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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versión On-line ISSN 2412-4265
versión impresa ISSN 1017-0499

Studia Hist. Ecc. vol.46 no.2 Pretoria  2020 



A Wild Donkey Has no Bands, by Selaelo Thias Kgatla



Peter White

University of Pretoria



Reach Publishers' Services, 2019. Durban, pp. 323 ISBN 978-0-0620-83144-4

This book contributes to academic literature on missional leadership formation and practical leadership. It teaches good stewardship of resources and leadership accountability. The book is an autobiography of Prof. Thias Kgatla on his life, education, call to ministry, academic career and his impact on church leadership in South Africa.

The author's use of the African imagery of a "wild donkey" gives the book a contextual interpretation of a selfless but cautious lifestyle and leadership quality everyone should aspire to develop in their quest to bring change. This imagery can be better understood when the entire book is read. Interestingly, the author briefly explains the concept of "a wild donkey has no bands" in chapter 9 (pp. 244-245).

The book has 10 chapters. Each chapter seeks to address specific issues concerning the life of the author. In chapter one, the author states that his objective for writing the book is to bring to bear his accumulated experiences as a black South African in the context of apartheid. He discusses his endeavour to break every barrier of limitation as an ordinary believer, elder, theologian, researcher and servant (minister) of the church (pp. 29-31). Ultimately, the author is hopeful that the book will be prophetically and philosophically helpful to the church and the scientific community.

As a "wild donkey," he was faced with several challenges from childhood when his family lost their farmland and properties, leading to the challenges of relocation, hatred and educational setbacks (pp. 49-68).

The author outlines his work and educational experiences by integrating them with the challenges he had with his knowledge acquired in light of the doctrines and practices of the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa (DRCA) and the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA). The book discusses some of the doctrinal positions of both churches in the light of the author's view and that of other scholars. This makes the book not only an autobiography, but also a contribution to South African church history and dogmatic theology for further theological discourse (pp. 115-147). The dogmatic aspect of the book is further discussed in chapter 6.

In chapter 7, the author focuses on his ministerial life and leadership role in URCSA. Chapter 8 discusses issues of leadership and leadership development. The chapter gives practical approaches to church administration and the concept of division of labour in the context of the church to achieve results. It further explains the importance of incorporating transparency, integrity, fairness, equality and accountability to sustain achievement and confidence from the congregation. The issues discussed in this chapter are important aspects of every church that are not usually taught in theological schools and seminaries.

The focal points of chapter 9 are infrastructural development and the concept of fundraising that can be used in funding church projects. The chapter gives one ideas on how to develop a church to become self-sufficient and financially independent.

Concluding the book, the author discusses various categories of people in the church whose objective is to manipulate ministers in diverse ways to attract attention, have position or favour from the minister or destruct the minister through criticism. Chapter 10 gives readers ideas on how ministers of the gospel should be on guard and how to manage such situations.

In my assessment, the classical literature sources used are mainly theoretical and philosophical materials that define missional and scientific objectives of an autobiography. The field data used in the discussions are based on real-life experiences that enrich the quality and dynamic nature of the book.

The book is written in a style that helps one to appreciate the context of black South Africans. The book is filled with deep African philosophical ideas and prose. I highly recommend this book to theologians, ministers of the church and young ministers of the gospel. It is a must-read book.

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