Locating Bediako within this complex twentieth-century matrix, this intellectual history draws upon his published and key unpublished works, including his first masters and doctoral dissertations on Negritude literature, an abiding influence on his later Christian thought and an essential foundation for interpreting this scholar. This book also ""reads"" the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission, and Culture as ""text"" by Bediako, revealing essential components of his intellectual and spiritual itinerary revealed in the Institute's community and curriculum.
This approach challenges narrowly-focused theological scholarship on Bediako, while highlighting critical methodological divisions between African, Western, confessional, and non-confessional approaches to the study of religion in Africa. In doing so, it highlights the rich complexity of this emerging African discourse and identifies Bediako as a pioneering African Christian intellectual within this wider field.
""As this book abundantly illustrates, the era of decolonization that followed World War II saw European empires dismantled, and a host of new nations, including Ghana, emerging. This opened a chapter of Christian history that has still to be explored and documented. Dr. Fretheim makes a valuable contribution to that end, focusing on a theme crucial to the process of decolonization: the religious scene in Africa, past and present, and how Africans--Christian and otherwise--approached it. It is an absorbing study, with much upon which to reflect. The life and work of one such seminal figure, Kwame Bediako, appears in Dr. Fretheim's account as a lens through which many of the cultural, intellectual, religious, and theological currents pass on to her screen. There is much worth pondering in this story, and we are in debt to Dr. Fretheim for making it available.""
--Andrew F. Walls,University of Edinburgh, Liverpool Hope University and Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture
""A number of studies have appeared on Africa's late twentieth-century Ghanaian theologian Kwame Bediako's contribution to Christian theology in Africa. Sara Fretheim's work promises to be one of the most innovative contributions. It has depth and a wider contextual orbit than most. . . . Fretheim's novel approach to the work of one of Africa's most influential theologians will serve the theological academy on world Christianity for generations and help in immortalizing his heritage.""
--J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Trinity Theological Seminary, Accra, Ghana
""This is an illuminating account on the writings and personality of one of the leading scholars in the study of African Christianity, Kwame Bediako. Fretheim succeeds in locating Bediako in his Ghanaian context, but teases out his significance to global Christianity and theology. Her penetrating insights, balanced approach, and appreciation of Bediako radiate throughout this book. I warmly recommend this book to theologians, scholars of religion, anthropologists, historians of global Christianity and Christianity in Africa, political scientists, and others.""
--Ezra Chitando, University of Zimbabwe
Sara J. Fretheim is a post-doctoral researcher based in Vancouver, Canada. She is a contributing author to the Routledge Companion to Christianity in Africa (2016), and is the first Canadian scholar to complete a Master of Theology (African Christianity) from the Akrofi-Christaller Institute, Ghana.
About the Author
Table of Contents
Foreword Elias K. Bongmba ix
Chapter 1 Kwame Bediako in Perspective 1
Bediako: On the Page and in Person 2
A Historical and Biographical Approach 13
The Problematization of Gender and Ethnicity: Ongoing Challenges 18
Chapter 2 The African Christian Study of African Religions: An Emerging Discourse 23
African Christian Scholarship: Fresh Perspectives, New Methodologies 24
The African Study of African Religions 28
Methodology: The Great Divide 35
Chapter 3 Reading, Writing, 'Rithmetic, and Religion: Nineteenth-and Twentieth-Century Mission and Colonial Contributions to the African Christian Study of Religions in Ghana 58
Nineteenth-Century Missions: Sowing the Dragon's Teeth of Education 59
Colonial Education: 1919-1950 70
Missionaries and Colonialists: Motivations 77
Chapter 4 Seeking First the Political Kingdom: Politics and the Study of Religion in Ghana 82
Independence and the Study of Religion in Ghana 83
Church and State: Politics and Religion in Ghana 97
Bediako in Context: Student Days 103
Chapter 5 "Down From What Tree?" The Unexpected Influence of Négritude Poetry on Bediako's Christian Thought 109
Négritude: Like a Woman Born to Die 110
Bediako and U Tam'si: Exploring Unexpected Influences 121
Bediako and U Tam'si: Areas of Affinity 132
From Poetry and Identity to Theology and Identity 139
Chapter 6 Reading the Akrofi-Christaller Institute as Text: Bediako's Magnum Opus 148
The Story of ACI 149
The Masters of Theology in African Christianity: Bediako's Abiding Contribution to the African Study of African Religions 164
Evaluating Bediako Through ACI: A Critique 180
Chapter 7 Their Past, Our Present: Bediako's Abiding Significance for African Christian Scholarship 191
One Part of the Story Comes to an End: Kwame Bediako, 1945-2008 192
African Christian Scholarship as Emerging Discourse 192
Bediako: Relic, Relevant, or Relative? 197
Future Directions for African Christian Scholarship 202
Concluding Remarks 205
Appendix A Current Scholarship Engaging With Bediako 209
Appendix B The Akrofi-Christaller Institute's Master of Theology in African Christianity 212