Review Article

Reconciliation in South Africa in light of the imago Dei and koinonia

Phemelo O. Marumo
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 40, No 1 | a1905 | DOI: | © 2019 Phemelo O. Marumo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 June 2018 | Published: 30 April 2019

About the author(s)

Phemelo O. Marumo, School of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Mafikeng, South Africa


It is evident that the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and its consequent findings, together with the dawn of the new South Africa, has not achieved its goal of a unified ‘rainbow nation’. This is because of the fact that South Africans still face racialism and segregation from most quarters of the community. The racialism and marginalising are not only white and black dichotomies, but the fissures are evident in black-on-black and white-on-white anxieties. The infighting in churches and communities represents other contributing factors. The dream of the ‘rainbow’ society, which is raceless, has smothered the vision of peace and harmony of a reconciled society. This smothering has had a divisive impact on the possibilities immanent in South Africa. Despair, the promotion of hatred and polarisation are common anxieties among most South Africans. The race card is used for ‘one’s’ own greediness and personal aggrandisement and there is a need for a solution. This study seeks to establish the theology of the image of God (imago Dei) in relation to fellowship (koinonia). Then, the study highlights the causes of distress in some denominations, especially those that privilege the name of God and thereby making a comparison between the churches and TRC which was a government initiative in the restoration of peace and fellowship process. From that premise, the article argues that despite the inclusive accommodative TRC sessions, racial intolerance and deep infighting are still rife in South Africa. Then, the study concludes by proposing a mission paradigm that advances fellowship and advocates that all people are made in the image of God, thence they are equal. The article brings forth the political era post-1994 in South Africa and links that to the social setting of churches post-1994. In that way, there is a link between politics and the church and how these have influenced the present in South Africa. The question is: Did the TRC usher in a new era of koinonia and brotherhood from a theology of the image of God? This missiological aspect is linked to socialism and politics.


koinonia; image of God; imago Dei; fellowship; peace; missio Dei


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