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The liberation from colonial dependence and consequent sociopolitical transformations on the continent of Africa has imposed particular requirements for the African theological practice. The religious thought and actions inspired by it have made huge impacts on African communities over the last decades. Today, religion incurs the integration of society, triggers social movements, and forms the collective consciousness and memory of African populations throughout the world. In his Postcolonializing God: An African Practical Theology, Emmaneul Y. Lartey accentuates the idea of postcolonializing as an innovative intercultural approach to the practical theological workable to exert salutiferous influences on African religious, spiritual, and cultural legacies.
Context and Arguments
The multidimensional concept of postcolonializing is an overarching theme of Emmaneul Lartey’s Postcolonializing God: An African Practical Theology. Lartey (2013) expands the notion of postcolonializing by adding connotations of religious diversity, counter-hegemony, plurality, and the Creator’s divine involvement in the decolonization and interactions with humans. He promulgates the diversity of languages, cultures, and expressions of beliefs as the divine purpose of postcolonializing God (Lartey, 2013). Throughout his book, Lartey (2013) provides vivid examples of postcolonializing activities that include elements of “imitation, improvisation, and creativity” (p. 128). Today’s African postcolonializing experiences are considered from historical and theological perspectives. Lartey substantiates his provisions concerning the concept of postcolonializing by referring to passages from foundational Christian texts, including the Bible and the Gospels, and recent theological studies.
Emmaneul Lartey’s Postcolonializing God: An African Practical Theology consists of six chapters that are accompanied by the author’s comments, elucidations, and demonstrative examples, testifying to the importance and adequacy of Lartey’s approach to the African practical theology. To highlight and promote postcolonial experiences specific to the African faith communities, every chapter of Lartey’s monograph is focused on certain particularities of African and African diasporan discourses and performances. For instance, Chapter 2 discusses the postcolonializing activities expressed in the cohabitation and “hybridity of Black spirituality and Black Christianity” by tracing back historical roots of the Black Church (Lartey, 2013, p. 36). In Chapter 3, he examines and evaluates the postcolonializing nature of the communal liturgy that was performed to mark the anniversary of the abolition of the Transatlantic slave trade in Elmina, Ghana, in 2007 (Lartey, 2013, p. 64). Analyzing centuries-old traditions of African spirituality and religiosity in the context of this postcolonializing liturgical practice, the researcher elucidates patterns of rituals through the lenses of indigenization and postcolonialism. Leading representatives of Christianity, Islam, and African Traditional Religion participated in this ceremony, turning the postcolonializing essence of African theology into reality. Chapter 4 is devoted to the enigmatic and transcending religious practices of Ishmael Nyarku Oblitey (Brother Tetteh) and his Etherean Mission. Lartey (2013) identifies teachings and practices of this African religionist as the distinguishing features “of a genuinely postcolonializing African spiritual movement” (p. 117). Irrespective of chapter content, the author’s comprehensive explanations, provided examples, and reasoned statements contribute to the book’s overwhelming persuasiveness.
The Practice of Caregiving
Both novice and experienced practitioners can obtain a valuable insight into postcolonializing pastoral caregiving and theological practice by exploring the fifth chapter of Lartey’s book. Through the analysis of his first-hand experience, the author explains that the consideration of spirituality is a core component of successful pastoral care and counseling in the African postcolonializing environment (Lartey, 2013, p. 119). The truest prospects for pastoral and theological practices are grounded on a model that combines internationalization, recognition of cultural diversity, and indigeneity. According to Lartey (2013), although Western models aspire to preserve and even expand their authority and dominance over individuals and communities in the religious sphere, the postcolonializing pastoral practice should be aimed at the creation of healthy communities whose members are provided with safety, nurture, and empowerment. Postcolonializing religious activities are not limited to theologians and clergymen in the African environment; pastoral and theological strategies promulgated by Emmaneul Lartey are pertinent to all communities suffering forcedly inoculated faith.
Questions to Discuss
However, some points of the monograph appear to need further clarification. For instance, it is essential to shedding more light on the interrelations between imitation, improvisation, and creativity determined as strategic constituents of postcolonializing practices and activities. Moreover, it is not clear enough whether all these strategies are obligatory phases of the postcolonializing process or the decolonized society can progress to the final stage at once.
Summing up, the decolonization of African populations caused transformations in their religious practices. Theological and pastoral activities should be adjusted to the new paradigm of postcolonializing. Emmaneul Y. Lartey’s engagement with issues of interfaith relations lends his Postcolonializing God: An African Practical Theology an enduring quality and power that nourishes African practical theological work.
Lartey, E. Y. (2013). Postcolonializing God: An African practical theology. London, UK: SCM Press.