Original Research

How coloniality generated religious illiteracy in Africa, and how to compensate the situation: Perspectives on Lesotho

Rasebate I. Mokotso
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6468 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6468 | © 2021 Rasebate I. Mokotso | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 January 2021 | Published: 05 August 2021

About the author(s)

Rasebate I. Mokotso, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa; Department of Language and Social Education, Faculty of Education, National University of Lesotho, Roma, Lesotho

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This article debated how coloniality created religious illiteracy in Lesotho. Three parameters were suggested in this regard. Firstly, it is assumed that the prevalence of religious illiteracy started during missionary involvement in Lesotho. Secondly, it is argued that three strategies were applied in this exertion: (1) the missionaries categorised Basotho as being without religion and, therefore, are liable for conversion into religion, which is Christianity. This predisposition ended up in the creation of religion synonymic to Christianity whilst all others disqualified, (2) Basotho were enticed into the binary of religious secularism and privatisation disassociated from spiritualism whilst connected to materialism and private affairs and (3) Basotho were indoctrinated into accepting the existence of one universal religion which is Christianity through Western formal education. Thirdly and finally, decoloniality turn is recommended to curtail illiteracy in religion through the ontology of pluriversality, the hegemony of diversality and the epistemology of pluriversality.

Contribution: The article identified the pervasiveness of religious illiteracy in Africa with special reference to Lesotho. It highlighted its repercussions if left unchecked. Consequently, it examined and put forward the possible causes. As a result of the discoveries, the article suggested procedures to counter the causes in order to promote literacy in religion.


Basotho; Christianity; coloniality; decoloniality; pluriversality; religion


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