John Mbiti

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John Mbiti
Born (1931-11-30) November 30, 1931 (age 86)
Kenya Colony
Nationality Kenyan
Education University of Cambridge
Occupation Theologian, Philosopher, Priest
Emeritus professor at University of Bern,
Parish minister in Burgdorf, Switzerland
Known for African Theology
Title Dr., Emeritus

John Samuel Mbiti (born 30 November 1931) is a Kenyan-born Christian religious philosopher and writer. He is an ordained Anglican priest, and as of 2005 a canon.


Born in Kenya, Mbiti studied in Uganda and the United States, taking his doctorate in 1963 at the University of Cambridge, UK. He taught religion and theology in Makerere University, Uganda from 1964 to 1974 and was subsequently director of the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Institute in Bogis-Bossey, Switzerland. He has held visiting professorships at universities across the world and published extensively on philosophy, theology and African oral traditions.[1]

Mbiti's seminal book, African Religions and Philosophy (1969), was the first work to challenge Christian assumption that traditional African religious ideas were "demonic and anti-Christian".[2] His sympathetic treatment of traditional religions was based on massive field work. Mbiti is clear that his interpretation of these religions is from a firmly Christian perspective, and this aspect of his work has sometimes been severely criticized.[3][4]

Mbiti's research interests include theology in Africa and Asia, and ecumenism. He has also collaborated on a book of African proverbs, collected from across the continent.

As of 2005, Mbiti is an Emeritus professor at the University of Bern and parish minister to the town of Burgdorf, Switzerland.[5] He is married to Verena Mbiti-Siegenthaler and has four children.[6]


Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Heinemann Archived 2007-10-10 at the Wayback Machine. Author biography. Retrieved 23 March 2006.
  2. ^ Mbiti, John (1980). "The Encounter of Christian Faith and African Religion". Christian Century (August 27–September 3): 817–820. Retrieved 2006-03-23.  On-line version published by Religion Online.
  3. ^ Kalumba, Kibujo M (March 2005). "A New Analysis of Mbiti's 'The Concept of Time'". Philosophia Africana. 8 (1): 11–20. 
  4. ^ English, Parker (March 2006). "Kalumba, Mbiti, and a Traditional African Concept of Time,". Philosophia Africana. 9 (1): 53–56. 
  5. ^ "University of Bern". Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved 2006-03-23.  Academic staff biography (in German). Retrieved on 23 March 2006.
  6. ^ "Mbiti, John Samuel", Dictionary of African Christian Biography.

Further reading[edit]

  • Olupona, Jacob K.; Sulayman S. Nyang (May 1998). "Religious Plurality in Africa: Essays in Honour of John S. Mbiti". Journal of Religion in Africa. BRILL. 28 (Fasc. 2): 247–250. doi:10.2307/1581722. JSTOR 1581722. 
  • Kalumba, Kibujo M; English, Parker, eds. (1996). African Philosophy: A Classical Approach. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-323726-5.