Original Research

Puo Pha!: African theology is a public theology of dialogue

Kelebogile T. Resane
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 56, No 1 | a2859 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v56i1.2859 | © 2022 Kelebogile T. Resane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 March 2022 | Published: 19 September 2022

About the author(s)

Kelebogile T. Resane, Department of Historical and Constructive Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


In this article it is aimed to demonstrate that African theology is a public theology and a theology of dialogue based on its vocalism and oralism. The starting point is the definition of African theology, including its theologising methodologies. The method of research is a critical analysis of literature studies across the disciplines. A Sesotho proverbial or idiomatic puo pha! (orality) is used to illustrate that the decolonisation of theology is possible through African proverbs. This approach enhances African theology in its endeavours to unshackle itself from the western theology. As puo pha! African theology is the voice that addresses social menaces without compromises. It is the voice speaking not from the top, but from below. It is the voice of the masses, more than that of the intellectual elites. As puo pha! it engages African realities and experiences to make theological conclusions. It is argued here that African theology operates in public spaces since it is person-centred, expresses itself through processes of inculturation and is prophetic in character. Results show that African theology is a theology of encounter, and it is interactive. It becomes dialogical in nature, as it invites cultural contexts and eco-sciences in through dialogue in order that it may become relevant to African realities. The conclusion is the recommendation that African theologians embrace and promote an integrated theological method that synergises puo pha! with written theology for African theology, to have both biblical fidelity and cultural relevance.

Contribution: The article intends to impress the validity of African proverbs in explaining theology, practised within African context. It demonstrates the sensibilities of African theology as a public theology and a theology of dialogue.


Puo pha!; African theology; public; dialogue; prophetic; culture; theologising


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