Original Research

(Mis)leading by the spirit: Transforming African spiritualities and political leadership

Kimion Tagwirei
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2934 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2934 | © 2023 Kimion Tagwirei | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 July 2023 | Published: 28 November 2023

About the author(s)

Kimion Tagwirei, The Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


African spiritualities and leadership have shared a profound connection throughout history. With Africans predominantly embracing spirituality, their engagement with national political leadership takes on a spiritual dimension. However, spiritualising contests for secular power often lead to manipulation, deception and other various consequential issues. Thus, this paper investigates the impact of African spiritualities on political leadership and vice versa, shedding light on the prevalent use and abuse of African traditional and Christian religions by prominent African politicians. While much has been written about religion and politics, less attention has been given to transforming these dynamics. This paper seeks to bridge that gap by examining the inherently influential role of African spiritualities on political leadership, highlighting manipulative tendencies that serve selfish interests. Various factors, including knowledge gaps, economic vulnerabilities, susceptibility to corruption and the co-optation of spiritual leaders, contribute to these abuses. The paper concludes with recommendations for mentorship, education, discipleship, enlightenment and empowerment of both current and emerging spiritual leaders to counteract self-centred political manipulation and promote inclusive transformation.

Interdisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This paper interfaces African spiritualities and politics with leadership for inclusive transformation.


African spiritualities; African Traditional Religions; Christianity; politics; leadership; (ab)use; transformation

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals


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Crossref Citations

1. Resurgence of African Spiritualities in the New Prophetic Churches
Dr Kelebogile Thomas Resane
Pharos Journal of Theology  issue: 105(2)  year: 2024  
doi: 10.46222/pharosjot.105.219