Original Research - Special Collection: Theology and Economy and Environment

Pursuing fullness of life through harmony with nature: Towards an African response to environmental destruction and climate change in Southern Africa

Buhle Mpofu
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6574 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6574 | © 2021 Buhle Mpofu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 February 2021 | Published: 31 May 2021

About the author(s)

Buhle Mpofu, Department of Practical Theology and Mission Studies, Faculty of Religion and Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

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Like the rest of the developed world, African nations are now subject to consumerist tendencies of the global economic architecture and activities, which excessively exploit natural resources for profits and are at the centre of what this article describes as ‘disharmony between nature and humanity’. The exploitative nature of consumerist tendencies requires healing and restoration as it leads towards unpredictable and destructive weather patterns in which the relationships between human activity and the environment have created patterns and feedback mechanisms that govern the presence, distribution and abundance of species assemblages. Disharmony is employed to describe the exploitative nature of consumerist tendencies that lead to unpredictable weather patterns. The consequences include climate change and natural disasters such as floods, drought and environmental pollution, which have been severely experienced in Southern Africa recently. This article provides a qualitative literature review on recent religious and ecumenical responses to climate change crisis and draws on the notions of ‘cultural landscapes’ and ‘ecotheology’ to highlight an exploitative relationship, which is characterised by disharmony in the relationship between humanity and nature. This illustration demonstrates how the concept of unity between ‘self and the entire Kosmos’ in African worldview presents a potentially constructive African theology of ecology. Amongst other recommendations, the article proposed that in order for humanity to restore harmony and attain fullness of life – oikodome – with nature the notions of healing, reconciliation, liberation and restoration should be extended to human relations or interactions with nature and all of God’s creation.

Contribution: This article represents a contextual and systematic reflection on climate challenges facing the African context within a paradigm in which the intersection of philosophy, religious studies, social sciences, humanities and natural sciences generates an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary contested discourse.


care of creation; fullness of life; healing; restoration; nature; eco-theology; cultural landscapes.


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