Original Research - Special Collection: Social Memory Studies

Memory, orality and ‘God-talk’ in sub-Saharan Africa

Mogomme A. Masoga
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 3 | a7716 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i3.7716 | © 2022 Mogomme A. Masoga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 May 2022 | Published: 14 September 2022

About the author(s)

Mogomme A. Masoga, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa


The indigenous people of sub-Saharan Africa approach their Supreme Being and express their reverence in diverse ways, as depicted in the different local names that describe this supernatural being. The African cultural worldview foregrounds that virtuous rapport with the Supreme Being provides wisdom and facilitates good cohabitation among humans. It is argued in this article that teachings from the Christian Bible contribute negatively to the disintegration, fragmentation and death of indigenous knowledge systems, which include African cultural values, memory and oral traditions. Recently, some African scholars have begun to create awareness of some of Africa’s lost treasures. However, such contributions are disappointingly few. This study argues that memory and orality among Africans should be promoted and supported through various platforms, such as academic writing. This article will discuss memory, orality and ‘God-talk’ in terms of the following: teachings on moral values (e.g. relationships, marriage, humaneness [ubuntu or hunhu]) and the preservation of cultural heritage. The discussion uses qualitative analysis of secondary data and personal observation.

Contribution: Firstly, the present study will provide for the readership in general, and academia in particular, a new perspective on African customs and indigenous belief systems about a Supreme Being. For example, Musiki as a Shona local dialect name for ‘God’ was already in use before the emergence of Christianity in Southern Africa. Secondly, previous contributions have not sufficiently explored memory and orality. This investigation serves as a resource or starting point for further research on memory and orality.


African cultures; colonialism; indigenous knowledge; memory; orality; ubuntu; hunhu


Total abstract views: 1413
Total article views: 1501


Crossref Citations

1. Decolonising Translated Bibles: The Tragic Erasure of the Vhavenḓa’s Concepts of God through the 1936 and 1998 Tshivenḓa Bible Translations
Hulisani Ramantswana
Religions  vol: 15  issue: 1  first page: 117  year: 2024  
doi: 10.3390/rel15010117