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Prof Henry Mbaya

Inaugural lecture:

September 26, 2023 @ 17:3018:30

Faculty of Theology

Place, power, and the past: Memorialisation and monumentalisation of religion as a challenge to South African history of St Michael and St George, Grahamstown, 1992-1996

In this inaugural address, Prof Henry Mbaya discusses the controversy that occurred in Grahamstown (Makhanda) in 1992 involving a group of black students and staff of the then St Paul’s Theological College and members of the Anglican Cathedral of St Michael and St George. The controversy centred on the term ‘Kaffir’ used on five 19th-century English colonial memorial plaques in the cathedral with reference to the amaXhosa, as opposed to the heroic depiction of the English in the context of the wars of subjugation of the amaXhosa. Using the concepts of history, memory and power, Prof Mbaya explores the significance of the plaques and proposes that the historical narratives of the amaXhosa be included and placed alongside those of the English colonial settlers.


Short biography

Prof Henry Mbaya completed a diploma in Sacred Theology at St Paul’s Theological College in Grahamstown (Makhanda) in 1985. Continuing his theological studies at Rhodes University, he graduated with his BThHons in 1988. He was ordained a priest in 1990. Henry went on to obtain his master’s degree and doctorate in Theology in 1997 and 2005, at the University of Natal and the University of KwaZulu-Natal respectively. His professional academic career started as lecturer at the University of Fort Hare in 2009. In January 2012, he joined Stellenbosch University’s Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, and moved to the Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology in 2020.

Henry’s research focus spans two areas, namely Anglican mission history and African culture in Southern Africa in the late 19th and the 20th century. In his research on mission history, he critiques an Anglican missionary approach to African culture in Southern Africa, while simultaneously illuminating the complex nature of Anglican missionary work in the region at the time. Over the past 11 years, his research has also focused on the historical development of indigenous Christianity in South Africa.

Since 2005, Henry has participated in 12 international and ten national conferences. He has supervised six masters students and five doctoral candidates and is currently the promotor of another six PhD students. A recipient of the Rector’s Research Excellence Award in 2020, he has a C-rating from the National Research Foundation and has produced 45 peer-reviewed and five non-peer-reviewed articles and papers. Henry is also the author of two monographs, with another one on the way.



September 26, 2023

Organizer (event)

Olivia Adams


Attie van Wijk Auditorium, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch
171 Dorp Street
Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7600 South Africa
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Faculty of Theology