Rethinking Catechesis of Forgiveness in the Context of Historical Injustices

African Covenantal Oath-Taking as Panacea to Collective Memory

  • John Michael Kiboi St. Paul's University
Keywords: Forgiveness, Catechesis, Reconciliation, Peacemaking, Historical injustice, Covenant, Oath-taking, Eschatology


When a human being is offended by another, they hurt and the urge to revenge is inevitable. Nonetheless, forgiveness is imperative both as a Christian virtue and also for the purpose of healing from the hurting. This can only be achieved when genuine repentance on the part of the oppressor and genuine forgiveness on the part of the victim take place. When these values are missed out in the process, collective memories of the bitterness are likely to be passed from one generation to another. When bitterness of the past is passed on to younger generations through collective memories, we witness intermittent violence like that which we always witness during the electioneering period in Kenya. Persisting sporadic violence ignited by collective memories, despite truces between warring communities, is evidence that no genuine forgiveness ever took place. How can we then achieve genuine repentance on the part of the oppressor and true forgiveness on the part of the victim? This article proposes rethinking the catechesis of forgiveness. It argues that if forgiveness is understood in the light of covenantal oath-taking, the African Christian will take it seriously and will avoid passing on the bitterness to the next generation. Theological hermeneutics are applied to the exegesis of biblical texts on forgiveness and inculturation hermeneutics are applied in linking the cross of Christ and the African oath-taking. The research is library based.