The Kairos of karos : revisiting notions of temporality in Africa

Cilliers, Johan (2018)

CITATION: Cilliers, J. H. 2018. The Kairos of karos : revisiting notions of temporality in Africa. Stellenbosch Theological Journal, 4(1):113-132, doi:10.17570/stj.2018.v4n1.a06.

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Historically speaking, many Christian traditions have been influenced in their liturgy and preaching by Western understandings of time, i.e. as a linear progression from past, to present, to future. Africans do have a strong sense, not only of the past, but also of the future – in contrast to what some scholars would advocate. But African notions of time also harbour a particular understanding of the present, as the experience of social events. In Africa, time is not so much duration as it affects the fate of the individual, as it is the rhythm of the breathing of the social group. Perhaps the image of a spiral depicts best what Africans understand as time – a spiral that includes both linear and cyclical dimensions, as it reflects the rhythms of life. In this paper, an attempt is made to reflect on the contribution of a decolonised understanding of time on preaching in Africa, in dialogue with keywords like memory, present, community, event, and movement.

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