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.
I have done some digging and I bought 15 amazing books by African Christians. A couple of these books were published through an initiative of Langham Literature by Hippo Books, an imprint of Zondervan.
No good internet access? No problem, download Christian Books by African Authors for offline reading as a PDF.
5 Christian Books on Bible Theology and Hermeneutics by Africans
1. Africa Bible Commentary edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo
Africa Bible Commentary is one of the most important Bible scholarships from Africa. It makes it easier for African readers to understand the Bible by bridging the cultural gap without using the Western lens. For example, Solomon Andria in Romans wrote, “Rome was a city like Nairobi and Abidjan today. Businessmen and ordinary people from many regions mingled there.” As I read Romans, I now have a picture of Harare in my mind.
2. African Study Bible
Produced in partnership with Tyndale, Africa Study Bible is a perfect partner for the Africa Bible Commentary. Although I am not a fan of the NLT translation, I found the Africa Study Bible refreshing and engaging. The ASB often related Bible passages to proverbs and stories, which was good considering how storytelling is pivotal in African societies. Above all, the Touch Points are an excellent resource for bridging the cultural gap in understanding the Bible. For example, in John 1 the ASB gives an illustration of how forerunners worked in most African communities. As someone who met a forerunner growing up in the village, this brought to life the story of John the Baptist.
3. 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 he 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.” Kyomya’s A Guide to Interpreting Scriptures; is quick witty and insightful read. Throughout the book, Kyomya argued that good interpretation pursues the author’s intent and not what the original audience understood.
4. Triple Heritage: Gospels in Intercultural Mediations by Jean-Claude Loba-Mkole
There is a cultural gap that you need to bridge when you’re reading the Bible. Above all, as noted by Jean-Claude Loba-Mkole in Triple Heritage, an African reader must navigate between three cultures to better understand the Gospels; the 21st Century African culture, the church traditions (European Protestant or African Initiated), and the first-century Jewish culture. Unfortunately, a lot of ideas helpful for cultivating a good Bible reading habit are buried in theological jargon and mountains of scholarly discussions. But for an advanced reader, Triple Heritage, is a good resource.
5. Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture by Lamin Sanneh
Fact. Most of the functional schools and hospitals across Africa were built by missionaries. However, tension exists between Africans and missionaries because of the twining of Christianity and colonialism. Lamin Sanneh makes a compelling argument that the translatability of the Bible encourages cultural pluralism since vernacular languages carry with them set beliefs and practices. “We can overcome barriers of exclusion and suspicion only when we turn to the one God in our own idiom.”
6 Christian Books on Theology and Philosophy by African Christians
1. 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.” However, in African Christian Theology, Samuel Waje Kunhiyop gives caution by defining theology and its role in Christian growth. Kunhiyop explores subjects ranging from church discipline to funerals. This book should be on your bookshelf.
2. African Christian Ethics by Samuel Waje Kunhiyop
“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.
3. The Sacrifice of Africa: A Political Theology for Africa by Emmanuel Katongole
Africa is the richest continent yet the poorest. Emmanuel Katongole doesn’t explore this paradox, he explores the answer – social ethics. “Who we are, and who are capable of becoming, depends very much on the stories we tell, the stories we listen to, and the stories we live.” It follows then that the problem in Africa is we have let others tell our stories; missionaries coming to Africa are read books by other missionaries instead of African theologians. Thus, people attempting to provide solutions to African woes bring strategies that have largely failed because they were crafted from a single story; to every David Livingstone story there is a King Leopold and to every Mobutho Sese Seko there is a Thomas Sankara.
4. 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. However, most Christians in Africa fame their lives following a Traditional African worldview. Yusufu Turaki shows that this worldview influences how we read and understand scripture. And most cases, it has led to unbiblical syncretism. “The approach of the Lord God Yahweh to the Canaanite religion and culture should be the theological norm and model for a Christian and Biblical approach to the traditional religion in Africa.” However, that doesn’t mean all traditional beliefs and practices are evil, it only means we should be more thorough before accepting and promoting them.
5. Is Africa Cursed?: A Vision for the Radical Transformation of an Ailing Continent by Tokunboh Adeyemo
The founder of Talbot School of Theology once wrote, “it is not by chance that the Negro has been a servant of servants. This fact is a prophecy fulfilled.” Is that true? In Is Africa Cursed?, Adeyemo Tokunboh disagreed, “At that hour of need when darkness reigned, an African—Simon of Cyrene—was at hand to comfort and relieve [Jesus Christ] by carrying His cross.” Unlike Emmanuel Katongole’s Sacrifice for Africa, Is Africa Cursed? discusses in detail the origins of Africa’s woes indicting globalization, corruption, colonialism, tribalism and retrogressive cultural practices. Tokunboh Adeyemo concluded by discussing the role of the church in developing Africa.
6. Theological Pitfalls in Africa by Byang H. Kato
Although Theological Pitfalls in Africa was written in 1975, it adequately raises an alarm against the lures of wholesale acceptance of African Traditional religions. Byang H. Kato demonstrates how the recent drive to show Christ through traditional practices (guilty as charged) can actually lead people away from Christ. “To say that Africans, or anyone else, still have the vestiges of Imago Dei, by virtue of which they arc still aware of the existence of the SupremeBeing, is one thing. But to systematize the concepts and fill them up with quality of worship of God “in truth and in spirit” is foreign to Biblical Christianity.” Sadly, Byang H. Kato passed away a few months after writing this book, a revised and updated version is much needed.
5 Christian Books by Africans on Christian Living
1. 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.
2. 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
3. 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. 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.
4. No More Cheeks to Turn? Sunday Bobai Agang
I was baffled to find a question mark at the end of Sunday Bobai Agang’s 110-page paradigm shifting book. I wouldn’t expect a person who survived the Biafra war and lost loved ones at the hands of Boko Haram – the only cheek left to turn is already wounded. No More Cheeks to Turn? is an invitation to a life of compassion for the perpetrators, “We know where we will be when we die, but our oppressors have no hope.”
5. 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.
10 Books by Africans I Look Forward to Read
- Out of the Shadows of African Traditional Religion: Christ’s Deliverance of a Sangoma by Moss Ntlha
- First Things First: Growing in Pastoral Ministry by Ken Kamau
- Whose Religion is Christianity?: The Gospel Beyond the West by Lamin Sanneh
- Becoming All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing by Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice
- Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African by Lamin Sanneh
- Patterns in African Leadership by Kirimi Barine et al.
- The Church: God’s Pilgrim People by David Zac Niringiye
- Pastoral preaching: Building a People for God by Conrad Mbewe
- The Human Condition: Christian Perspectives Through African Eyes by Joe M. Kapolyo
- Isesomo: God’s Servant in Congo by Joshua Maule
Update: This list will be updated regularly. You may want to bookmark the page and visit it periodically.