|Jesse Ndwiga Kanyua Mugambi|
|Born||Jesse Ndwiga Kanyua Mugambi
6 February 1947
Kiangoci, Embu District, Kenya
|Education||BA. hons (Nairobi); M.A. (Nairobi) ; PhD (Nairobi).|
|Alma mater||University of Nairobi|
|Occupation||Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies|
|Employer||University of Nairobi|
|Known for||Educator; Theologian; Philosopher; Ecumenist; Ecologist; Consultant; Author; Publisher|
|Awards||Elder of the Order of the Burning Spear (EBS), Fellow of the Kenya National Academy of Sciences (FKNAS).|
Jesse N. K. Mugambi (born 6 February 1947) is a Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Nairobi. His professional training is in Education; Communication Policy and Planning; Publishing; Ecology and Applied Ethics. His academic specializations include Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies.
- 1 Education
- 2 Conceptual Focus
- 3 Early Influences
- 4 Early Studies
- 5 Advanced Studies
- 6 Managerial Training and Experience
- 7 Ecumenical Exposure
- 8 Philosophical Studies
- 9 Hermeneutics
- 10 Missiology
- 11 Eco-Theology
- 12 Applied Ecology
- 13 Mugambi and Applied Ethics
- 14 Mugambi and Inter-Religious Dialogue
- 15 Mugambi and Liberation Theology
- 16 Mugambi and Reconstruction Theology
- 17 From a Theology of Liberation to a Theology of Reconstruction
- 18 Attractiveness and Uniqueness of Mugambi's Works
- 19 Published Books – Festschrift
- 20 Published Books - Authored
- 21 Co-Authored Books
- 22 Published Books - Edited
- 23 Published Books - Co-Edited
- 24 Published Papers
- 25 Publishing Experience
- 26 Notes
- 27 References
- 28 External links
He has been an alumnus of the University of Nairobi since 1971, which was when he joined the institution to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate studies . Previously he had been a high school teacher and a college tutor. He also studied at Westhill College of Education, Birmingham, UK, and conducted historical research at the CMS Archives in London (1969–70). After graduation from the University of Nairobi, he served as Africa Theology Secretary for the World Student Christian Federation - WSCF (1974–76), and remained a Resource Person in various ecumenical organizations at local, national, regional, continental and global levels. Within the World Council of Churches (WCC) he has served as Member of the Commission on Faith and Order (1975–83); Working Group on Church and Society (1983–94); Working Group on Climate Change (since 1994); Working Group on Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation (since 2012).
He joined the academic staff of the University of Nairobi in 1976, and rose through the ranks to full professorship in 1993. He served as Registrar, Academic Affairs (1990–94); Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts (1990); Chairman, Department of Religious Studies (1986–90). On Leave of Absence he was Visiting Mellon Distinguished Professor at Rice University, Houston, Texas (1990–91); Senior Consultant for Development and Research at the All Africa Conference of Churches (1994–97); Guest Professor at the University of Edinburgh, UK (1997); Guest Professor at Lund University, Sweden (1997); Guest Professor at the University of Copenhagen (1997 and 2009); Guest Professor at the University of Helsinki, Finland (1997); Visiting Professor at Emmanuel College, Toronto, Canada (1999); Visiting Professor at the University of South Africa, Pretoria (2000); Guest Professor at Vanderbilt University (2002); Guest Professor at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa (2003); Director of Starehe Boys Centre, Nairobi (2007-2008).
He has been an External Examiner in several universities and colleges, including Anna University (India); University of Cape Town (South Africa); Egerton University (Kenya); University of Ghana; University of Helsinki (Finland); Kenyatta University (Kenya); Makerere University (Uganda); Makumira University College (Tanzania); School of Mission and Theology (Stavanger, Norway); Moi University (Kenya); University of Natal (South Africa); University of South Africa, Pretoria. On Quality Assurance he is a Resource Person for the Kenya Commission for University Education (CUE) and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). He is a Fellow of the Kenya National Academy of Sciences (FKNAS), and was conferred the National Honour of the Order of Elder of the Burning Spear (EBS) in 2010.
Early in 1990 he became widely acclaimed in Christian theological circles after he addressed the General Committee of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) on 30 March at Nairobi, reflecting on "The Future of the Church and the Church of the Future in Africa.". This event was a few weeks after Nelson Mandela had been released on 11 February 1990 and Namibia had attained national independence on 21 March of the same year. In his Address, Mugambi suggested that African Christianity must shift theological gear from the paradigm of liberation, which emphasised the Exodus motif, to that of reconstruction, which emphasises the post-Exilic motif. He later elaborated this insight in his book From Liberation to Reconstruction: African Christian Theology after the Cold War. Professor Tinyiko Maluleke in his review of Mugambi's book commented that Mugambi is "a passionate and committed African Churchman, theologian and continental patriot of our times." The material in this article is drawn from both library and fieldwork research in various contexts of Professor Mugambi's life—family, academic, ecclesiastical, ecumenical, professional.
His Doctoral Thesis, completed in 1984 at the University of Nairobi, was on Ludwig Wittgenstein, focusing on problems of meaning in discourse with reference to religion. His professional training is in Education, Communication and University Management. His honorary service has been mainly the Ecumenical Movement at the local, national, regional, continental and global levels.
Jesse Mugambi was born on 6 February 1947 at Kiangoci, Embu District in the Eastern Province of Kenya - East Africa. His mother was Jemimah Koori and his father, Timothy Kanyua Mugambi, whom he describes as a person who was "ahead of his time". War travel had taken him to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Burma, and India between 1940 and 1946 – as a member of the Kings African Rifles (KAR) alongside the British soldiers during the Second World War (1939–1945). Mugambi also spent much of his childhood with his paternal grandfather – Mugambi wa Nthigai –an elder statesman who arbitrated over disputes and provided advice and counsel to many people who came to consult him, and his paternal grandmother, Rhoda Wambiro. Mugambi's maternal grandfather was Daniel Njerü wa Kanyenje, who had served in the Carrier Corps in the then Tanganyika (now Mainland Tanzania) during the First World War (1914–18). He contributed considerably to Mugambi's mentorship. On return from the war he had become a renowned blacksmith, making tools, implements and ornaments from alluvial iron. Mugambi occasionally visited his foundry and enjoyed blowing the bellows to make iron ingots. All this happened before went to missionary Sunday School and later, to colonial schools.
Mugambi's father and mother were both committed Anglican Christians. His father became a lay leader, preacher and evangelist. Both sets of his grandparents were strict adherents of their African cultural and religious heritage. While his parents nurtured him to become a strong Christian, his grandparents nurtured him to cherish the African Heritage. This rich cultural education during his childhood explains Mugambi's great interest in the correlation of Gospel with Culture. He is convinced that in matters of Gospel and culture the Christian faith stands or falls depending on the way in which Christian mission relates the Gospel to various cultures. The apostolic church nearly collapsed over this issue, as documented in Acts Chapter 15 and Galatians Chapters 2 and 3. The main question, which precipitated the crisis in mission during the apostolic generation, was whether Gentile converts should adopt Jewish culture as a precondition for admission into the Church. St. Peter was of the conviction that Gentiles should be 'circumcised' into Judaism before they could be accepted into the church. St. Paul, in contrast, was of the view that as far as conversion to the Christian faith was concerned, Jewish 'circumcision' and Mosaic 'Law' were of no advantage to anyone, Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free. In Christ there is ‘ . . . neither Jew nor Gentile, neither male nor female, neither slave nor free - all are one in Christ'.
The modern Christian missionary enterprise, and its precedents throughout church history, completely deviated from this Pauline teaching about the relationship between Gospel and Culture, and followed the Petrine doctrine of 'circumcision' as a precondition for conversion. On this point Mugambi has written: "Christian Mission, according to St. Paul, is reconstructive, heralding a new society that is built on the foundations of the old one. The qualification for this task of mission is 'renewal of mind' and refusal to be conformed to this world. This Pauline instruction does not imply otherworldliness. Rather, it emphasizes the necessity to avoid the risk of becoming so conformed to the norms of this world, as to be rendered incapable of transforming it. The tragedy of the modern Christian missionary enterprise in Africa has been that it became so conformed to imperial norms that it was rendered incapable of supporting the struggles for liberation. The same conformism might render contemporary Christianity incapable of facilitating social reconstruction. Fortunately, there are, and have always been, visionary Christians who as individuals set the pace for future generations to emulate. Such is the challenge of St. Paul to us today".
Thus Mugambi's early exposure to both Christianity and the African heritage inspired him to study and find conceptual models for reconciling the Gospel and African culture. This concern motivated him to publish one of his major works: African Heritage and Contemporary Christianity (1989).
Mugambi attended three schools between grades One and Eight. This was during the difficult years of the State of Emergency in Kenya. Despite the hardship he faced as an Internally Displaced Person (IDP), he qualified for admission to Kangaru High School, 1962–1965, after passing with a Grade A at Kamama Intermediate School in 1961.
Mugambi's proficiency in English led to the publication of his first book containing an anthology of his own poetry— Carry it Home. His love for literature was also illustrated in his book of literary critique titled 'Critiques of Christianity in African Literature'. He has written more poetry and fiction than what is already published.
After High School, he enrolled at Machakos Teacher Training College (MTTC), Kenya, in 1966-67. In 1968 he was admitted to Kenyatta College, Nairobi, to pursue further teacher training for a year, specializing in Religious Education and English at the High School level. His first Research Paper was written in 1968 while at Kenyatta College and is titled "The Traditional Religion of the Embu People." That Paper was widely circulated the following year, and in 1971, it was published in the Journal Dini na Mila of which Professor John S. Mbiti was the Editor at Makerere University, Uganda
In 1969 on completion of the Teacher Training course Mugambi was posted by the Teachers Service Commission to teach Religion and English at Chania High School, Thika. Later that year he entered Westhill College, Selly Oak, Birmingham, UK for further studies, where he spent one academic year. He studied Contemporary Theology and read very widely. With his meagre financial resources he began to build his home library by purchasing books weekly, many of which he still uses. He spent the vacations conducting research in the Church Missionary Society (CMS) archives at 157 Waterloo Road, London. The period he spent in the archives was pivotal for his future theological research.
On his return to Kenya in 1970 he was posted as Tutor and Lay Chaplain at the Kagumo Teacher Training College, Nyeri. All these years Mugambi and Elizabeth maintained their friendship. Jesse Mugambi's travels did not have a negative effect on their mature companionship. They finally got married in July 1972 while he was studying at the University of Nairobi and Elizabeth was teaching in the city of Nairobi. He and Elizabeth Nyathira Njuguna got married in July 1972 after more than six years of friendship.
Mugambi's undergraduate studies at the University of Nairobi began in 1971, when he was enrolled as a mature student. The Founder-Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies was Bishop Stephen Neill, who had just retired from the University of Hamburg and relocated to Nairobi. Mugambi was in the first cohort of students in the Department, which had been inaugurated in 1970. His undergraduate courses included Education, Literature, History and Archaeology, Philosophy and Religious Studies. In his major department he took all the courses that were available, in both Philosophy and Religious Studies. As an undergraduate student he published another important widely acclaimed Paper, "The African Experience of God," which was widely acclaimed. Professor Odera Oruka was the Editor of in the Journal Africa Thought and Practice, whose first editor was Professor Odera Oruka.  the journal which published this Paper.
In June 1973 Mugambi was invited to attend an exploratory meeting between African and African-American theologians at Union Theological Seminary, New York, where he met the leading African and African-American scholars in theology on both sides of the Atlantic: The Africans included John S. Mbiti (Kenya); Desmond Tutu (South Africa); Kwesi Dickson (Ghana); Edward Fashole Luke (Sierra Leone) and Christian Gaba (Ghana). The African-Americans included James H. Cone; Gayraud Wilmore; Charles Long; Herbert Brown; DeOrtis Roberts; George Thomas and Princeton Williams; John Bennett; Shelby Rooks. This exposure was enlightening, from both the academic and the ecumenical perspectives.
He qualified for B.A. honours with Education Option and won a University of Nairobi scholarship to study for the MA degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies, which he completed in 1977. For two years after completing undergraduate studies (1974–76) Mugambi served as Theology Project Secretary for the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), based in Nairobi, with occasional travels to various African countries. He was at the same time working on his research for the M.A degree. It was during this period that he appreciated the importance of contextual theological reflection, particularly with regard to the Theology of Liberation. His third important Paper was titled "Liberation and Theology," which was published by the WSCF in 1974 at Geneva. 
In September 1976 he joined the staff of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Nairobi, as a Tutorial Fellow. Since 1970 he had been involved in the revision of the curriculum for "O Level" Christian Religious Education in Kenya, and in 1972 the Joint Religious Education Panel commissioned him to co-author a textbook for one of the Papers in the new syllabus. The book was published in 1976 titled The African Religious Heritage. His M.A. Thesis was titled "Some Perspectives of Christianity in the Context of the Modern Missionary Enterprise in East Africa with Special Reference to Kenya".
In 1978 he embarked on his research for PhD, focusing on Ludwig Wittgenstein, which he completed in 1983. The title of his doctoral Thesis was "Problems of Meaning in Discourse with Reference to Religion." His main Supervisor was Professor Joseph Donders, with helpful advice from Professor Kwasi Wiredu who was then in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Ghana, Legon. During this period he was invited to participate in an ecumenical research project to document the practice of ecumenism at the local level in eastern Africa. This research was published in 1982 as Ecumenical Initiatives in Eastern Africa.
Managerial Training and Experience
After completing his doctoral studies Mugambi took a Postgraduate Diploma course in 1985 on Communication Policy and Planning for Development, conducted in Nairobi by the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) from The Hague, Netherlands. The course introduced him to the pros and cons of automation. The course was directed by Professor Cees J. Hamelink, whose book Cultural Autonomy in Global Communications had just been published. As part of field exposure his class was taken on a visit to a company in Nairobi which had acquired the dealership for Apple Computers. The latest model was the Apple IIE. Mugambi rose through all the academic ranks to become Assistant Lecturer, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor and Full Professor in 1993. He served as Chairman of his Department (1986–90); Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts (1990); and University Registrar, Academic Division (1990–94). He took a Sabbatical Leave to take up the position of Visiting Scholar at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis (1982–83), hosted by Professor Richard D.N. Dickinson, one of the most prolific authors in ecumenical studies, focusing on churches' participation in development.
In 1990-91 he took another sabbatical leave as Visiting Mellon Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University, Houston, Texas. His host was Professor Werner H. Kelber, the New Testament specialist on Orality in the Gospel of St. Mark. It was during this sojourn that he wrote the drafts for the book later published as, From Liberation to Reconstruction.
In 1992 he attended a Senior University Management course at Banff in Canada, conducted by the University of Manitoba. This course gave him professional insights into senior university management, including those having to do with policy and planning.
Between 1994 and 1997 he took a Leave of Absence to join the staff of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) as Senior Consultant for Development and Research. It was during that period that he facilitated the editing and publication of three books on the role of African churches in social transformation. His book From Liberation to Reconstruction was published and launched in March, 1995 at Nairobi. He delivered his Inaugural Professorial Lecture on 26 September 1996 titled, Religion and Social Construction of Reality. After his return to the University of Nairobi he continued to provide leadership in Theology and Religious Studies, accepting short-term visiting professorships during vacations and offering guest lectures and Keynote addresses in various universities in Africa, Europe and North America. These short-term appointments included stints at The University of Copenhagen, Denmark (1997); Emmanuel College, University of Toronto (1999) and the University of South Africa UNISA (2000).
In January 2007 he took Leave of Absence to serve as Director of Starehe Boys Centre, the Charity founded by Geoffrey Griffin in 1959, who died in 2005. Mugambi became the second person to substantively hold this position after the death of the Founder, until January 2009 when he returned to the University on expiry of his Leave of Absence.
Mugambi became aware of Christians of denominations other than Anglicanism during the years when he and all the people of his district were Internally Displaced Persons under British Emergency Rule (1952–62). The missionary partition of East Africa had previously ensured that missionary societies would operate in specific localities, producing clan-centred denominationalism. In the concentration camps where Mugambi grew up it was impossible for Christians to practice their denominational brands of Christianity in isolation. Within the concentration camps the displaced Kenyans disproved the prejudices and stereotypes, which missionaries had propagated through indoctrination under the pretext of evangelization. Denominational affiliation became more a matter of choice than compulsion.
By the time he entered High school Mugambi had already become an open-minded with regard to Christian denominationalism. Kangaru High School had students from most parts of the Republic of Kenya, who belonged to a wide range of Christian denominations. National consciousness was taken for granted, and it was a joy to interact with Kenyans from districts other than one's own. He was in the same nationalistic setting when Mugambi attended Machakos College, Kenyatta College and the University of Nairobi. The Principal of Machakos College, Norman Kingston, was Baptist. Some of the Tutors were Catholic, while others were indifferent to religious affiliation. The religious and secular, and international, local and global outlooks were made part of Mugambi's experience throughout his childhood and schooling and training, through exposure with various expatriate personnel from Britain, Europe and North America.
Mugambi's serious attention to Ecumenical relations was facilitated by Ronald Dain, a British Anglican missionary who was in charge of religious education at Kenyatta College. Dain taught a course on the History of the Ecumenical Movement which Mugambi found very interesting especially in the Kenyan context. One of the core texts of the course was a book written by M.G. Capon, Towards Unity in Kenya, about the history of ecumenical relations in Kenya. Mugambi decided to explore the factors that hamper closer the cooperation between Christians from different various denominations. This concern became part of his vocation. The revision of the Religious Education curriculum in Kenya began in 1968, and Mugambi was one of the young theologians who was invited to join the ecumenical Team of educationists that was charged with the task. The Kenya Episcopal Conference (Catholic) and the Christian Churches Educational Association (Protestant) were in charge of responsible for this project, which Mugambi served together with three other Kenyan colleagues and more than two dozen missionaries between 1970 and 1982.
It was interesting for Kenyan educationists (who were a minority) to interact with European and North American missionaries in that Team. Whereas Kenyans could agree among themselves, the missionaries could not because of their entrenched denominational and nationalist interests. The Kenyans in the team found themselves reconciling the missionaries. Textbooks were jointly co-authored, and this approach compelled the educationists to seek common viewpoints for the sake of producing an ecumenically sound syllabus. Mugambi continued to insist on the necessity for inclusion of the African Religious Heritage in the syllabus, on the ground that such an approach was pedagogically essential.
His earliest involvement in active ecumenism was in 1970, when he participated in the formation and launch of the Christian Student Council (the Kenyan SCM) and in the National Association of Religious Education Teachers (NARET). These involvements brought him into acquaintance with other ecumenists. Between 1974 and 1976 he widened his circle of ecumenical acquaintances in the contexts of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), World Student Christian Federation WSCF, All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC). He was the first Theology Project Secretary for the WSCF Africa Region. Contextual theology was a new concept at that time, and the phrase "African Theology sounded strange. Mugambi travelled widely across Tropical Africa, raising awareness of the necessity to theologize contextually.
It was at that time that he wrote his widely cited Paper on "Liberation and Theology", which was the basis for his theological work in the WSCF. He together with Kofi Appiah-Kubi (then at the AACC) facilitated the arrangements for the inaugural meeting of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in August 1976. Fr. Sergio Torres dealt with fundraising and liaised with the participants from Latin America, USA and Asia. The Conference Statement was published together with the Papers presented at that conference, which launched the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT). He attended the Third Assembly of the AACC at Lusaka in May 1974, and became a member of the Local Arrangements Committee during preparations for the WCC Fifth Assembly at Nairobi in 1975. In that context he contributed to the drafting of the WCC Policy Document Racism in Theology and Theology Against Racism. He attended most of the periodic Assemblies of the AACC and the WCC thereafter.
Within the WCC he was invited to become a member of the Commission on Faith and Order (1975–84) under the leadership of Lukas Vischer. The most significant work of the Commission at that time was completion of the Ecumenical Document on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM) which was approved at the Lima Conference in January 1982. Working Group on Church and Society (1984–94) under the leadership of Paul Abrecht. He then became a member of the WCC Working Group on Climate Change since 1994 facilitated by Martin Robra and directed by David Hallman. It is as a member of this Group that Mugambi attended, together with his other colleagues most of the UNFCCC annual Conferences of the Parties (COPs) since 1994. This experience helped him to appreciate the ethical and religious dimension of the current Climate crisis. Negotiations within the UN system have been driven by concerns for power and profit, with the rich and powerful nations dictating the terms. The crisis, however, is essentially a matter of faith and ethics – our attitudes to nature, to other people and to future generations.
The modern ecumenical movement provides a forum for discussion and convergence on diverse perspectives from various, cultures, regions and nations. Although convergence is sometimes not achieved, divergence is appreciated and recorded. opportunity a forum for critical voices to express themselves on matters which would otherwise be ignored in the formal bureaucratic organs of government. Although their insights are often not heeded, they are disseminated.
In December 1974 before Mugambi commenced his postgraduate studies he met Professor Kwasi Wiredu, then at the University of Ghana, Legon, who had highly commended Mugambi's article titled "The African Experience of God" published in the Journal Africa Thought and Practice. Their discussion encouraged Mugambi to further explore the philosophical aspects of both the Christian faith and the African cultural and religious heritage. The articulation of one's faith requires some competence in the use of language. Ludwig Wittgenstein had alluded to this insight in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and also in his Philosophical Investigations. Verbal expression has two aspects - that which is stated, and that which is left unsaid. Religion and Ethics often belong more to what is unsaid, what can best be shown. In 1986 he met Georg Henrik von Wright during one of the latter's visit to Nairobi. Mugambi gave him a copy of his doctoral thesis to read, which he later returned with insightful comments particularly with regard to Mugambi's interpretation of Ludwig Wittgenstein's view of Religion in theory and practice.
At the University of Nairobi Mugambi has taught Philosophy of Religion; Religion and Science; Comparative Study of Religions; Contemporary Religious Thought; Modern Trends in Christian Thought. He has also taught African Christian Theology in Africa. In 1987 he published his textbook on Philosophy of Religion which is still in use. Later on he began teaching Phenomenology of Religion in the postgraduate syllabus.
In 1990 he edited and published a Textbook titled A Comparative Study of Religions. Mugambi delivered his Professorial Inaugural Lecture on 26 September 1996, which was published as Religion and Social Construction of Reality. The lecture consolidated Mugambi's philosophical approach to the study of religion.
Mugambi is Africa Co-Editor of Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, in which he has contributed more than ten articles, mainly on hermeneutics. His doctoral research on Ludwig Wittgenstein anchored him into hermeneutical thinking. Wittgenstein observed that philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language. Hermeneutics deals with principles of interpretation. Within the context of Christian Theology, most doctrinal conflicts are the result of misunderstandings about biblical texts, historical claims and cultural assumptions.
In 1998 Mugambi published an essay titled "A Critique of Method in African Christian Theology", in which he observed that the time was overdue for African Christian theologians to engage in theological introspection, transcending eccleciological description and theological anthropology. He cited Bernard Lonergan as a possible role model in that approach. Professor Knut Holter of the School of Theology in Stavanger, Norway facilitated in Nairobi a continental Conference of African Old Testament scholars, which Mugambi was invited to address. The topic of his Paper was "Africa and the Old Testament", published in 2000. The Society for New Testament Studies (SNTS) held its Annual Conference for 1999 at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Following that Conference some African Christian theologians were invited to present Papers on Hermeneutics at a meeting in Hammanskraal, near Pretoria. Mugambi delivered the Keynote Address titled "Foundations for an African Approach to Biblical Hermeneutics", which was published in 2001. Among the respondents to his address were Professor Hans-Dieter Betz (University of Chicago); Professor Peder Borgen (University of Trondheim) and Professor Vernon Robbins (Emory University). The Report of this "Unique Conference" was written and presented by Professor Bernard Lategan (Stellenbosch University).
In 2004 Mugambi co-edited a book on New Testament Hermeneutics, to which he contributed a Chapter. The following year a conference was held at Makerere University, which Mugambi was invited to address. His Paper was "African Hermeneutics in a Global Context", published in 2007 as a Chapter in Interpreting Classical Religious Texts in Contemporary Africa, edited by Knut Holter. There is much hermeneutical discourse in Mugambis book (co-authored with Michael R. Guy) titled Contextual Theology Across Cultures, published in 2009.
Mugambi is critical of Bultmann's project of "demythologisation", on the ground that hermeneutically, myth cannot be abstracted from the Gospel. Any attempt at 'demythologization' results in new myths. Instead of "demythologization", Mugambi urges for "remythologization." He says of Bultmann, "in (his) attempt to satisfy scientific positivism by denouncing myth (he) ends up destroying the reality of religion as a pillar of culture." For Mugambi, as with Jaspers, "myth is indispensable in cultural constructions of reality."J. N. K Mugambi, From Liberation to Reconstruction: 37. To Mugambi, therefore, reconstruction in Africa has to be anchored in a) the formulation of new myths to replace the negative stereotypes used for the indoctrination of Africans under imperialism and missionary tutelage, and b) re-interpreting the old myths, for the survival of the African peoples. He suggests that the myth of "a vanishing people must be replaced by the myth of a resurgent, or resilient people," while the myth of a "desperate people must be replaced by the myth of a people (who are) full of hope. The myth of a hungry people must be replaced by the myth of a people capable of feeding themselves, and so on."
In 1989 Mugambi published his book The Biblical Basis for Evangelization. This was in same year that he facilitated the editing and publication of a collection of essays on this theme – Christian Mission and Social Transformation. This book was published in the context of the Mission Conference convened by the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) in commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the Kikuyu Conference of 1918 which launched ecumenical cooperation in Kenya. In 1996 he published an Article titled "African Churches in Social Transformation" in the Journal International Affairs at Columbia University, New York. This article was followed by another titled "Vision of African Church in Mission", published in Missionalia, Journal of the Southern African Missiological Society.
In 1998 he published Missiological Research in the Context of Globalization in "Missiological Research in the Context of Globalization", in Swedish Missiological Themes, Uppsala. He also published "A Fresh Look at Evangelism in Africa" in International Review of Mission, Geneva. In the same year he published "Christian Mission and Social Transformation After the Cold War" in the Journal of Constructive Theology, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. At the request of Bishop John V. Taylor in 2001 Mugambi wrote a critical Introduction published in the second edition of Taylor's book, The Primal Vision (SCM Press), also published in Nairobi as Christian Presence amid African Religion
During a Conference organized by the World Council of Churches Sub-Unit of Church and Society in July 1986 at Potsdam, East Germany, Mugambi presented a Position Paper titled "God, Humanity and Nature in Ecumenical Discussion" cautioning against too sharp a distinction between these three notions in Christian doctrine. In 1987 he published his book God, Humanity and Nature in Relation to Justice and Peace. He intended this book to be a contribution to discussions within the World Council of Churches concerning the relationship between Religion and Culture on the one hand, and God and Nature on the other. This publication was an echo of a public forum which Mugambi had organized as an undergraduate at the University of Nairobi in 1972, with Professor Stephen Neill as Patron, on the theme "Creation or Evolution: God or Darwin." The theme of Ecology became one of his research interests, and in 2001 he facilitated the editing and publication of Christian Theology and Environmental Responsibility. His contribution in that book was a Chapter highly critical of Carbon Dioxide Emissions Trading, which was being pushed for adoption within the Kyoto Protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
In 1997 he published his reflections on "Some Lessons from a Century of Ecumenism in Africa." In 2004 he co-authored with Gaim Kebreab a reference book titled Fresh Water to Eradicate Poverty, released in Oslo by Norwegian Church Aid. The World Council of Churches has Observer status in the United Nations. The Twelfth UNFCCC Conference of Parties was convened at Nairobi, Kenya, in December 2006. Mugambi served as honorary Moderator of the Ecumenical Team as a member of the WCC Delegation. The ecumenical viewpoint was widely publicized in the print and electronic media. Mugambi read the WCC Statement at COP 12 in Nairobi.
In 2008 Mugambi was invited to participate in an ecumenical Consultation to discuss the theme "Peace on Earth and Peace with the Earth". He presented a Paper titled "The Environmental Crisis from an African Perspective." He also published an Article titled "The Environmental Crisis from a Christian Perspective." During the Fifteenth UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP 15) at Copenhagen in December 2009 Mugambi as a member of the WCC Delegation participated in a Seminar arranged by Dan Church Aid and hosted by the Faculty of Theology at Copenhagen University. The Title of his presentation was "Adaptation to Climate Change in Tropical Africa."
Professor Mugambi emphasizes that our survival as human beings across generations will depend on how we manage our ecology – the flora and fauna in all the habitats where human beings have their abode. The availability of fresh water determines the habitability of an environment. Most of the land on the continent of Africa has arable soils, but freshwater is very unevenly distributed. Fresh water can be obtained from rivers, fresh-water lakes and underground aquifers. The most cost-effective source of fresh water is rainwater harvesting. In his book Fresh Water to Eradicate Poverty he observes that Africa has the largest quantity of stable rainwater runoff, which may be harvested season after season, accumulating huge quantities to be used for agricultural, domestic and industrial applications. Rainwater harvesting can also help to recharge the rivers, lakes and underground aquifers. As a practicing ecologist, Professor Mugambi is a Trustee of the Kenya Rainwater Association and the Utooni Development organization. He is also a Member of the Ecumenical Water Network and the World Council of Churches Working Group on Climate Change. As a result of Global Warming there are unpredictable extremes every season in all regions, making survival difficult for communities that depend on seasonal rains for agriculture and staple food. The droughts are longer and more severe. The rains when they come are heavier and for shorter periods, making it difficult for crops to grow to maturity. The regularity of the seasons can no longer be taken for granted. Rehabilitation of local environments is a necessity rather than a luxury for all regions. Jesse Mugambi has worked with communities in various African countries to promote awareness about the global ecological crisis.
Mugambi and Applied Ethics
Mugambi has taken keen interest in Applied Ethics. In his doctoral research, Mugambi identified three "modes of thought and expression." These are the empirical, stipulative and assessive modes. Ethics, in his view, belongs to the assessive mode, conducted in the attitudinal domain. His textbook on Philosophy of Religion was published in 1988, in which he included a section on Religion and Ethics. His book on The African Heritage and Contemporary Christianity (published in 1989) also included a Chapter on Ethics. In 1992 he co-edited an anthology of scholarly essays by African scholars, published under the title Moral and Ethical Issues in African Christianity. His Chapter in that book was on "The Problems of Teaching Ethics in African Christianity." In his Inaugural Lecture delivered in 1996 he also dealt with Ethics.
In 2001 he co-edited Christian Theology and Environmental Responsibility, whose content focused mainly on ecological ethics. He became involved in the Programme for Ethics in Eastern Africa (PEEAK) in 2004. Its focus was on Responsible Leadership in the Management of Public and Private Resources.
In January 2009 he facilitated the International Globethics Conference on "Care and Compassion. Sharing Values across Cultures and Religions"at Lukenya, Kenya. His views on Applied ethics are published in his co-authored book Contextual Theology Across Cultures .
Mugambi and Inter-Religious Dialogue
In his essay titled "Prerequisites for an Effective Dialogue involving Religion and Culture", Jesse Mugambi concludes that “. . .religion, however defined, underlies the self-definition of communities in every nation, and tends to resurface whenever conflicts arise between communities even when the triggering factors have no direct bearing on religious institutions and teachings. This prevalence of religion can be explained from a phenomenological perspective, since religion underlies cultural identity, even when and where the majority of citizens do not overtly assert their religious identity through ritual participation." Mugambi suggests that inter-religious dialogue has broader implications than arguments about beliefs and practices within and between religions. Believers of particular religions, denominations and sects are at the same time citizens of particular nations. Thus religious identity and secular identity are practical necessity, irrespective of idealistic and utopian expectations. During and after the European Reformation the rulers of specific nations interpreted religious non-conformism as subversion, while conformism facilitated the establishment of national churches that remain a legacy of European nationalism till the twenty-first century. In his view, inter-religious dialogue can be one of the means to promote mutual understanding within and between religions, cultures and nations, provided that such dialogue presupposes mutual respect and mutual reciprocity.
Mugambi and Liberation Theology
According to Rosberg and Nottingham about 75,000 Kenyans served in the British military during the Second World War. Some went to Asia (mainly Ceylon, India and Burma), including Mugambi's father. The struggle for national sovereignty in India was towards its end as the Kenyan veterans were returning home. Their conscription into the war had been justified with the argument that Britain was fighting against tyranny in order to preserve democracy and freedom, which these veterans and the people they left at home did not enjoy. Upon their return, much more exposed and more self-confident than the peers who had not gone to war, these veterans led the campaign for national independence. The campaign was peaceful at the beginning, but the British administrators and settlers were adamant that Kenya would remain British for ever. The veterans found no justification for colonial domination with its attendant alienation of ancestral lands by British settlers, economic exploitation, forced labour, taxation without representation, restriction of movement in their own country, racial segregation, denial of access to basic social services including schooling and medical care.
The British missionaries, settlers, administrators and entrepreneurs enjoyed full imperial citizenship, while Kenyans remained imperial subjects in their motherland. Mugambi started schooling as an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) in a concentration camp. Collective punishment was the fate of all the people of Central Kenya, young and old, men and women, disabled and able-bodied, healthy and sick, guilty and innocent. They were all locked up in concentration camps under strict curfew orders the cost of breach of which was death. The experience was traumatic, as described by Caroline Elkins, David Anderson and others. Despite all odds, Mugambi managed to proceed with school work and to pass all his examinations without having to repeat any year. His articulation of Liberation Theology in later years was anchored in his personal experience of imperial domination and colonial oppression. In 1989 he published a book containing his theological reflections under the title African Christian Theology: An Introduction. Nelson Mandela in 1953 had aptly expressed the plight of Kenyans and the responsibility of Britain for their suffering, which he related with the situation in South Africa at the time:
The massacre of the Kenyan people by Britain has aroused worldwide indignation and protest. Children are being burnt alive; women are raped, tortured, whipped and boiling water poured on their breasts to force confessions from them that Jomo Kenyatta had administered the Mau Mau oath to them. Men are being castrated and shot dead. In the Kikuyu country, the population has been completely wiped out in some villages . . . We are prisoners in our own country because we dared to raise our voices against those horrible atrocities and because we expressed our solidarity with the cause of the Kenyan people. You can see that there is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintops of our desires.
In his 1974 essay on Liberation and Salvation Mugambi had clarified that within the African context of the 1960s and 1970s liberation (from oppression, exploitation and racial prejudice) was the main preoccupation for al responsible leaders. He restated this definitive view in his book African Christian Theology: A Definition. The following excerpt is illustrative:
That the fundamental concern of African Christian theology has been liberation-salvation has been manifested in the activities of many African Christians and the growth of more than six thousand "Independent" churches in the continent of Africa. Most African Christians have not felt it necessary to theorize about Christian Theology, because to them religious faith is practical living, expressed most effectively through experience, not through words. The time has come when it is necessary to analyze the premises of African Christian experience and study it in relation to that of peoples in other parts of the world. This systematic analysis and study, however, will be realistic and relevant as African Christian theology if Africans themselves will be the analysts and students of their own experience . . . What is important to point out in this context is that while liberation both as a concept and as a historical struggle in Africa today takes on different emphasis in different parts of Africa, it must be the overarching goal – the historical project— out of which and for which an African Christian theology must emerge.
One of the most widely quoted sentences from Mugambi's essay on liberation is the following:
In the African context and in the Bible salvation, as a theological concept, cannot be complete without liberation, as a socio-political concept. Thus Jesus, proclaiming his mission, quoted from the book of Isaiah to indicate the concreteness and relevance of his concern . . .
Another widely quoted sentence is:
Liberation is the objective task of contemporary African Theology. It is not just one of the issues, but rather, all issues are aimed at liberating Africans from all forces that hinder them from living fully as human beings.
Mugambi and Reconstruction Theology
In Mugambi's scholarly work liberation precedes reconstruction in African Christian Theological reflection. He has lived with both challenges throughout his life. He recalls:
My first Paper on "Liberation and Theology" was written in 1973 and published in Geneva in June 1974. Such authors as James Cone, Desmond Tutu, Kwesi Dickson and others quoted it severally. A careful and critical study of the Exodus narrative raises serious questions about the beginning and the end of the exodus process. Too often scholars have focused on the process of liberation from Pharaoh's oppression to the freedom in Canaan. However, the Exodus narrative does not end with the invasion, siege, conquest and eventual occupation of Canaan. The narrative continues with the former slaves becoming invaders and oppressors themselves. They then adopt the norms and values of the people they conquered. They wanted to have a king, despite advice against that wish by Samuel (I Samuel 8). Saul, the first King, became a despot and they had to contend with a new form of oppression. There is great difference between oppression by Pharaoh and oppression by Saul. We find the same historical drama repeated in the New Testament. There is contrast between oppression by Caesar, and oppression by Herod. The rhetoric of liberation, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, focused on the former kind of oppression.
He goes on to emphasize: My earliest paper on Reconstruction was written in February 1990, shortly after the release of Nelson Mandela, and delivered to the AACC General Committee meeting on 30 March 1990. Reconstruction focuses on the problems that nations and cultures must deal with after foreign oppression has taken a back seat. In the 1970s I was in the forefront of the struggles for liberation in Africa. But after two decades of that line of thought I discovered that it is essential to move beyond the rhetoric of liberation. Liberation tends to be focused on the past. Reconstruction is focused on the future. The Exile Narratives provide another paradigm on the basis of which oppressed people can find encouragement. Ezra-Nehemiah provides a paradigm rather different from that of the Exodus. There is a great contrast between the leadership of Moses and Joshua in the Exodus narrative, and that of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Exile Narrative. The Leadership of John the Baptist and Jesus may also be contrasted with that of Caiaphas and Herod in the New Testament. We can also contrast the leadership of St. Peter and St Paul. Studied in this way, the theme of Reconstruction stands high on a pedestal, focusing on the constructive future rather than on the destructive past.
Throughout his studies and in his research and writing Mugambi has interacted with a wide range of scholars from the North Atlantic, Asia and Latin America. Mugambi resonates with Karl Jaspers' positive appraisal of myth in the conceptualization of world-views. A myth tells a story and expresses intuitive insights, rather than universal concepts. Thus Mugambi proposes that, "a society which is incapable of making its own myths and re-interpreting its old ones, becomes extinct." In view of this insight, Mugambi defines the vision of the theology of reconstruction, in Africa, as a project of ". . .re-mythologization, in which the theologian thus engaged, discerns new symbols and new metaphors in which to recast the central Message of the Gospel."
Mugambi, joins other scholars in African Christian Theology, endeavouring to authentically relate Christianity with the African cultural and religious heritage with appreciation of both the Gospel and the wisdom bequeathed from generation to generation through oral tradition, cherished customs, rituals and symbols. The uniqueness of Mugambi's thinking is in the persistence with which he pursues the "African agenda." It appears that Mugambi's concern for Pan-African identity has support within diplomatic circles. Swahili, an African language that is lingua franca in eastern and central Africa, has become one of the official languages of the African Union. Microsoft Word is now available in Swahili. The Swahili version of Wikipedia has also been launched. a Even though he does not treat Africa as a single geo-cultural context of theology, he nevertheless creates in his readers an impression that African concerns are broadly the same – which is largely correct. He is particularly appealing because he strictly and consistently avoids any attempt at parochial, national and regional introversion, opting for an approach that keeps in full view the entire continent of Africa with all its homogeneity and heterogeneity.
Despite the risk of appearing too general in his books, Mugambi avoids using such particularistic titles as "South African Christianity," "Kenyan Christianity," "Africa North (or South) of Limpopo," "East African Christianity", etc. Rather, he is concerned with the Africans – both in the African continent and in the Diaspora. While Mugambi acknowledges that theological articulation is strictly contextual and situational, all his works take "Africa" as the "Context" rather than the artificial territorial identities that are the result of the Partition of Africa at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. The titles of his books illustrate this point, portraying him as a Pan-Africanist scholar and thinker: These works include: African Christian Theology: An introduction (1989), The Biblical Basis for Evangelisation: Theological Reflections Based on an African Experience (1989), African Heritage and Contemporary Christianity (1989), Critiques of Christianity in African Literature, From Liberation to Reconstruction: Africa after the Cold War, Christian Theology and Social Reconstruction.
Mugambi's book, From Liberation to Reconstruction assesses events that had an impact on Africa as a whole. These events include the end of the Cold War (1989), which divided African countries between those who were pro-West versus the pro-East - thereby causing unnecessary tensions among some neighbouring African countries. Other events include the release of Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela on 11 February 1990 after serving in prison for 27 years on Robben Island. For Mugambi, Mandela is not only the longest-serving political prisoner; he is also the most prominent symbol of the Exodus metaphor in African Christian Theology. He says,
It is disgusting and scandalous that the so-called 'civilised' world would allow a leader to languish in prison for twenty-seven years, and to watch passively for decades in the name of 'non-violence,’ the massacre and incarceration of thousands of South Africans, just for demanding the abolition of apartheid…. The end of the Cold War has highlighted this insight more than ever before, all over the world. (Other) Examples include Eritrea, Palestine, Croatia, Serbia, Estonia, Latvia and such others.
From a Theology of Liberation to a Theology of Reconstruction
In his post-Cold-War theological discourses, which can also be regarded as his post- liberation works, Mugambi suggests that the Africa of the 21st century will have to pre-occupy itself with the agenda of reconstruction as the new priority for Africa. The text of Ezra-Nehemiah, unlike that of the Exodus, has to be the main text in the explication of African theological discourses in the 21st century. This text will motivate the people of Africa to rebuild their continent from all sorts of ruins. He says,
Reconstruction is the new priority for African nations in the 1990s (and beyond). The churches and their theologians will need to respond to this new priority in relevant fashion, to facilitate this process of reconstruction. The process will require considerable efforts of reconciliation and confidence-building. It will also require re-orientation and retraining.
While acknowledging that Mugambi has "correctly observed that an epiphany of a new scenario has emerged, ushered in by the demise of three horrendous systems of oppression; namely institutionalised racism, brutal colonialism and the cold war tutelage," Ukachukwu Chris Manus considers Mugambi as having failed to recognise the central figure in the New Testament, "Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ himself as the Master Reconstructor of both the spiritual and the social well-being of the bnaiya Israel, the simple folk of his day in first century Palestine."
Manus goes on to argue that the term "reconstruction" makes a deep impression on him as a "meta-language" that challenges African religiosity to discern and promote new insights that can inspire a new movement that would help to galvanise Africans in the continent like those in the Diaspora to struggle and regain their integrity. For Manus, therefore, the goal of reconstruction ought to be pursued in order to re-capture Africa's self-esteem, dignity and integrity, "in the context of new Information and Communication Technology."
Others have offered perspectives on Mugambi's views on liberation and reconstruction. In attempting a definition, the late Hannah Wangeci Kinoti explained that the idea of reconstruction assumes that there is a framework which was previously there. She went on to say that "a cluster of words associated with the verb reconstruct should quicken our vision of asking the Church in African to rise up and do more, purposefully and decisively." She suggested that the concept of reconstruction implies a process of "review and then move" - to create something more suitable to the prevailing environment. Other terms can be invoked: rebuild, reassemble, re-establish, recreate, reform, renovate, regenerate, remake, remodel, restore, or re-organise. Reconstruction can also be compared with such terms as rethink, re-examine, re-do, or rebirth (cf. Nicodemus in John 3). Kinoti attempts to explain the urgency of reconstruction in the Africa of the 21st century when she says:
We may be inspired by the Biblical narrative of Nehemiah's reconstruction of the wall of Jerusalem. We may be motivated by the urgent need to pick up pieces of our individual lives. We may be desirous to restore the image of the corporate life of our communities as we visualize that image to be. Some may even be literally in the middle of reconstructing their houses recently or currently burnt down by arsonists for political reasons. Whatever our individual circumstances here and now in Africa, the cry is…restore!"
In arguing that the cry for the modern day Africa is reconstruction, Kinoti, like Mugambi, was probably drawing a comparison between the pre-Cold War Africa and the post-Cold War Africa. As a result, she discovered that there is an open possibility of not only doing a theology of reconstruction but more importantly to reconstruct the entire continent, for now and for the future of its people. Indeed, as Stein Villumstad wonders: "Do we see major conceptual and fundamental dynamics in current Africa that indicate a shift into a new era?" As he further says:
The main watershed was the end of colonialism. The next major shift started with the downfall of Communist Soviet Union and the collapse of the bipolar strategic politics in Africa. The second shift facilitated the end of Apartheid and the wars in Mozambique and Angola.
Villumstad's concerns agree with Moiseraele Prince Dibeela when he says:
Post-Cold War Africa has seen steady democratisation, with the continent generally embracing multi-party political systems. Prior to that, Africa was characterized by military dictatorships, life presidents, one-party systems, coup d'états and assassinations of political leaders, corruption, ravaged economies and wars. The fall of the century-long ideological struggle between the West and the East coincidentally ended the 'new scramble for Africa.'
Dibeela goes on to say that:
During the intensity of the cold war in the 1960s and 1970s the main victim was the continent of Africa as the then Soviet Union and Western countries scrambled for the domination of Africa over and against each other. Consequently, some of the longest wars that raged in Africa were fuelled by the ideological polarity that was at the heart of the cold war. Often a so-called communist rebel would be sponsored by an overseas communist government to fight against a capitalist government sponsored by a Western government, or the other way round. Countries like Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo had political conflicts that went into decades, because of this stranglehold over Africa. However, since the demise of the Soviet Union interest in Africa changed, at least from that of political control. Meanwhile many progressive forces have pushed for political change across many African countries, and the climax of this has been the democratization of South Africa in 1994. It is my contention that what stood on the way of Africa's political and economic freedom was the interface of external forces that had no interest in the development of the continent. Much of the damage to our economies and resources took place during the successive periods of formal and informal colonization. However, the demise of the cold war opened doors for the possibility of reconstruction.
Attractiveness and Uniqueness of Mugambi's Works
Mugambi's works, in general, express an exemplary African sense of community. Instead of the Cartesian, "I think, therefore, I exist" (cogito ergo sum), he builds on the African existential philosophical assertion, cognatus sum, ergo sumus, meaning I am related, therefore we are. His approach correlates with Mbiti's summary of the African world-view: "I am, because we are; and since we are, therefore I am." The Akan of Ghana would say, "I belong by blood relationship; therefore I am."
Mugambi's work is very attractive especially when we keep in view the consistency with which he has propounded his conviction that despite Africa's woes, Africa is "not yet dead" – and Africa "will not die." He rejects the conventional wisdom articulated in the North Atlantic media that seems to suggest "Africa is doomed to annihilation." He sees "no good reason to suggest that the failures of the past will prevail in the future." He explicitly builds on this theme of "hope for Africa" when he writes:
We dare affirm that since the God we worship is the creator and the director of all human history, tomorrow need not be like yesterday. In God's plan, there is nothing special about being powerful or being powerless. The most powerful can lose their power, and the powerless can be empowered by God's will.
In most of his published poetry, Mugambi further builds on this theme of "hope for Africa." An illustration of this is his poem, "Epitaph to Africa, my child," where he writes:
You are not dead yet
My child, so do not be alarmed
You have a long life still to death
My child, so do not ask me now for your grave
But you need not be disillusioned by your health
My child, for every morning has an evening after it;
Every streamlet has a source and a mouth,
And every story a beginning and an end,
So here I bestow blessings upon you child,
For you to keep through all your wrath or mirth;
May you survive to eternity,
And your grave never be found on earth.
And for Africa you shall live
Kä Mana, the francophone Africanist Christian theologian, introduces his analysis of the ethical dimensions of the human crisis in Africa in an alarming way. He proposes that only a radical reconstruction of African approaches to religious and socio-political realities would heal them from their major shortcomings. Unlike Mugambi who considers the African cultural and religious heritage as the foundation upon which Africa can build new political and economic systems, Kä Mana presents the past African cultural values and traditions as a "decaying reality" or as "disintegrating reality." He cautions that any attempt at avoiding Africa's present problems by going back to its ancient times is a new type of estrangement, which to him, is equivalent to surrendering ourselves to "the dictatorship of the past." In view of Kä Mana's caution and in considering Mugambi's insistence on hope for Africa, how can Kä Mana's pessimism and Mugambi's optimism be reconciled? What is the basis for Mugambi's hope? What encourages him to think that African Christianity propel Africans to future prosperity? Why does he link the idea of "hope" with the notion of "social reconstruction"? Mugambi takes cognizance of various cases that render Africa to appear as a hopeless continent. He writes:
Africa today is portrayed in all the mass communication media in the whole world as a continent, which is in deep crises, crises from which we are told, it cannot recover. It is faced with a food deficit; it is the hungriest continent in the world. It is faced with a debt crisis; next to South America it is the most indebted continent. It has the highest level of illiteracy in the world and half of the world's refugees are Africans.
This acknowledgment in no way negates hope. Mugambi, in his post-Cold War works, suggests that the way to realise this hope is by "applying our ethics." He calls on the people of Africa to reconstruct their social consciousness and challenges everyone to think again about this beautiful continent – Africa – that God gave us! Since human beings are the creators of culture, they are "capable of working in the present to ensure that the future will not be like yesterday."
One of the challenges facing African Christian theology today is how to think positively about Africa. Old ideas about Africa have failed the continent and nowadays these ideas ought to be deconstructed. The project of "deconstructing" negative views about Africa was already under way as early as 1988 when Valentin Y. Mudimbe argued that the idea of Africa and the African was invented by the "colonial library" to serve as "the other" of the West and the Westerner. He further contends that Africa, which is "reified in the colonial library," needs to be thought of anew. Kä Mana expresses a similar concern when in his thought-provoking work he calls for "a conceptual lift-off" (un décollage conceptuel), which he sees as the only way to get Africa out of the miasma that its diverse crisis provokes. Likewise, Mabiala Justin-Robert Kenzo from the Democratic Republic of Congo, echoes Mudimbe's challenge of "rethinking Africa" afresh. He suggests that what is needed is "a new kind of thinking capable of mobilizing enough creative energy to fuel the reconstruction of Africa." Thus Mugambi's call for reconstructive thinking about Africa has parallels in both Anglophone and Francophone African scholarship.
Mugambi is critical of the idea that the Christianity's demographic centre of gravity has shifted to Africa – an idea that is highly publicized especially by Kwame Bediako in his works. Mugambi contends that the apparent numerical growth of African Christians is not necessarily positive, at a time when there are only a few books authored and published by African Christian theologians. He notes that a significant number of the few books already authored by African theologians are published in the North Atlantic, making them largely inaccessible and too expensive for African Christians. He observes that even the most outspoken advocates of "indigenisation" and "inculturation" have been foreign missionaries to Africa – and not African Christians themselves! The Gospel becomes "rooted" when "the converts live in it in their own lives with full appreciation of their cultural and religious heritage" and not when they theorize about it. He writes:
Although there has been rejoicing in some quarters that Christianity is rapidly spreading in Africa, it is important . . .to ask ourselves what brands of Christianity are being propagated on this continent's rural and urban areas. If they are brands that prevent Africans from managing their present and future, then Christianity will be judged as very bad irrespective of what missionaries think of themselves and their mission. If, on the other hand, Christianity helps Africans to stand (against) the natural, social, economic and political forces that continue to dehumanise them, and if it facilitates their total liberation, then the Christian missionary enterprise of the future will be an improvement on the failures of the past. The success or failure of the Christian missionary enterprise ought to be assessed on the basis of this self-criticism.
Mugambi further cautions that "it is important to note that north of the 10-degree latitude Africa is predominantly Muslim. But that does not make northern Africa any less African! The East African coast is predominantly Muslim, but it is not any less African." Thus he is critical of the temptation to portray Africa as a "predominantly Christian continent" without appreciating that there are parts that are predominantly Muslim, especially north of the 10-degree Latitude north of the Equator. Increasingly, there will also be sectors of the African population that will take on a secularist outlook especially in urban centres. This social reality, he contends, "should humble those of us who view the numerical strength of Christianity triumphantly." For in view of the secularisation of Christianity that is facilitated especially by the forces of globalisation "we do not know how long this numerical expansion will last."
Chukwudum B. Okolo also appears to be critical of the idea of a shift in the centre of gravity of the Christian faith to Africa when he contends that despite the high statistics associated with seminarians in Africa, the important statistic is not how many indigenous seminaries and priests Africa produces every year, but the kind of education and training given to them. He observes:
Quality not quantity becomes decisive in realizing the main objectives of African theology. …It is important that those who educate and train African seminarians plan the curriculum in philosophy and theology with the background of the African situation and experience in mind. The onesided training in Western philosophy and theology is grossly inadequate.
In view of the caution by Okolo and Mugambi, it is difficult to claim firmly that the centre of Christian gravity has clearly shifted to Africa, because "African Christianity" may not yet be so "authentic" as to guarantee its sustainability beyond the 21st century. This caution, however, points to the ways and means by which African Christianity may become so rooted as to re-evangelize the post-Christian nations which produced the modern missionary enterprise in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mugambi's Reconstruction Theology has such an end as its strategic goal. In his contribution towards this goal, Mugambi has encouraged younger African scholars to conduct research and publish within Africa, so that their works can become more accessible and affordable for use as textbooks and for general reading by both clergy and laity.
Published Books – Festschrift
2012 Theologies of Liberation and Reconstruction: Essays in Honour of Professor Jesse N.K. Mugambi, edited by Isaac T. Mwase and Eunice K. Kamaara, Nairobi: Acton.
Published Books - Authored
2003 Christian Theology and Social Reconstruction, Nairobi: Acton
2002 Christianity and African Culture, Nairobi: Acton. (New edition of African Heritage and Contemporary Christianity).
1996 Religion and Social Construction of Reality, Nairobi University Press
1995 From Liberation to Reconstruction,: African Christian Theology after the Cold War, Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers
1992 Critiques of Christianity in African Literature, Nairobi: Heinemann
1989 African Heritage and Contemporary Christianity (Nairobi: Longman
1989 The Biblical Basis for Evangelization: Theological Reflections Based on an African Experience (Nairobi: Oxford University Press,
1989 African Christian Theology: An Introduction (Nairobi: Heinemann,
1988 Philosophy of Religion: A Text Book, University of Nairobi
1987 God, Humanity and Nature in Relation to Justice and Peace, Geneva: WCC.
1974 Carry it Home, Nairobi: EA Literature Bureau (Poetry).
2009 Jesse N.K. Mugambi and Michael R. Guy, Conxtextual Theology Across Cultures, Nairobi: Acton.
2004 Fresh Water to Eradicate Poverty, Norwegian
Church Aid, (co-author with Gaim Kebreab.
1989 Jesse N.K. Mugambi, et al., The Rational Path, Nairobi: Standard Textbooks and Graphics,
1986 Jesse N.K. Mugambi et al., Christian Religious Education, Book I (Nairobi: Longman.
1982 Jesse N.K. Mugambi et al., Ecumenical Initiatives in Eastern Africa, Nairobi: AACC/AMECEA,
1976 Jesse N.K. Mugambi et al., The African Religious Heritage, Nairobi: Oxford University Press.
Published Books - Edited
1997 The Church and Reconstruction of Africa, Nairobi: AACC
1997 The Church and the Future of Africa, Nairobi: AACC
1997 Democracy and Development in Africa, Nairobi: AACC
1992 A Church Come of Age, Nairobi: Acton
1989 Christian Mission and Social Transformation, Nairobi: NCCK
1989 A Comparative Study of Religions, Nairobi University Press
Published Books - Co-Edited
2012 Applied Ethics in Religion and Culture: Contextual and Global Challenges. Nairobi: Acton (with David W. Lutz)
2010 Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity (Africa Editor). General Editor: Prof. Daniel Patte, Vanderbilt University.
2008 Responsible Leadership: Global and Contextual Ethical Perspectives, Nairobi and Geneva: Acton and WCC. (with Christoph Stückelberger).
2004 Church-State Relations: A Challenge for African Christianity, Nairobi: Acton (with Frank Kürschner-Pelkmann).
2004 Religions in Eastern Africa Under Globalization, Nairobi: Acton (with Mary N. Getui).
2001 Christian Theology and Environmental Responsibility, Nairobi: Acton. (with Mika Vähäkangas).
1990 The S.M. Otieno Case: Death and Burial in Modern Kenya, Nairobi University Press (with J.B. Ojwang)
1992 Moral and Ethical Issues in African Christianity Nairobi: Initiatives (with Nasimiyu Wasike).
1990 The Church in African Christianity, Nairobi: Initiatives (with Laurenti Magesa).
1989 Jesus in African Christianity, Nairobi: Initiatives (with Laurenti Magesa).
1969-2010 Mugambi has published more than 120 scholarly Articles.
1984-86 Co-Founder and Co-Editor, Quarterly Review of Religious Studies (with Prof. Ted Groenewegen)
1989-99 Co-Founder and Co-Editor, African Christianity Series (with Laurenti Magesa)
1992 Founder of Acton Publishers. Catalogue: <www.acton.co.ke>
- Gathogo, Julius. "Jesse Mugambi's Pedigree: Formative Factors".
- Mugambi's original Paper on the Theology of Resonstruction Paper was published in the book, The Church of Africa: Towards a Theology of Reconstruction, 1991:29-50, which Mugambi edited jointly with J.B Chipenda, A. Karamaga and C.K Omari. It also appears in his book, From liberation to reconstruction: African Christian Theology after the Cold War, (Nairobi: EAEP, 1995), 160-180 – as chapter ten.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, From liberation to reconstruction: African Christian theology after the cold war, (Nairobi: EAEP, 1995).
- Tinyiko Sam Maluleke, Review of Mugambi, J. N. K. From Liberation to Reconstruction: African Christian Theology After the Cold War. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, in Missionalia 24 (April 1996): 473
- Julius Mutugi Gathogo, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, Pretoria: September 2006, Volume XXXII, No/Nr 2.
- Hope For the Future: The Uppsala Interfaith Climate Manifesto—Faith Traditions Addressing Global Warming.
- Tanzania refers to the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which was formed in 1964 under the leadership of President Julius Nyerere.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, Christian Theology and Social Reconstruction, Nairobi: Acton, 2003, p.10.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, Christian Theology and Social Reconstruction, p. 176.
- J. N. K. Mugambi, African Heritage and Contemporary Christianity (Nairobi: Longman, 1989). The content of this book was re-issued as Christianity and African Culture, Nairobi: Acton, 2002.
- J. N. K. Mugambi, Carry it home (Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau, 1974, 1991).
- J.N.K, Mugambi, Critiques of Christianity in African Literature (Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1992)
- The Traditional Religion of the Embu People", in Dini na Mila, Vol. V No. 1, 1971.
- This is after he came at the top of his class at the MTTC.
- Stephen Neill, God's Apprentice, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1991.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "The African Experience of God", in Africa Thought and Practice, Vol. 1 No. 1, Nairobi: EALB, 1974.
- Gayraud Wilmore and James H. Cone, eds, Black Theology: A Documentary History, Vol. I 1 – 966-1979, Maryknoll: Orbis, 1979, p. 448.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Liberation and Theology" (WSCF Dossier No. 5, Geneva, June 1974).
- Jesse Mugambi and Nicodemus Kirima, The African Religious Heritage, Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1976.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, M.A. Thesis was titled "Some Perspectives of Christianity in the Context of the Modern Missionary Enterprise in East Africa with Special Reference to Kenya," M.A. Thesis, University of Nairobi, 1977.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Problems of Meaning in Discourse with Reference to Religion", (Nairobi: PhD Thesis, University of Nairobi, 1984.
- Kwasi Wiredu, Philosophy and an African Culture, Cambridge University Press, 1980; Cultural Universals and Particulars, Indiana University Press, 1997.
- Jesse Mugambi, John Mutiso-Mbinda and Judith Vollbrecht, Ecumenical Initiatives in Eastern Africa, Nairobi: AACC/AMECEA, 1982.
- J. Hamelink, Cultural Autonomy in Global Communications, New York: Longman, 1983.
- Apple IIE computer had 64K of memory, and that was considered a great breakthrough in microcomputer technology.
- Richard D.N. Dickinson, Poor, Yet Making Many Rich, Geneva: WCC, 1983; To Set at Liberty the Oppressed, Geneva> WCC, 1975; Line and Plummet, Geneva: WCC, 1968.
- Werner H. Kelber, The Oral and the Written Gospel: The Hermeneutics of Speaking and Writing in the Synoptic Tradition, Mark, Paul and Q, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983, Reprinted Bloominton and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1997.
- From Liberation to Reconstruction, Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1995.
- University of Manitoba, Centre for Higher Education Research and Development (CHERD) http://www.umanitoba.ca/centres/cherd/
- J.N.K. Mugambi, ed., with Chapter, The Church and Reconstruction of Africa, Nairobi: AACC, 1997; ed with Chapter, The Church and the Future in Africa, Nairobi: AACC, 1997; ed with Chapter, Democracy and Development in Africa, Nairobi: AACC, 1997.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, Religion and Social Construction of Reality, Nairobi University Press, 1996.
- Starehe Boys' Centre and School
- Daily Nation on the Web, 9 January 2007.
- Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) News, 16 January 2009.
- A.J. Temu, British Protestant Missions, London: Longman, 1972.
- Norman R. Kingston, Encounter with Christ, Kisumu, Kenya: Evangel Press, 1971.
- M.G. Capon, Towards Unity in Kenya, Nairobi: Christian Council of Kenya, 1946. Reissued in J.N.K. Mugambi, ed., Christian Mission and Social Transformation, Nairobi: NCCK, 1989.
- Ronald Dain and Jac van Diepen, Luke's Gospel for Africa Today. A School Certificate Course based on the East African Syllabus for Christian Religious Education (Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1972). Eileen Welch and S.N. Clements, God Speaks to Men: A Textbook on the Old Testament Syllabus for the Kenya Certificate of Education, Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1972; Myrtle Langley and Thomas Kiggins, A Serving People, Nairobi: Oxford University Press 1974; Sean P. Kealy, The Early Church and Africa: A School Certificate Course based on the East African Syllabus for Christian Religious Education, Nairobi: Oxford University Press; 1975, Jesse Mugambi and Nicodemus Kirima, The African Religious Heritage, Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1976.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Procedure of R.E. Curriculum Development in Kenya", in Quarterly Review of Religious Studies, Vol. I No. 1, 1985 (Nairobi) - Article.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "African Christian Theology: A Reflection", in Salaam: Journal of the National Association of R.E. Teachers, Nairobi, April 1981 - Article.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Liberation and Theology:, Geneva: WSCF Dossier No. 5, June 1974.
- Sergio Torrres and Virginia Fabella, eds, The Energent Gospel: Theology from the Underside of History, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 1976.
- Racism in Theology and Theology Against Racism, Geneva: WCC, 1975.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Some Problems of authority and Credibility in the Drafting and Reception Processes of the BEM Document", in BEM at Twenty-Five: Critical Insights into a Continuing Legacy, edited by Thomas F. Best and Tamara Grdzelidze, Geneva: WCC, 2007, pp. 186-201.
- Websites of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Ecumenical News International (ENI).
- Georg Henrik von Wright was the successor of Ludwig Wittgenstein in the Chair of Philosophy at Cambridge University after Wittgenstein's death in 1951.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, BRP 103 Philosophy of Religion, Nairobbi: College of Education and External Studies, University of Nairobi, 1987.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, ed., A Comparative Study of Religions, Nairobi University Press, 1990.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, Co-Editor, Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010, General Editor Daniel Patte (forthcoming). Contributor of thirteen Articles: "i) Anglicanism in Eastern and Western Africa; ii) Berlin Conference; iii) Charismatic Movements in Southern Africa; iv) Church, Types of Ecclesiastical Structures; v) Culture and Christianity; vi) Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT); vii) Kenya; viii) Krapf, Johann Ludwig; ix) Liberia; x) Racism and Christianity in Africa; xi) Rebmann, Johannes (1820-1876); xii) Reconstruction, African Theologies of; xiii) Theological Education in Africa: Issues It Faces."
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "A Critique of Method in African Christian Theology" in J.M. Waliggo and Mary Getui, eds., Worship in African Christianity, Nairobi: Acton, 1998 (chapter).
- Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology, New York: Herder and Herder, 1982.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Africa and the Old Testament', in Mary Getui, Knut Holter and Victor Zinkuratire, eds., Interpreting the Old Testament in Africa, Nairobi: Acton, 2001. Chapter
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Foundations for an African Approach to Biblical Hermeneutics" in Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko Maluleke and Justin Ukpong, eds., Interpreting the New Testament in Africa, Nairobi: Acton, 2001. Chaptrer.
- Hans-Dieter Betz, "Remarks of the SNTS President", in Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko Maluleke and Justin Ukpong, eds, Interpreting the New Testament in Africa, pp. 5-8.
- Peder Borgen, "A Necessary and Important Step", in Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko Maluleke and Justin Ukpong, eds, Interpreting the New Testament in Africa, pp. 1-4.
- Vernon Robbins, "Why Participate in African Biblical Interpretation?" in Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko Maluleke and Justin Ukpong, eds, Interpreting the New Testament in Africa, pp. 275-291.
- Bernard Lategan, "African Hermeneutics and Theology: Report on a Unique Conference", in Mary N. Getui, Tinyiko Maluleke and Justin Ukpong, eds, Interpreting the New Testament in Africa, pp. 292-99.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, 'Challenges to African Scholars in Biblical Hermeneutics' in J.N.K. Mugambi and Johannes Smit, eds, Text and Context in New Testament Hermeneutics, Nairobi: Acton. (chapter).
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "African Hermeneutics in a Global Context", in Interpreting Classical Religious Texts in Contemporary Africa, edited by Knut Holter, Nairobi: Acton, 2007, Chapter.
- J. N. K Mugambi, From Liberation to Reconstruction: 37.
- J. N. K Mugambi, From Liberation to Reconstruction: 38.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, The Biblical Basis for Evangelization, Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1989.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, ed., Christian Mission and Social Transformation, Nairobi: NCCK, 1989.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "African Churches in Social Transformation" in Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 50 No. 1, Columbia University, 1996.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Missiological Research in the Context of Globalization", in Swedish Missiological Themes, Vol. 86, No. 4, 1998.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Christian Mission and Social Transformation After the Cold War" in Journal of Constructive Theology, Vol. 4 No. 2, December 1998.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Introduction" in J.V. Taylor, Primal Vision, London: SCM, 2001, also published as Christian Presence amid African Religion, Nairobi: Acton, 2001.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "God, Humanity and Nature in Ecumenical Discussion", in Church and Society Report, Potsdam, July 1986, Geneva, 1986 - Position Paper.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, God, Humanity and Nature in Relation to Justice and Peace, Geneva: WCC, 1987.
- J.N.K. Mugambi and Mika Vähäkangas, eds., Christian Theology and Environmental Responsibility, Nairobi: Acton, 2001.
- "Emissions Trading as an Aspect of Toxic Waste Dumping", in J.N.K. Mugambi and Mika Vahakangas, eds., Nairobi: Acton, 2001.Co-editor with Mika Vahakangas, Christian Theology and Environmental Responsibility, Nairobi: Acton, 2001.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Some Lessons from a Century of Ecumenism in Africa" in Efiong Utuk, Visions of Authenticity: The Assemblies of the AACC 1963-1992, Nairobi: AACC, 1997 (chapter).
- J.N.K. Mugambi and Gaim Kebreab, Fresh Water to Eradicate Poverty, Norwegian Church Aid, 2004 .
- J.N.K. Mugambi, 2006, www.un.org/webcast/unfccc/2006/high_level_segment.asp
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "The Environmental Crisis from an African Perspective," in Geiko Müller-Fahrenholz, ed., Peace on Earth and Peace with the Earth, Geneva: John Knox International Reformed Centre, pp. 77-83.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, 'The Environmental Crisis from a Christian Perspective', in Wajibu: Journal of Social Concern, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 7-9.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, 2009, www.gronkirke.dk/fileadmin/.../MUGAMBI_ON_ADAPTATION.pdf; www.oikoumene.org/en/news/.../how-theology-can-help-sav.html.
- Kenya Rainwater Association : Members
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- J.N.K. Mugambi and Mika Vähäkangas, ed., Christian Theology and Environmental Responsibility, Nairobi: Acton, 2001.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Problems of Meaning in Discourse with Reference to Religion," PhD Thesis, University of Nairobi, 1984.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, BRP 103 Philosophy of Religion, University of Nairobi College of Education and External Studies, 1988.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, African Heritage and Contemporary Christianity, Nairobi: Longman, 1989; Also published as Christianity and African Culture, Nairobi: Acton, 2002.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "The Problems of Teaching Ethics in African Christianity," in J,N.K. Mugambi and A. Nasimiyu-Wasike, eds, Moral and Ethical Issues in African Christianity, Nairobi: Acton, 2003, pp. 11-28.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, Religion and Social Construction of Reality, Inaugural Lecture, Nairobi University Press, 1996.
- See www.peea.or.ke;
- See www.globethics.net
- Christoph Stückelberger and J.N.K. Mugambi, Responsible Leadership: Global and Contextual Ethical Perspectives, Geneva and Nairobi: WCC and Acton, 2008.
- Globethics.net Principles on Sharing Values across Cultures and Religions, www.globethics.net
- Jesse N.K. Mugambi and Michael R. Guy, Contextual Theology Across Cultures, Nairobi: Acton, 2009; Jesse N.K. Mugambi and David W.Lutz, Applied Ethics in Religion and Culture, Nairobi: Acton, 2012.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, "Prerequisites for an Effective Dialogue involving Religion and Culture", in Ariane Hentsch Cisneros and Shanta Pramawardhana, eds, Sharing Values: A Hermeneutics for Global Ethics, Geneva: Globethics,net, 2010, pp. 249-68.
- C. G. Rosberg and J. Nottingham, The Myth of Mau Mau: Nationalism in Colonial Kenya (Stanford, 1966), 191.
- Caroline Elkins, Britain's Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya (London: Jonathan Cape, 2005); David Anderson, Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War and the End of Empire in Kenya, New York: W.W. Norton, 2005.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, African Christian Theology: An Introduction, Nairobi: Heinemann, 1989.
- Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela: The Struggle is My Life (Bellville: Mayibuye Books, 1994), 42.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, African Christian Theology: An Introduction, pp. 12-13.
- Desmond M. Tutu, "Black Theology/African Theology – Soul Mates or Antagonists?" In James H, Cone and Gayraud Wilmore, eds, Black Theology: A Documentary History, Vol. I, 1966-1979, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 1979, pp. 486-7, 491.
- James H. Cone, "A Black American Perspective on the Future of African Theology", in James H, Cone and Gayraud Wilmore, eds, Black Theology: A Documentary History, Vol. I, 1966-1979, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis, 1979, pp. 497, 501.
- The Following doctoral Theses have been written on Mugambi's Reconstruction Theology: Ian Ritchie, McGill University, 1992; Isaac T. Mwase, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1993; Stephen I. Munga, Lund University, 1998; Joern Henrik Olsen, Copenhagen University, 2000; J. Njoroge wa Ngugi, Catholic University of America, 2001; Valentin Dedji, Cambridge University, 2001; Diane B. Stinton, Edinburgh University, 20003; Elelwani B. Farisani, University of Natal Pietermaritzburg, 2003; George Fihavango, University of Erlangen, Germany, 2005, Julius Mutugi Gathogo, University Natal Pietermaritzburg, 2006; Sicily Mbura Muriithi, University of Kwazulu Natal, 2008; John Fischer, University of Western Cape, 2010.
- Julius Mutigi Gathogo, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae, Pretoria:September 2006, Volume XXXII, No/Nr 2.
- The North Atlantic, Asian and Latin American scholars with whom Mugambi has interacted, both directly and indirectly, include: Rubem Alves, Karl Barth, Hans Dieter Betz, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jose Miguez Bonino, Colin Brown, Walter Brueggemann, Emil Brunner, Rudolf Bultmann, James H. Cone, Frederick Copplestone, Joseph Donders, James Dunn, Enrique Dussel, Gustavo Gutierrez, Werner H. Kelber, Søren Kierkegaard, Joseph Kitagawa, Kosuke Koyama, Karl Jaspers, Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz, Stephen Neill, Jurgen Moltmann, Lesslie Newbegin, Richard H. Niebuhr, Daniel Patte, John A.T. Robinson, Bertrand Russell, Ninian Smart, Choan Sen Song, Paul Tillich, Ludwig Wittgenstein.
- Karl Jaspers, "Myth and Religion," in Ed. Hans-Werner Bartsch, ed., Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, translated by Reginald Fuller (London: SPCK, 1972), 144.
- J. N. K Mugambi, "The Bible and Ecumenism in African Christianity," in Hannah Kinoti and John Waliggo (eds) 1997. The Bible in African Christianity (Nairobi: Acton Publishers, 1997), 75.
- Mugambi is one of the most notable Christian scholars in tropical Africa who have produced extensive published theo-philosophical works. Others in Anglophone Eastern Africa are: John Mbiti (Kenya), Zablon Nthamburi (Kenya), Charles Nyamiti (Tanzania), Laurenti Magesa (Tanzania) and Emmanuel Katongole (Uganda). In Anglophone West Africa, we have Kwame Bediako (Ghana), Byang Kato (Nigeria), John Pobee (Ghana), Kwesi Dickson (Ghana), Christian Baeta (Ghana), Bolaji Idowu (Nigeria), Mercy A. Oduyoye (Nigeria and Ghana), Odupe Oduyoye (Nigeria), Edward Fashole-Luke (Sierra Leone), Harry Sawyerr (Sierra-Leone) and Lamin Sanneh (Gambia). In Francophone Africa, we have Jean-Marc Éla (Cameroon), A. Ngindu Mushete (Democratic Republic of Congo), and F. Eboussi-Boulaga (Cameroon), Kä Mana (DRC); while in Central and Southern Africa, we have the likes of Canaan Banana (Zimbabwe), Gwinyai H. Muzorewa (Zimbabwe), Manas Buthelezi (South Africa), Desmond Tutu (South Africa), Gabriel Setiloane (Botswana), Isabel Apawo Phiri (Malawi), Tinyiko Sam Maluleke (South Africa), and Allan Boesak (South Africa).
- Jesse Mugambi's unique passion with regard to the "African agenda" leads Maluleke to call him the "continental patriot of our time" (Maluleke 1996:473). For Mugambi risks generality by talking about Africa as one country that needs one methodology, comparable to the generality applied by European and North American scholars when they refer to "the West" in comparison and contrast "Africa".
- Swahili is one of the official languages of the African Union since 2005. It is widely spoken in the Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, and is widely proposed as the ideal lingua franca for Africa. It is taught in one hundred Universities worldwide, half of them in the USA. It is interesting that Swahili teachers are in great demand. Libya in September 2005 advertised for 1,000 of them to teach in Libyan secondary schools. Since the African Union (AU) has endorsed Swahili as one of the official languages it can be expected that the use of it will become more widespread within Africa and elsewhere in the world. (see http://www.eastandard.net/print/news.php?articleid=29486 2005/09/26
- Kamusi Elezo Huru (Swahili Wikipedia).
- Takatso A. Mofokeng, "Mission theology from an African perspective: A dialogue with David Bosch," in Kritzinger, J.N.K & Saayman, W. A (eds.) 1990. Mission in creative tension: A dialogue with David Bosch (Pretoria: S.A Missiological society, 1990), 168-180.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, African Christian Theology: An Introduction, pp. 3-7.
- J.N.K Mugambi, Critiques of Christianity in African Literature: With particular reference to the East African context (Nairobi: Heinemann, 1992).
- J.N.K Mugambi, From Liberation to Reconstruction.
- J.N.K Mugambi, Christian Theology and Social Reconstruction (Nairobi: Acton, 2003).
- J.N.K Mugambi, From Liberation to Reconstruction: 213.
- J.N.K Mugambi, "The Future of the church and the church of the future in Africa" in eds. J.B Chipenda, A. Karamaga, J.N.K Mugambi & C.K Omari. The Church of Africa: Towards a Theology of Reconstruction (Nairobi: A.A.C.C, 1991), 36.
- Ukachukwu Chris Manus, Intercultural Hermeneutics in Africa: Methods and Approaches (Nairobi: Acton, 2003), 2.
- Ukachukwu Chris Manus, Intercultural hermeneutics in Africa: 4.
- Ukachukwu Chris Manus, Intercultural hermeneutics in Africa: 2.
- Ukachukwu Chris Manus, Intercultural hermeneutics in Africa: 6.
- Hannah Wangeci Kinoti, "The Church in the Reconstruction of our moral self," in J. N. K. Mugambi ed. 1997, The Church and Reconstruction of Africa: Theological Considerations (Nairobi: All Africa Conference of Churches, 1997), 115.
- Hannah Wangeci Kinoti, "The Church in the Reconstruction of our moral self": 115.
- Stein Villumstad, Social Reconstruction of Africa: Perspectives from Within and Without (Nairobi: Acton, 2005), 4.
- Moiseraele Prince Dibeela, "Behold I make all things new: Exploring an ecumenical agenda for reconstruction," Africa challenge: All Africa Journal of Theology, (1) (March 2005): 18-19.
- Cf. Julius Gathogo, The Truth About African Hospitality: Is there hope for Africa? (Mombasa: The Salt, 2001), 21.
- John S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy: 108.
- J. Healey and D. Sybertz, Towards An African Narrative Theology (Nairobi: Paulines, 1996), 62.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, From Liberation to Reconstruction: .88.
- J.N.K. Mugambi, From Liberation to Reconstruction: 161.
- J.N.K Mugambi, Carry it home (Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau, 1974, 1991), 87f
- Kä Mana, L’Afrique va-t-elle mourir? Bousculer l'imaginaire africain: Essai d'éthique politique (Paris: Cerf, 1991), 78 - 9.
- Kä Mana, L’Afrique va-t-elle mourir? Bousculer l'imaginaire africain: Essai d'éthique politique (Paris: Cerf, 1991), 79.
- J. N. K. Mugambi, From Liberation to Reconstruction: 160.
- J. N. K. Mugambi, From Liberation to Reconstruction: 88.
- The idea of "thinking differently about Africa" refers to the paradigm shifts. Hans Küng suggests that "thinking differently" can be applied to "interpretative models, explanatory models, models for understanding (verstehensmodelle)" (1989:7). Thomas S. Kuhn defined "paradigm" as "an entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques, and so on - shared by the members of a given community" (1962, 1970: 175).
- Valentin Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of knowledge (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), xi.
- Kä Mana. Théologie africaine pour temps de crise (Paris: Karthala, 1993), 21-39; cf. Kenzo, M. J. R. "Thinking otherwise about Africa: Postcolonialism, Postmodernism, and the future of African theology." Exchange: Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research. Vol. 31, No. 4 (2002): 323.
- M. J. R. Kenzo, "Thinking otherwise about Africa: Postcolonialism, Postmodernism, and the future of African theology." Exchange: Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research, 31, (4) (2002): 323.
- See Kwame Bediako, Jesus in African culture: A Ghanaian perspective (Accra: Asempa, 1990 Kwame Bediako, Theology and Identity: The Impact of Culture Upon Christian Thought in the Second Century and Modern Africa (Oxford: Regnum, 1992). Kwame Bediako, Christianity in Africa, The Renewal of a Non-Western Religion (Edinburgh: University press, 1995).
- J. N. K Mugambi, "Christian Mission in the context of Urbanization and Industrialization in Africa" in A. Nasimiyu-Wasike and D. W. Waruta eds. 2000. Mission in African Christianity: Critical Essays in Missiology (Nairobi: Acton, 2000), 94.
- J.N.K Mugambi, "Christian Mission in the context of Urbanization and Industrialization in Africa" 100f.
- Chukwudum B. Okolo, The Liberating Role of the Church in Africa Today (Eldoret: AMECEA Gaba publications, 1991), 47.
- For the catalogue of books by African scholars see www.acton.co.ke.
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