Kuona, An African Perspective on Religions: J.N.K. Mugambi's Contribution

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Kuona, An African Perspective on Religions: J.N.K. Mugambi's Contribution ABSTRACT: Kuona is a Shona (one of Zimbabwe’s major languages) verb meaning "to see." In poetic constructions, it is often used as an ocular metaphor meaning insight or understanding. This ocular metaphor can be used to describe Mugambi’s assessment of the exclusivistic claims one often encounters in the Abrahamic religions. Such claims often arise from a strongly held belief that the adherent is one of God’s chosen. Mugambi has emerged as one of the most articulate philosophical theologians in the African continent. His reflections, ubiquitous in classrooms on the continent, deserve a much broader audience. My paper seeks to introduce Mugambi’s perspective on religion. Part of Mugambi’s project has been to make an assessment of this notion of chosenness in the Abrahamic religions. He does so particularly with reference to the relationship between Christianity and the African religious heritage. Kuona is a Shona (one of Zimbabwe's major languages) verb meaning to see. In poetic constructions it is often used as an ocular metaphor meaning insight or understanding. This ocular metaphor, it seems to me, can be used to describe Mugambi's assessment of the exclusivistic claims one often encounters in the Abrahamic religions. "Only those who believe as we do have any hope of an eternity with God." "We are the ones destined or predestined for heaven." These and such claims often arise from a strongly held belief that the adherent is one of God's chosen ones. Part of Mugambi's project has been to make an assessment of this notion of chosenness in the Abrahamic religions. He does so particularly with reference to the relationship between Christianity and the... ... middle of paper ... ...on mark on the Mosaic religions, Mugambi proceeds to suggest that other religious traditions may be propounding perspectives closer to the divine ideal. He assesses he religions of the Orient — especially Buddhism — as being immensely tolerant and respectful of the humanity and integrity of others. The African religious heritage, he finds to be also inclusive rather than exclusive. Realizing that his challenge is bound to evoke a charge of Universalism on the part of many evangelical Christians in the North Atlantic areas, Mugambi contends that his insights are not such as to bring shame on those who accept them. He declares that when Christians of non-EuroAmerican cultures seek a synthesis of the Christian faith with their own heritage, a charge of universalism may after all turn out to be a virtue rather than a vice. In the final analysis God is the final arbiter.

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