Prof Kwame Bediako, we remember an African giant

We heard the sad news of the death of one of Africa’s theological giants and pioneers. he has truly been a pioneer in Africa and beyond and has inspired many leading edge theologians of the day. Prof Tinyiko Maluleke writes, I am his son, as you know well…… He cannot have been ill for too long as I know he was in Pietermaritzburg not too long ago. I am in shock for the loss of one of Africa’s best’.

As description of his achievements from his involvement in the Seminars on Christian Scholarship, hosted by Calvin college tells part of this, his remarkable story:

…fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, [he]is a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. After secondary education, he read French Honours at the University of Ghana, Legon, and pursued postgraduate studies in French Literature and African Literature in French, in the University of Bordeaux, France.

During his studies in France he came to a deep conviction regarding the spiritual and intellectual coherence of the Christian Faith, and discovered the crucial significance of personal faith in Christ in the pursuit of the intellectual life. Subsequently, he studied Theology at the London School of Theology, England, and later undertook doctoral research in the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

He holds doctorate degrees in French Literature from the University of Bordeaux, and in Divinity from the University of Aberdeen.

From 1984, he served for three years as Resident and Presbyterian Minister at the Ridge Church, Accra, an international, interdenominational English-speaking congregation.

In 1987, he became Director of Akrofi-Christaller Centre for Mission Research and Applied Theology (now Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture) in Akropong-Akuapem, Ghana, an initiative of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana in research and advanced studies in the fields of Christian Faith and Thought and in the relationship of the Christian Church to society. His main task since that time has been to establish the Institute as an academic and pastoral institution serving the churches in Ghana, Africa and further afield through research and Christian scholarship, and to help develop a network of similar institutions elsewhere in Africa through the African Theological Fellowship (ATF), in which he serves as General Secretary.

For twelve years he was Visiting Lecturer in African Theology in the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he lectured and gave postgraduate supervision for a term each year. He is also a member of the Board of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS), Oxford, England. He has lectured also in many theological faculties in Europe, the USA and Africa.

In 1998 he was made an honorary Professor in the School of Theology, University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, in recognition of the postgraduate programmes in African Christianity that ACI runs on behalf of the ATF in conjunction with the School of Religion and Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal (as it is now known).

He has written extensively in the fields of Gospel, culture and Christian identity, and in the development of new contextual theologies in Africa. His publications include Theology and Identity—The Impact of Culture upon Christian Thought in the Second Century and Modern Africa (Regnum Books, 1992, reprinted 1999), Christianity in Africa—The Renewal of a Non-Western Religion (Edinburgh University Press; Orbis Books, 1995; reprinted 1997), and Jesus and the Gospel in Africa, History and Experience (Orbis Books, 2004).

He is married to Dr. Gillian Mary Bediako, who is Documentation and Publications Officer and Editor at the Institute, and they have two young adult sons, Timothy Yaw (23) and Daniel Kwabena (20).

The Missiological community mourns the loss of a brilliant colleague, a friend, mentor, an inspiration.

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