Mark Ngwenya

Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2023.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Anh Q. Tran


This thesis studies the 2006 South African film Son of Man as a cry for justice in the African context. Existing at the confluence of art, film, and theological reflection, this thesis develops new insights into concrete problems which Africans face like anthropological poverty. My central argument is that the film Son of Man is a cry for justice in a context of gross corruption, indiscriminate apportionment of resources, and a failure to address the real plight of the poor people living in slum areas.

Following the art and theology of Engelbert Mveng, I open the Christological discussion with the idea that Jesus in the film, has an African face. Grounded in Mveng’s artistic language and the inculturation of African masks, this thesis unmasks anthropological poverty. It proposes that a Christology grounded in the image of Jesus as liberator best suits the African context. This discussion culminates in the role of Mary in the film and how her story inspires the fight for justice and liberation. From a Marian Art perspective, it looks at how Mary’s portrayal in the movie gives a voice to the African experience, where mothers of faith help communities transform through protest. Using a dialogical approach between Mary in the film and paintings by social justice activists, the thesis shows how women’s work can have transformative and life-changing impacts on communities.

In this thesis, I use A. E. Orobator’s Generative Contextualized method to discuss the problem of injustice and poverty in slum areas in the light of Son of Man. Under the moment of encounter, I discuss the film, the Director, and the fictional context of the film. I also argue that this film is part of Third Cinema. Under the interpretive moment, I use Mveng’s Hekima Christus as a lens through which to discuss the life and death struggle of poverty. Under the synthesizing moment, I bring in the implications of this film for theology. Under the generative moment, I look at how films can offer viewers and theologians inspiration to build on their faith, beliefs, and actions in the face of the reality of oppression, injustices, and poverty.