New Class on African Christianity


The Fall trimester saw the addition of a new class in African Christianity taught by Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, a native of Zimbabwe who now lives in Chicago. Dr. Kunonga was introduced to UTS by Dr. Tyler Hendricks during a True Family Values seminar in Washington DC in 1996. Dr. Kunonga was impressed by the presentations and enjoyed several conversations with Dr. Hendricks. He had searched for a congregation which was free of the liberal attitudes to sexuality which he had found in American Christianity and which differed from the more conservative African perspective to which he was accustomed. When Dr. Kunonga told Dr. Hendricks how, in the past, he had enjoyed the intimate atmosphere of teaching at a Seminary, Dr. Hendricks told him about UTS and so the connection was made.

Dr. Kunonga seems very happy with his decision to come to UTS and he particularly enjoys his interaction with the students. "I’ve taught at this level before," he said, "but for people without a seminary background, the students here are very impressive. I’m impressed by the level of their appreciation of theology and of Divine Principle."

When Dr. Kunonga listened to Dr. Hendricks’ explanation of Divine Principle last year, he found a resonance with the African cosmogony which his maternal grandmother had imparted to him as a small boy. His grandmother was a great influence on his early life in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and he remembers hearing her voice long after she had passed away. His early Christian education came from his parents who were Anglicans and who both assumed leadership roles in their church. Dr. Kunonga’s mother, in particular, was a very dynamic person who led the national Mother’s Union in Zimbabwe. In addition to Christianity, African nationalism was a powerful force which energized the family. Dr. Kunonga’s grandfather was a leader of the revolution in the late nineteenth century and his brothers and sisters fought throughout the 1960s and 70s until independence in 1979.

After attending an Anglican boarding school for six years, young Nolbert Kunonga entered the University of Zimbabwe where he gained his B.Sc. in sociology and anthropology. He then went on to complete his M.Div. at the University of Zimbabwe and at Cape Town University. In 1978, he was ordained as an Anglican priest and shepherded a parish for three years before becoming a seminary professor from 1981-89. In 1989, he traveled to Cambridge, England to study anthropology and while there, he met a professor from Northwestern University who urged him to apply to his university. Dr. Kunonga therefore completed his Master of Theological Studies degree at Northwestern, focusing on African Christianity and history. He stayed at Northwestern to complete his doctorate, writing his dissertation on Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, a leading figure in the recent history of Zimbabwe.

Dr. Kunonga is happy with his decision to come to UTS but he still looks forward to rejoining his wife and children at the end of the trimester in Evanston, Illinois.