We travel the short distance to Kgolagano College, an ecumenical program that focuses primarily upon distance learning, what is often known in Africa as theological education by extension (TEE). Rupert Hambira is the principal, and we sit down in his office. Tea and sweet muffins soon appear.
I first visit Kgolagano in 1988. I am a seminarian with a small grant to visit grassroots theological education initiatives in southern and central Africa. Kgolagano is seen as being cutting edge back then, a strong testimony to the emerging world of contextual theology.
The place looks very much the same, but now there are fewer Anglican students and more from African-initiated churches. Their tutors travel across the country, holding intensive classes before moving on to the next place, leaving behind resources and assignments, until next time. The College still struggles with what recognition they are allowed to offer – certificate is all at the moment. We talk about ways Kgolagano may assist the Diocese in ministerial formation.
Toward the end I mention that back in 1988 Kgolagano arranged for me to spend a weekend with one of their students from what were then called African independent churches, historic breakaways from missionary control. He was an older man, I say, in a rural area northwest of Francistown. ‘Oh yes,’ Rev. Hambira quickly responds. ‘Moses Holonga.’ ‘Is he still alive?’ I ask. ‘Yes,’ he answers. ‘But old. Very.’
My mind takes me back to Mr. Holonga’s place, not even in a village, reached by following a dirt track through scrub. I remember deciding that I couldn’t make it through the night, so I took my flashlight, climbed out of my bed, left the small thatched house, and wandered out to a kraal where a herd of goats were penned. It seemed the most appropriate spot. I stood there, contributing to the goats’ own collection of waste. Most were tolerant, although a couple bleated a small protest. What I remember is looking up at an endless array of stars, stunningly pressing down upon me. It made the night-time outing memorably worthwhile.