College of Human Sciences

Black Theology a protest against Protestantism and Catholicism

Pictured is Dr Hlulani Mdingi (Black Theology Society of Azania BTSA, College of Human Sciences, Unisa).

The Black Theology Society of Azania (BTSA) in the College of Human Sciences hosted a lecture by Dr Hlulani Mdingi entitled Oh! Mama, look the dirty nigga: black theology a protest against Protestantism and Catholicism.

Dr Mdingi began his lecture by stating that his paper is a serious attempt to return to Christian orthodoxy and Christian roots, which regrettably have been lost in western theological discourse, western church history and ecclesiastical traditions. He said the aim of his paper is to ignite a Christian past in Africa and the closeness of Christ’s followers with that of Blacks, more explicitly through the Black experience.

“Central to Black Christianity and Christian theology in general, is the human body which is extremely crucial as a display of the Imago Dei, an instrument doxology, medium by which revelation is communicated to and for soteriological work.”

Quoting Fanon, he said: “Dirty nigger! or simply, Look, a Negro! I came into the world imbued with the will to find a meaning in things, my spirit filled with the desire to attain to the source of the world and then I found that I was an object in the midst of other objects.”

He added that the objectification that Fanon speaks of is indication of the vilification of Black bodiliness that qualifies to either be evil, invisible and is an object for white sadism and rape, by fuelling the wealth of western civilisation that the “nigger” is quivering with rage and the little white boy throws himself into his mother’s arms, “Mama, the nigger’s going to eat me up”.

Dr Mdingi said that the struggle for redeeming the body in Christian theology and the Black experience necessitates archaeology for exhuming memory. The assembling lays in fulfilling flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood and bone of my bone, which western Christianity has neglected. Furthermore, he believes what is required is a Christian response and belief in the saving body of Christ that saves the slave, the lynched, the sinner and the oppressed.    

He asserts that the protest is not hostility but it is a protest out of Christian love that tells us that we ought to love our enemies, however, forgiveness does not change status of foe to friend overnight without justice. Instead, it is an honest acknowledgement of the rivalry that exist between them and us, Black theology on its own is the medium of our protest.

“Black theology though assumed on a historical part as emerging from a Black Christian response to European modernity is actually a shift from both confines of historical ecclesiastical traditions of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The shifts emerges not only on the subject of allegiance to mother churches of the west, white theology and white theologians but rather Black theology shakes of the scales which has allowed it to be erroneously taken merely as an existential Black Christian trajectory workable in both Catholicism and Protestantism”.

Dr Mdingi said that we tend to speak of Christian politics or sciences and yet we do not speak on Christian theologians. He stressed that in these accepted theological traditions of the west, which has crucified Black between two thieves there is a metaphysics and existentialism that permeates Blacks and their place in Black pigmented universe. “It is that existentialism and metaphysics that warrants rebellion and breaking ranks in order to hold to the Black Christian past.”

*By Nomshado Lubisi (CHS communications and marketing)