The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories, and Trends

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

THE USE OF PSALMS IN AFRICAN INDIGENOUS
CHURCHES IN NIGERIA1
David Tuesday Adamo

Early missionaries, and later the missionary trained indigenous leaders of mainline churches, made us, Nigerian Christians, throw away all our charms, medicines, incantations, forms of divination, sacrifices and other cultural ways of protecting, healing and liberating ourselves from the evil powers that fill Nigerian African life, leaving us only with the Bible. They did not teach us how to use the Bible as a means of protecting, healing, and solving the daily problems of life, but by reading the Bible with our own eyes we have found ways of appropriating it for our context.2 Gradually, as we recognized the emptiness of their ways, we began asking questions about how to read the Bible with our own eyes, to meet our daily needs as African Christians. The attempt to answer these questions brought about the introduction of various forms of African cultural hermeneutics or vernacular hermeneutics (see Adamo 1999), which make African socio-cultural contexts the subject of interpretation (Ukpong 1995: 5). It means that analysis of the text is done from the perspective of the African world-view and culture (Ukpong 1995: 6). The purpose of this essay is to discuss how African cultural hermeneutics have been used to interpret the book of Psalms in an African context. This essay will illustrate in the most concrete way how African Indigenous Churches, particularly the Aladura Churches among the Yoruba people of Nigeria, have applied vernacular hermeneutics to the book of Psalms.3

____________________
1
I would like to acknowledge first of all that this essay would have been impossible without the assistance of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the NonWestern World, New College, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, who offered me a research fellowship that enabled me to put these ideas together.
2
This is not to say that the Christian missionaries have done nothing good for Africa. Despite all the mistakes that Christian missionaries have made, it is an indisputable fact that they have been an immense blessing to Africa in the area of education. They did not only translate the Bible into African languages, they also taught Africans how to read the Bible in their languages and “with their own eyes.” This enables African Christians to read the Bible in their own cultural perspective, world view, and life experience (see Ukpong 1995).
3
The fact that my investigation is done among the Aladura Churches of Nigeria does not mean that this method of reading the Bible is limited to Aladura Churches. Many members of the mainline missionary churches in Nigeria have adopted this method and are also patronising prophets of Aladura churches. Some indigenous churches in some other West African countries follow similar interpretative practices.

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