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Theology Colloquium – Postcolonial Turn in Africa
4 August 2017


In July 2017, the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria (UP) hosted a colloquium on the topic 'Theology at a public university', with special reference to the postcolonial turn in Africa. Participants addressed the question of ways in which western theology could be appropriated in Africa while doing justice to the demands of a world-class university.

The official theme of the colloquium was 'Reimagining curricula for a just university in a vibrant democracy — carrying the conversation forward' and it was inspired by the words of Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations:

The university must become a primary tool for Africa's development in the new century. Universities can help develop African expertise; they can enhance the analysis of African problems; strengthen domestic institutions; serve as a model environment for the practice of good governance, conflict resolution and respect for human rights, and enable African academics to play an active part in the global community of scholars.

These remarks imply that universities should not only become agents of change, but they should also guarantee that the democratisation of African societies creates equal opportunities for all people. The decolonisation of education forms part of the larger, transformational narrative, hence the primacy of this issue at present across the tertiary landscape in South Africa.

Professor Marcel Barnard of the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam, remarked that nothing has changed his thinking like his introduction to South Africa, particularly his acquaintance with the Faculty of Theology at UP nearly two decades ago. He added that it has become his gateway to Africa and to faith systems, epistemologies and ontologies that differ completely from those of the West. Professor Christian Danz of the University of Vienna pointed out that fundamental reorganization of theological curriculums is needed to ensure the continued existence of theological faculties.

Professors Hendrik Bosman, Ruard Ganzevoort ,Patrick Hornbeck II, Joseph Mante, Johann-Albrecht Meylahn, Corneliu Simut, Fanie Snyman and Mr Kenalemang Nkombezekwa, a student in the Faculty of Theology at UP,  also shared their reflections. The collection of reflections captured not only the thoughts of some key speakers who participated in the event, but also their hopes and aspirations for education in Africa as a whole. Participating scholars and academic leaders recommitted themselves to the establishing of teaching and learning content with a more equitable foundation at local universities in the years ahead. The outcomes of the colloquium will be used to enrich an on-going engagement with this theme in the Faculty of Theology at UP.


View the photo gallery of the colloquium


- Author Faculty of Theology
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Last edited by Zamandina MthembuEdit
Prof Johan Buitendag