Original Research - Special Collection: Theology disrupted - doing theology with children in African contexts

‘Children must be seen and heard’ – Doing postcolonial theology with children in a (southern) African Reformed church

Reggie Nel
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 1 | a3565 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i1.3565 | © 2016 Reggie Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 June 2016 | Published: 21 November 2016

About the author(s)

Reggie Nel, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa


Taking theology to the African children needs to start with a serious engagement of the colonial experience that African Christianity, communities and families were subjected to – mostly in subdued silence. The often heard platitude of the stereotypical ‘friendly’ African children, who is so ‘open to the gospel’, needs to be deconstructed in terms of the real challenges, which leads to migration, abuse, xenophobic violence and a serious reduction in their capacity for growth and development. While one cannot reduce the notion of ‘African children’ to one experience, there remain common structural realities, which call for a serious dialogue with themselves on their own forms of theology. Children are not anymore merely seen and not heard; they speak – they disrupt hegemonic colonialist theologies. This contribution is based on a postcolonial dialogue with children’s ministries in a particular (southern) African mission church, as they transform themselves towards being an African Reformed community.


Children; Ecclesiology; African Theology; Black Theology


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