Original Research - Special Collection: The Legacy of James Cone

James Cone vis-à-vis African Religiosity: A decolonial perspective

Jakub Urbaniak
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 3 | a5587 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i3.5587 | © 2019 Jakub Urbaniak | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2019 | Published: 30 October 2019

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Jakub Urbaniak, Department of Historical and Constructive Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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This article builds on my recent engagement with James Cone’s binary view of Africanness and Christianity which focused on his Western locus of enunciation and the criticism he received from his African American colleagues. I believe that analogical questions regarding Christian theology’s attitude towards Africanness in general and African religiosity in particular present themselves to us who live in and try to make sense of South African reality today, including white people like myself. I start by introducing a decolonial perspective as it manifests itself through the recent #MustFall student movements. In this context, I offer three theses regarding the decolonial perspective on African religiosity, each of which constitutes a more or less direct critique of Cone’s ambivalent attitude towards Africanness, and African Traditional Religions in particular. The first thesis concerns the distinction between postcoloniality and decoloniality; the second thesis concerns engaging African religiosity as a requirement for decolonising Christian theology; and the third thesis concerns problematising the relationship between the categories of blackness and Africanness.


James Cone; Black Theology; African religiosity; Decolonial; #MustFall movement; Fallism; African Traditional Religions; African Initiated Churches; Decolonisation; South Africa


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