Original Research

The decolonising of theology through African proverbs

Kelebogile T. Resane
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2995 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2995 | © 2023 Kelebogile T. Resane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 June 2023 | Published: 03 October 2023

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


The decolonisation of theology has been a subject in academia for almost 60 years. In this article, although referring to African proverbs as a way of decolonising theology all the proverbs are in the Setswana language, which the author is knowledgeable of and is conversant with; however, most of these proverbs cut across tribal, ethnic, and geographical boundaries. The objectives are, among others, to demonstrate the richness of African philosophy and wisdom expressed through proverbs, idioms, and folklore. These proverbs are sapient and capable of articulating theology, therefore making theology contextual and relevant for Africans. Definitions of proverbs start the discussions. A literature review and common knowledge are used to validate the facts stated. Three areas are chosen where and how the proverbs can be used to formulate and validate theological truth. Firstly, the area of ethics where proverbs are used in ethical instructions regarding morality and values, community and cooperation, leadership, family life, as well as respect and integrity. The second area is theologising through proverbs by which dogmatisation can be achieved highlighting the view of theology, a database in theologising, an authority base, and hermeneutical principle. Thirdly, proverbs can be used to strengthen communion ecclesiology. The conclusion is drawn that theology can unshackle itself from the clutches of colonialism, if African philosophy and wisdom expressed through proverbs can be engaged in hermeneutical processes and the contextualisation of theology in the African context.

Contribution: The article engages the Setswana language, African philosophy, and theology to strengthen the theme of decolonising theology. It is both interdisciplinary and intradisciplinary as it engages anthropology, linguistics, human philosophy, theological ethics, dogmatics, and ecclesiology.


proverbs; African; theology; culture; philosophy; wisdom; ethics.

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Goal 4: Quality education


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Crossref Citations

1. Theological ethics expressed through Setswana proverbs: Another way of decolonising theology
Kelebogile T. Resane
In die Skriflig / In Luce Verbi  vol: 58  issue: 1  year: 2024  
doi: 10.4102/ids.v58i1.3052