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Authentic Indigenization and Liberation in the Theology of Canaan Sodindo Banana (1936–2003) of Zimbabwe

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African theologies are most often classified as either theologies of inculturation, or of liberation. Canaan Banana was one of few African theologians who combine authentic indigenization and liberation in their thought. The author, who knew Rev. Banana personally, based his analysis on Banana's writings and on interpretations by other scholars. Banana's theology was influenced by his ecumenical leadership as a Methodist minister, studies in the United States, involvement in the liberation struggle, and national leadership as the first President of Zimbabwe. Banana's liberation perspective, in contrast to those of most South African black theologians, dealt with issues of class rather than of color. His political theology, articulated when he was president of Zimbabwe, focused on the relation of socialism and Christianity. For him liberation involved struggle and even armed struggle. In his last decade former President Banana began to articulate a prophetic "Combat Theology." Banana stimulated a heated discussion on biblical hermeneutics in southern Africa by proposing deletion from the Bible of passages used to justify oppression. Believing that God is revealed also through creation and African culture, he found creative myths and images of Jesus in the cultures of his own Shona and Ndebele peoples. His contribution is a theology that can help Christianity to be both indigenous and socially relevant in 21st century Africa.


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