Original Research

Malcolm X’s the ballot or the bullet speech? Its implications for Black Liberation Theology in present-day South Africa

Rothney S. Tshaka
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 3 | a2819 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i3.2819 | © 2015 Rothney S. Tshaka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 September 2014 | Published: 29 May 2015

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Rothney S. Tshaka, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa

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This article attempts to bring one of the greatest speeches of Malcolm X back to life in the current South Africa – the year 2015. It is a year of growing frustration and extreme dissatisfaction with basic living conditions amongst the greater part of black people in the country. Recounting the influences that Malcolm X had on Black Liberation Theology in South Africa, the article proposes that Black Liberation Theology in South Africa moves away from being an inward-looking critical theology to one that identifies with the basic concerns of the most vulnerable in society. It criticises both the political and the economic hegemonies that are currently perceived to perpetuate much of apartheid’s grave social ills in democratic South Africa. It calls attention to party politics that floods society with propaganda but in reality seems to have little real interest in the social well-being of the masses. In the article, the question as to what Malcolm X would have said about the current South African socio-economic context is asked. It is clear that both structural apartheid residues as well as the pure selfish interests of the current political rulers gang up against the chances of black people ever experiencing social justice in the near future.


Black Liberation Theology; Violence; Politics; Malcolm X; South Africa; the Ballot or the Bullet


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