The late Bishop Sigqibo Dwane writes …

“Since my childhood days, I have been fascinated by the ambivalence of our people towards the church and their own Afrikan culture. On the one hand the church which had become their new spiritual home was to them rather like a step-mother who provided for her step-children’s needs, but lacked the natural warmth and affection of a biological mother.

Culture on the other hand was associated by ‘school people’ with backwardness and even decadence, and yet it is the sanctuary to which they returned in times of crisis and in the observance of the rites of passage. When the black consciousness movement came into the South Afrikan scene in the late 1960s history repeated itself as the lessons of the Ethiopian movement of the late 19th century had to be re-learnt, and its vision appropriated and sharpened for the cut and thrust of the South Afrikan political debate at the time.

The essays entitled ‘Between two stools’ are about the division in the souls of many Afrikan Christians between the two apparently opposite forces of gospel and culture. I use the adverb ‘apparently’ advisedly because the conflict between the Good News and Afrikan culture is surely not real and cannot be. For if the gospel is indeed Good News and for our salvation, then it came into the world not to destroy God’s own handiwork but to rescue and recreate it. The purpose of these essays therefore is to challenge us to regard inculturation as a divine imperative, and treat it as a priority and a matter of considerable urgency.

For we already have contending rivals of Afrikan culture which threaten to steal the minds and hearts of our young people. We must therefore act with haste. Now is the opportunity for us to encounter the Christ as umntu who makes ubuntu feasible and realisable, and in whom we can say with a stronger conviction that we are because we belong.”

The late Bishop Sigqibo Dwane was principal of St Peter’s College and president of the Federal Theological Seminary before he was consecrated Bishop of the Order Ethiopia in 1983. He became Presiding Bishop of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church thus renamed after the Order of Ethiopia became autonomous in 1999. He is the author of –

  • Issues in the South African theological debate
  • Ethiopianism and the Order of Ethiopia
  • Christ and our salvation: Dialogue with the Christian tradition from an
  • African standpoint
  • Ingulo emhlophe (white sickness) in Xhosa Society
  • Ethiopianism and the Order of Ethiopia