Studying African Traditional Religion at Union

Katilau Mbindyo MDiv ’19 graduates this spring and will go on to study African Traditional Religion under the mentorship of Dr. Jacob Olupona at Harvard University’s African and African American Studies Program.
Could you tell me about the journey that led you to choose this program?
I came to Union in search of a way to liberate myself from Christianity because I couldn’t reconcile the atrocities of colonialism with the Gospel of Jesus, though I know other people can. I realized during my time here that I was just interested in learning more about my ancestral traditions. I was introduced through Dr. James Cone’s liberation theology to a bunch of African theologians, including John Mbiti, an Akamba theologian, and from there I learned about the field of African Traditional Religion. It was through working with Dr. Aliou Niang that I found the two tenured professors in the United States who take students in African Traditional Religion and I wanted to learn from people who have been doing this work for a long time.
Tell me about your work here at Union and how you’ll be continuing it at Harvard.
I took the interdisciplinary track at Union and designed a concentration in African Spirituality and Ecological Theology. I put together my own curriculum, which honored Black religion, eco-ethic, and eco-thought. After the passing of Dr. Cone, I found myself kind of lost here and realized that I had to piece together a Union that would feed my academic endeavors. I got involved with the Center

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