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The role of Micah's rhetorical language and Mwaghavul sayings on congregants' response to sermons in central Nigeria.

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This study focuses on an examination of the role that the biblical rhetoric of the book of Micah and Mwaghavul cultural sayings (sumpoo) play in enabling Mwaghavul congregants in central Nigeria to better understand, respond to and recall sermons preached. In view of the above, this research argues that a preacher‘s appropriate synergistic use of the biblical rhetoric and African indigenous wisdom, makes it possible for congregants to more readily respond to and recall sermons. The Mwaghavul people of the Plateau State in central Nigeria, use many wise sayings from the sacred text and cultural memory, as a means to authenticate their traditional mode of communication. Similarly, the researcher noted that the prophet Micah‘s skillful articulation of the indigenous rhetorical devices of the eighth-century BC context equally accorded the prophecy a great response by his immediate audience; and, as a collective memory, was recalled a century later (cf. Jer. 26:18-19). The researcher was motivated to undertake a contextual hermeneutical study of this book, with the view to craft better ways of engaging both the rhetorical elements of the book of Micah and comparable Mwaghavul sayings, ultimately to increase the gospel‘s impact on the people. In order to achieve the above, the research uses three lenses: contextual hermeneutics, using the tripolar model; inculturation; and reception theories. A socio-rhetorical interpretation of the Bible and the African proverbial hermeneutics are used to craft African contextual hermeneutics in the postcolonial period, that values the African knowledge system‘s contribution to understanding and owning the Christian message. A rhetorical and literary analysis of the Book of Micah is done. Attention is also given to African uses of wise sayings as rhetorical devices in secular and religious settings. These circles of rhetoric make contributions to sermon rhetoric in Africa – the rhetoric of the text and that of African wisdom constitute the sermon rhetoric. Undertaking a comparative study of the responses of twenty-four congregants, from two geographic clusters, "A" and "B", to the sermons through qualitative interviews, it was discovered that the congregants from cluster "B", the experimental cluster where the preachers used wise sayings, recalled and responded better to the message preached, showing evidence of transformation. This shows that sermons anchored in familiar language forms and the congregants‘ cultural roots brings about better understanding, recall and response to the sermons preached. This calls for a change in the curriculum of pastor training institutions like Gindiri Theological Seminary to award privilege to the pedagogy of context and to not neglect the pedagogy of formation for obtaining far reaching significance.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.