The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends

By Gerald O. West; Musa W. Dube | Go to book overview

EARLIEST SOUTHERN AFRICAN BIBLICAL
INTERPRETATION: THE CASE OF THE
BAKWENA, BAKOLOLO AND BANGWATO
Fidelis Nkomazana

In this essay, I am going to discuss the earliest interpretation of the Bible among the Batswana, namely, among the Bakwena, Bakololo and Bangwato. The social, economic, political, military and religious spheres of life of each of these peoples heavily influenced the way they tried to interpret or apply the Bible to their lives. Although the title of this essay gives the impression that our reference point will be the Bakwena, Bakololo and the Bangwato people, we will find that their kings dominated the scene. This is the case because among most Southern Africans the leader always spoke or acted on the behalf of his people. Besides, all visitors, including those who came with the Bible and Christianity, were expected to report at the kgotla (King's court), and so kings automatically became the hosts of all visitors. This is the reason that King Sechele I of the Bakwena, King Sebetoane and Sekeletu of the Bakololo and King Sekgoma of the Bangwato played a vital role in biblical interpretation in Southern Africa. These kings featured as key actors in the earliest response of their people to the Bible because it was during their reign that Christianity was first introduced among the Bakwena, Bangwato and Bakololo. Since Southern Africans responded to issues facing them corporately, the views of the rulers must be understood as representing the aspirations of the people.

The Kololo people are one of the Bantu speaking peoples who were forced by the Mfecane wars in the early 18th century to migrate northward from South Africa. They eventually settled in place in the present day Zambia where, David Livingstone (an agent of the London Missionary Society) found them and attempted to introduce Christianity. The Bangwato are one of the Tswana states which occupied what came to be known as the Bechuanaland Protectorate, the present day Botswana. They, with their sister states, the Kwena and the Ngwaketse, are said to have been formed when three brothers broke away from their father, Malope-a-Masilo, to establish their

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