Stop. Think of a Christian author from Africa. Do you have a name in your mind? Great. Write it down on a piece of paper and don’t show it to anyone.
Here’s a crazy thing.
If you’re from the US, Canada, UK or anywhere in the Global North chances are you didn’t write anything. You have never heard of an African Christian author. Don’t be ashamed, most people haven’t either.
If you know an African writer besides Augustine, Cyprian and Origen, I bet the Christian book you read was a memoir. An African person experiences painful tragedy; genocide, murder, poverty, civil wars or diseases. A Christian well-wisher comes along and takes them to America where they live happily ever after.
But if you’re an African, all the books by African Christians you have read are probably by the founder of your church. Chris Oyakhilome, Dag Heward-Mills or David O. Oyedepo. That’s sad but you’re not alone; African Christians don’t read African Christians.
Good Christian books by Africans are like diamonds. They’re precious but rare and born from intense pressure and heat. They can only be found after digging in the right places. But you won’t find them in your local bookstore. It’s hard to learn from African Christians.
Today is your lucky day. I have dug deep and searched everywhere. I am happy to share with you 10 amazing books by African Christian authors you should read. As an author, the depth and soundness of the teachings inspire me to be better.
7 Books By African You Should Read
Bonus: Download a list of 20 incredible books by African authors that will show you where to find them online.
Africa Bible Commentary edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo
Africa Bible Commentary is one of the most important Bible scholarships from Africa. The commentary was written by 70 African writers from several countries. I was excited to see two of the contributors were from my beloved nation, Zimbabwe.
Regarding the commentary, John Stott wrote, “Its foundation is biblical, its perspective African, and its approach to controversial questions balanced. I intend to use it myself in order to gain African insights into the Word of God.” Conrad Mbewe simply wrote, “If you can find something better, please let me know.” I agree.
A Guide To Interpreting Scripture: Context, Harmony, And Application by Michael Kyomya
“Christians need more than just exhortation to read the Bible; they also need to be empowered to do so profitably,” writes Bishop Michael Kyomya. And adds, “the burden of empowering people to read the Bible… is especially urgent in light of the many dangerous cults that have sprung up and the widespread but unwholesome reading and teaching of God’s word.”
Kymomya’s A Guide to Interpreting Scriptures;is quick witty and insightful read. A sound interpretation stems from an understanding that the dual authorship of Scripture: God-authored and human-authored. Since the Bible is God-breathed, a good Bible study should be based on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Preachers Of A Different Gospel: A Pilgrim’s Reflections On Contemporary Trends In Christianity By Femi B. Adeleye
Televangelists have single-handedly ruined centuries of Christian growth in Africa. Millions of people in Africa now treat the gospel as a get-rich-quick scheme and the practices of righteousness as tools for earning God’s favor. Especially Pentecostals like me.
The prosperity gospel is raging havoc and Femi Adeleye stands up to speak out against it. Like Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah, Femi Adeleye is troubled by the wickedness around him. The Preachers of a Different Gospel does a great job to show how misreading scriptures and unchecked cultural beliefs can be a hindrance to Christian growth.
The War Within: Christians and Inner Conflict by A.C. Chukwuocha
“If turning from God to our own ways is the core of sin, then salvation involves the very opposite, wrote A.C. Chukwuocha. He advised, “Instead of turning our backs on God and defiantly choosing to sin and be estranged from him, we turn around to face God and submit to him.”
David wrote in Psalm 31:1, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” We have received the blessing that David longed for; Christ’s death and resurrection broke the power of sin in our lives. To continue reigning over sin, Chukwuocha advised:
- Keep your eyes on fixed on Jesus
- Hunger and thirst after righteousness
- Allow God’s love to compel you to act
The Trinity of Sin by Yusufu Turaki
“It is important for African Christians who want to be authentic and relevant to have a thorough knowledge of the African terrain,” advised Yusufu Turaki. And, “Unless we know what it is that we need to renew and transform, we cannot make progress in the transformation. Until we know and understand the people we wish to transform.”
Turaki navigates the complex landscape of African traditional landscape like a skilled farmer winnowing corn. He throws the cultural beliefs into the air and allows the wind of the gospel to blow away the chaff. With earnestness, Turaki reveals how some aspects of the African worldview undermines believers from experiencing victory over sin while others can help non-African believers grow in Christ.
Is Africa Cursed?: A Vision for the Radical Transformation of an Ailing Continent by Tokunboh Adeyemo
Diseases. Poverty. Wars. African countries are perennially affected by these woes. No wonder, some Christians have attributed these woes to the curse of Canaan. Louis T. Talbot, the founder of Talbot School of Theology, concluded, “it is not by chance that the Negro has been a servant of servants. This fact is prophecy fulfilled.” Is that true?
“Resounding NO,” writes Adeyemo Tokunboh. “And there before him stood the Messiah, who had not only been beaten, mocked, spat on and struck on the head but also rejected by His own people—also forsaken and denied by His close allies,” Tokunboh recounts the events leading to the Cross. He adds, “At that hour of need when darkness reigned, an African—Simon of Cyrene—was at hand to comfort and relieve Him by carrying His cross.”
Isn’t this the blessing of being an African: carrying proudly the Cross while everyone else rejects it; holding on to the teachings of Christ when the world consider them primitive and outdated; emphasizing the work of the Holy Spirit even if most Europeans and Americans regard it as illogical and unnecessarily emotional?
African Christian Theology by Samuel Waje Kunhiyop
I agree with Aiah Foday-Khabenje, “Too much of our theological reflection in Africa is informed by Western thinkers and their understanding of Scripture.” He added, “Ignorance and ethnic arrogance have resulted in the African worldview and African religious beliefs being dismissed as primitive and heathen.”
In African Christian Theology, Samuel Waje Kunhiyop begins by defining what theology is and goes on to show how theology is crafted. African Traditional Religions offer answers to all the problems and desires of Africans. However, some of the dangerous beliefs filter into Christian theology producing some dangerous variants of Christianity. Kunhiyop explores subjects ranging from church discipline to funerals. This book should be on your bookshelf.
3 Christian Books By Africans In My Wishlist: Honorable mentions
They’re a couple of books by African authors that are on my wish list. After reading the first chapter and looking at the Table of Contents, I am convinced they are great books worth your time.
African Christian Ethics by Samuel Waje Kunhiyop
The main problem faced by many Bible students in Africa is they’re taught Western ethics disguised as Christian Ethics. This often results in raising church leaders that are academically divorced from the realities of the people they serve. Kunhiyop notes, “What should be taught in African theological colleges is an ethics that is African, biblical and Christian.”
Prof Kunhiyop first offers a brief introduction to the three types of ethics that influence believers: African ethics, Western ethics, and Christian ethics. African Christian ethics should biblically and sufficiently address six issues pertinent to Africa: politics, finances, marriage and family, sexuality, health and religion. And these are the issues Prof Kunhiyop spends about 400 pages addressing.
My Neighbour’s Faith: Islam Explained for African Christians by John Azumah
I first learned about militant Muslims from watching Hollywood movies. My experiences were contrary. Growing up a Muslim was simply someone who wear a funny heart when they go to the mosque. There was nothing scary about them.
Before the resurgence of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaeda in Uganda and Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, Muslims coexisted with Christians in most African countries. And they still do. John Azumah writes from the latter perspective and offers ways that Islam poses challenges to Christian growth. Since Islam is the fastest growing religion in Africa, this book is a must read for Africans and anyone interested in the African church.
Foundations of African Traditional Religion and Worldview by Yusufu Turaki
Sometimes numbers lie. You have heard that by 2025 they will be more than half a billion Christians in Africa. No one mentions that nearly half of the ‘Christians’ either do not believe Jesus Christ is God or the Bible is God-breathed but believe in ancestral worship. The advent of prosperity gospel has made the situation even worse.
Some unbiblical teachings from African Traditional Religions form the core doctrine of most of the rapidly growing African churches. For example, sin is viewed to be caused by demonic activity in African Traditional Religions. And now most new churches prescribe exorcism as a cure to sin instead of repentance and surrendering to Jesus Christ. I look forward to reading this gem.
African books are hard to find. I now know where to find them. If you only read ebooks like me it’s going to be a challenge. And if you’re used to getting books you order in less than three days, you might want to learn some patients
I bought most of the books I read from WordAlive Publishers. The books were published by Zondervan through the imprint coalition Hippo Books. Amazon and Barnes and Noble has some of the books.
Which of the books I have listed are you most likely going to read? Why? Share your response in the comments section.
Update: Langham Literature has a collection of even more books by African authors. And most of the books in this book round-up were an initiative of Langham Literature. The good news is now you can find all of these books in eBook format.