed approaches in the struggles of liberation, that is, as the trajectory of liberation that found expression in different strategies. See E. Farisani, "The Use of Ezra-Nehemiah in a Quest for an African Theology of Reconstruction," PhD thesis, University of Kwa Zulu-Natal, 2002, chapter 1.

(6) Ibid., 324.

(7) Tutu, "Black Theology/African Theology."

(8) Tinyiko Maluleke, "Half a Century of African Christian Theologies," Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 99 (1997), 4-23.

(9) Maluleke, "Half a Century," 7-8.

(10) See Vuyani Vellem, "Tumelo le Momo," Verbum et Ecclesia 36:1 (2015), which expands on the ecclesiological landscape in South Africa, particularly the construct "church" with all its deficiencies. For a more detailed discussion of ecclesiology, see Vuyani Vellem, "Unshackling the Church," HTS Theological Studies 71:3 (2015).

(11) Emanuel Eze, "Double Consciousness and the Democratic Ideal," in Colonialism and Its Legacies, ed. J. T. Levy and M. I. Young (Maryland: Lexington Books, 2011), 225.

(12) Gideon Khabela, The Struggle of the Gods (Alice: Lovedale Press, 1996), 6.

(13) Eze, "Double Consciousness," 25.

(14) Ibid., 27.

(15) Mahmood Mamdani, Define and Rule: Native and Political Identity (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2012), 85-106.

(16) Ngungi wa Thiongo, In the Name of the Mother. Reflections on Writers and Empire (Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, n.d.), 9-10.

(17) Ngungi wa Thiongo, Chinua Achebe, Franz Fanon, Steve Biko and others similar to them are indispensable resources here, at least in the school of a Black Theology of liberation.

(18) Itumeleng Mosala, "Spirituality and Struggle: African and Black Theologies," in One Nation: A Festchrift for Beyers Naude, ed. Charles Villa-Vicencio and Carl Niehaus (Cape Town, Johannesburg: Human and Rousseau, 1995), 79.

(19) Ibid.

(20) Allan Boesak, Farewell to Innocence: A Social-Ethical Study of Black Theology and Black Power (Johannesburg: Raven Press, 1977), 55-56. Boesak explains what this "theology of refusal" is and where it could be traced. Nehemiah Tile, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King Jr. are among the authors he mentions.

(21) Early Christianity in Africa and Nubian Christianity including Egyptologists could offer us these roots of critical consciousness and spirituality. We could descend into the dungeons of slavery in El Mina, Ghana, or even trace the history of first black African chaplains in this regard.

(22) Mangena Mosibudi, Trials and Heartaches: A Courageous Journey by a South African Patriot Johannesburg: Picador, 2015).

(23) I use the word man here because Western Christianity is not only racist but also patriarchal with its erotic constructs.

(24) Paul H. Gundani, "Iberians and African Clergy in Southern Africa," in African Christianity: African Story, ed. U Kalu Ogbu (Pretoria: University of Pretoria, 2005), 177.

(25) See Vuyani Vellem, "Spirituality of Liberation: A Conversation with African religiosity," HTS Teologiese Studies/ Theological Studies 70:1 (2014), at:

(26) See the discussion on this concept in Vuyani Vellem, "Prophetic Witness in Black Theology--with special reference to the Kairos Document in HTS Teologiese Studies," Theological Studies 66:1 (2010), 1-6, at 4; and "The 'Native Experiment': The Formation of the Bantu Presbyterian Church and the Defects of Faith Transplanted on African Soil," Missionalia 41:2 (2013), 153-54.

(27) See Julia Gaffield, The Haitian Declaration of Independence: Creation, Context and Legacy (University of Virginia Press, 2016).

(28) Boesak, Farewell to Innocence.

(29) See also James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power (New York: Seabury Press, 1969); Boesak, Farewell to Innocence.

(30) Cornel West, "Prophetic Religion and the Future of Capitalist Civilization," in The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere, ed. Eduardo Mendieta et al., 92-100 (New York: Columbia University Presss, 2011), 93.

(31) Steve Biko, I Write What I Like (Johannesburg: Picador, 2004).

(32) Oruka Odera, ed., Sage Philosophy: Indigenous Thinkers and Modern Debate on African Philosophy (Nairobi: ACTS, 1991).

(33) Enrique Dussel is regarded as a pioneer of the philosophy of liberation.

(34) One of the best examples of the collaboration between a black and a womanist theologian is Tinyiko Maluleke and Sarojini Nadar, "Alien Fraudsters in the White Academy: Agency in Gendered Colour," journal of Theology for Southern Africa 120 (2004), 5-17.

(35) Bonganjalo, Goba, "Towards a Black Ecclesiology," Missionalia 9 (1981), 47-59.

(36) Ibid., 55-59.

(37) See Maluleke, "Half a Century"; Vuyani Vellem, "Modern Slavery in the Post-1994 South Africa? A Critical Ethical Analysis of the NDP Promises for Unemployment in South Africa," Koers--Bulletin for Christian Scholarship 79:2 (2014), at:; and Vuyani Vellem, "Black Culture and the Media: A Reflection on Culture and the Media Post-1994 South Africa with Reference to the Controversy over 'The Spear Painting,'" Crucible: The Journal of Christian Social Ethics (April 2015), 31-39.

(38) Mosala, "Spirituality and Struggle," 80.

(39) See Maluleke, "Half a Century," 8.

(40) The use of Meadowlands is symbolic too. The reader should keep in mind the history of evictions in South Africa. Meadowlands is a product of such evictions.

(41) Franz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Richard Philcox (New York: Grove Press, 1952), xii.

(42) A note on my metaphor is necessary. I justify my metaphor of the zone firstly within the Fanonian concept of the zone of nonbeing. I have in mind the question of land in South Africa. We have in the struggle known that 13% of the land is all that blacks had in South Africa. But I also have the Accra Confession's hour-glass economy, according to which 6% of the global population has access to only 11% of the global economy. One has to see the progression of land dispossession and the on-going settler colonization that is taking place in Palestine. I have the death of one black person in the United States of America in mind. I simply have the life-killing civilization of Empire in mind!

(43) See further notes on empire and the dangers of neoliberal faith in Vuyani Vellem, "The Opiate of Neoliberal Globalization and the Dawn of Democracy in South Africa," Theologia Viatorum 36:1 (2012), 76-93.

Vuyani S. Vellem

Vuyani Vellem serves as an associate professor in the faculty of dogmatics and Christian ethics in the University of Pretoria, Republic of South Africa.
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Author:Vellem, Vuyani S.
Publication:The Ecumenical Review
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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