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A critical comparison of the concepts of Modimo (God) in Sotho traditional religion and the concepts of the Christian God as a missiological problem.

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This thesis states that the concepts of MODIMO [GOD] (Setiloane 1976) in Sotho Traditional Religion are different to the concepts of the Christian God. The notions of MODIMO are panentheistic (all pervading), whilst the notions of the Christian God are monotheistic. The notions of MODIMO are impersonal whilst those of the Christian God are personal. The monotheistic notions of the Christian God are Hellenized (p'Bitek 1970). The task of this thesis is to de-Hellenize the notions of MODIMO. The Sotho Traditional Religion attributes of deities emphasize their nature and the pragmatism more than their natural and moral attributes. The notions of the Christian God, on the other hand, are conceived through their moral and natural attributes. In addition, the conceptual content of the attributes of the Christian and Sotho Traditional Religion concepts of deities differ. This investigation seeks to present the Sotho concepts of MODIMO as Basotho would express them, to unearth the Sotho concepts of MODIMO and to present them with the concern and the consciousness of the syncretistic fusion (Kgatla 1992) that has inevitably happened due to contact with missionary Christianity and western culture. One feature of this contact was coercion and domination, as missionary-colonizers imposed their Hellenized concepts of the Christian God, as well as imposing the British capitalist mode of production on the African agrarian and pastoral communities in South Africa. The notion of the cultural superiority of western European culture, in which the missionaries and colonizers were immersed, blinded them. This was because of the 'world' from which they came from. Unfortunately, the Christian God they preached to Africans was a strange deity that had no consideration for African people as 'full' humans. The African concepts of MODIMO have been resilient and it is possible to unearth them.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2002.


Sotho (African people)--Religion., Sotho (African people)--Religious life and customs., Tswana (African people)--Religion., Tswana (African people)--Religious life and customs., Christianity--Africa., Missions--Africa., Theology--Africa., God (African religion), Theses--Theology.