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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access October 5, 2016

Re-telling the Word Rhetorically: The Example of Shadreck Wame, a Chewa Itinerant Evangelist

  • Ernst R. Wendland
From the journal Open Theology


This study presents a rhetorical analysis of Shadreck Wame, a popular Malawian revival preacher. After an overview of the “rhetorical setting” in which these vernacular sermons were preached in the 1990s, ten “oral-rhetorical techniques” that characterize Wame’s preaching style are identified, based on a corpus of nearly 50 of his Chewa-language sermons that I recorded from radio broadcasts in the 1990s. These features are then illustrated in selections from a specific sermon that Evangelist Wame preached in 1997 in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. In particular, his situationally-influenced “re-tellings,” or paraphrases, of a familiar biblical text, Christ’s Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Luke 20:9-18), are identified and elaborated upon in footnotes. I conclude this description of a popular preacher’s dynamic, contextualized homiletical style with a number of applications to contemporary communicators in Africa. Both the content and the methodology of this analysis may be significant for comparative purposes when teaching sermonic technique in different, especially non-Western, sociocultural settings.


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Received: 2016-7-3
Accepted: 2016-9-23
Published Online: 2016-10-5

©2016 Ernst R. Wendland

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

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