National Arts Merit Award (Nama) winning poet and theatre performer Philani A Nyoni (PAN) has again brought controversy on the stage.
This time around, he questions the race of Jesus in his exciting one-man display The Testament of Black Jesus.
The play was privileged to feature at the Almasi African Writers Conference last week, giving the performance a continental bow.
Many have been given an impression of a face of Jesus Christ through different films that unpacked the life of the Son of God.
This image is also found hanging on different walls of Christian churches.
Is that really Jesus, whose idea was to give people an imagination of Jesus as a white man with blond hair?
What if he was black?
PAN provides another view of the race of the Son of Man.
Through the Testament of Black Jesus, PAN sparks a dialogue that many don’t like to talk about.
It’s a blaspheme, but still for the sake of art, he faces his fears and question Jesus’ race anyway.
With his controversial piece, Nyoni concurs with the late American Baptist minister and activist Dr Martin Luther King Junior who also discussed the race of Jesus Christ in October 1957.
“The skin colour of Jesus Christ is of little or no consequence. The blackness or whiteness of someone’s skin is a biological quality which has nothing connected with the intrinsic value of the person.
The significance of Jesus lay not in His colour. It lies in His unique God-consciousness and His willingness to surrender His will to that of God. He was the Son of God, not because of His external biological make-up, but because of His internal spiritual commitment.
“He would have been no more significant if His skin was black. He is no less significant because His skin was white,” said Dr Martin Luther King Junior.