Decolonising and (re)colonising religious education in Sub-Saharan Africa: toward an anticolonial critique of the status quo

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A common argument for maintaining the status quo (which I challenge) in Religious Education in sub-Saharan Africa is that Christianity is preferred on the account of tradition, (missionary) history and attending to the needs of the majority faith (Nthontho 2020). The slow pace of educational reform in education more generally and what I see as the conceptual misunderstanding post-confessional RE, complicates any meaningful reform in RE. Even more, African political leaders and policymakers are trapped into what Nyoni calls a ‘colonial caged mentality’ to the extent that ‘ . . . African democratic structures embrace imperialist choreographies and architectures in social structures such as education . . . following on from the colonial past’ (Nyoni 2019, 4). Others like Njoki Wane have gone further to argue that colonialism and its relentless attack on the ‘ . . . mental, spiritual and emotional realms of Africa . . . ’ (Wane 2006, 87) has left indelible scars still being felt today in postcolonial Africa. In his work on “Decolonisation of higher education toward Dismantling epistemic violence and Eurocentrism in South Africa” Savo Heleta observes that Africans are unable or unwilling to challenge ‘ . . . epistemologies and knowledge systems . . . rooted in colonial . . . and Western worldviews . . . ’ (Heleta 2016, 1). This, according to Wane, is happening at the expense of authentic (African) indigenous ways of knowing in education and social life, including religion (Wane 2008)
What we have in the end (and as point criticism in this paper) is that despite post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa being politically independent for over five decades, RE and indeed education in general, remains scripted by a colonial/ missionary framework of the past, of course despite the veneer of change here and there.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2020
EventPhilosophy, Religion, Education Research Group: Department of Education - University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 27 Oct 202027 Oct 2020


SeminarPhilosophy, Religion, Education Research Group
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Decolonisation
  • Religious Education
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • anticolonial critique


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