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  • Writer's pictureNnaemeka Ali, O.M.I

Vincent Mulago - Modern African Apostolic Father

I just finished the first chapter of African Theology, edited by Bénézet Bujo and Juvenal Ilunga Muya. The first chapter is consecrated to Vincent Mulago. He is among the ancestors of our modern African theology, Vincent Mulago. Born in 1924 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mushi Wasomire (the educated Mushi), as his Mushi compatriots nicknamed him, studied, first in his native country, then in Rwanda, before proceeding to Rome. Shortly after his priestly ordination in 1952, he obtained his doctorate (1955) and joined the other Pan-African thinkers to forge the way for what we have today as the African vision of the world.

Being among the pioneers and formed in Neo-Scholasticism, his work tries to embrace every aspect of theology: sacramental theology, Christology, ecclesiology, etc. And knowing the greatness and weaknesses of this school, one does not need to go far to comprehend why the greatness of his theology often ends up being its downfall.

His Christology, for example, was developed around what the Bénézet Buzo calls ecclesiological Christology (God-Church relationship as the key to understanding the nature of Christ). But, knowing the historical and theological contexts of Mushi Wasomire, one observes that his ecclesiology ended up being pyramidal. Thus, his ecclesiology complicated his Christology.

However, his attempt to touch every aspect of theology opened the possibility of examining them from his successors' African point of view. Also, as a Pan-Africanist, Mushi Wasomire engaged in the same fight as other Pan-Africanists. However, they were mainly interested in correcting the problems created by the Bantu philosophy of Tempels.

His work might not have developed in detail the elements of the African theology; still, it laid a foundation permitting his successors to cogitate on God while focusing on His possible incarnation on the African soil and culture. He also laid a foundation for African anthropological theology by examining different aspects of Bashi, Banyarwanda, and Burundi anthropology.

The article is very concise and gives much information, not just on what the theologian archived but on the vast field of theological studies he opened. Many questions he consciously or unconsciously raised still beg to be attended to. His difficulty in reasoning out of the establishment is still that of many African theologians. His inability to tackle specific theological problems from pure African points of view keeps hunting the development of theology in Africa.


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