Read the Engaging Africa Report here (PDF 1.27 MB).

Engaging Africa
The Prospects for Project Funding in Selected Fields
A Study Prepared for the
John Templeton Foundation
and the Issachar Fund
by the Nagel Institute of Calvin College
By Joel Carpenter and Nellie Kooistra
A N I N S T I T U T E O F C A LV I N C O L L E G E
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Engaging Africa
Table of Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
I. African Higher Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
African Universities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Theological Education in Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
II. Capabilities in Relevant Disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Anthropology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Psychology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Philosophy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Social Science (Primarily Sociology) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
African Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Religious Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Theology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
III. Project Ideas: State of Play . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
African Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
African Spirituality: Traditional and Contemporary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies, in African Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Humanity, Nature and Agency, in African Context . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Religious Freedom and the Rule of Law in Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Character Formation Curricula and Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Positive Psychology in African Contexts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Science, Health, Technology, and Creation Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
Christian Theology: Engaging African Realities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
IV. Project Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
Grant-making Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
Next Steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
An Institutional Dream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
Contact Information for Selected Leaders and Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
Selected Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
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Introduction
I
n the late summer of 2013, the John Templeton Foundation (JTF) published a report
on its first twenty-five years of grant making. In a quarter century’s time, a small
organization that started in a room above Dr. Jack Templeton’s garage in suburban
Philadelphia has grown into a major foundation that makes 175 grants per year,
totaling $100 million, for projects and programs in dozens of nations. Sir John Templeton
was keen to reach out, the report says, to foster good work around the world. The humble
approaches to learning that he favored implied a willingness to discover new contexts and
to investigate new territories. Just as he had encouraged a worldwide hunt for investment
bargains, so too, Sir John wrote, should we all be “wide-eyed and open-minded enough to
discover new areas for research.”1
As the twenty-fifth anniversary report makes clear, however, the patterns of grant making
at JTF have yet to reflect the global coverage that Sir John envisaged. By 2012 JTF had
made 1,613 grants in North America, but only 9 in Latin America, 34 in Asia, and 25 in
Africa.2 So in 2013 JTF staff engaged in strategic consultations on grant making in each of
these three regions. The document you are reading was commissioned by JTF and a partner
organization, the Issachar Fund,3 to explore and weigh the prospects for grant making in
sub-Saharan Africa.
Across that vast region, with its scores of nations, hundreds of institutions of higher education, and thousands of community-based agencies, there have been only a handful of
JTF-funded projects. Yet several themes under which the foundation makes grants would
seem to find fertile ground for investigation in Africa, where religiosity is pervasive, higher
education and business enterprise are growing rapidly, and many thoughtful inquirers seek
answers to the puzzles of human flourishing.
In order to equip JTF and Issachar Fund (IF) officers to pursue work with African partners, an exploratory project was coordinated by the Nagel Institute for the Study of World
Christianity, an agency of Calvin College. IF and JTF officers participated in a four-day
4
1
John Marks Templeton, Worldwide Laws of Life: 200 Eternal Spiritual Principles (West
Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 1998), 30.
2
“The First 25 Years: John Templeton Foundation Capabilities Report” (West Conshohocken, PA:
John Templeton Foundation, 2013), 44–45.
3
The Issachar Fund, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, “is a private operating foundation that
serves the church by offering programs for scholars, leaders and organizations that seek to
charitably engage, patiently reflect upon and thoughtfully dialogue with the norms, practices
and values of our scientifically-minded culture.” http://issacharfund.org/
Engaging Africa
consultation in Accra, Ghana, on August 11–14, 2013. They met with eighteen distinguished
African leaders who came from the realms of anthropology, community development, geography, philosophy, physics, psychology, public health, theology, and a variety of Christian
endeavors, including peace and reconciliation ministries, churches and denominations,
and higher education. This meeting was co-convened by Lamin Sanneh of Yale University,
Michael Murray of JTF, and Joel Carpenter of Calvin College.
The consultation was very productive. From it came nine areas of potential grant making:
1. African values: tradition, modernity, and the cultivation of virtue
2. African spirituality: traditional and contemporary
3. Forgiveness and reconciliation
4. Humanity, nature, and agency
5. Religious freedom and the rule of law
6. Character formation curricula and assessment
7. Positive psychology
8. Science, health, technology, and creation care
9. Christian theology engaging African realities
It is one thing to discover some germane and needful
topics, but quite another to find agents and networks ready to
do effective work. So the Nagel Institute staff has conducted
a broad-ranging research effort to scout the relevant fields of
inquiry, the scholars who work in them, and the institutions
that host them. Nagel researchers have gained a sense of each
topical field by asking:
• Who has been working in or near these fields
already, and what is the character of their work?
It is one thing to
discover some
germane and
needful topics, but
quite another to
find agents and
networks ready to
do effective work.
• What is the status of the instruments for work in this field: journals, publishers,
electronic media, networks, and agencies?
• What fields, institutions, and agents appear to be especially ready to mount
projects?
• Are there agencies, either in Africa or the North Atlantic region, that are prepared to serve as intermediaries in order to advance these fields’ development?
• What is the funding context? Are there other major funders already at work in
or near to these areas? Might some of these become partners? Are there specific
funding lacunae that JTF or IF need to address?
This investigation became wide ranging, but it also has some important limitations. First,
it became evident early on that given the vast amounts of intellectual and organizational
territory we needed to cover, we could focus on research and scholarship or we could focus
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
5
on the application of new insights to daily life. We chose the former option, with the understanding that while JTF and IF have supported work in both of these modes of endeavor, we
could hope to find out more in a short time about how life’s big questions were addressed in
research than in practical action. Even so, the investigations we read about frequently were
observing the work of agents on the ground. So knowing about the state of inquiry in these
fields is a good first step toward knowing the state of play in practical engagement.
Our second limitation was to focus on these questions largely within the context of
Christian faith, thought, and practice. Sub-Saharan Africa is both intensely religious and
religiously plural, with Christianity, Islam, and traditional African beliefs and practices
constituting the three most widely followed faiths, in that order. Some studies that we found
look at our nine themes and topics inter-religiously, especially focusing on how Christianity
related to traditional religions. Studies of Islam, however, were more likely to stand alone,
and were not so abundant in the region. We decided to focus on Christianity by and large
and reserve a focus on Islam for future study.
How did we go about our search? We did initial investigating of two North Atlantic networks that regularly engage Africa: private philanthropies and university-based African
studies programs. Most of our attention, however, has been focused on understanding the
state of development, in Africa, of a variety of fields of study, and the extent to which they
took up the nine topical areas identified in the Accra conference. The fields of study we
investigated were:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Theology
Philosophy
Anthropology
Psychology
Sociology
Religious studies
Development and environmental studies
Higher education, including theological education4
We pursued our search in three ways. First, we worked with some major database search
engines, looking primarily for articles and books written by Africans in the topics and fields
of inquiry listed above. We used the EBSCO, JStor, WorldCat, and ATLA research databases
primarily for these purposes. Outside of ATLA, which covers theology and related fields,
the results were fairly thin; JStor, for example, does not index many journals from Africa.
4
6
We also surveyed the fields of economics and political science in search of work pertaining
to our nine topical areas, but found little, so we decided not to include reports on them in
the second chapter, on capabilities in relevant disciplines. Some of what we found in these
disciplines, as well as in development studies, was incorporated into the “social science” section
with sociology.
Engaging Africa
Fortunately, we were able to supplement this literature search by means of a very useful
website, African Journals Online (AJOL), a nonprofit agency based in Grahamstown, South
Africa.5 AJOL makes available more than 460 African-published journals that range across
many fields, including the ones we identified. Here especially we saw the heart and center
of African academic discourse.
Even so, we discovered that there are university-based and freestanding African journals that are not included in the AJOL database, and this led us to suspect that there might
be additional dimensions to African research and scholarship that we might be missing
via the standard “literature search.” After some hesitation, we decided to go straight to
the web pages of African universities to assess the relative strength of their research and
scholarship on our selected themes. We constructed a search of the more salient state-sponsored universities in sub-Saharan Africa, supplemented by a list of Christian universities
on the continent. After checking the viability of these universities’ web pages and the accessibility of information on
faculty research, we ended up with a working list of eightyfive African universities with which we could inspect the
research and scholarship of university departments and faculty members. Searching the African university websites was
exhausting, but it gives us confidence that we know African
scholarly capacity in some detail.
In order to set our findings in context, we begin our report
with an overview of higher education in sub-Saharan Africa,
notably its universities and theological schools. Then we
look at the relevant disciplines that carry on work in our
selected topical areas. We trace their rise and development
in sub-Saharan Africa, and we note their current status and
capacities, their institutional networks, publication outlets,
and thematic emphases. What might they bring to the topical areas we have selected?
Searching the
African university
websites was
exhausting,
but it gives us
confidence that
we know African
scholarly capacity
in some detail.
What follows thereafter is the heart of this report—the
state of the conversation in each of the nine topical areas we
have selected. Some of these topical areas, we were surprised to discover, have very little
intellectual activity to offer just now, while others are full and rich with decades of development behind them. Most intriguing, perhaps, are the areas where we see some lively pockets
of investigation and conversation that seem ripe for development. Our recommendations
will follow, and we will make the case for concerted grant-making initiatives in two areas,
while giving mention to other areas where some exploratory work might prove rewarding.
At the report’s conclusion, we will sketch a vision for a longer-term, developmental
approach to these recommended fields of inquiry.
5http://www.ajol.info/
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
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I. African Higher Education
African Universities
T
oday there are some 1,500 tertiary institutes, colleges, and universities enrolling 11 million students across Africa, in which enrollments have nearly doubled
since 1999.6 In the early 1960s, however, as new African nations were emerging,
higher education was virtually nonexistent in many places. There were only 41
institutions and 16,500 students in all of Africa. African universities today are emerging
from a turbulent half-century of existence. The immediate postcolonial context of the 1960s
and early 1970s was an atmosphere of new beginnings and high hopes, with supportive governments and massive international investment in the form of foreign aid, philanthropic
grant making, North-South interuniversity collaboration and co-accreditation, and hundreds of scholarships for undergraduate exchanges and fellowships for postgraduate professional development.7
By the mid-1970s and throughout the 1980s, however, African universities8 suffered deep
financial cuts as many countries experienced a crash of commodity prices and the rapid
increase of energy prices, resulting in crippling national debts and austerity budgets. World
Bank and IMF restructuring programs advised debtor nations to reallocate education
spending from higher education to primary and secondary education. Political instability
added to the universities’ woes as African nations in the 1980s experienced twenty-one successful coups, and authoritarian regimes became the norm. Rulers suspected their flagship
universities of being hotbeds of subversion and slashed their budgets further while building
new regional universities to serve favored constituencies. At the same time, European and
North American government aid for African universities, which had amounted to scores of
millions of dollars over the years, was being sharply curtailed, and so were some major philanthropic efforts. The Rockefeller Foundation, for example, ceased making comprehensive
investments in the University of East Africa Project, including Makerere University and the
universities of Nairobi and Daar es Salaam, which had amounted to $20 million from 1960
to 1980.9 Rockefeller actually increased its grant making in Africa in the 1990s, but much
8
6
Compare that total to that of India, which has a comparable total population—and roughly ten
times as many higher education institutions!
7
Joel Samoff and Bidemi Carrol, “The Promise of Partnership and Continuities of Dependence:
External Support to Higher Education in Africa,” African Studies Review 47:1 (April 2004): 77–89.
8
Institutions in North Africa experienced many of the same dynamics as those in sub-Saharan
Africa over the past fifty years, but the focus of this summary is tropical and southern Africa.
9
Samoff and Carrol, “The Promise of Partnership,” 119.
Engaging Africa
of it was focused on research projects rather than on capacity-building, and it was concentrated in two fields: medicine and agriculture.10
By 1990, even the finest of African universities were in crisis.
Makerere University in Uganda, once the pride of East Africa, was in
a sorry state. According to one report,
By 1990, even
the finest
of African
universities
were in crisis.
Makerere University exhibited in extreme form the resource
constraints facing universities throughout Africa. No new
physical structures had been built and no maintenance carried out in twenty years. Journal subscriptions had declined
to zero, as had chemicals for science laboratories. Supplies
of electricity and water were spasmodic, cooking and sewage
facilities were stretched to their limit. Faculty members
received the equivalent of US$30 per month and were forced
by this so-called “leaving” wage to depart the country or
seek any available paid employment for most of their day. Student numbers
remained low, the government subsidy small and research output minimal. A
“pillage” or survival culture prevailed which put at risk to private theft any saleable and removable item, from computers and telephones to electric wires and
door fixtures-and some-times the doors themselves! In a situation of limited
transport, few if any working telephones, and the absence of needed equipment and stationery, it is remarkable that university managed to remain open
throughout this period.11
These problems continued throughout the 1990s, and to compound them, the World
Bank and IMF-predicated emphasis on supporting primary and secondary education was
resulting in a surging demand for tertiary enrollments. Governments acceded to political
pressure and crowded more students into the older universities. To meet the unrelenting demand for increasing enrollments, many nations founded new regional institutions
and upgraded older tertiary technical colleges to university status. By 2010 Nigeria, for
example, had founded a total of fifty-one federal and state universities.12 The pressures of
popular demand for higher education, on a continent where fewer than 5 percent of the
college-age young people are enrolled, have been relentless. They have added the burden of
ever-increasing numbers of students to already damaged African academic institutions and
systems. Because in most African nations the students paid no tuitions, and large portions
of the national higher education budget was spent on student living stipends, more students
did not necessarily mean more revenue for university instructional budgets.
10 James S. Coleman and David Court discuss these overarching grant-making patterns in
University Development in the Third World (New York: Pergamon Press, 1993).
11 Samoff and Carrol, 70.
12 Musa Gaiya, “Revolution in Higher Education in Nigeria: The Emergence of Private Universities,”
in Christian Higher Education: A Global Reconnaissance, eds. Joel Carpenter, Perry Glanzer, and
Nicholas Lantinga (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 32.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
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As a result, African universities commonly experienced “serious shortages of published
materials of books and journals, the lack of basic resources for teaching, the absence of
simple laboratory equipment and supplies (such as chemicals) to do research and teaching,
and, in some countries, delays of salary payments for months.”13 These conditions proved to
be intolerable for thousands of African academics and exacerbated the “brain drain” syndrome as the continent exported talent to wealthier nations.14 As of a decade ago, according
to one report, two-thirds of all instructional positions in Nigeria were declared vacant,
and some 10,000 Nigerian academics were residing in the
United States.15 Faculty members frequently went on strike
for higher wages, while students protested inadequate services. It was becoming clear that the old social contract in
higher education—which African governments inherited
from the European colonial nations—had broken down.
No longer could governments afford to offer free tuitions
and subsidies for room and board to all who qualified on
their matriculation exams. And these problems were commonly aggravated by universities maintaining large and
cumbersome non-academic staffs and infrastructure.16
These conditions
proved to be
intolerable for
thousands of
African academics
and exacerbated
the “brain drain”
syndrome as
the continent
exported talent to
wealthier nations.
So what was to be done? In an important symbolic
measure in 2001, the World Bank publicly relented on
its policy of prioritizing primary education over university education, and it re-emphasized the critical role that
universities play in national development.17 After years of
relative neglect, international foreign aid programs, such
as USAID and the Norwegians’ NORAD program, circled
back to supporting higher-education initiatives in Africa.
African governments also began to charter nongovernmental universities and technical schools. In Ghana, for
example, there were just two private universities in 1999,
but only a decade later there were 11, plus another 19
private polytechnic institutes. Their students totaled 28 percent of national tertiary enrollments.18 Over the same period, Nigeria chartered 41 private institutions. Of these, 21 are
13 Damtew Teferra and Philip G. Altbach, “African Higher Education: Challenges for the 21st
Century,” Higher Education 47:1 (January 2004): 27.
14 Soumana Sako, “Brain Drain and Africa’s Development: A Reflection,” African Issues 30:1 (2002):
25–30.
15 Teferra and Altbach, “African Higher Education,” 43.
16 Akilagpa Sawyerr, “Challenges Facing African Universities: Selected Issues,” African Studies
Review 47:1 (April 2004): 1–59; Teferra and Altbach, “African Higher Education,” 26.
17 Higher Education in Developing Countries: Peril and Promise (Washington: World Bank, 2000).
18 Kajsa Hallberg Adu, “Ghana: Private Higher Education on the Rise,” University World News, June
28, 2009. Published online: http://www.universityworldnews.com.
10
Engaging Africa
Christian.19 African public universities also began to incorporate some “privatizing” reform
measures as well, such as charging modest tuitions on all students and differential tuitions
for programs with heavy demand, such as business administration, engineering, and computer science. Private funders have stepped up as well; one prominent instance was the
Partnership for Higher Education, involving seven major American foundations20 working
with universities in nine African countries.21 Between 2000 and 2010, these foundations
invested $440 million for core institutional development.22
“Partnership,” indeed, has become the byword for the current era, as American and
European universities’ schools and departments have formed bi- and multilateral working
relationships that include faculty and student exchanges and support for research, innovative teaching, technical support and service initiatives
at African institutions. Even if more stable governments
have meant more predictable budgetary allotments, most
African institutions still have little or no capacity via their
regular funding sources to engage in these initiatives. But
via a variety of focused and internationally funded initiatives, their faculty members and students found ways
and means to engage in research and community service.
One of the largest drivers of research across the social sciences has been the massive infusion of funding to address
Africa’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Another huge industry
across the continent is research consultancies in the social
sciences. Hundreds of sociologists, anthropologists, social
psychologists, development economists, and environmental studies professors do evaluation research as consultants
to the legions of health care and economic development
NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa.
One of the largest
drivers of research
across the social
sciences has been
the massive infusion
of funding to
address Africa’s HIV/
AIDS epidemic.
So a visitor to an African university today will see a
somewhat brighter picture than what was common even
a decade ago. The newer private universities, many of them with church sponsorship, often
enjoy attractive facilities, decent equipage, and peaceful and orderly student living. Some
of them have developed faculties of distinction as well, such as at the Catholic University
of East Africa in Nairobi and Covenant University near Lagos. At the University of Ghana,
a flagship public university, one sees new dormitories going up and recently constructed
19 Gaiya, “Revolution in Higher Education in Nigeria,” 24.
20 The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T.
MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,
the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.
21 Egypt, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
22 Lessons from a Ten-Year Funder Collaborative: A Case Study of the Partnership for Higher Education
in Africa (New York: Clear Thinking Communications, 2010), 5–6.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
11
buildings for the schools of business, engineering, and agriculture. There are some decent
computer labs, too, and even the older facilities now enjoy fresh paint, clean hallways, and
neatened landscaping. There are an increased number of exchange students from North
America and Europe. Professors have seen salary increases in recent years. And office buildings on the fringes of campus bear signage that reflects external partnerships. Yet the scars
of the older crises remain. The libraries still look depleted. While some laboratories serving interuniversity partnerships or externally funded projects are well equipped, others lag
behind. And many thousands of students crowd into the less well-funded social science
and humanities programs because they cannot gain (or afford) admission into the favored
programs, which charge differential tuitions. Professors still take on side jobs and take in
boarders to make ends meet. And in August of 2013 the university’s semester was again
disrupted by a two-week faculty strike over pay that had fallen in arrears.
In South Africa, however (as this report will note more than once), the situation is rather
different. The nation’s higher education system emerged from the apartheid era in the mid1990s with some three dozen universities that were highly stratified in basic standards and
quality as well as in race. In the universities created solely for Blacks, mostly situated in the
remote “homeland areas” of the nation, the struggle against apartheid had resulted in major
disruptions of education in institutions that were already quite fragile. In the flagship institutions designed for white students, such as the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch
University, standards and structures looking to northern Europe prevailed, even though
they were damaged by European and American academic boycotts.
The new, multiracial government mandated major changes in the South African university system, such as shrinking the overall number of universities to twenty-three by merging
some of the black institutions with predominantly white ones. Other reforms included
affirmative action enrollment and hiring programs23 and giving priority to programs that
were deemed most likely to feed national economic development, such as those in science,
information technology, engineering, and applied mathematics.24 Many social science and
humanities programs have contracted,25 and pressure has been exerted on the university faculties of (Christian) theology to serve a broader clientele under a “religious studies” rubric.
As a result of these dynamics, remarked one of the nation’s most distinguished academic
leaders, higher education remains “one of the most contested terrains in post-apartheid
South Africa, spanning across a broad spectrum of interests and imperatives.”26
23 Lesley Grange, “(Re)Thinking (Trans)Formation in South African (Higher) Education.” Perspectives
in Education 29.2 (2011): 1–9; Masebala Tjabane and Venitha Pillay, “Doing Justice to Social
Justice in South African Higher Education.” Perspectives in Education 29.2 (2011): 10–18.
24 Christine Winburg, “Undisciplining Knowledge Production: Development Driven Higher
Education in South Africa,” Higher Education 51:2 (March 2006): 159–172.
25 Ernst Wolff, “Reform and Crisis: Reflexions and Questions on the Condition of the Human and
Social Sciences in South Africa and Beyond.” Theoria: A Journal of Social & Political Theory 60.135
(2013): 62–82.
26 Ahmed C. Bawa, “South African Higher Education: At the Center of a Cauldron of National
Imaginations,” Social Research 79:3 (Fall 2012): 670.
12
Engaging Africa
Nevertheless, we found that South African university faculties in our targeted fields are
outproducing the best of faculties in other African nations. Eighty-five of the 468 journals listed at African Journals Online are South African, and a number of the nation’s best
journals are not listed there because they are regularly available via the major global North
databases. South African educators rue the fact that only 16 percent of their nation’s college-age young people enroll, but this is nearly five times the continental average. South
Africa is a remarkable power base in African higher education and scholarship.
Theological Education in Africa
Christianity is one of the most dynamic forces on the African
continent today. Its current position as the majority religion of
sub-Saharan Africa is really quite recent. In 1900, there were
only about 9 million Christians in all of Africa. A half-century later, near the end of the colonial era, this number had
tripled, to about 30 million. By 1970, the number of Christians
nearly quadrupled, to over 117 million. Today the number
has more than quadrupled again, to an estimated 520 million Christians in Africa.27 Christianity in Africa is amazingly
varied. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian
communion on the continent and is growing robustly in many
nations, especially in Anglophone Africa, where it had no colonial privileges. There are also
many millions of Orthodox believers (mainly in Ethiopia and Egypt), members of historic
Protestant denominations derived from European origins (e.g., Methodists, Mennonites,
Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Anglicans), revivalist evangelicals with American links (e.g.,
Assemblies of God, Church of the Nazarene, and various Baptists), and many millions worshipping in African-instituted churches, of both the older Zionist and Spiritualist varieties
and the newer African Pentecostal movements.
Christianity is
one of the most
dynamic forces
on the African
continent today.
Specialized theological and ministerial education is a quite recent phenomenon.
There were only a handful of pastoral education programs or theological schools across
Africa—perhaps 70 or 80—in 1950 when the International Missionary Council surveyed
the situation. By the mid-1970s, however, there were about 350 theological schools on the
continent. 28 Today the most comprehensive directory lists 1,468 institutions.29 African
instituted and Pentecostal churches’ ministerial training is quite fluid and dynamic, as there
are new pastoral and lay training institutes springing up all around, many of them founded
27 Todd M. Johnson and Peter F. Crossing, “Status of Global Mission, 2014, in the Context of AD
1800-2025,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 38:1 (January 2014): 29.
28 Paul Bowers, “New Light on African Theological Education,” ACTEA Tools and Studies No. 9
(1989), http://www.theoledafrica.org/actea/ToolsAndStudies/Default.asp (accessed April 2,
2014).
29 Global Directory of Theological Education Institutions (accessed April 2, 2014), http://www.
globethics.net/web/gtl/directory/.
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13
by new urban megachurches and operated on the premises. The Perez Chapel, for example,
a newly constructed megachurch complex near Accra, Ghana, operates the Word Miracle
Ministerial College.30
Seminaries, Bible colleges, and training institutes, however, are not the only places where
Christian theology is studied. Universities in some African nations, both state- and churchfounded, have faculties of theology, most notably in South Africa’s state universities and
in a number of Francophone nations’ Catholic universities. Other universities have faculties of religious studies, sometimes combined with philosophy. Unlike their counterparts
in the United States, however, these religious studies courses are frequently taught not on
religiously neutral terms but with normative “insider” perspectives: as Christian theology,
traditional religious practice, or Islamic law. While these courses were originally designed
to educate teachers of religion for nations’ primary and
secondary schools, in some universities the majority of
the degree students in the “Christian studies” tracks are
pastors of Pentecostal and other revivalist churches.31
Like African
universities, these
various theological
and pastoral
studies institutions
have operated
under straitened
circumstances.
Like African universities, these various theological and
pastoral studies institutions have operated under straitened circumstances. Even with rapid church growth, they
have had to endure in cash-poor contexts and serve students who could not bear much of the operating costs.
Sponsoring churches have a great need to increase the
numbers of educated clergy but very limited means to
support increased enrollments. So typically these institutions have remained small and unable to benefit from
economies of scale. Student-faculty ratios of only five
or six to one are not uncommon, even while the faculty
members might need to teach five or six subjects per term
to cover the curriculum. Libraries have been chronically
undersupplied; a study published in 1990 found that the
average-sized theological library had fewer than 5,000 volumes, while only 2 percent of the
continent’s theological libraries held 15,000 volumes or more.32 In Francophone Africa, the
Protestant institutions tend to be fewer and farther apart, and even less well equipped. A
survey of these schools in 2011 revealed that “unlike the Catholic institutions, the Protestant
30 Ogbu U. Kalu, “Pentecostalism and Mission in Africa, 1970-2000,” Mission Studies 24 (2007):
30–32; Cephas N. Omenyo, “’The Spirit-Filled Goes to School’: Theological Education in African
Pentecostalism,” Ogbomoso Journal of Theology 13:2 (2008): 41–55; Thomas Oduro, “Theological
Education in the African Independent Churches: A Plethora of Pedagogies,” in the Handbook of
Theological Education in Africa, eds. Isabel Apawo Phiri and Dietrich Werner (Oxford: Regnum
Books, 2013), 423–432.
31 Omenyo, “The Spirit-Filled Goes to School,” 50–51.
32 Bowers, “New Light.”
14
Engaging Africa
ones are marked by abject poverty in key domains: infrastructures, academic staff, libraries, research and publication.”33 Internet access has come slowly across the continent; most
theological institutions now have connections, but service can be slow, many places experience power outages, and students must wait to use lab computers or to plug their laptops
into wired outlets. Western database sources for journal articles and e-books, such as JStor
and ATLA, have become available to institutions across the continent at highly discounted
rates or for free, but in some settings, local network servers were not powerful enough to
run them.
The main theme that runs across recent reviews of African theological teaching and curriculum has been relevance, in the broadest sense of the term.34 Syllabi, textbooks, and
instructors and their education often bear the marks of
Euro-American contexts, even while the number and
percentage of expatriate instructors in Africa continue to
decline. Meanwhile African pastors are expected to guide
parishioners’ spiritual navigation at the confluence of old
and new in African cultures, and to provide civic leadership in turbulent times. For two or three generations
now, African Christian theologians have yearned for and
pursued genuinely African modes of theological thinking and learning. Yet due to the difficulties of publishing,
convening, and collaborating, these conversations seem to
have lost some traction in recent years. Those who have
the advanced education and critical skills to work out new
patterns of thinking and learning seldom have the time
or space to do it. The harvest is plentiful and the laborers
are few, so the most talented academics often have several
church-appointed tasks and are called on to be administrative leaders, too.
Those who have the
advanced education
and critical skills
to work out new
patterns of thinking
and learning seldom
have the time or
space to do it.
Even so, the African theological education scene looks quite different now than it did
twenty years ago. One huge change was the opening up, after the end of apartheid, of South
African university faculties of theology to increasing numbers of students from other
nations. The faculties at the University of KwaZulu Natal and Stellenbosch especially have
welcomed international postgraduate students, and so has the University of South Africa
(UNISA), the massive distance education agency whose theology faculty has well over one
33 Tharcisse Gatwa, “Theological Education in Francophone Africa,” in Handbook of Theological
Education in Africa, 177. See also Tharcisse Gatwa, “Moving Forward in Hope: What Prospects for
Theological Education in Africa Today?” Ministerial Formation 98-99 (July 2002):49–66.
34 See, e.g., Isabel Apawo Phiri and Dietrich Werner, “Editorial: Handbook of Theological Education
in Africa,” in Handbook of Theological Education in Africa, xxviii–xxix. This new handbook is an
astonishingly broad and comprehensive resource, with 113 articles, 100 contributors, and
1,100 pages. It was co-sponsored by the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Council of
Churches and published in the Studies in Global Christianity series of Regnum Books.
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hundred members, making it undoubtedly one of the largest in the world. Catholic theological institutes and Catholic university theology faculties have made major strides in
capacity and scholarly productivity. And a number of Protestant theological schools outside
of South Africa, mostly of the more conservative evangelical kind, have developed doctoral
programs.35
A surprising new factor in African theological education has been the founding of fifty
or more new Christian universities in the past twenty years.36 Most of these, Catholic and
Protestant, have faculties of theology. Indeed, at least a dozen of them are built on the foundations of older theological schools. Two prominent examples are St. Paul’s University in
Kenya, built out from St. Paul’s Theological College, a century-old ecumenical Protestant
seminary, and Uganda Christian University, built upon the old Bishop Tucker (Anglican)
Theological College. These more comprehensive Christian universities are worrisome to
veteran theological educators, who fear secularization because of the preponderance of “secular” subjects. Yet the new universities, each with several thousand tuition-paying students,
have made the continuing faculties of theology much more sustainable, even more robust.
St. Paul’s faculty of theology enrolls only 300 of the university’s 3,000 students, but this is
twice as many divinity students as it enrolled in the old days as a freestanding theological
college.37 Another critically important result of this move from seminary to university has
been the development in some of these new universities of more advanced programs of
theological studies, including for the PhD degree.38
Conclusion
African universities and theological schools have been through some critical times, and
many still show the after-effects. Yet one sees improved general standards of institutional
support for teaching and learning and an increase of scholarly engagement and productivity. And South African institutions, despite the issues they contend with, are by far the
strongest. Even so, the pressures on professors caused by low pay, heavy teaching loads,
intermittent disruptions, and scarcity of research and teaching resources are important factors in how one designs and conducts grant-making for intellectual projects in Africa.
35 Scott Cunningham, “Doctoral-Level Theological Education in Africa for Evangelicals: A
Preliminary Assessment,” African Journal of Evangelical Theology 26:2 (2007): 101–134.
36 Joel Carpenter, “New Christian Universities and the Conversion of Cultures,” Evangelical Review
of Theology 36:1 (January 2012): 21.
37 Faith W. Nguru, “Development of Christian Higher Education in Kenya: An Overview,” in Christian
Higher Education: A Global Reconnaissance, 55–56.
38 See, e.g., Esther Mombo and John Chesworth, “From St. Paul’s Divinity School to St. Paul’s
University–A Story of Theological Education from Kenya,” Handbook of Theological Education in
Africa, 893–901.
16
Engaging Africa
II. Capabilities in Relevant disciplines
G
iven the trials and limitations of higher education in sub-Saharan Africa, it is
all too easy to dwell on the problems. Yet our explorations of African universities and of African theological discourse revealed something more heartening as well. Not everywhere, but in many places we saw individuals and clusters of scholars who were vigorously engaged in scholarly
projects. It is humbling to see how much some scholars
have been able to achieve, given the obstacles they face.
The proliferation of publishing outlets that we discovered
at African Journals Online was one indicator of this vigor,
and once we explored the websites of various university
faculties, we found even more evidence of scholarly initiative. We turn next to the contexts for that evidence: the
disciplinary fields of inquiry we identified as the likely sites
for work in the nine areas on which this study focuses.
Anthropology
It is humbling to
see how much
some scholars
have been able to
achieve, given the
obstacles they face.
With potential grant-making interests in African values,
spirituality, health, character, and concepts of humanity,
this project simply had to inquire into the state of anthropology in Africa. The story, we
found out, is a complicated one, owing to the particular roles that anthropology played in
colonial Africa and the debates that have erupted around it in postcolonial times. Yet the
field is showing new resourcefulness as African practitioners find the ways and means to
make their contributions to “social knowledge and social reform” in contemporary Africa.39
Africa has been central to the development of anthropology as a discipline. Ever since
the cultural observations of colonial-era travelers, traders, soldiers, and missionaries began
to attract the interest of Victorian-era intellectuals, Africa and Africans were prime subject matter. By the early twentieth century, anthropology was developing into a concerted
academic discipline with scholarly institutes, a place within European universities, and its
own theoretical disputes. By the 1940s and 1950s there were research centers on the African
39 Mwenda Ntarangwi, Mustafa Babiker, and David Mills, “Introduction: History of Training,
Ethnographies of Practice,” in Mwenda Ntarangwi, Mustafa Babiker, and David Mills, eds.,
African Anthropologies: History, Critique and Practice (Dakar: CODESRIA, 2006), 1(quote)–48. This
book of essays, and especially its lengthy introduction, is an extraordinarily rich historical and
contemporary assessment of anthropological studies in Africa.
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continent as well, funded by colonial regimes and helping to shape colonial governmental
and social policies.40 Ironically, some of the first Africans to receive advanced education
in anthropology, including Kwame Nkrumah, founding president of Ghana, and Jomo
Kenyatta, first president of independent Kenya, found ways to use anthropology to discover and reclaim an African identity over against colonialism. Even so, many postcolonial
African intellectuals have condemned anthropology as an essentially colonialist enterprise
of studying African societies in order to control them and disparaging them as “primitive”
and “tribal.”41
Yet the discipline has survived in African universities, often as a subunit in departments
of sociology.42 And in recent years, the other social sciences have made way for it is a means
of addressing national developmental interests in health care, education, wealth creation,
and ethnicity. The advice provided by other social scientists about institutional and economic processes and structures was still leaving questions of why some developmental
efforts succeeded and others failed. Could it be a matter of cultural values or worldviews?
Then call for the anthropologist!43
Unlike the still-large and very influential “Africanist” realm of European and North
American anthropologists who study Africa, Africans in anthropology tend toward practical approaches and show a strong commitment to acquire knowledge for the sake of
social improvement. African anthropologists are often sharply critical of their “Africanist”
counterparts, who are much better supported by research funding and who might use
knowledgeable African graduate students and postdocs to staff their projects. Yet the
Africanists from the global North rarely share credits equally with their African co-laborers
in the final “theoretical” phase of project analysis and publication. Western debates about
40 See, e.g., Lyn Schumaker, Africanizing Anthropology: Fieldwork, Networks, and the Making of
Cultural Knowledge in Central Africa (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001). It tells the story
of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in the 1950s.
41 Ntarangwi, et al., “Introduction,” 12–27. This critique endured; one of the most outspoken of the
critics was the distinguished South African sociologist Archibald Mafeje (1936–2007). See, e.g.,
Jimi O. Adesina, “Archie Mafeje and the Pursuit of Endogeny: Against Alterity and Extroversion,”
Africa Development 33:4 (2008): 133–152. See also Jemima Pierre, “Anthropology and the Race
of/for Africa,” in The Study of Africa, Volume I: Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Encounters, ed. Paul
Tiyambe Zeleza (Dakar: CODESRIA, 2006), 39–61.
42 Edlyne E. Anugwom, “Behind the Clouds: Teaching and Researching Anthropology in Tertiary
Institutions in Nigeria,” African Anthropologist 14:1-2 (2007): 43–64; Isaac Nyamongo, “Teaching
and Training in Anthropology in Kenya: The Past, Current Trends and Future Prospects,” African
Anthropologist 14:1-2 (2007): 19–42; Paul Nchoji Nkwi and Antoine Socpa, “Anthropology at the
University of Yaounde I: A Historical Overview, 1962–2008,” African Anthropologist 14:1-2 (2007):
65–88.
43 See, e.g., a summative contribution to such a project made by one of Africa’s most
distinguished anthropologists, Paul Nchoji Nkwi: “The Impact of Cultural Practices on the
Spread of HIV/AIDS: An Anthropological Study of Selected Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa,”
Discovery and Innovation 17 (2005): 21–35.
18
Engaging Africa
theory advance, say African critics, but of what benefit is that to the people of Africa?44 In
South Africa, where anthropology once supplied knowledge to the apartheid regime and
where much of the research and argumentation continues to follow “Africanist” patterns,
these tensions are very much in play.45
African anthropology has persisted, both through all of
these critical attacks and through the turbulent and penurious recent history of African universities. Low salaries,
overcrowded classes, lack of access to even basic teaching
tools and supplies and research literature, much less travel
and research funding, has driven many African anthropologists out of academe or overseas. Others who have
stayed on have “drifted into consultancy work with international organizations.”46 This kind of research, featuring
tightly framed funding periods and succinct, to-the-point
reports, is not conducive to the traditional anthropological modes of multiyear field research sojourns and careful
and nuanced “deep description.” Even so, it affords African
anthropologists the opportunities to make contributions
to the health, education, economic development, and good
governance of their nations that they so desire to make.
In the past 25 years, African anthropologists have taken
the initiative to surmount some of the isolation many
feel from fellow Africans with the formation of the Pan
African Anthropological Association (PAAA), founded in Cameroon in 1989 and holding
annual meetings since. PAAA began publishing the African Anthropologist in 1995, 47 which
in 2005 was taken into the formidable Council for the Development of Social Science in
Africa (CODESRIA), in Dakar, where it is now available free online.
African anthropology
has persisted,
both through all
of these critical
attacks and through
the turbulent and
penurious recent
history of African
universities.
In sum, African anthropology seems to be on an upward trajectory regarding its university enrollments, and it now has an enduring, viable network in the PAAA. Yet it is rarely
organized into single-discipline faculties in African universities; its dedicated journals on
the continent are few; and thus the dissemination of anthropologists’ research is scattered
44 Owen Sichone, “Pure Anthropology in a Highly Indebted Poor Country,” Journal of Southern
African Studies 27:2 (2001): 369–379.
45 Francis Nayamnjoh, “Blinded by Sight: Divining the Future of Anthropology in Africa,” Africa
Spectrum 47:2-3 (2012): 63–92; Bernard Dubbeld and Kelly Gillespie, “The Possibility of a
Critical Anthropology after Apartheid: Relevance, Intervention, Politics,” Anthropology Southern
Africa 30:3-4 (2007): 129–134. See also Theodore S. Petru and David L. Bogopa, “South African
Anthropologies at the Crossroads: A Commentary on the Status of Anthropologies in South
Africa,” Anthropology Southern Africa 32:1-2 (2009): 87–89, 90–93.
46 Ntarangwi, et al., “Introduction,” 30.
47 Paul Nkwi, “An African Anthropology? Historical Landmarks and Trends,” African Anthropology
5:2 (1998): 192–216.
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across the scores of interdisciplinary journals on the continent and beyond. Research
opportunities in anthropology are more promising than in the recent past, but they are
more dependent than ever on serving projects in health care, community economic development, education, and environmental protection.48 African anthropologists have found
ways to be useful and to serve the needs of national development, but their research and
intellectual traditions and cultures have been seriously cramped.
For the sake of the topical fields for potential grant making that this study is assessing, African anthropology’s pattern of widespread consultancies is actually an asset.
Anthropologists have become accustomed to participating in interdisciplinary teams.
“African Values,” as we shall see, are treated in rather essentialist terms by philosophers and
psychologists; they would benefit from the anthropologists’ resolutely local and particular
emphasizes: Which Africans’ values? In what place? Under what circumstances? Likewise,
further work on “African spirituality,” often conducted by religious studies scholars, would
benefit from these tests of generality as well. Philosophers’ inquiries into African ontology, epistemology, and agency already draw on anthropological work, but it probably could
stand some serious updating. The same is true for African Christian theology, whose literature on “inculturation” tends to harken back to traditional and rural societies rather than to
the contemporary African scene, where increasingly the anthropologists are now working.49
And for work at the juncture of faith and science, particularly in health and healing and
creation care, anthropologists are already proving their worth in relevant projects across
the continent.
But how amenable is the field to hosting an initiative of its own? The one significant network and potential organizing base for something more concerted in anthropology per se
is the PAAA and its journal, African Anthropology. Evidence from prior PAAA initiatives,
most notably its masterful anthology, African Anthropologies: History, Critique and Practice
(2006),50 suggests that any such initiative would benefit greatly from the cooperation of
CODESRIA, arguably the most influential international scholarly center on the continent.
48 In one Kenyan university department, every publication listed by its anthropologists evidently
was the product of team research in public health, mostly on HIV/AIDS. See, e.g., R. C. Bailey,
O. B. Engesah, and S. Rosenberg, “Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention: A Prospective Study
of Complications in Clinical and Traditional Settings in Bungoma, Kenya,” Bulletin of the World
Health Organization 86 (September 2008): 669–677; J Khaemba, H. M. K. Maithya and V. M.
Muange, “Home-based Care Service Provision for People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya: A
Socio-Cultural Dimension,” in Maarifa: A Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences 3:2 (2009):
129–134; and M. Kong’ong’o, C. M. Montgomery, W Mwnegee and R. Pool, “‘To Help Them is to
Education Them’: Power and Pedagogy in the Prevention and Treatment of Malaria in Tanzania,”
Tropical Medicine and International Health 11 (November 2006): 1661–1669.
49 See, e.g., Mwenda Ntarangwi, East African Hip Hop: Youth Culture and Globalization (Chicago and
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009).
50 Full bibliographic citation available in fn 39, above.
20
Engaging Africa
Psychology
The study of
psychology in
African universities
made a slow start
as a discipline.
The study of psychology in African universities made a slow
start as a discipline. In Ghana, for example, teacher training colleges offered courses in counseling and school psychology in the
early twentieth century, but the University of Ghana offered its
first course in 1963, within the department of sociology. Five
years later, it became an independent academic discipline there.
According to A. Bame Nsamenang’s 1995 historical survey of
the field, “Even by the mid-1980s not more than 20 African universities had a psychology department, and less than 10 had a
history of research that extended beyond 10 years … .Whereas
post-graduate studies in psychology began in Zambia in 1984, the University of Yaounde,
Cameroon, still offers psychology as a minor under philosophy.”51 Today, however, psychology has grown in popularity and availability across the continent. Of the African universities
in our search, 41 percent had faculties or departments of psychology.
Psychology, like other disciplines, suffered through the trials of African universities in
the 1980s and 1990s. The environment for research was daunting indeed, since conferences
were rare and travel costs could exceed monthly pay; scientific societies were not strong
and did not exist in many nations. In Zambia, the psychological association went five years
at one stretch without meeting. In Cameroon, another such national society, founded in
1987, had not met once, as of a year ago.52 Many nations, even ones with rather vigorous
university psychology programs, still do not have state-mandated programs of licensure
and accountability for clinical or counseling practice.53 Lack of basic infrastructure such
as secretarial support or computing technology made research more difficult, as did the
inability of libraries to sustain journal subscriptions. Research topics “were often chosen by
convenience rather than according to correct sampling methods and scientific rigour.” As a
result the research scene by the mid-1990s was “remarkable by its uncoordinated, uninteresting, and stereotyped nature.”54
For those who did manage to have interesting discoveries to report, the selection of journals focusing on African research has remained fairly thin. African Journals Online lists
sixteen journals in the psychology and psychiatry category, but of these, three are psychiatric
in nature (treatment of mental illness), eight are on interdisciplinary topics that sometimes
include African psychology articles (e.g., the Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology), and
51 A. Bame Nsamenang, “Factors Influencing the Development of Psychology in Sub-Saharan
Africa,” International Journal of Psychology 30:6 (1995): 731; Bame Nsamenang, “Cameroon Black
Psychologists,” Journal of Black Psychology 39 (2013): 307.
52 Nsamenang, “Cameroon Black Psychologists,” 308.
53 Kwaku Obbong Asante and Seth Oppong, “Psychology in Ghana,” Journal of Psychology in Africa
22:3 (2012): 473–476.
54 Nsamenang, “Factors Influencing Development,” 733–734.
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21
that leaves only five focused on psychology per se. Of these, two are from South Africa and
three are from Nigeria. Several others appearing on the list have evidently ceased publication.55 Even so, African psychologists with findings and reflections to convey have found
publishing outlets. Some published in journals situated
in Asia/Pacific regions. Others found their way into the
burgeoning world of independently organized (for profit?)
pay-to-publish online journals, some accessible through
the standard database indexes, others not. And some who
gain the attention of Western scholars write invited chapters for edited volumes. The result, therefore, even for
those who are energetic in research and publication, is a
scattering and hiding of knowledge and a great difficulty
in sustaining a community of conversation.
The result, therefore,
even for those
who are energetic
in research and
publication, is a
scattering and hiding
of knowledge and
a great difficulty
in sustaining a
community of
conversation.
In spite of these problems, psychology has continued
to grow as a university course of study in various parts
of Africa. It is one of the most popular courses in Ghana,
say professors there. At the University of Ghana, with a
total of 30,000 students, 4,000 are psychology majors.56
In South Africa, all 17 public universities offer psychology, and it claims 12 percent of all students enrolled in
the humanities and social sciences.57 Nigeria seems to be
the one place outside of South Africa that has a vigorous,
multi-institutional research, teaching, and associational
web of discourse. Nigerian federal universities—Ibadan,
Ilorin, and Obafemi Awolowo—all sponsor journals, and
their faculty members in psychology report many publications. Covenant University, a Pentecostal institution founded near Lagos in 2002 and now
with some 7,000 students, names 15 faculty members in psychology, including 12 who list
multiple publications.
Psychology in South Africa provides both contrasts and continuities. The discipline there
had a very early start, with the first professors of psychology appearing at the universities
of Stellenbosch and Cape Town in 1917 and 1920, respectively. The field grew rapidly and
has been increasingly robust, with a strong practical uptake in education, management, and
health care. South Africa has a highly developed and state-regulated professional counseling practice, several sources of robust government funding for psychological research,
55 African Journals Online, accessed April 15, 2014. http://www.ajol.info/index.php/index/browse/
category?categoryId=24
56 C. Charles Mate-Kole, “Psychology in Ghana Revisited,” Journal of Black Psychology 39:3 (2013):
317.
57 Saths Cooper and Lionel Nicholas, “An Overview of South African Psychology,” International
Journal of Psychology 47:2 (2012): 91.
22
Engaging Africa
longtime national associations of psychologists with well-attended annual meetings, and
long-running journals. But until very recently, whites dominated the field, and it was more
attuned to trends in Europe and the United States than in Africa. And during the apartheid
regime, some of its early luminaries were important advisors for government racialist policies in education, labor and social relations more generally.58
During the years of struggle against apartheid, deep divisions grew in the South African
profession between those whose research had backed the apartheid regime (or perhaps
politely dissented but still enjoyed its privileges) and those who sided with the black people
in their struggle. The national professional association split over the issue of admitting
black members in the 1960s, and a third “alternative” association grew up to promote what
it called “critical psychology.” This outlook has endured and it calls the profession to “transcend narrow positivist scientific imprisonment and offer a more African face to South
Africa.” It also critiqued psychology’s “Eurocentric and individualistic … supreme ‘I’ running counter to the ‘we’ that most African communities have historically embraced.”59
Indeed, this issue of how to “Africanize” psychology has resonated across Africa, from
Dakar to Nairobi to the Cape. How can a field conceived in Europe and rapidly advanced
in North America, which has been characterized as the “science of the individual,” hope
to make a difference in Africa? Africans are not noticeably individualistic, and “science”
assumes objectivity, neutrality, and universality. Yet this field of inquiry, like so many from
the global North, is deeply inculturated there. It is a creation of the post-Enlightenment
rationalism, individualism, and secularity of that realm in the modern era. So across Africa,
many psychologists voice a protest that there must be a way to make an African psychology that works from a distinctly African ontology and epistemology, and with a spiritually
charged worldview. 60 Hear, for example, Prof. Nsamenang, an eminent early childhood
developmental psychologist from the University of Yaounde, Cameroon:
Psychology is an ethnocentric science, cultivated mainly in the developed
world and then exported to sub-Saharan Africa … [where] training, research,
and practice are driven by Eurocentric theories, epistemologies, and methods
[that] undermine, ignore, or exclude folk psychology and local issues. Africa
has her own frames of reference and social reality; these differ in some remarkable ways from the Euro-American. Efforts to indigenize psychology or to use
58 Cooper and Nicholas, “Overview of South African Psychology,” 89–101. See also Saths Cooper,
“Africanizing South African Psychology,” Journal of Black Psychology 39:3 (2013): 212–222; Helen
I. Laurenson and Sally Swartz, “The Professionalization of Psychology within the Apartheid State
1948–1978,” History of Psychology 14:3 (2011): 249–263; Clifford van Ommen and Desmond
Painter, eds., Interiors: A History of Psychology in South Africa (Pretoria: UNISA Press, 2008);
and Johann Louw, “South Africa,” in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Psychology: Global
Perspectives, ed. David B. Baker (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 496512.
59 Cooper, “Africanizing South African Psychology,” 220.
60 Kopano Ratele, “Psychology from an African Perspective,” in The Study of Africa, Volume I,
274–283.
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23
it to solve the multiple problems Africa faces have merely begun, and need to
be hastened.61
So how is the “Africanizing” project doing around Africa? According to a noted South
African observer, Johann Louw, the quest “remains an elusive one. Despite regular calls
to develop such forms of psychology … this endeavor struggles to get off the ground. The
future of this movement remains open-ended, and difficult to call.”62
What we have seen in our continent-wide search, however, is that African psychologists
are not simply calling for change anymore but taking steps to do and see things differently.
Prof. Nsamenang, who directs the Human Development Resource Centre, a research and
service facility in Bamenda, Cameroon, cites a variety of his own studies on African children’s cognitive development, and those conducted by others elsewhere, to suggest that
there are empirical building blocks to use, garnered from carefully conceived field research,
to investigate “specific domains of psychosocial development” and attempt “Africentric
measures of cognitive abilities or intelligences.”63 And at the University of Nigeria’s Enugu
campus in the 1990s, a team of psychologists developed a counseling therapy patterned
after the methods that they had observed with local healers, which they called “Harmony
Restoration Therapy.” This therapy took seriously the experiences felt by many patients that
the various life forces that moved in and through them were out of balance, and they sought
to restore them in harmonious relationship.64 In a recent special issue of IFE PsychologIA, a
journal published by a psychological study center in Ile-Ife, we noticed that another Nigerian
team was proposing a measurement scale to assist in such therapy. Evidently the therapeutic
experiment worked well enough for Nigerian psychologists to continue to use it.65
Across the continent we see active, engaged psychologists, teaching large and growing
numbers of students, experimenting with ways to “Africanize” their discipline, and developing, here and there, the methods and materials to do such work. They face continuing
frustrations operationally and they put up with spotty, disjointed communication. But it
seems that there are enough creative clusters of scholars who with some convening, encouragement, and support could make progress in understanding African values, perceptions,
and behavior and make a valuable and enduring contribution to the broader world of
inquiry into the human psyche. In looking at their publications and bibliographies, however, it seems clear that not only is it a struggle to engage the conversations in psychology,
but they have limited knowledge of what other African scholars are doing in related fields:
61 Nsamenang, “Factors Influencing the Development of Psychology,” 729.
62 Louw, “South Africa,” 512.
63 Nsamenang, “Origins and Development of Scientific Psychology in Afrique Noire,” In M. J.
Stevens and D. Wedding (eds.), under the supervision of John G. Adair, Psychology: IUPsyS Global
Resource (Edition 2007), CD-ROM.
64 Peter Eihigbo, Joseph Oluka, Michael O. Ezenwa, Godwin C. Obidigbo, and Friday E. Okwaraji,
“Clinical Psychology in Sub-Saharan Africa,” World Psychology 2:1 (1996): 87–102.
65 E. P. Onyekwere, E. C. Lekwas, E. J. Eze, N. F. Chukwunenyem, and I. C. Uchenna, “Development of
the Harmony Restoration Measurement Scale, Part 1,” IFE PsychologIA 21:3 (2013): 12–24.
24
Engaging Africa
religion, anthropology, and philosophy. What citations they do make in these fields reflect a
process of gleaning from what (or who) might be close at hand. We believe they could profit
from more intensive exposure to what these other fields are engaging in their parallel quests
to map the traits of “African minds” and enduringly robust African religiosities.
Philosophy
The field of academic philosophy in Africa also has been
dominated by a quest for African authenticity. Philosophy
was commonly taught, mostly by European expatriates, in
the new colleges and universities that began to spring up
in mid-twentieth-century Africa—sometimes in “classics”
departments that included Greco-Roman literature, and
sometimes in departments of religion and theology. The
emerging generation of nationalist intellectuals in Africa,
however, was eager to ask new questions of philosophy.
The great challenge, African philosophers believed, was
to find out whether pre-colonial Africa had traditions of
wisdom and critical thinking that would enable them to
remake philosophy along authentically African lines. This
seemed critical to them at a time when they were declaring
their independence from European colonizers. Just as the
African anthropologists claimed some early nationalist
heroes as their progeny, so too the philosophers: Leopold
Senghor of Senegal and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. Each
of these founding heads of state proclaimed a national
“philosophy” harkening back to traditional African values,
notably Senghor’s embrace of “Negritude” or Nyerere’s
familial socialism, “Ujamaa.”
The great challenge,
African philosophers
believed, was to
find out whether
pre-colonial Africa
had traditions of
wisdom and critical
thinking that would
enable them to
remake philosophy
along authentically
African lines.
At the heart of a seventy-year conversation about the
meaning and mission of “African philosophy” has been a built-in ambiguity in the meaning
of philosophy itself. On the one hand, says Bruce Janz, an American participant-observer
of the African scene, philosophy “designates … a set of reflective practices rooted in culture and reason, which rigorously and critically explicate a life-world, and on the other a
discipline in the university, with a set of codes, standards, recognized practitioners, and
customs.” More than any other world site of this discipline, Janz argues, “African philosophy
has struggled with the similarities and differences between these two senses of philosophy.
For some, there can be no philosophy without the disciplinary structures … .For others,
there can be no disciplinary structure without critical engagement in a life-world… .”66
66 Bruce B. Janz, “African Philosophy,” in the Columbia Companion to Twentieth-Century
Philosophies, ed. Constantin V. Boundas (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 689.
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25
This postcolonial quest for African philosophical identity was at heart a struggle for
legitimacy. European anthropologists and other intellectuals had been asserting, well into
the twentieth century, that Africans were generally incapable of rational thought. But in
Bantu Philosophy (1944), Father Placide Tempels, a Franciscan missionary to the Belgian
Congo, argued that the people of the Congo had a coherent philosophy, which he extracted
from myths, proverbs, and folk stories. This “ethnophilosophical” approach gained a fairly
strong early following and was emulated by a pioneering generation of African philosophers and theologians, such as Alexis Kagame of Rwanda, Bolaji Idowu of Nigeria, and
John Mbiti of Kenya.67
It did not take long, however, before other African philosophers began to raise objections to these views. Was this really philosophy? Europeans had premodern popular oral
traditions too, but these did not count as philosophy. Philosophy had some necessary tools
and methods—it was analytical, critical, and systematic. Folk wisdom is just handed-down
tradition; it is not self-critical or dialogical, they argued. And could one have philosophy
without the kinds of precision that come with putting arguments to paper—texts and literary traditions? A French-educated philosopher from Benin, Paulin Hountondji, was
particularly sharp in his criticism. Any African philosophy worthy of the name should draw
from “the tradition of scientific discourse as a recorded, systematized, and integrated form
of knowledge.”68 By contrast, he argued, Tempels’ “ethnophilosophy” represented uncritical,
static tradition, not philosophy. If Africans wanted to compete with the rest of the world in
this realm, Hountondji insisted, they had better get on with the modern, scientific enterprise. African philosophy, he argued, was Africans doing modern philosophy according to
established international norms.69
A number of African philosophers took up this challenge. Odera Oruka of the University
of Nairobi employed a rather creative approach. He developed a more nuanced kind of ethnological approach that sought out African traditional philosophers. He looked for those
who were doing more than merely passing on traditional wisdom. Even while still working
in oral traditions, they were interrogating these traditions, sifting through them analytically
and developing a more critical approach in their search for wisdom. Oruka called them
“sages” and began to develop, in dialogue with a number of them, what he argued was an
67 Alexis Kagame, La Philosophie Bantou Rwandaise de L’Etre (Brussels, 1956); Bolaji Idowu,
Olódùmarè: God in Yoruba Belief (London: Oxford University Press, 1962); John S. Mbiti, African
Religions and Philosophy (London: Heinemann, 1988).
68 Paulin J. Hountondji, African Philosophy: Myth and Reality (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1983), 99; quoted in Omedi Ochieng, “The Rhetoric of African Philosophy: Episteme, Doxa
and the Politics of Intellectual Capital in African Knowledge Production” (p. 2, paper presented
at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association’s 93rd Annual Convention,
Chicago, Illinois, November 15, 2007), accessed April 16, 2014, http://citation.allacademic.com/
meta/p191196_index.html. See also Paulin J. Hountondji, The Struggle for Meaning: Reflections
on Philosophy, Culture and Democracy in Africa (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for
International Studies, 2002).
69 Ochieng, “Rhetoric of African Philosophy,” 1–2.
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Engaging Africa
indigenously grounded humanistic philosophy. He acquired many critics, however, who
said that the ideas that emerged in these dialogues were more his ideas than his partners’
and that none of his sages were in fact purely immersed in tradition, without modern influences.70 Even so, Oruka has been influential and deeply appreciated in his home environs
of East Africa.71
Another school of African philosophizing took Houtondji’s critique to heart but also
wanted to anchor their work in African culture. They employed the methods of linguistic and conceptual analysis from Anglo-American analytic philosophy to interpret basic
philosophical concepts in indigenous African languages. One classic study of this sort was
Ghanaian Kwasi Wiredu’s analysis of the concept of truth in the Akan language.72 Others
following this principally West African school of linguistic-analytical philosophy include
the Ghanaian Kwame Gyekye and Nigerians Olesugun Oladipo and Sophie Oluwole.73 This
school of thought was not without its critics, mainly to the point that it seemed to be trying
to extract timeless and noncontextual meanings from
language, which is notoriously contextual, pliant, and susceptible to change.74
A fourth approach in recent African philosophy has
been the application of hermeneutical methods favored in
continental European and postmodern philosophy. It seeks
a deeper understanding of texts and artifacts by interpreting their social and historical contexts, and uncovering
layers and nuances of meaning that are often concealed
within symbols. Instead of uncritically accepting ancient
African wisdom, or seeking to capture the essence of this
or that concept, this approach can show the dialectical and
constructed nature of older narratives and artifacts. These
are, say the hermeneutists, products of reflection and
critical debate. To insist, as the early twentieth-century
anthropologists and philosophers did, that African cultural expressions were the products of uncritical minds, is
To insist, as the early
twentieth-century
anthropologists and
philosophers did,
that African cultural
expressions were the
products of uncritical
minds, is absurd.
70 Kolowole A. Owolabi, “The Quest for Method in African Philosophy: A Defense of the
Hermeneutic-Narrative Approach,” The Philosophical Forum 32:2 (Summer 2001): 149–150.
71 Francis E. A. Owakah, “Race Ideology and the Conceptualization of Philosophy: The Story
of Philosophy in Africa from Placide Tempels to Odera Oruka,” Thought and Practice, n.s. 4:2
(December 2012): 147–168.
72 Kwasi Wiredu, Philosophy and an African Culture (London: Cambridge University Press, 1980).
73 Kwame Gyekye, An Essay on African Philosophical Thought: the Akan Conceptual Scheme
(London: Cambridge University Press, 1987); Olesugun Oladipo, “An African Conception of
Reality: A Philosophical Analysis” (PhD diss., University of Ibadan, 1988); and Sophie Oluwole,
“The Rational Basis of Yoruba Ethical Thinking,” Nigerian Journal of Philosophy 4:1-2 (1984–85):
14–15ff.
74 Owolabi, “The Quest for Method,” 150–151.
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27
absurd. Some of the proponents of this field are the Eritrean Tsenay Serequeberhan75 and
the Nigerians Theophilus Okere76 and Raphael Madu.77
Given the mandates of this study, one must be curious about the institutional conditions
under which these lively debates and scholarly achievements have taken place, but the philosophers are unusually quiet about their habitation. We did find one extended discussion
of it, however, now more than fifteen years old, but still illuminating, offered by Moses Akin
Makinde, now emeritus professor of philosophy at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife,
Nigeria. In terms now familiar to the reader, he described the “great enthusiasm” of philosophy’s early days, through the late 1970s. Nigeria, he said, was especially a philosophical
hotbed with several journals and several strong departments of philosophy. But following
military coups, inflation, and austerity budgets, conditions worsened, most of the expatriates left, and many of the more accomplished Nigerians were being drained off too. By 1990,
Makinde says, “there were not more than six” senior professors of philosophy left in the
nation.78 At his university, he was the only full professor to stay on. During the 1990s, journals came and went. Regional and continent-wide philosophical associations, once active
with annual meetings and publishing journals, were dying too. In 1998, as he spoke, neither
the Nigerian Philosophical Association nor the Philosophical Association of Kenya “were
in good health,” and they seemed to be “as good as forgotten.”79 Similar conditions hindered
the discipline elsewhere, and so at least half of the leading philosophers cited above left
Africa for posts in the United States.
Things are a bit better now. Thought and Practice, the Kenyan association’s journal, is
operating again after a publishing hiatus and is accessible through African Journals Online.
Several more journals have sprung up, including Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy,
published by the University of Calabar in Nigeria. Yet the volatility continues. Quest, a
philosophical journal published from the University of Zambia since 1987, ran into hard
times and finally accepted support from abroad, moving its offices to the University of
Leiden, Netherlands, in 2002. Even so, it went into hiatus in 2009, opening again only by
the fall of 2013. And the Journal of Philosophy and Culture, a new venture starting in 2002
at the University of Cape Coast, in Ghana, ceased publication in 2006 after publishing only
four volumes. These journals have been available electronically, but more common even
today is the locally published journal, not circulated far beyond its own home university,
75 Tsenay Serequeberhan, The Hermeneutics of African Philosophy: Horizon and Discourse (New York:
Routledge, 1994).
76 Theophilus Okere, African Philosophy: Historical Investigation of the Conditions of Its Possibility
(Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983).
77 Raphael Madu, African Symbols, Proverbs and Myth: The Hermeneutics of Destiny (New York: Peter
Lang, 1996). Owolabi, “The Quest for Method,” 151–162, presents an informative case for this
approach.
78 Moses Akin Makinde, “Whither Philosophy in Africa?” (pp. 1–2, paper presented at the Twentieth
World Congress of Philosophy, Boston, Massachusetts, August 10–15, 1998), accessed April 15,
2014, http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Afri/AfriMaki.htm.
79 Makinde, “Whither Philosophy,” 6.
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Engaging Africa
on an irregular schedule.80 With all of this volatility, it is
remarkable that the philosophical enterprise continues
across the continent.
With all of this
volatility, it is
remarkable that
the philosophical
enterprise continues
across the continent.
The philosophical endeavor hums along in South Africa,
despite national mandates to favor the disciplines deemed
most “useful” for national economic development and the
continuing decline of enrollments in the humanities. Once
again, as in other fields of inquiry, South African philosophers follow a different agenda than their counterparts
elsewhere in the continent. The South African Journal of
Philosophy, the discipline’s premier national journal, perhaps with these national higher education mandates in
mind, seems in recent issues to lean toward social ethics
and political thought—and not at all in “disinterested” terms. Authors offer sharply critical
perspectives on national mandates and social debates. In recent years the journal has been
publishing more articles by persons of color. Philosophical Papers, another South African
journal, now copublished by UNISA Press and an international for-profit publisher, Taylor
& Francis, couldn’t be more different. It publishes articles mostly by authors with European
surnames and on topics that give no hint of an African provenance.
That kind of approach, presuming the universality and centrality of Western philosophical approaches and topics, is a far cry from the main thrust of African philosophy. If there is
one feature that is true of African philosophy, at least as it is pursued north of the Limpopo
River, it is that ideas and reasoning are situated; they cannot be separated from their contexts. They see this to be as true for philosophy as for anthropology or psychology. If African
philosophy can manage to consolidate its gains and enjoy a steady state of discourse, perhaps that is its gift to philosophy worldwide: It is determined to be critically engaged in the
culture that gives it life.81
Social Science (Primarily Sociology)
The career of the social sciences in Africa has been deeply entwined with the hopes and
travails of the continent. The field, both in its history and its self-understanding, exists
to address social problems and to propose reforms of society and governance. If anthropologists were thought to be the servants of the European colonizers, originally hired
by them to develop the knowledge of rural and traditional Africa needed to rule it, the
sociologists were eager to serve the new national governments by helping them address
80 For evidence of this situation, see the list of African philosophy journals located in the “African
Philosophy Resources” website of Prof. Bruce B. Janz of the University of Central Florida: http://
pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~janzb/afphil/afjour.htm.
81 We are indebted here to Prof. Janz, who closes his fine overview of the field (cited above in fn
66) with such thoughts.
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29
the problems of national development, using their tools for analyzing societies in order
to move them in modernizing directions. National unity and rapid social, economic, and
political development were the orders of the day, and early on, the new national universities of Africa rapidly developed departments of sociology to form the line of march. In
Nigeria, for example, the University of Ibadan developed a separate unit for sociologists in
1960, and the new University of Nigeria at Nsukka, formed in partnership with Michigan
State University, founded the first department of sociology in the new nation that same
year. The Ford and Rockefeller foundations generously supported these and other pioneering social scientists’ postgraduate education overseas, mostly in the United States and
Canada.82 In these heady early years, social scientists were confident that their studies of
extreme poverty, changing mores, governance, and education would result in policies that
would help build their new nations.
Early on, African social scientists resonated quite positively with the “nonaligned” socialist ideologies of many of the new national regimes, appropriating Marxian theory to critique
the colonizers and resist “neocolonial” attempts to maintain control of Africa.83 The social
scientists often were apologists for the state, arguing for one-party rule as a more authentically African, consensual model of governance and for the need for impoverished nations
to forgo the “decision costs” of working in more democratic modes.84 The new governments
saw the universities’ social science departments as the training grounds for the new technocrats who would staff their government ministries and the formal economy, but, says
the Malawian-born historian Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, they succeeded too quickly, given that
the national scale was in most places far too small to continue to absorb more graduates
each year. And as we have seen, things fell apart. Economic growth began to slow and even
reverse as commodity prices fell; leaders became more authoritarian and corrupt, and military coups put dictators into power; while in the 1980s and 1990s austerity budgets were put
in place, precipitating a crisis of sustainability in the universities. Says Zeleza, these changes
served to “undermine the autonomy of academics and the capacities of the universities to
support basic research.”85
So how did social scientists manage in the “lost years” of the 1980s and 1990s? Professors
became increasingly critical of their governments, and in a number of places, they paid
dearly for it. In Senegal, sociology was banned for a time. In Malawi, political science was
banned. If President Banda was the font of all wisdom for governance, what need was there
82 Ayodele Ogundipe and Patrick A. Edewor, “Sociology and Social Work in Nigeria: Characteristics,
Collaborations and Differences,” African Sociological Review 16:2 (2012): 41–42.
83 See, e.g., an examination of the work of a prominent Marxist social scientist from Nigeria:
Jeremiah O. Arowosegbe, “The Social Sciences and Knowledge Production in Africa: The
Contribution of Claude Ake,” Afrika Spectrum 43:3 (2008): 333-351.
84 Thandika Mkandawire, “The Social Sciences in Africa: Breaking Local Barriers and Negotiating
International Presence,” African Studies Review 40:2 (1997): 20–22.
85 Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, “The Politics of Historical and Social Science Research in Africa,” Journal of
Southern African Studies 28:1 (2002): 11–12(quote).
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Engaging Africa
for political science?86 In other places, certain research
themes, such as the one-party state, were declared off-limits. Salaries remained static while inflation roared; in
Nigeria, faculty saw no wage hikes in six years while inflation climbed over 100 percent. In Ghana, a full professor
took home only about $183 per month in 1994.87 At the
same time, enrollments continued to climb, and professors
found much less time or energy between their teaching
loads and moonlighting to maintain their professional
capacities. The Nigerian Anthropological and Sociological
Association, which had been launched in 1971 with a
journal following in 1974, had difficulty sustaining regular
meetings and publications. Evidently the association managed to meet only four times between 1989 and 2010, and
its journal was published “from time to time subject to the
availability of funds.”88 Governmental leaders had become
suspicious of academics, and officials relied increasingly
on expatriate experts to consult on development models
and evaluative research.89 Thousands of social scientists
left their teaching posts—some for nonacademic work,
some for more lucrative posts in petro-states nearby, and
many for Europe and the United States. A World Bank
study in 2000 estimated that one-third of Africa’s most
highly qualified professionals were living abroad.90
Professors became
increasingly critical of
their governments,
and in a number
of places, they
paid dearly for it. In
Senegal, sociology
was banned for a
time. In Malawi,
political science
was banned.
The majority has stayed on, however, and has shown remarkable resilience and resourcefulness. As state support diminished in the 1990s, the role of foreign donors increased
rapidly. Funding for research, conferences, equipment, books, and project direction came
principally from foreign aid agencies and private foundations. In the 1990s alone, the Ford
Foundation spent nearly $53 million in 15 African countries. This was largely for applied
research—policy studies organized by NGOs and economic development research. The
“golden rule,” as Africans were wont to say, applied to such work: “He who has the gold,
makes the rules.” So professors’ ability to define their work was nudged by what funders
86 Mkandawire, “The Social Sciences in Africa,” 23.
87 Wisdom J. Tettey and Korbla P. Puplampu, “Social Science Research and the Africanist: The Need
for Intellectual and Attitudinal Reconfiguration,” African Studies Review 43:3 (December 2000):
84.
88 Ogundipe and Edewor, “Sociology and Social Work in Nigeria,” 44.
89 Zeleza, “Politics of Historical and Social Sciences,” 12.
90 Souman Sako, “Brain Drain and Africa’s Development: A Reflection,” African Issues 30:1 (2002):
25–30.
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31
were mandated to support, and scholarly writing was redirected toward project reports,
executive summaries, and findings and recommendations.
At its worst, donor-driven work has reduced some African social scientists to what Zeleza
calls “consultancy hustlers.”91 Consider, for example, the home page of the “Socio-Economic
Data Centre, Ltd.,” founded in 1996, whose “core business is providing consultancy services in formative research for designing projects and programmes, baseline and mid-term
reviews, impact assessments/end of project/programme evaluations, policy formulation,
strategic planning, institutional capacity assessments and various other organizational
development related tasks.” We found this outfit via a link from the pages of the sociology department of a prominent East African university. A captioned photo of the centre’s
founder shows that he is the chair of the sociology department.92
There is much more to this story, however. The same stresses and disruptions in African
social sciences and the donor-driven projects climate that produced this kind of consultancy
and short-term contract work have a genuine upside as well. They have also produced what
Prof. Zeleza calls “an intellectually vibrant and autonomous” academic and humanitarian
NGO sector, which generates much of the kind of socially responsive and nation-building
research and service that social scientists initially envisaged.93 Our searches through the more
recent research literature of the field revealed, as was the case in both anthropology and psychology, dozens of published studies on the social dynamics of HIV/AIDS, on postconflict
reconciliation and public-sector transition and reconstruction, on environmental sustainability, and on the many initiatives across the continent to alleviate extreme poverty. It revealed
the rise of homegrown institutes and centers alongside the many international NGOs, many
of these new agencies initiated by prematurely retired and part-timed professors.
The most ambitious and influential of these NGOs are research and development agencies designed expressly to strengthen the social sciences. The two most prominent are the
Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), located
in Dakar, Senegal, and the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern Africa
(OSSREA), located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.94
A group of East African social scientists founded OSSREA in 1980. It is, according to its
mission statement,
a regional membership-based and donor-supported research and capacitybuilding organization whose mission is to promote dialogue and interaction
between researchers and policy-makers in Eastern and Southern Africa with a
view to enhancing the impact of research on policy-making and development
planning.
91 Zeleza, 17.
92 “Socio-Economic Data Centre, Ltd.,” accessed February 11, 2014, http://www.sedcug.org.
93 Zeleza, 17.
94 Websites: CODESRIA: http://www.codesria.org/; OSSREA: http://www.ossrea.net/.
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Engaging Africa
OSSREA currently offers a number of research support programs:
• A senior scholars research grant competition and
• Training and research support programs in five areas:
■■ Employment and migration
■■ Social policy and social development
■■ Gender in political and economic arenas
■■ Natural resources and rural development, and
■■ Governance and conflict management
OSSREA also has competitive sabbatical grants and postdoctoral fellowships. In addition, there is a themed research grant competition for younger scholars; its current theme
is “social science and gender issues.” Probably the most prized of OSSREA’s programs is its
workshops in research methods. With a region-wide shortage of senior professors, it provides much-needed support to postgraduate degree programs in the social sciences.
OSSREA also has publications—a newsletter and a journal, the East Africa Social Science
Research Review, and about ten to fifteen books and shorter reports each year. These projects
and programs are funded by members’ dues, book sales, and international funding, such as
from the Ford Foundation, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SIDA (the Swedish
International Development Agency), NORAD (the Norwegian Agency for Development),
and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
CODESRIA began in 1973, but in response to the 1990s crisis of the
universities, it became increasingly ambitious in scale and important
to African social science research. Its scope of work is truly amazing.
CODESRIA publishes, for example, eleven journals, available online,
notably the African Anthropologist, Afrika Zamani (history), Africa
Development, the African Sociological Review, the Journal of Higher
Education in Africa, and the African Journal of International Affairs.
CODESRIA Bulletin reports on research projects, conferences, and
seminars continent-wide, and carries on important theoretical discussions. It reaches 5,000 subscribers across Africa and beyond in
Arabic, English, and French. CODESRIA publishes ten to twenty
books and research reports per year, which are principally the products of its research programs and conferences. At any given time
CODESRIA may have a dozen active team research projects going,
plus themed conferences, topical research methods and writing seminars, and policy panels. It is difficult to think, by way of comparison,
of many US-based research or policy think tanks that carry on work
at CODESRIA’s scope, involving several hundred scholars every year.
To support this work, CODESRIA raises close to $6 million per year.
Its two largest funders, by far, are SIDA and NORAD.
It is difficult to
think, by way of
comparison, of
many US-based
research or
policy think
tanks that
carry on work
at CODESRIA’s
scope …
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
33
Currently CODESRIA operates a variety of research working groups—multinational,
national, and transnational (intercontinental)—all addressing topical themes that emerge
from the agency’s triennial general assemblies. Topics are named, literature research and
analyses are performed and published, team leaders are named, and then requests for proposals are issued. Each applicant is proposing a research project germane to the stated topic;
each one chosen receives a research grant from CODESRIA; and each group is convened to
share ideas and in many cases to participate in advanced methodological workshops. These
team projects drive much of CODESRIA’s publishing agenda. Five ongoing mandates set
the frames for possible topics:
•
•
•
•
•
The Gender Research Programme
The Child and Youth Studies Programme
The Economic Research Programme
The Academic Freedom Programme
The African Humanities Programme
Some of the current projects and programs under these mandates include:
•
•
•
•
Higher Education Leadership Programme
Governance Monitoring Programme in West Africa
Responsive Forest Governance Initiative Research Programme
South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development
Each of these has a variety of subprojects currently running. The Governance Monitoring
initiative, for example, has monitoring teams in eighteen countries applying a common set of
criteria to their governments’ performance. The Higher Education Leadership Programme,
to cite another, has four projects running in different nations and enjoys funding from the
Carnegie Endowment.
CODESRIA’s research monographs series documents the wealth of research conducted
under its aegis, as these titles from 2013–2014 illustrate:
• Children and Youth in Africa: Annotated Bibliography (2001–2011). Mwenda
Ntarangwi.
• Trade and Industrial Development in Africa: Rethinking Strategy and Policy.
Theresa Moyo.
• Teaching and Learning in Context: Why Pedagogical Reforms Fail in Sub-Saharan
Africa. Richard Tabulawa.
• Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Africa: Myths of Decolonization. Sabelo J.
Ndlovu-Gatsheni.
• Les réformes du secteur public en République démocratique du Congo. Sous la
direction de Camille Welepele Elatre and Hubert Ntumba Lukunga.
• Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: Beyond White-Settler Capitalism.
Edited by Sam Moyo and Walter Chambati.
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Engaging Africa
• Women and Power: Education, Religion and Identity. Olutoyin Mejiuni.
• Values and Development in Southern Africa. Edited by Hans Müller, Pinkie
Mekgwe, and Marvellous Mhloyi.
• Pratiques d’esclavage et d’asservissement des femmes en Afrique: Les cas du
Sénégal et de la République Démocratique du Congo. Sous la direction de Ndèye
Sokhna Guèye.
There are other social research centers in Africa, notably the Southern African Political
Economy Series (SAPES) Trust, established in 1987 in Harare, Zimbabwe, and the Centre
for Basic Research founded that same year in Kampala,
Uganda. In addition to these NGOs, a South African governmental agency, the Human Sciences Research Council,
with a staff of 500 and many active research programs, is
a major funder for social science research in South Africa,
but also with some programmatic reach into the rest of the
southern Africa region.95 Together these research centers
account for some of the best work produced by social scientists on the continent.
Together these
research centers
account for some
of the best work
produced by
social scientists on
the continent.
Speaking of South Africa (and we must), social research
first arose there to a major extent as academics and policymakers sought to address a uniquely South African social
problem, the suffering of poor whites in the aftermath of
the wars between the British and the Afrikaner settlers.
Many poor whites, mainly Afrikaners, migrated to the
cities and settled in racially mixed neighborhoods, much
to the consternation of the Afrikaner elites. With support from the Carnegie Corporation
in New York, a “Carnegie Commission on the Poor White Problem” conducted a major
investigation in 1929–1932, and its manifest usefulness inspired South African academics
to invest in sociology. The universities of Pretoria, Stellenbosch and Cape Town established
departments of sociology in 1931, 1932, and 1934, respectively, and four other universities
followed suit by 1937. Two of the founders of South African sociology, Henrik Verwoerd
of Stellenbosch and Geoffrey Cronjé of Pretoria, became principal architects of the doctrines and policies of apartheid, with their protégés in the 1940s and 1950s following suit
as policy researchers. The discipline continued to grow along with the formation of new
South African universities in the 1960s, and as the struggle over apartheid began to heat up
in the 1960s, it began to diverge into conservative Afrikaans-speaking and liberal or radical
English-speaking factions, each represented by competing associations and journals.96
95 http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/; http://cbr-ug.net/cbrintro.php; http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en.
96 Ken Jubber, “Sociology in South Africa: A Brief Historical Review of Research and Publishing,”
International Sociology 22:5 (September 2007): 528–533.
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After the end of apartheid, the differences between these groups began to fade, and eventually they merged in 1992, with a new journal, Society in Transition, appearing five years
later. The journal of the former critical/progressive faction, the Southern African Sociological
Review, was reconstituted as a continent-wide journal in 1997, renamed the African
Sociological Review, and published out of CODESRIA. South African social researchers
have a variety of other journals to disseminate their work as well.97
During the struggle
against apartheid,
South African leftprogressive social
scientists became
allies to the struggle,
and many became
activists as well,
working with the
anti-apartheid
movements and prodemocracy NGOs.
One of the main trends of South African sociology—
especially at the white, English-speaking universities and
at the apartheid-era’s universities for Blacks, Coloureds,
and Asians—was toward liberationist-oriented and
Marxist sociology. This approach critiqued the established
understanding of South African society, which argued for
the centrality of the problem of managing the clash of civilizations at various stages of human development. No,
the leftist sociologists said, South Africa’s central social
problem is driven by the class stratifications imposed
by imperialism and industrialization (e.g., mining). This
stratification has been racialized, but its main dynamic
is the exploitation of labor.98 During the struggle against
apartheid, South African left-progressive social scientists
became allies to the struggle, and many became activists as well, working with the anti-apartheid movements
and pro-democracy NGOs. In recent years this activist
impulse in the discipline has suffered because of the fragmentation and decline of social and political movements
in the wake of the ANC’s victory.99
Even so, argues Mokong Simon Mapadimeng of
North-West University, the study of social problems
in South Africa has not so much dissipated as proliferated. One common theme is the increasing inequality
of income under the new regime, but studies of HIV/AIDS, migration, urban and rural
studies, marriage and family, gender, employment, criminality and policing, education,
97 Jubber, “Sociology in South Africa,” 534. Among the common outlets for social research in South
Africa: Development Southern Africa, Indicator, Social Dynamics, Acta Academica, Tydskrif vir
Geesteswetenskappe, Work in Progress, Transformations, South African Labour Bulletin, Industrial
and Labour Relations Review, South African Journal of Labor Relations, and Industrial Relations
Journal of South Africa.
98 Jubber, 536–538.
99 Karl von Holdt, “Critical Engagement in Fields of Power: Cycles of Sociological Activism in PostApartheid South Africa,” Current Sociology 62:2 (2014): 181–196.
36
Engaging Africa
and environmental degradation all flourish as well.100 With major support from external
funders and from the Human Sciences Research Council, social research in South Africa
is vigorous and engaged. Even in an era where the so-called STEM (science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics) fields are favored with funding and the South African universities are increasingly pressured to concentrate on these allegedly more useful fields,101
social research in South Africa maintains a strong argument for its relevance.
Across the continent, social research, particularly in but not limited to sociology, is on
an upswing. In part this is due to the relatively more livable conditions for work in many of
the continent’s universities. But the main factor behind its recovery has been the increase of
external funding for research. The massive funding flowing in to help Africans address the
HIV/AIDS epidemic, we have seen in our searches, has financed the publication of scores
of recent articles on the social dimensions of the disease and its treatment. The same is true
for studies of extreme poverty and economic development, or the social dimensions of
environmental sustainability, or the particular roles of women and/or men on any of these
fronts. Scholars might bemoan the NGO-ization of their disciplines and yearn for a time
when they can simply follow their scholarly curiosity and imagination with the assurance of
university funding. But from the earliest days social research in Africa has been driven by
“social problems,” and sociologists have wanted to make contributions that are relevant, for
the sake of “building the nation.” They have, especially in recent years, found plenty to do.
African Studies
Across the social sciences and humanities, African scholars are deeply aware that they
are not alone in their scholarly interests. Indeed, the field of African studies in the global
North is a vigorous scholarly industry. Intellectual fascination with Africa and Africans has
a fairly lengthy history, involving both academics and colonial officers in Europe, while in
the United States the first “Africanists” were the nation’s black intellectuals, such as those
gathered at Howard University.
But the contemporary African studies movement also owes much to the growing sense in
the United States that the nation’s emergence as a world power after World War II brought
with it a responsibility to learn more about the rest of the world. Many if not most of the
major African studies programs in the United States came into being with support from the
National Defense Education Act of 1958 and several acts like it following, which provided
for the development of “area studies” programs in American universities. The core disciplines involved in the emerging African studies programs were anthropology, history, and
100 Mokong Simon Mpadimeng, “Sociology and Inequalities in Post-Apartheid South Africa: A
Critical Review,” Current Sociology 6:1 (2012): 40–56.
101 Christine Winberg, “Undisciplining Knowledge Production: Development Driven Higher
Education in South Africa,” Higher Education 51:2 (March 2006): 159–172.
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political science, but Africa-focused scholars in other social science and humanities fields
soon followed.102
We looked at twenty-eight prominent university-based African studies programs located
in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.103 These
programs typically have a core faculty with regular teaching responsibility in the department, and they also list as affiliates a number of additional scholars from a wide array of
disciplines: sociology, economics, development studies, geography, literature, languages
and linguistics, media studies, performing arts, public health, biomedical research, agriculture, and education. Attention to religion, with religious studies scholars involved, seems
more common in the British and European programs than in the United States.
The African Studies Association (ASA), founded in the United States in 1957, has
become a major convener of “Africanists,” and its journal, the African Studies Review, is a
prime spot for their communication, although they have access to a large and varied international collection of discipline- and Africa-specific journals as well. Indiana University
Press, the University of California Press, and Ohio University Press all have prominent
portfolios in African studies, but the Africanists regularly publish in the university presses
of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Cornell as well. The ASA
publishes quarterly abstracts of articles, chapters, and books in the field, and it shows a
very lively trade indeed, totaling 250 to 400 entries each quarter. Africanists complain
of their marginalization from the disciplinary power corridors of European and North
American scholarship, but from an African perspective, they suffer mainly from an embarrassment of riches.
As several veteran observers of this scene, North and South, make clear, the basic organization and orientation of this field is a remnant of the colonial era. Areas and topics of
study that in African universities are distributed across the social sciences and humanities
become “African studies” in Europe and North America, where Africa remains, observes
historian Paul Tinyabe Zeleza, subject to “the study of the colonial and post-colonial ‘other.’”104 Until recently, African intellectuals were very rarely glimpsed in these studies; their
scholarly descendants working in Africa have not been included as full partners in the
Africanist enterprise. The tensions between African-situated scholars and the Africanists in
the global North have existed for decades, and during one dramatic evening about eighteen
years ago, they came spilling out.
102 Joseph C. Miller, “Life Begins at Fifty: African Studies Enters Its Age of Awareness,” African Studies
Review 50:2 (September 2007): 8–9; Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, “African Universities and African
Studies,” Transition 101 (2009): 117.
103 But see The Study of Africa, ed. Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, vol. 2, Global and Transnational
Engagements (Dakar: CODESRIA, 2007), which shows the truly global interest and development
of African studies.
104 Zeleza, “African Universities and African Studies,” 120.
38
Engaging Africa
In 1996, a senior Malawian economist, Thankdika Mkandawire, who was in that year
a distinguished Fulbright visiting fellow in the United States, was asked to give a plenary
lecture at the African Studies Association’s annual meeting. Prof. Mkandawire, who was
then the executive secretary of CODESRIA, gave a full and anguished account of the problems that social scientists in Africa faced. Then he turned to his hosts and opened up a
salvo: “We are extremely dissatisfied with our presence in the international arena of the
study of Africa.” He said that there was nary a space in the current North-South relationships “which nourishes mutual respect and allows us to
engage in a common exercise.” He made several specific
charges. First, the Africanists were frequently consultants
to the world powers that were still seeking to dominate
the African continent. This posture was hardly conducive of Africans’ trust. Mkandawire also charged that the
Africanists’ gatekeeping of publication and research funding deeply disadvantaged the Africans. And he mentioned
the unequal division of labor that brought Africanists to
Africa with research funding, allowing them to employ
local field researchers but to reap the publications for themselves, reducing the Africans, he said, “to nothing more
than barefoot empiricists.” Even though African organs
like CODESRIA and its journals gave bountiful evidence
of African scholarship, Africanist scholarship tended to be
self-referential and paid little notice to the findings of the
Africans. Finally, he said, Africans had come to resent the
unrelentingly deep “Afro-pessimism” that characterized
Africanist rhetoric about the continent in the 1990s. This “semantic onslaught,” he said,
“has obfuscated rather than illuminated” African societies and in the process, “obliterated
grounds for mutual comprehension.” And yet he wanted to see something better happen, to
see each group know the other’s work better, and to find a more equitable way forward as a
community of scholars.105
Africans had come
to resent the
unrelentingly deep
“Afro-pessimism”
that characterized
Africanist rhetoric
about the continent
in the 1990s.
More recent assessments of these relationships are more hopeful. What has happened
to mitigate the tensions? There were two things in particular. First, ironically, the “brain
drain” seems to have had an upside in the social sciences and humanities. With increasing numbers of Africans (estimated at 20,000 to 25,000) joining university faculties in the
United States alone, the longstanding gap between these two communities was narrowing.
In 2002 Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, the Malawian historian who had come to the United States
in the 1990s and quickly became a rising star in the African Studies Association (eventually
serving as its president in 2009), noted that the diaspora Africans afforded rich possibilities
for forging new links with their colleagues back home. They might copublish electronic
journals with Africans, enhance and accelerate student and faculty exchanges, and help
105 Mkandawire, “The Social Sciences in Africa,” 26–34.
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disseminate African-published scholarship, such as that issuing out of CODESRIA.106 A
dozen years later, some of Zeleza’s hopes seem to be coming true. Africans in the North
American academy are becoming more visible as well as more numerous (e.g., philosopher
Kwame Appiah), and given the possibilities afforded via accelerated communications and
travel, interuniversity traffic flowing south has increased, much of it being brokered by the
expatriate Africans.107
The Africans also helped to bring new intellectual challenges to African studies. Much
like the African philosophers discussed above, several African diaspora historians, sociologists, and political scientists were making a “hermeneutical turn” in their scholarship,
which interrogated the objectivism of their disciplines, revealed more of the contingent
and constructed nature of their findings and the subjective, participatory nature of their
scholarly work. One of the pioneering advocates for this new approach was V. Y. Mudimbe,
the Congolese philosopher, poet, and literary scholar who first came to the United States in
1979. His seminal work, The Invention of Africa (1988), has been compared for its influence
on African scholarship to that of Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) on Middle East studies.
Mudimbe revealed Africa’s continuing fabrication as a concept within Western colonial and
neocolonial imaginations.108 Increasingly, from the 1990s forward, African studies became
home to postcolonial interpretations of past and present, feminist critiques of all of the
prior approaches (including Marxism), and closely focused interdisciplinary observations
(participations?) of contemporary “African realities.”109 Yet Zeleza cautions that even this
postmodern turn has not brought reconciliation between the Africans and the Africanists.
While the Africanists publish sophisticated postcolonial books about Africans’ subaltern
resistance and subversive art and speech acts, African scholars still struggle under adverse
conditions to help with the building or rebuilding of their nations. And some of them worry
that postcolonial studies might tend to trivialize their experiences of oppression, liberation,
and reconstruction, which, says Zeleza, “were, and continue to be, written in pain and suffering, sweat and blood.”110
106 Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, “Transnational Scholarship: Building Linkages between the U.S. Africanist
Community and Africa,” African Issues 30:2 (2002): 69–75.
107 See, e.g., Mwenda Ntarangwi, “Reflections on the Challenges of Teaching Anthropology to
American Students in Post-Colonial Kenya” in African Anthropologies: History, Practice and
Critique, ed. Mwenda Ntarangwi, Mustafa Babiker, and David Mills (Dakar: CODESRIA, 2006),
214–236.
108 V. Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988).
109 See, e.g., Adam Ashforth’s ASA prize-winning study, Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in
South Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005). Ashforth intertwines ethnological
community-based research a’ la anthropology with understandings of religious dynamics,
social psychology interpretations of race, and a sophisticated understanding of South African
politics.
110 Zeleza, “African Universities and African Studies,” 130.
40
Engaging Africa
This discussion may seem like a bit more than one might
need to know about the study of Africa from outside of
the continent, but anyone intending to work with African
scholars needs to understand the character of their relationships with the Africanists of the global North. The
great gap between them has been mitigated in recent years,
largely on account of the mediating role of the Africans
expatriates in the North,111 but the relationships are still
not all that close or collegial. African intellectual history
over the past fifty years has been a struggle for cultural and
intellectual autonomy, fully as much as its political history
has been the struggle for independence.112
Religious Studies
African intellectual
history over the past
fifty years has been a
struggle for cultural
and intellectual
autonomy, fully as
much as its political
history has been
the struggle for
independence.
The academic study of religion has been an important
field of inquiry in modern sub-Saharan Africa, but even
more than some of the other humanities and social scientific fields it has struggled to gain basic identity and
respect. Ezra Chitando, a Zimbabwean scholar, says that
he recalls seeing students on campus at the University of
Zimbabwe in the 1980s sporting T-shirts that advertised their courses of studies—engineering, economics, law and medicine, even literary studies—but not religious studies.113 There
has been in fact a popular stereotype of the religion student becoming stuck, perhaps by
his or her own modest abilities, in a field of marginal social utility and salary-paying value.
And within the religious studies discipline worldwide, says Chitando, the contributions
111 No one has done more to build bridges, perhaps, than Paul Tiyambe Zeleza. See, for example,
the two volumes of essays by African and Africanist scholars that he edited in partnership
with CODESRIA: The Study of Africa. Vol. 1: Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Encounters (Dakar:
CODESRIA, 2007) and Vol. 2: Global and Transnational Engagements (Dakar: CODESRIA, 2007).
But here is a telling detail: A researcher using standard American database search tools for
finding works in the humanities and social sciences, say JStor and EBSCO, will not find these
books. The invisibility of African scholarship continues.
112 For once, the situation in South Africa was not so much different as it was a microcosm of
the field’s debates. There, with African and white Africanist scholars in the same country,
many of the same debates were played out within the germane disciplines. See, e.g., Jimi
O. Adesina, “Archie Mafeje and the Pursuit of Endogeny: Against Alterity and Extroversion,”
Africa Development 33:4 (2008): 133-152; Jimi O. Adesina, “Re-appropriating Matrifocality:
Endogeneity and African Gender Scholarship,” African Sociological Review 4:1 (2010): 2–19;
Bongani Nyoka, “Negation and Affirmation: A Critique of Sociology in South Africa,” African
Sociological Review 17:1 (2013): 2–24; and Gay Seidman, “Is South Africa Different? Sociological
Comparisons and Theoretical Contributions from the Land of Apartheid,” Annual Review of
Sociology 25 (1999): 419–440.
113 Ezra Chitando, “Equipped and Ready to Serve? Transforming Theology and Religious Studies in
Africa,” Missionalia 38:2 (August 2010): 197.
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of Africans have been largely sidelined.114 That is changing, however, due to a number of
recent developments: 1) the ongoing rapid growth of Christianity in Africa, especially some
kinds that are African-originated; 2) the revival, growth, and in some sectors, radicalization
of Islam; and 3) the achievements of both European and of diaspora African scholars in the
field, many of whom studied and taught for a time in African universities.
Religious studies programs in African universities are largely products of Anglophone
Africa, where among its original roles, religious studies was to prepare instructors to teach
the topic in the schools. Francophone Africa followed French secular educational policy,
however, so that there was no such role to play. Consequently, religious studies have not
developed in the state universities there. An early and continuing location of great vigor
in the field is in Nigeria, where the University of Ibadan’s program, led at first by the distinguished British scholar Geoffrey Parrinder, pioneered the field.115 Just after leaving the
University of Nigeria at Nsukka due to the Biafran War, another pioneer, Andrew Walls of
Scotland, founded a seminal journal for the field, the Journal of Religion in Africa, in 1967.
Other early centers were the University of Ghana, Makerere University in Uganda, and the
University of Nairobi. The most distinguished and widely acknowledged early work in this
field was on indigenous African religions, and two Africans probably did the most to shape
this field early in the 1960s and 1970s: the Nigerian, Bolaji Idowu,116 and the Kenyan, John
Mbiti.117 But they were challenged early and vigorously by Okot p’Bitek, a Ugandan poet
and social anthropologist, who charged that Idowu and Mbiti, as Christians, were influenced by missiological perspectives and erred in making African spirituality and religious
practice resemble that of Christianity.118 So the debate was begun, and a lively conversation
over the character of African religions continues to the present. An emerging leader in that
field is Jacob Olupona, a Nigerian scholar now teaching at Harvard.119
114 Ezra Chitando, “Sub-Saharan Africa,” in Religious Studies: A Global View, ed. Gregory Alles
(London and NY: Routledge, 2008), 105.
115 Andrew Walls, “Geoffrey Parrinder (*1910) and the Study of Religion in West Africa,” in European
Traditions in the Study of Religion in Africa, eds. Frieder Ludwig and Afe Adogame (Wiesbaden:
Harrassowitz Verlag, 2004), 207–215.
116 On Idowu’s influence, see Ezra Chitando, “African Christian Scholars and the Study of African
Traditional Religions: A Re-evaluation,” Religion 30 (2000): 391–397. Idowu’s two early classics
are E. Bolaji Idowu, Olódùmarè: God in Yoruba Belief (London: Oxford University Press, 1962) and
African Traditional Religion: A Definition (London: SCM, 1973).
117 On Mbiti’s influence, see Barry Hallen, “Contemporary Anglophone African Philosophy: A
Survey,” in A Companion to African Philosophy, ed. Kwasi Wiredu (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004),
1001–1103; and Kwame Bediako, “John Mbiti’s Contribution to African Theology,” in Religious
Plurality in Africa: Essays in Honour of John Mbiti, eds. Jacob K. Olupona and Sulayman S. Nyang
(Berlin and NY: Mouton De Gruyter, 1993), 367–390. Mbiti’s definitive early works are John S.
Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy (London: Heinemann, 1969) and Concepts of God in Africa
(London: SPCK, 1970).
118 Okot p’Bitek, African Religions in Western Scholarship (Nairobi: Literature Bureau, 1971).
119 See, e.g., Jacob K. Olupona, African Spirituality: Forms, Meanings and Expressions (New York:
Crossroad, 2003); and Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity (New
York: Routledge, 2004).
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Engaging Africa
In recent years the study of African religions has been joined
by an increasing interest in the development of Islam120 and especially of Christianity in Africa. Of particular interest have been
the newer “African instituted” churches, which had arisen during
the colonial era when African Christian seers and prophets came
out of mission-founded churches to found new bodies, based on
their own spiritual promptings and reading of scripture.121 In more
recent times the dramatic rise of Pentecostal churches in Africa
has garnered more attention.122 One of the ongoing debates in the
study of African Christianity is the extent to which Christianity
remains an imported Western religion with recurring “extraversion” of ideas and emphases from abroad, or whether it is in fact
undergirded by African primal spirituality and becoming ever
more African in postcolonial times.123
In recent years
the study of
African religions
has been joined
by an increasing
interest in the
development
of Islam and
especially of
Christianity
in Africa.
The study of Islam is part of many university religious studies
programs in Africa, but according to Jacob Olupona’s 1996 examination of religious studies in West Africa, there are no “Christian
studies” subprograms in the universities of predominantly Muslim
northern Nigeria. Our recent survey of university religious studies programs bore that out. At the University of Jos, Nigeria, in
the contested “Middle Belt” area of the nation, Olupona noted that
both Christianity and Islam were taught, but in fairly sealed subdepartments.124 Indeed, during a visit there in 1990, I (Carpenter) found that students declared
a major in one or the other religion, and took no courses in the other religion. The same
120 `Deremi Abubakre, “The Academic and Non-Academic Study of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa:
Nigeria as a Case Study,” in The Study of Religion in Africa: Past, Present and Prospects, eds. Jan G.
Platvoet, James Cox, and Jacob Olupona (Cambridge: Roots and Branches, 1996), 255–267.
121 Bengt Sundkler, Bantu Prophets in South Africa (London: Lutterworth, 1948) was the pioneering
work, written by a Swedish scholar who had been a missionary in South Africa. Many have
followed. For a contemporary discussion of interpretive issues and a helpful bibliography, see
Retief Müller, “Historiography and Cross-Cultural Research into African Indigenous Christianity
(AIC): A Challenge to Human Dignity,” Studies in World Christianity 19:1 (2013): 5–24.
122 Allan H. Anderson, Zion and Pentecost: The Spirituality and Experience of Pentecostal and
Zionist/Apostolic Churches in South Africa (Pretoria: University Press of South Africa, 2000); F. K.
Asonzeh Ukah, A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power: A Study of the Redeemed Christian Church
of God in Nigeria (Trenton, NJ : Africa World Press, 2008); Ruth Marshall, Political Spiritualities:
The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); J. Kwabena
Asamoah-Gyadu, Contemporary Pentecostal Christianity: Interpretations from an African Context
(Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Pub, 2013).
123 See, e.g., the divergent perspectives of Kwame Bediako, Christianity in Africa: The Renewal of a
Non-Western Religion (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1995); and Paul Gifford, African Christianity: Its Public
Role (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1998).
124 Jacob K. Olupona, “The Study of Religions in Nigeria: Past, Present and Future,” in The Study of
Religion in Africa, eds. Platvoet, et al., 185–210.
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43
situation seemed to be the case when I visited the religion faculty at Makerere University
in Uganda in 2007. The most distinguished work on Islam, states `Deremi Abubakre of
the University of Ilorin, took place in West African universities that were situated in more
pluralistic contexts.125
African religious studies programs differ markedly from those in Europe and North
America in a very important sense. In those Northern realms, religious studies are deemed
to be nonconfessional and religiously neutral. Their tradition is to study religion “scientifically,” as pioneered in the German universities of the early nineteenth century, and to tend
not to accept a religion’s supernatural or doctrinal claims. Indeed, the underlying orientation has tended to be a naturalistic worldview that appraised such claims skeptically.126
Most African scholars who engage religious studies, however, tend to be religious themselves. They might accept the idea that their departments are nonconfessional, but not the
idea that they should be religiously neutral or even skeptical. Some argue, in fact, about
how firm a division there should be between religious studies and theological studies. Even
those who argue that these fields should be demarcated do so by arguing for the usefulness
of studying religion via the methods (if not all of the naturalistic assumptions) of history,
sociology, philosophy, anthropology, and phenomenology. They do not insist, as do secular-minded religious scholars in the global North, that theological perspectives have no
place in the academy. Indeed, says Chitando, a rejection of theology and theological perspectives within religious studies is untenable in Africa.127
We found, for example, that the religious studies department of the University of Ghana
underscores this “both and” approach in its mission statement: “The Department is dedicated to the promotion of the scientific study of religions but also continues with the
promotion of high quality theological education for a just, peaceful, and humane society.”128
As we surveyed the publications of religious studies professors in universities across the
continent, it was common to see quite conventionally theological studies being performed
for the instruction of the faithful. We saw, side by side in Nigerian religious studies departments, for example, Christian biblical commentaries, advocacy for traditional African
methods of healing, and discourses on Islamic law. In East and Southern Africa for two
generations now the most accomplished Christian theologians have taught at the flagship
state universities.
In South Africa these debates over identity and methodology in religious studies have
been more sharply etched. During the years of apartheid, South African universities had
125 Abubakre, “The Academic and Non-Academic Study of Islam,” 265.
126 See, e.g., D. G. Hart, The University Gets Religion: Religious Studies in American Higher Education
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999).
127 Ezra Chitando, “Emerging Perspectives on Religious Studies: Reflections in a Zimbabwean
Context,” Swedish Missiological Themes, 90:2 (2002): 267–279.
128 “Vision and Mission,” accessed April 28, 2014, http://www.ug.edu.gh/index1.
php?linkid=686&sublinkid=703.
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Engaging Africa
Christian faculties of theology that included a few religious studies professors, but since
the transition to democracy in 1994, several of these faculties were “converted” to religious
studies programs, arguably to serve the public’s need for religious knowledge more broadly
and inclusively.129 Even so, religious studies and theological scholars in South Africa freely
mix and copublish, for example, in the nation’s two most prominent theological journals,
the Journal of Theology for Southern Africa and Missionalia.
The political and fiscal crises of the 1980s and 1990s that wreaked havoc through other
university disciplines had similar effects in religious studies. First the European scholars
left, and then Africans fled for more viable situations as
well. Journals came, went, tried to come back, and disappeared. Ezra Chitando read off the honor roll of the
many outstanding scholars who had graced the halls
of religious studies where he works at the University of
Zimbabwe. It was a veritable who’s who of African religious studies, featuring expatriates Adrian Hastings, Carl
Hallencreutz, Jan Platvoet, Martin Prozesky, James Cox,
and Paul Gifford; plus Zimbabweans Temba Mafico and
Canaan Banana (who went into politics).130 It is sobering
to recognize that all have left, even if for just over the
border in South Africa. Chitando, like Elijah, has reason
to complain: “only I am left.” Across the discipline it
seems that the most outstanding scholars of African religion were all serving in the global North. Lamin Sanneh,
of the Gambia, who has earned great distinction in the
history of both Islam and Christianity, once taught at
Ghana and Ibadan but is now at Yale University. Afe Adogame of Nigeria had taught in
Nigeria but is now in Edinburgh. Jacob Olupona, also a Nigerian, is teaching at Harvard.
Across the discipline
it seems that the
most outstanding
scholars of African
religion were all
serving in the
global North.
Publishing on the continent has remained a problem too, outside of South Africa, where
in addition to a half-dozen prominent theological journals that also publish religious studies articles, there is the Journal for the Study of Religion, published by the Association for the
Study of Religion in Southern Africa. Journals elsewhere in Africa remain few; in addition
to the one just mentioned, the African Journals Online site named just five others. Two
were theological journals from South Africa; one was the South African-based Journal of
Islamic Studies, and two were from Nigeria: the Ilorin Journal of Religious Studies, from the
well-established program at the University of Ilorin, and the Journal of Religion and Human
Relations, recently started at the Department of Religion and Human Relations of Nnamdi
Azikiwe University, which was founded in 1991 in Anambra State, southeast Nigeria. The
129 J. Moodie Jarvis, “Recent Developments in Theology and Religious Studies: The South African
Experience,” in Theology and Religious Studies in Higher Education: Global Perspectives, eds.
Darlene Bird and Simon G. Smith (London: Continuum, 2009), 162–174.
130 Chitando, “Emerging Perspectives,” 279.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
45
University of Ibadan’s old and distinguished journal in religious studies, Orita, Ibadan
Journal of Religious Studies, is listed on the university website, but the link shows only a
blank page. Since we could not locate current or recent issues of it online, we assume that
it is in abeyance just now, that all-too-common pattern for African journals. The Journal of
Religion in Africa remains the leading journal for the field, but it has been published all these
years in the global North, which means that it is too expensive for most libraries ($375-415)
and individual scholars ($170) on the continent. Our inspection of its issues over the past
five years shows that only 10 percent of its articles have been written by African authors.
These problems take a toll on the religious studies scholars, says Chitando. As a result of
their isolation from the field’s current discourse,
they find it difficult to get their articles published in [non-African] scholarly
journals in religious studies. A perusal of the leading journals of the discipline
[he names European and American titles] … testifies to the absence of African
voices in global religious studies. Referees operating from relatively comfortable environments in Europe and North America are quick to dismiss articles
from African scholars who would have battled against formidable odds to put
their ideas together. How does one write a brilliant article when one has not
been paid for three months?131
Over the past two decades, however, some important ventures involving African expatriates and European former professors in Africa have begun to remedy the effects of brain
drain and the shaky infrastructure of the discipline. The main one, which helps to make
other collaboration possible, has been the formation of the African Association for the Study
of Religions (AASR). While there have been viable Nigerian and Southern African associations for religious studies, many regions had none, and there was no overarching network to
span the continent. But in 1992, the International Association for the History of Religions
met for the first time in Africa, at Harare, Zimbabwe. The conferees voted unanimously
to form the African Association for the Study of Religions, naming Prof. Jacob Olupona
(then at the University of California, Davis) as coordinator and Dr. Rosalind Hackett of the
University of Tennessee (but who had taught in Nigeria) as treasurer, with council officers
from Europe, North America, and each region of Africa as well. The association continues,
maintaining a website, publishing a regular news bulletin, and holding large international
conferences in Africa every two to four years, with publications following.132 One might
hope for more communications and institutional nodes to sustain networks across the
continent, but it is encouraging to see a commitment to ongoing interaction across the distances—cultural, geographic, and economic—in this field.
131 Chitando, “Sub-Saharan Africa,” 113.
132 “History of the AASR,” accessed April 29, 2014, http://www.a-asr.org/history-of-aasr/.
46
Engaging Africa
Theology
Some of the most creative work emanating from African university departments of religious studies is being done in Christian theology. Theology in modern Africa shares common
concerns with the other disciplines we have explored thus
far. African theologians, like other Christian theologians,
engage in the basic task of their field, which is to do disciplined thinking about God—and particularly God’s ways
and God’s will in relation to humans and the rest of creation. But they, like the philosophers, the psychologists,
and other African intellectuals, have had an abiding concern to discover and establish what is distinctive about
their thinking—in Africa and as Africans. And beyond
that, they want to do their part to make Christianity a faith
that is at home in Africa and is authentically African.
African theologians,
like … other African
intellectuals, have
had an abiding
concern to discover
and establish what
is distinctive about
their thinking—in
Africa and as Africans.
Modern African theology, both Catholic and Protestant,
arose in a context of anti-colonial and Africanist
thought that grew among the educated elites of early to
mid-twentieth-century Africa. It arose first, perhaps, with
“Ethiopianist” Christian visionaries among Pan-Africanist
intellectuals in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and southern
Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
They were in contact with eminent African Americans
such as Bishop Henry W. Turner of the African Methodist
Episcopal Church, sociologist W. E. B. DuBois and a number of other academics at the
new black colleges, and Booker T. Washington of the famed Tuskegee Institute. For African
elites who were being subjugated to colonial rule, the sight of African American leaders
publishing their ideas, founding their own institutions, and acquiring wealth and property
was a powerful tonic. And more often than not, their Pan-Africanist vision was expressed
in Christian terms.133 In Francophone Africa, a new Africanist mentality animated the
Negritude movement among African and Afro-Caribbean students in Paris in the 1930s. It
sought to integrate the values and spirit of traditional Africa into modern arts, literature,
and politics. Thus, wrote Harvey Sindima, a Malawian theologian, African clerics “joined
the rest of the African elite in a struggle for a new identity in Africa.”134
133 Andrew Barnes, A School like Tuskegee: Industrial Education and the Christian Black Atlantic (ms,
2014), especially ch. 2, “The Redemption of Africa.” See also Robert Trent Vinson, “‘Sea Kaffirs:’
‘American Negroes’ and the Gospel of Garveyism in Early Twentieth-Century Cape Town,”
Journal of African History 47: 2 (2006): 281–303.
134 Harvey J. Sindima, Drums of Redemption: An Introduction to African Christianity (Westport, CT:
Greenwood Press, 1994), 156; see also Adam Clark, “Against Invisibility: Negritude and the
Awakening of the African Voice in Theology,” Studies in World Christianity 19:1 (2013): 71–92.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
47
One of the more direct inspirations for the rise of a new African theology in the 1960s
was the pioneering work of the Belgian missionary Placide Tempels, La Philosophie Bantoue
(1945), which was also translated into English. By arguing for the coherence and wisdom of
African traditional thought, Tempels opened a major entryway for Christian theologians to
engage their faith with African thought, values, and spiritual sensibilities. Four pioneering
theologians who ventured forth to build a conversation
with African philosophy and eventually African religion
were Harry Sawyerr, a Sierra Leonean Anglican theologian
and educational leader; Alexis Kagame, a Catholic priest
from Rwanda; Bolaji Idowu, a Methodist clergyman from
Nigeria; and John Mbiti, a Kenyan from the African Inland
Church who eventually became an Anglican.135 They were
aiming to formulate a Christianity that would understand
the scriptures and the gospel call to faith in Christ from
within an African context and using African categories of
thought and culture. Said Mbiti, “the only lasting form of
Christianity in this continent is that which results from a
serious encounter of the gospel with indigenous African
culture.”136 What this has meant in practical terms, across
the Catholic and older Protestant communions, has been
liturgical reform and a more contextual approach to biblical studies. Yet there have been a variety of experiments
with theological concepts as well, notably as in the field
of Christology. Both Catholic scholars such as Charles
Nyamiti of Kenya and Protestants such as John Pobee and
Kwame Bediako of Ghana reflected on the biblical appellation of Christ as God’s “first-born and risen from the
dead” (Col. 1:15) and the widespread African veneration
of the ancestors, the virtuous living dead. Might the image
of “ancestor” help African Christians understand the Christian doctrine of “the communion of the saints,” or Christ’s primacy and his mediation on believers’ behalf? Might it help
to add to Christ’s appellations “Ancestor,” or as in Bediako, “Lord of ancestors”?137
By arguing for the
coherence and
wisdom of African
traditional thought,
Tempels opened a
major entryway for
Christian theologians
to engage their
faith with African
thought, values, and
spiritual sensibilities.
135 Harry Sawyerr, Creative Evangelism (London: Lutterworth, 1968); Alexis Kagame, La Philosophie
Bantou Rwandaise de L’Etre (Brussels, 1956); Bolaji Idowu, Olódùmarè: God in Yoruba Belief
(London: Oxford University Press, 1962) and African Traditional Religion: A Definition (London:
SCM, 1973); and John S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy (London: Heinemann, 1969) and
Concepts of God in Africa (London: SPCK, 1970).
136 John Mbiti, “Christianity and African Culture: A Review,” Evangelical Review of Theology 3:2
(October 1979): 187, quoted in Sindima, Drums of Redemption, 163.
137 Charles Nyamiti, Jesus Christ: The Ancestor of Humankind: An Essay on African Christology
(Nairobi: Catholic University of East Africa Publications, 2006); John S. Pobee, Toward an African
Theology (Nashville: Abingdon, 1979); Kwame Bediako, Christianity in Africa: The Renewal of a
Non-Western Tradition (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1995), ch. XII, “Christian Religion and the African
World-view: Will Ancestors Survive?” 228 (quote).
48
Engaging Africa
Not all contemporary African theologians have been sanguine about finding parallels
and bridges between traditional African religions and Christian theology. The more conservative evangelical wing of African Protestantism worries about incautious religious
borrowing and blending—”syncretism”—or about taking steps toward “universalism,” as in
granting salvific character to non-Christian faiths. The issue at point for them has been the
extent to which there is spiritual and theological truth to be found in other faiths. They have
been quite skeptical about finding such truth in the African religions. One of the exemplars
of this ongoing suspicion toward the old religions was Byang Kato, a Nigerian theologian
and church leader in the Evangelical Church of West Africa. Even though he died at age 39
in 1975, his writings have set the norms and the tone for much of conservative evangelical
theological discourse in Africa ever since. These theologians affirm the need for Christian
Africans to be authentically African, but insist that their allegiance to a culture-transcending set of cardinal Christian truths, drawn from inerrant scriptures, must come first.138
A much less polemical but still incisive inspection of the indigenizing impulse in African
theology is a study by Diane Stinton, a Canadian theologian who taught for many years in
Kenya. Her book, Jesus of Africa, points out what is perhaps a classic weakness of first-generation “contextual theologies:” they tend to be conceived out of the creative imagination of
theologians, based on formal, textual studies of culture and of theology. They are rarely written
out of in-depth consultations with “the faithful,” the ordinary believers and front-line activists in the churches who are forming a popular theology out of their own gospel-and-culture
encounters. Stinton took some of the creative “African theology” approaches to Christology
to focus groups of lay Christian activists in West and East Africa and asked them what they
thought of various concepts. Christ as healer found widespread favor; Christ as ancestor did
not. Evidently the latter was too much caught up in the rituals and spirituality of the traditional religions from which these Christians had distanced themselves.139
This indigenization or inculturation wing of contemporary African Christian theology
experienced even sharper criticism from the left. Arising especially from the anti-colonial
struggles in southern Africa, theologians of liberation, drawing on insights from Latin
American predecessors, and Black theologians in South Africa, drawing on African
American theologians, argued that the concept of culture was too static and traditional
and insufficiently critical of Western aims and actions. To be relevant and powerful, they
said, African theology needs to get critical leverage on the social, economic, and political
realities of contemporary Africa. The Black theologians of South Africa in particular were
adamant that rather than seeking to embrace the African condition, Christian thinkers and
agents needed to seek to liberate it. Liberation, insisted Desmond Tutu, needed to be seen
“as the inevitable consequence of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ seriously.”140
138 See, e.g, Byang Kato, Theological Pitfalls in Africa (Kisumu, Kenya: Evangel Publishing House,
1975).
139 Diane B. Stinton, Jesus of Africa: Voices of Contemporary African Christology (Nairobi: Paulines
Publications Africa, 2004).
140 Desmond Tutu, Hope and Suffering (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 75.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
49
This was a difficult criticism for the indigenizing theologians to take. Had they not sought,
as John Mbiti had said, to apply
the message of the Gospel to our culture in the areas of human problem and
needs, such as oppression, exploitation, poverty, starvation, injustice, destruction of human life, extravagant spoliation of nature, pollution and dangers to
human survival? … How can the Gospel raise an alarm through our culture in
the areas of urgent concerns [?]141
Another indigenizing theologian, Gabriel Setiloane, a South African Methodist, presciently cautioned his liberationist and Black theology fellow South Africans that it was
relatively easy to be critical and prophetic when the adversary was someone else, such as
European colonizers. But what of situations where it is not foreigners, but one’s own society,
one’s own government, or church, or countrymen, who are the corruptors or oppressors?
Being prophetic then is not so simple, and “the Church in any situation is never free of the
evils of the society in which it finds itself.”142 African church leaders who spoke out against
repressive regimes across the continent found out how exceedingly difficult that work was. Several in Kenya, for example,
were killed during the regime of Daniel arap Moi. One who survived, Anglican archbishop David Gitari, gained wide notoriety
for his prophetic preaching, collected into several well-traveled
books.143 As Gitari seemed to understand quite well, knowing
the deeper cultural context that church and state both share
remains critically important, no matter who is in charge.
Liberationist
African theologians
echo many African
social science
colleagues in
denouncing
the “neoliberal,”
international
capitalist threat to
African well-being.
It was unfortunate, mused another South African theologian,
the Presbyterian Tinyiko Maluleke, that “African theologies
have tended to be carried out in ‘camps.’” African theologians
needed to “find one another, if we are to meaningfully move
forward.”144 Maluleke saw a hopeful sign in the work of the
veteran Kenyan theologian at the University of Nairobi, Jesse
Mugambi, who called for a more positive approach, a “Theology
of Reconstruction.” Mugambi observed that both liberation
and inculturation theologies had become dated. What was
needed was a more proactive approach. This outlook he shared
with the South African Charles Villa-Vicencio, who called for
theologians to be in serious dialogue with public intellectuals
who were engaging issues of nation-building, law-making, the
141 Mbiti, “Christianity and African Culture,” 195, quoted in Sindima, 175.
142 Gabriel M. Setiloane, “Theological Trends in Africa,” Missionalia 8 (1980): 52.
143Gitari, Let the Bishop Speak (Nairobi, Kenya: Uzima, 1988); David M. Gitari, In Season and Out of
Season: Sermons to a Nation (Carlisle, UK: Regnum, 1996).
144 Tinyiko Sam Maluleke, “Half a Century of African Christian Theologies: Elements of the Emerging
Agenda for the Twenty-first Century,” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 99 (1997): 5–6.
50
Engaging Africa
protection of human rights and economic development. Even so, Maluleke worried that
they would forget the larger picture, whereby powerful world-systems such as capitalism
and globalization threatened to impose neocolonial shackles on the continent. 145 That sentiment continues strong, so in the present day, liberationist African theologians echo many
African social science colleagues in denouncing the “neoliberal,” international capitalist
threat to African well-being. A key case in point was African theologians’ leadership in the
World Alliance of Reformed Churches’ Accra Confession of 2004, which “rejected neoliberal economic globalization as a death-dealing system and declared, ‘The integrity of our
faith is at stake if we remain silent or refuse to act in the face of the current system of neoliberal economic globalization.’”146
One of the more positive and evidently durable trends in contemporary African theology has been the rise of African women theologians. A Pan-African agency to serve the
movement, the Circle of Concerned Women Theologians,
began in 1989 and has attracted well over 500 members across the continent. One of its founders is Mercy
Amba Oduyoye, a Ghanaian Methodist theologian teaching at Trinity Theological Seminary in Legon. She has
also served as an executive with the World Council of
Churches. Other leaders include Isabel Phiri, a Malawian
Presbyterian now serving at the University of KwaZulu
Natal in South Africa; Musa Dube, professor of biblical
studies at the University of Botswana; and Philomena
Mwaura, professor of religious studies and director of the
Center for Gender Equity and Empowerment at Kenyatta
University in Kenya. Unlike many secular feminists in the
West, the Circle is ardently affirmative of motherhood,
childbirth, and marriage. Like the liberationist theologians, Circle theologians are advocates for social justice,
but they are bold to point out that patriarchal views and
actions are pervasive in Christian academic circles, even
among liberationists. Like the inculturation theologians,
they find much to affirm in African traditional culture
and worldviews, but they are keen to point out the gender
oppression that was all too commonly part of African
Like the liberationist
theologians, Circle
theologians are
advocates for social
justice, but they are
bold to point out that
patriarchal views and
actions are pervasive
in Christian academic
circles, even among
liberationists.
145 Maluleke, “Half a Century,” 22. See J. N. K. Mugambi, The Church of Africa: Toward a Theology of
Reconstruction: African Christian Theology after the Cold War (Nairobi: East African Educational
Publishers, 1995); and Charles Villa-Vicencio, A Theology of Reconstruction: Nation-Building and
Human Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
146 Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth, “Confessing Faith Together in the Economy: the Accra Confession
and the Covenanting for Justice Movement,” International Review of Mission 97, nos. 386–387
(July–October 2008): 233.
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51
“traditional values.” Among their accomplishments has been an early and sustained theological and pastoral address to the scourge of HIV/AIDS.147
A women’s movement arose within the more conservative evangelical Protestants as well.
It was more activist than academic, but it has been a force in the generation of evangelical
Christian ideas and perspectives. The Pan African Christian Womens Alliance (PACWA)
was formed in 1990 as an agency of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) with
the Rev. Judy Mbugua as PACWA’s head. During twenty-one years under her leadership,
PACWA chapters arose in thirty African countries.148 PACWA’s stated aims are:
• To stop the tide of ungodly liberalism and secularism with its resultant
materialism
• To assert the true dignity of women as found in Jesus Christ and contained in
the Bible
• To inject into African society biblical morals and values through women, who
are the mothers of any society
• To deliver Africa from decadence and ultimate collapse
• To make disciples of African nations for Christ in the continent of Africa149
National chapters and regional conferences flourished, and PACWA became one of
the most outspoken of the AEA-type African evangelical groups in denouncing injustice
and corruption and urging evangelical advocacy and engagement in political reform. In
Zambia, PACWA leaders ran for public office with one serving as a city mayor and another
as a member of parliament. There and elsewhere they were early engagers of the HIV/AIDS
epidemic, organizing conferences and workshops to train women as health care volunteers
147 See, e.g., Mercy Oduyoye, Hearing and Knowing: Theological Reflections in Christianity in Africa
(Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1986); Mercy Amba Oduyoye, ed., The Will to Arise: Women, Tradition, and
the Church in Africa (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1992); Mercy Oduyoye, Beads and Strands: Reflections
of an African Woman on Christianity in Africa (Akropong, Ghana: Regnum Africa, 2002); Isabel
Apawo Phiri, Women, Presbyterianism and Patriarchy: Religious Experience of Chewa Women in
Central Malawi (Zomba, Malawi: Kachere Series, 2007); Phiri, ed., African Women, Religion, and
Health: Essays in Honor of Mercy Amba Ewudziwa Oduyoye (Maryknoll, NY : Orbis Books, 2006);
Musa Dube, ed. Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible (Atlanta: Society for Biblical
Literature, 2001); Musa Dube and Gerald West, eds., The Bible in Africa: Transactions, Trajectories,
and Trends (Leiden: Brill, 2000); Philomena N. Mwaura and Lilian D. Chirairo, eds., Theology in
the Context of Globalization: African Women’s Response (Nairobi, Ecumenical Association of Third
World Theologians, 2005); Philomena N. Mwaura, T. M. Hinga, A. Kubai, and H. Ayanga, eds., HIV/
AIDS, Women and Religion in Africa: Ethical and Theological Responses (Pietermaritzburg: Cluster
Publications, 2008).
148 Faith Wambura Ngunjiri, Women’s Spiritual Leadership in Africa: Tempered Radicals and Critical
Servant Leaders (Albany: SUNY Press, 2010), 43–44. See also Judy Mbugua, Our Time Has Come:
African Christian Women Address the Issues of Today (Grand Rapids: Baker 1994).
149 Isabel Phiri, “Frederick Chiluba and Zambia: Evangelicals and Democracy in a ‘Christian Nation,’”
in Evangelical Christianity and Democracy in Africa, ed. Terence O. Ranger (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2008), 111. For the broader PACWA story regarding such engagement, see
Judy Mbugua, Making a Difference: Christian Women and Politics (Nairobi: Association of
Evangelicals in Africa, 1997).
52
Engaging Africa
in their communities.150 PACWA, in its heyday, was one of the most effective Christian
networks in Africa. No wonder, then, that when its parent organization, AEA, needed an
interim director in 2007, Mbugua was tapped for the job.
So we see that African theology has been a busy and fruitful field of inquiry over the past
half-century. It shares many of the overall concerns that animate other academic fields in
Africa: a desire to break free of a colonial intellectual legacy, to establish distinctly African
approaches to its field of endeavor, and to see its work serve the common good of the continent in which it works. As we have suggested, many if not most of the leading theologians,
especially on the Protestant side, are situated in state universities’ religious studies departments, with the attending problems that contemporary African university life poses. Yet
they have managed to sustain lines of inquiry and debate over the years, and to produce a
remarkable body of work.
That work does not circulate as freely as one might hope, however, for a variety of reasons. First, much of it is published outside of Africa and is not priced to sell there. Second,
as in other fields (outside of South Africa), journals are few and far between, and every one
of them, it seems, has experienced at least one significant hiatus in publishing. Third, as in
the case of the other fields, African theologians have emigrated, and their work, which still
engages Africa, often seems to reach Africans last.
Even so, there is a thin but serviceable publishing network in Africa today for theology. There are some fairly
reliable journals with good theological content. Some of
the steadiest of these today are the Ogbomoso Journal of
Theology, published by the Baptist Theological Seminary
in Ogbomoso, Nigeria; the Journal of African Christian
Thought, published by the Akrofi-Christaller Institute
in Ghana; AFER (the African Ecclesiastical Review), a
Catholic theological journal published at the Catholic
University of East Africa in Nairobi; the Africa Theological
Journal, published at Makumira University College of
Tumaini University, a Lutheran institution in Tanzania; and
AJET (the African Journal of Evangelical Theology), published at Scott Christian University
in Machakos, Kenya. All of these journals are indexed for database searches via EBSCO and
ATLA (American Theological Library Association). In South Africa, there are riches, comparatively speaking. The university-based theological faculties (e.g., at Pretoria, UNISA,
Stellenbosch and KwaZulu Natal) have at least one journal, and the main journal of record
in theology is the Journal of Theology for Southern Africa. Another fine freestanding journal
is Missionalia, which is formally a missiological journal, but given the gospel-and-culture
approach of much of the continent’s theology, Missionalia is a frequently used medium.
There is a thin
but serviceable
publishing network
in Africa today
for theology.
150 Phiri, “Frederick Chiluba and Zambia,” 112–118.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
53
Because these journals are now all indexed and most are available electronically, they provide a basis for common discourse, both on the continent and elsewhere.
Eastern and Southern Africa have trade presses that publish a fairly steady issue of
African theology. In South Africa, there are Cluster Publications in Pietermaritzburg, the
academic presses of the UNISA and Cape Town, and Lux Verbi, the nation’s oldest religious
publisher. In Kenya, several publishers release a steady line of titles: Paulines Press, Gaba
Publications, Acton, and Evangel are the main ones. In West Africa, theological publishing
is much more problematic. There are plenty of local urban firms that like to publish works
for megachurch pastors or textbooks for professors, but sources for more learned fare are
rare and thin. Regnum Africa, an affiliate of Regnum Books in Great Britain, is edited at the
Akrofi-Christaller Institute in Ghana and produces high-quality theological titles. Yet its
capacity is limited so its portfolio is too. Asempa Publishers of the Ghana Christian Council
has similar limits. In Francophone Africa, the options are exceedingly slender. Editions
Clé, a French religious publisher with offices in Yaounde, Cameroon, has developed a line
of theological titles, under the direction of Tharcisse Gatwa, a Rwandan theologian. Gatwa
has also conducted writer’s workshops and topical seminars in order to build the stable of
authors.151 One lively “offshore” option that many African theologians and religious studies scholars have favored lately is Africa World Press, published out of the United States,
in Trenton, New Jersey. Its current list shows seventy titles in religion, most available for
between $20 and $30—not cheap, but more accessible to Africa than some European academic trade presses, which may charge five or six times as much.
African theology has no comprehensive service centers to match CODESRIA and
OSSREA in the social sciences. As we have seen, most African academics in theological
fields teach in freestanding seminaries and Bible colleges, with small libraries and large
varieties of courses to cover. Those teaching in secular
universities must deal with huge enrollments per course,
frequently no texts, and untrustworthy main libraries.
A number of them have resorted to pooling professors’
spare books and starting to build departmental libraries
kept under lock and key. After years of dysfunctional,
non-meeting regional theological associations,152 these
agencies, first established by the Theological Education
Fund and the All Africa Council of Churches (AACC),
have recommenced regular meetings.153 Dr. Andre
Karamaga, the Rwandan Presbyterian who now heads the
AACC, is determined, he says, to strengthen theological
Catholics in Africa
have some of the
best institutions
and networks for
theologizing.
151 Gatwa, “Theological Education in Francophone Africa,” 181.
152 Philomena Njeri Mwaura, “Regional Theological Associations and Theological Curriculum
Development in East Africa: Challenges and Prospects,” Missionalia 38:2 (August 2010): 248–258.
153 Gatwa, “Theological Education in Francophone Africa,” 184–185.
54
Engaging Africa
thought and service on the continent. “For too many years,” he said, “the AACC seemed to
favor ideology over theology—but no more.”154
Catholics in Africa have some of the best institutions
and networks for theologizing. Their evaluators speak of
a too-rapid expansion of seminaries in order to keep up
with the pastoral needs of the church, and the continuing
need to call on missionary educators because of the shortage of African theologians.155 Yet the whole system rests
on very strong pillars. First are the Catholic Faculties of
Kinshasa, which owe their inheritance to the University
of Lovanium, founded in Kinshasa in 1954 with the assistance of the University in Louvaine, Belgium. Second, the
Catholic Institute of West Africa, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, a
postgraduate research center (f. 1975) with the nation’s best
library; and the Catholic University of Central Africa (f.
1991), with campuses in Yaounde and Duoala, Cameroon,
Pointe-Noire in Congo Brazzaville, and planned campuses
in Libreville, Gabon and Bangui, CAR. Add to this the best
Christian university of Anglophone Africa, the Catholic
University of East Africa. In reading through a sampling
of the featured works of African theology over the past
half-century, it is clear at least to this non-theologian that
the Catholics’ investment in strong central institutions
has paid off. In philosophical sophistication and breadth
of theological reading, the Catholic thinkers have a clear
edge on the Protestants. Even so, as we have suggested,
their coverage with journals and higher end religious book
publishing on the continent is no better.
African theology …
seems to have built
some momentum
intellectually, but
it could use some
fresh rubrics, a
more intent focus
on contemporary
African social realities,
and a fresh infusion
of discoveries and
insights of other
disciplines.
154 Andre Karamaga, interview with the author and with Paul Wason, Nairobi, Kenya, March 6,
2012. See also James Amanze, “Ecumenical Theological Education in Africa: The Case of the
Association of Theological Education in Southern and Central Africa (ATISCA),” in Handbook
of Theological Education in Africa, 1018–1031; Thomas A. Oduro, “West African Association of
Theological Institutions (WAATI): History, Activities and Challenges (1973–2011),” Handbook
of Theological Education in Africa, 1032–1038; Edison Kalengyo, “Association of Theological
Institutions in Eastern Africa (ATIEA),” in Handbook of Theological Education in Africa, 10391042; and Priscille Djomhoue, “The Association of Theology Institutions in Francophone Africa
(L’ASTHEOL) in the Period between 1966 and 2011,” in Handbook of Theological Education in
Africa, 1043–1049.
155 See, e.g., Gosbert Byamungu, “Unleashing Theological Energy for Africa and the World
Church—Roman Catholic Perspectives on African Theological Education,” in Handbook of
Theological Education in Africa, eds. Isabel Apawo Phiri and Dietrich Werner (Oxford: Regnum
Books, 2013), 301–306; and Paul Bere, “Theological Formation in the Roman Catholic Church in
Africa,” in Handbook of Theological Education in Africa, 3070–3315.
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So theology in Africa has a broad scope and is practiced in a wide variety of institutions.
Its institutional and disciplinary setting is no less fragile than some of the other disciplines
we have explored, but it is much more widespread and diversified institutionally, and with
huge constituencies. African theology needs to regain the focus and rigor of its pioneering
progenitors, and it needs to find ways to sustain lines of discourse and disseminate its work
better. It seems to have built some momentum intellectually, but it could use some fresh
rubrics, a more intent focus on contemporary African social realities, and a fresh infusion of
discoveries and insights of other disciplines. Even African theology’s more self-consciously
innovative and theory-driven practitioners are more likely to draw their constructs from
the global North than from fellow Africans.
Conclusion
Throughout these African intellectual and academic networks, sacred and secular, we see
African thinkers seeking a distinctive voice and intellectual constructs that seriously engage
their cultures, their values, and their current situation. There is widespread dissatisfaction
with Western projects and paradigms, and intriguing experiments and debates, whether
in psychology, anthropology or theology. Sustaining teaching and scholarship remains a
struggle, even though the worst days are in the past. So what might the patterns in these
fields of inquiry and service suggest for the nine topical areas for potential grant making
identified at the Accra consultation? That is, after all the main question of this study, and it
is met head-on in the next chapter.
56
Engaging Africa
III. Project Ideas: State of Play
A
t the Accra Consultation, the participants readily reached a consensus about
nine topical areas to explore for potential grant making. In this section, we
survey the current work in each of these areas and make recommendations as
to what kinds of projects might be most ready to receive grant funding.
African Values
The issue that was discussed most often among our
African participants was traditional African worldviews
and values, the rites and institutions that fostered them,
the social and personal behavior they seemed to induce,
and their interaction with a rapidly changing society. So
what was the state of play in African values across the fields
we investigated?
The issue that was
discussed most
often among our
African participants
was traditional
African worldviews
and values.
Since philosophers were among the first of the postcolonial era, university-based African intellectuals to raise a
conversation about the relevance of traditional ways and
views, one might assume that a lively conversation about
the issue is still percolating in philosophy. It is, but it seems
to have migrated from the more basic philosophical questions of methodology and the classic categories of inquiry (such as epistemology) toward
the fields of ethics and political philosophy. The question of how African values compare
to the Western liberal tradition engenders lively discussion, for example on how J. S. Mill’s
principle of liberty might relate to African communalism, or on how African conceptions
of group interests and rights compare to Western liberal conceptions of human rights.156
The much-discussed South African concept of Ubuntu continues to stimulate discussion
about its value as a building block for modern African political thought.157 Others, however,
want to emphasize that there are some less desirable attributes of African traditional values
156 See, e.g., Jare Oladosu, “J. S. Mill’s Principle of Liberty and the African Communalist Tradition,”
in Political Culture, Governance and the State in Africa, ed. Abdalla Bujra (Nairobi: DPMF,
2011), 203–234; and Thaddeus Metz, “African Values, Human Rights and Group Rights: A
Philosophical Foundation for the Banjul Charter,” pp. 131–152; and Oche Onazi, “Before Rights
and Responsibilities: An African Ethos of Citizenship,” 153–172, in African Legal Theory and
Contemporary Problems, ed. Oche Onazi (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2013).
157 Leonhard Praeg and Siphokazi Magadia, eds., Ubuntu: Curating the Archive (Pietermaritzburg:
University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 2014).
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in public affairs, notably social and political conservatism based on an uncritical veneration
of African culture, communally reinforced authoritarianism, and initiative-inhibiting fatalism.158 And still others disagree about the desirability of incorporating traditional African
institutions (chieftaincies, councils) into modern African governance.159
African values certainly catch the attention of African scholars of gender, family, and
sexuality. An abiding question is how do African traditional family structures and values
respond to families being situated in urban environments?160 Gender relations raise questions about the persistence of traditional gender identities and their roles in contemporary
life,161 while many studies in recent times on the spread, treatment, and prevention of HIV/
AIDS also puzzle over the roles that traditional African values—or their breakdown—play.162
The current scope of the “African traditional values” theme thus is quite broad. It factors into development studies, where various researchers see both promise and problems
in the roles that traditional social, economic, and familial values play alongside attempts
to enhance entrepreneurship and farming cooperatives.163 In management and leadership
158 E.g., Reginald M. J. Odor, “Mental Impediments to Desirable Social Transformation in
Contemporary Africa,” Thought and Practice n.s. 1:1 (June 2009): 1–29.
159 Samuel Oni and Joshua Segun, “Resurgence of Traditional Institutions of Governance:
Imperative for State-Building in Africa,” Slovenka Politologicka Revue 3:10 (2010): 2–15; but see
Lungisile Ntsebeza, “Traditional Authorities and Democracy: Are We Back to Apartheid?” In
G. Ruiters, ed., The Fate of the Eastern Cape: History, Politics and Social Policy (Pietermaritzburg:
University of KwaZulu Natal Press, 2011), 75–92.
160 Henry N. Mutua, Impact of Urbanization on the Extended Family System in the African Cities: The
Question of Survival or Decline of the Extended Family System: A Case Study of Akamba-Christian
Families in Nairobi, Kenya (Staarbrucken, Germany: VDM, 2010); Tim Heaton and Akosua K.
Darkwah, “Religious Differences in the Modernization of the Family: Family Demographic
Trends in Ghana,” Journal of Family Issues 20:1 (2011): 1–21.
161 Amos A. Alao, “Lack of Mutual Respect in Relationship: The Endangered Partner,’ Annals of the
New York Academy of Sciences no.1087 (November 2006): 311–319; William Idowu, “African
Family System and the Seniority-Gender Question: A Critical Appraisal,” in Odu Journal of West
African Studies 43 (2002): 38–54; P. A. Edewor, “Changing Perceptions of the Value of Daughters’
and Girls’ Education among the Isoko of Nigeria,” African Population Studies 21:1 (2006):
55–70; Lisa Saville Young and Catherine Jackson, “‘Bhuti: Meaning and Masculinities in Xhosa
Brothering,” Journal of Psychology in Africa 21:2 (2011): 221–228.
162 Chris Kenyon and Sizwe Zondo, “Why Have Socio-Economic Explanations Been Favored over
Cultural Ones in Explaining the Extensive Spread of HIV in South Africa?” African Journal of AIDS
Research 10:1 (2011): 51-62; G. A. Heeren, J.B. Jemmott, T. C. Tyler, S. Tshabe and Z. Ngwane,
“Cattle for Wives and Extramarital Trysts for Husbands? Lobola, Men, and HIV/STD Risk Behavior
In Southern Africa,” Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment 21:1 (January 2011):
73-81; Richard A. Powell and Jennifer Hunt, “Family Care Giving in the Context of HIV/AIDS in
Africa,” Progress in Palliative Care 21:1 (April 2013): 13-21.
163 Frederick O. Wanyama, “Some Positive Aspects of Neo-liberalism for African Development: The
Revival of Solidarity in Cooperatives,” International Journal of Arts and Commerce, 2:1 (January
2013): 126–148; H. A. Oluremi, M. P. Ajayi, O. A. Adekeye, and A. E. Idowu, “Some Socio-Cultural
Issues in Entrepreneurship Development among Some Groups in Nigeria,” IFE PsychologIA
19:2 (2011): 268–284; and Stephen B. Kendie, Nana K. T. Ghartey, and Bernard Y. Guri, Mapping
Indigenous Institutions in Southern Ghana (Cape Coast, Ghana: Centre for Development Studies,
University of Cape Coast, 2005).
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Engaging Africa
studies, David Lutz and fellow philosophers at the Catholic
University of Eastern Africa developed an “African philosophy
of management” based on the communal values of Ubuntu,164
while others puzzle over the interplay between African values
and Western management norms: sometimes problematic,
sometimes beneficial.165 In psychology, counselors wrestle over
the sometimes competing aims they perceive between effective
therapy and respect for traditional norms and worldviews.166
Christian theologians continue to work at the intersection of
Christian faith and living with traditional African society and
values.167 In sum, contemporary African scholars’ interest,
concern, puzzling over, and promotion of African traditional
values is percolating across the academy. Such interaction, in
fact, appears throughout the remaining topical areas.
Contemporary
African scholars’
interest, concern,
puzzling over,
and promotion
of African
traditional values is
percolating across
the academy.
With a topic that is so broad and nearly all pervading, how
can one think of a delimited field for grants and projects?
African scholars over the past two generations have sometimes
expressed frustration at the ways that traditional values and
institutions seem to hinder the full prospering of their communities. Yet there is a strong inclination, in these academic circles at least, to resist the
Western narrative of modernization and progress. Africans must find their own methods to
flourish. There must be ways to do well in the contemporary world without alienating one’s
cultural roots, one’s deep being.
From the wealth of studies conducted in recent years that show the influence of “traditional values” in this or that line of endeavor—for good or for ill—African scholars could
gather up what is being learned and develop fresh ways and means in various fields for
putting these values to work in positive ways. For example, on a continent hamstrung by
corruption in business and government, how could African values be advanced as part
164 David W. Lutz and Isaac Hailemariam Desta, “African Philosophy of Management,” Philosophy
of Management 12:2 (2013): 1–7; Lutz, “African Ubuntu Philosophy and Global Management,”
Journal of Business Ethics 84:3 (2009): 313–328.
165 Pempelani Mufune, “African Culture and Managerial Behavior,” South African Journal of Business
Management 34:3 (September 2003): 233–243; Ian Nell, “Leaders Lost in Transition: A Case Study
of Leadership, Ritual and Social Capital,” Ned Geref Teologiese Tydskrif 50:1-2 (2009): 160–170.
166 Gillian Eagle, “Therapy at the Cultural Interface: Implications of South African Cosmology for
Traumatic Stress Intervention,” Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy 35:2 (2005): 201–211.
167 See, e.g., University of Ilorin religious studies professor Abiola Theresa Dopamu’s several
publications studying the interaction of Christianity and traditional society and values among
the Yoruba people of southern Nigeria, e.g., Dopamu, “Moral Responsibility and Judgment: An
Evaluation of Judgment in Christianity and Yorba Religion,” in Insight: Journal of Religious Studies
8 (2012): 140–159; and “God and Social Change in Yorubaland,” in God: The Contemporary
Discussion (Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria: The Nigerian Association for the Study of Religions, 2005),
88–114.
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59
of the solution rather than, as many studies have shown, a source of the problem? So we
could envisage grant making that encouraged the development of positive virtues that are
grounded in African ways of thinking and doing, but also forward looking in order to
enhance human flourishing in the urban and globalized Africa of today. We think this field
has strong potential, both as an area of inquiry and of instruction and formation. We do
not know of any current efforts to consolidate work like this, but as we have seen, there are
a variety of people working on such ideas.
African Spirituality: Traditional and Contemporary
One simply cannot separate African traditional values from African spirituality, which
suffuses human experience, animates the natural world, and richly populates all planes of
existence. It includes gratitude and hospitality, and it attaches moral tints to one’s money.
It involves dreams, prophecy and soothsaying, sorcery, exorcism, and healing. How have
these traditional spiritual traits survived in the contemporary scene and modulated within Christianity? How might
insights gained from a deeper understanding garnered from
other disciplines provide “new spiritual information” for
progress in both African and Western Christian thought
and practice?
One simply cannot
separate African
traditional values
from African
spirituality, which
suffuses human
experience,
animates the natural
world, and richly
populates all planes
of existence.
As we have seen in tracing the development of modern
African theology, its reckoning with traditional African
spirituality has been a central theme of its development.
And the “Africanization” of African Christianity has
become a prominent theme in its recent history. We are
learning from African church historians that even though
Western missionaries typically brought a postenlightenment Christianity featuring a thinly spiritualized natural
world, Africans continued to see their world as thickly populated with spiritual entities and forces. And as Africans
founded their own church movements, first with the older
AICs and now the newer charismatic and Pentecostal ones,
African spiritual sensibilities came back to the fore.168 This
has also been the case in the older denominations, many of
which have been suffused with charismatic renewal.169
168 Ogbu U. Kalu, ed. African Christianity: An African Story (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2007), is a
rich compendium of African authors’ accounts of Christianity becoming an African-rooted faith.
169 See, e.g., Cephas Omenyo, Pentecost Outside Pentecostalism: A Study of the Development of
Charismatic Renewal of the Mainline Churches in Ghana (Zoertermeer, Netherlands: Uitgeverij
Boekencentrum Zoetermeer, 2002).
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Engaging Africa
Even as the Christian churches now constitute the majority religion across sub-Saharan
Africa, the older spiritual practices that the churches do not accept are persisting. Traditional
priests and shrines abound, and healers, using herbs and incantations, are very active across
the continent. Accusations of witchcraft persist, sometimes coming in panicky waves, as we
have seen recently in the deeply distressed societies of southern Africa.170
So what is to be done here? Studies of traditional sacrifices, divination, and healers
abound, since probably most of the religious studies departments in the larger African
universities retain specialists in African traditional religions. The Nigerian universities in
particular seem to be well supplied. In other places, South Africa in particular, the anthropologists add their interest. The interest in African Pentecostalism continues to grow.
And the debates continue. The inculturationists engage the traditional African spiritualized world and see it as the chief distinctive and strengthening undercarriage of African
Christianity.171 The liberationists see it as something of a distraction. What the church really
needs, they insist, is to engage in critical political and economic analysis in order to make
prophetic witness against the more earth-shaking principalities and powers of this world:
capitalism and globalization.172 The more conservative evangelicals worry that a too-uncritical affirmation of African spirituality will limit the church’s ability to bring the deliverance
from evil and transformed lives that they are called to bring.173 And the Pentecostals both
embrace a spiritualized view of the world and demonize most of its agents, promising healing and deliverance to those who believe. Their up-front engagement of African spirituality
is a main cause, many assert, for their explosive growth in Africa.174
So what might be done? For all the theological debates about African Christian spirituality, there is too little by way of grassroots exploration of it. What does it mean, in experiential
terms, to be a devoted African Presbyterian, Catholic, or Pentecostal? How do ordinary
Christians, probably to be heard via communicative lay leaders and activists, and in congregational studies, engage a spiritual life? What might there be to learn from their practice of
it? How does one add some nuance to the well-worn adage that African Christianity is a mile
170 See, e.g., Ashforth, Witchcraft, Violence and Democracy in South Africa.
171 See especially Bediako, Christianity in Africa, ch. 6, “The Primal Imagination and the Opportunity
for a New Theological Idiom,” and ch. 7, “Translatability and the Cultural Incarnations of the
Faith,” 91–125; and Laurenti Magesa, African Religion: The Moral Traditions of Abundant Life
(Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1997). Magesa proposes that “African religion” is the common spiritual
and moral inheritance of Christians, Muslims, and traditional African religionists alike.
172 Helpful summaries of liberationists’ critiques of inculturation theology appear in Maluleke,
“Half a Century of African Christian Theologies,” and Sindima, Drums of Revelation, ch. 8, “African
Theology.”
173 David T. Ngong, “Theology as the Construction of Piety: A Critique of the Theology of
Inculturation and the Pentecostalization of African Christianity,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology
21 (2012) 344–362; and Detlef Kapteina, “The Formation of African Evangelical Theology,”
African Journal of Evangelical Theology 25:1 (2006): 61–84.
174 See, e.g., Kalu, African Pentecostalism; and Allan Anderson, African Reformation: African initiated
Christianity in the 20th Century (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2001).
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61
For this kind
of research to
flourish in Africa,
there would
need to be more
cross-fertilization
between African
anthropologists
and African
theologians.
wide but an inch deep?175 We think it would be very helpful to
have more studies of Christian “reception,” as theologians like
to call it, including survey and focus group research akin to the
remarkable study accomplished by Diane Stinton.176 So would
more work akin to congregational studies, the ethnological
technique so brilliantly practiced by American sociologists,
anthropologists, and religious studies scholars to give a deeper
understanding of contemporary American evangelical piety
and practice.177 The most suggestive work of this kind thus far
has been accomplished by European religious studies phenomenologists and by anthropologists of religion, such as Birgit
Meyer’s studies of popular Christianity in Ghana.178 For this
kind of research to flourish in Africa, there would need to be
more cross-fertilization between African anthropologists and
African theologians.
One place where this happens regularly is the AkrofiChristaller Institute in Ghana, where Dr. Alison Howell, an
anthropologist and missiologist, is now the academic dean.
The ACI organized a major initiative on “Primal Religion as
the Spiritual Undercarriage of Christianity” from 2007 to 2011,
which convened a team of scholars researching the acceptance
of Christianity by tribal people in many places of the world to share their discoveries and
copublish. Two dedicated issues of the Journal of African Christian Thought, which is edited
and published at ACI, conveyed their findings,179 and books are forthcoming. Projects of
this sort, focused more intently on Africa, on congregations or other Christian agencies
(e.g., campus Christian groups or bands of evangelists), and on the spirituality of their participants, could prove fruitful and perhaps engender broader interest and effort in this field.
175 E.g., Anthony O. Balcomb, “‘A Hundred Miles Wide, But Only a Few Inches Deep!’? Sounding the
Depth of Christian Faith in Africa,” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 140 (July 2011): 20–33.
176Stinton, Jesus of Africa. For an American example, see Christian Smith, et al., American
Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1998).
177 E.g., Nancy Tatom Ammerman, Bible Believers: Fundamentalists in the Modern World (New
Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987); Susan Friend Harding, The Book of Jerry Falwell:
Fundamentalist Language and Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000); and James
M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church (New York: Knopf, 2004).
178 Birgit Meyer, “Powerful Pictures: Popular Christian Aesthetics in Southern Ghana,” Journal of the
American Academy of Religion 76:1 (2008): 82–110; Meyer, “‘There Is a Spirit in that Image’: MassProduced Jesus Pictures and Protestant-Pentecostal Animation in Ghana,” Comparative Studies
in Society and History 52:1 (2010): 100–130.
179 Themed issues: “Primal Religion as the Substructure of Christianity: Theological and
Phenomenological Perspectives,” Journal of African Christian Thought 11:2 (December 2008); and
“Primal Religion as the Substructure of Christianity: Biblical, Historical and Phenomenological
Perspectives,” Journal of African Christian Thought 12:1 (June 2009).
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Engaging Africa
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies, in African Context
As a major site for civil violence in recent decades, Africa has much at stake and much
to offer for those who want to learn more about the barriers and pathways to conflict resolution and social reconstruction. Political scientists, psychologists, and theologians are
making various inquiries, but few are in dialogue. Even so, African pastoral leaders seem
keen to learn from them, to share what they have learned,
and to apply best insights and practices.
Some earlier research on this front that we conducted
for JTF discovered that while there is a goodly amount of
frontline intervention in peacemaking and postconflict
work at reconciliation and restoration of relationships
in Africa, the scholarly literature on the topic, at least as
accessed via searches in standard Western databases, is
fairly thin outside of South Africa,180 which has become a
center for such work.
Our more intensive tour of the African university
landscape, however, surfaced a variety of research and
publishing projects percolating up across the continent.
We found that a variety of social scientists—psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists,
and development studies scholars—were showing a lively
interest in the topic. They pursued studies, for example,
of the role of churches and civic organizations in peacemaking.181 We also found studies of the role of forgiveness
As a major site for civil
violence in recent
decades, Africa has
much at stake and
much to offer for
those who want to
learn more about …
conflict resolution and
social reconstruction.
180 But see some works that are particularly insightful about situations in Africa: Anna Floerke
Scheid, “Under the Palaver Tree: Community Ethics for Truth-telling and Reconciliation,”
Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 31:1 (2011): 17–36; Ben Knighton, “Forgiveness or
Disengagement in a Traditional African Cycle of Revenge,” Exchange 30:1 (2001): 18–32; Susan
Thomson, “Whispering Truth to Power: The Everyday Resistance of Rwandan Peasants to PostGenocide Reconciliation,” African Affairs 110, no. 440 (July 2011): 439–456; Michael Bratton,
“Violence, Partisanship and Transitional Justice in Zimbabwe,” The Journal of Modern African
Studies 49:3 (September 2011): 353–380; Nukhet Ahu Sandal, “Religious Actors as Epistemic
Communities in Conflict Transformation: The Cases of South Africa and Northern Ireland,”
Review of International Studies, 37: 3 (July 2011): 929–949; Geoff Harris, “Studying Conflict,
Violence and Peace in African Universities,” Higher Education 59:3 (March 2010): 293–301; and
Fionna Klasen, Judith Daniels, Gabriele Oettingen, Manuela Post, Catrin Hoyer, and Hubertus
Adam, “Posttraumatic Resilience in Former Ugandan Child Soldiers,” Child Development 81:4
(July/August 2010): 1096–1113.
181 Joseph Bseggye Bazirake and Paul Balukuki, “The Role of Rotary Clubs in Post-Conflict Peace
Building: A Case of Northern Uganda (2006–2010),” International Letters of Social and Humanistic
Sciences 10 (2013): 54–72; Mumma C. A. Martinon, “Discovering the Role of the Church in the
Protection of Civilians in Peace Support Operations,” in Exploring the Faith of Mission in Africa:
Celebration of Maryknoll’s 100 Years in Mission, eds. Laurenti Magesa and M. C. Kirwen (Nairobi:
Maryknoll Institute of African Studies, 2012), 29–44.
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63
and of additional Christian virtues—notably hope and testifying to truth—182 and the role
of gender, especially women, in conflict resolution.183
Across the continent, religious studies and theological scholars engaged the topic as
well. In Kenya, for example, Susan Kilonzo of the University of Maseno wrote on Muslims’
and other ethno-religious minorities’ roles in the postelection violence of 2008,184 while in
Uganda, Therese Tinkasiimire and Christine Mbabazi Mpyangu studied the role of religion
and rituals in reintegrating female “child soldiers” abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army
in the northern part of their country.185 Theologians from conflict-ravaged regions wrote
biblical studies of forgiveness and conflict transformation. Burundian Isaac Mbabazi wrote
on the role of interpersonal forgiveness in the Gospel of Matthew, while Nigerian Priscilla
Adoyo applied biblical principles of conflict transformation to the violent outbreaks in Jos
and Kaduna, in northern Nigeria.186
While we made no intensive search for interventions and engagement in conflict transformation work around the continent, we found instances of it nonetheless. For example,
the UN Office of the Special Advisor on Africa lists a half-dozen peacemaking NGOs in
Liberia, which is still struggling to recover from a decade of civil war: the Africa Peace
Mission, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, the Liberian National Students Union,
182 D. J. Stein, S. Seedat, D. Kaminer, H. Moomal, A. Herman, J. Sonnega, et al. “The Impact of
the Truth and Reconciliation Process on Psychological Distress and Forgiveness in South
Africa,” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 43 (2008): 462–468; A. Kalayjian and
R. F. Paloutzian, eds., Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Psychological Pathways to Conflict
Transformation and Peace Building (London: Springer, 2009); Augustine Nwoye, “Ontological
Structure and Complexity in Therapeutic Hope: A Multidimensional Perspective,” Psychotherapy
and Politics International 9:1 (2011): 3–19; and A. Nwoye, “Hope-healing Communities in
Contemporary Africa,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology 42:3 (2002): 58–81.
183 Flora Ntunde and Leonard I. Ugwu, “The Role of Women in Conflict Resolution,” in Crisis and
Conflict Management in Nigeria since 1980, eds. A. M. Yakubu, et al. (Nigerian National Defense
Academy, 2005); Helen Scanlon and Kelli Muddell, “Gender and Transitional Justice in Africa:
Progress and Prospects,” African Journal on Conflict Resolution 9:2 (2009), 9–28; and Fiona C.
Ross, Bearing Witness: Women and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa
(London: Pluto Press, 2003).
184 Susan Kulanzo, “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Peacebuilding in Kisumu District,
Kenya,” Journal of Peacebuilding and Development 6:1 (2011): 80–85; Kulanzo, “Ethnic Minorities
Wedged Up in Post-Election Violence in Kenya: A Lesson for African Governments,” Critical Arts:
A Journal of South-North Cultural Studies 23:2 (2009): 245–251.
185 Christine Mbabazi Mpyangu, “The Use of Ritual in the Reintegration of Female Ex-child Soldiers
in Northern Uganda,” pp. 101–114, and Therese Tinkasiimire, “Women and War in Northern
Uganda: A Theological Reflection on the Dignity of a Woman in the Reintegration Process,” pp.
165–180, in Culture, Religion and the Reintegration of Female Child Soldiers in Northern Uganda,
ed. Bard Maeland (New York: Peter Lang, 2011).
186 Issac K. Mbabazi, The Significance of Interpersonal Forgiveness in the Gospel of Matthew (Wipf and
Stock Publishers, 2013); Priscilla Adoyo, Biblical Principles in Conflict Transformation: A Study of
the Jos and Kaduna Conflicts, Nigeria (Saarbrucken, Germany: VDM, 2009).
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Engaging Africa
the Mano River Women’s Peace Network, the Student
Christian Movement of Liberia, and the Perry Center for
Peace, Security and Development.187
In the eastern
reaches of the Congo,
two evangelical
Christian universities
have sprung up as
responses to the
need for peacebuilding and
holistic community
restoration.
In another war-torn region, we see a different set of
institutional examples: In the eastern reaches of the Congo,
two evangelical Christian universities have sprung up as
responses to the need for peace-building and holistic community restoration. The Christian Bilingual University
was founded in Beni, the epicenter of the fighting in the
eastern Congo, in 2007 by Musiande David Kasali, a
Congolese theologian and former head of the Nairobi
Evangelical Graduate School of Theology. One can hardly
imagine a more impossible place to build a university, but
Kasali said that he and his countrymen had heard God’s
call: “We must rebuild our nation,” Kasali insisted: “We
need Christian leaders who will serve God’s reign. Surely
we have seen enough of Satan’s hand in our land.” One of
the core emphases of the university that all students must
engage is peacemaking and conflict transformation. Bunia,
in the far northeastern corner of the Congo, is home to
Universitaire Shalom, which was built in 2007 on the
organizational foundation of a pre-existing theological school. Shalom’s president, Robert
Bungishabaku Katho, explains that 50,000 people died in the fighting in and around Bunia
in the Congolese civil war, but the theological school was a place of refuge. It seemed natural, then, to name it Shalom, Hebrew for peace and well-being. And today its students and
staff are peacemakers in a still-tense environment.
Of all of the African locations for work on forgiveness and reconciliation, none can match
South Africa. There are three freestanding NGOs that are particularly productive, influential, and operating in various parts of Africa:
• Centre for the Study of Reconciliation and Violence, founded 1989, has
offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Hugo van de Merwe, its director of
research, has published a great deal on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation
Commission and has ranged out to look comparatively at postconflict “transitional justice” cases across Africa. The centre produces research reports, policy
briefings, training materials, and lists externally published works by its staff.188
• Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, founded 2000, was created to ensure that
the lessons of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be conserved
187 Accessed May 14, 2014, http://www.un.org/africa/osaa/ngodirectory/dest/countries/Liberia.
htm.
188http://www.csvr.org.za/
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
65
and incorporated. It has since developed a brief for peacemaking and training,
with a special interest in African issues and cases. It is currently working in
Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The staff is quite productive and the institute itself seems theologically informed.189
• African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD),
founded 1992, does much training in mediation and conflict transformation. To
date, it reports, some 20,000 peacemakers have received its training. ACCORD
publishes Conflict Trends Magazine, policy papers, and the African Journal on
Conflict Resolution, founded 1999. Currently ACCORD has projects In South
Sudan, Somalia, and Burundi.190
Add to these two South African university-based conflict resolution centers or programs:
• Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), founded 1968 at the University of Cape
Town. CCR was founded by Dr. Hendrik W. van der Merwe (1929–2001), a
Dutch Reformed Afrikaner who became a Quaker and pursued peacemaking
and racial reconciliation.191 CCR pioneered the processes of negotiation, mediation, conflict analysis, intervention, and resolution that became the standard
fare of conflict transformation training in southern Africa and beyond. CCR
fosters research and training, convenes consultations, and disseminates knowledge via policy briefs, research reports, training materials, and books. It is the
mother institution of this field.192
• The program in Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies, recently
begun at the University of the Free State, deserves brief mention too. It is led by
Prof. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a clinical psychologist who served the South
African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as coordinator of victims’
public hearings in the Western Cape. Already the program is convening public
conferences, engaging several research areas, and taking on postgraduate students to learn the field and assist with the research.193
So what might be the capabilities and prospects for grant making? The South African
NGOs and university-based centers are certainly ready and willing to mount funded initiatives. There is bubble-up scholarly interest in the topic across the continent and a fairly thin
array of relevant NGOs on the ground in various countries as well. But we found only one
current journal in the field, the one published by ACCORD: the African Journal on Conflict
189http://ijr.org.za/justice-and-reconciliation-in-africa.php
190http://www.accord.org.za/
191 On the pioneering role of Dr. van der Merwe, see Jannie Malan, “From Going Between to
Working Together: Learning from Structures and Attitudes in South Africa’s Transition,” African
Journal on Conflict Resolution 13:3 (2013): 21–43.
192http://www.ccr.org.za/
193http://traumareconcil.ufs.ac.za/
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Engaging Africa
Resolution. Another one found on African Journals Online, the East African Journal of
Peace and Human Rights, published by the faculty of law at Makerere University in Uganda,
lists a 2008 issue as its latest published volume. It appears as though the larger organizations out of South Africa, with their busy websites and varieties of books, articles, research
reports, and policy briefings, are the main communications media and project organizers
on the continent. What that suggests is that grant makers will probably continue to prefer
to fund projects organized, convened, and disseminated out of the South African agencies.
We found evidence of JTF having done some such work via the South African peace and
reconciliation NGOs in the recent past.194
If JTF desired to foster research on this phenomenon
more broadly—for example, the role of churches in promoting peacemaking and reconciliation in a variety of
African conflict and postconflict situations—such projects would seem feasible, and the South African agencies
would be likely places from which to mount such work,
given their operating capacity and their widespread contacts across the continent. We see that there are at least a
few researchers scattered about the rest of Africa who have
done some work of this kind. Another new step might be to
engage not only the empirical researchers, but the normative thinkers as well—theologians and philosophers. What
might they add, and learn, from concrete instances about
the complex interactions of justice and mercy, restitution
of wrongs and reconciliation, forgiveness and accountability? This field is quite thinly populated and networked
outside of South Africa, but there are interested thinkers
out there. It would be most helpful for the South African
agencies to build capacity to sustain scholarly research and
networks in the countries and regions where the conflict
resolution occurs.
It would be most
helpful for the
South African
agencies to build
capacity to sustain
scholarly research
and networks in the
countries and regions
where the conflict
resolution occurs.
Humanity, Nature and Agency, in African Context
Several participants at the Accra consultation, upon hearing JTF officers say that the
foundation’s forthcoming work in philosophy would focus on the nature of human agency,
expressed hopes that there would be opportunities for African philosophers, and perhaps
the more philosophically minded scholars in other fields, to study the nature of human
agency also. The topic seemed important for Africans to engage, several thought, because
194 Hugo van der Merwe, “The Role of the Church in Promoting Reconciliation in Post–TRC South
Africa.” In Religion and Reconciliation in South Africa: Voices of Religious Leaders, eds. Audrey
Chapman and Bernard Spong, (Philadelphia: Templeton, 2003): 269–281.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
67
African popular culture might be at a critical tipping point now, between an older fatalism
and newer expressions of hope for a better future. What can we learn about what aids and
hinders “forward thinking,” as Sir John Templeton liked to say, in an African context?
Certainly, a desire for African agency and for intellectual independence and initiative
are major themes across the entire African academic and intellectual scene over the past
half-century. As we have seen, scholars in each of the disciplines we have examined have
been searching for distinctly African modes of thought and practice in their disciplines. But
a critical question looms over this quest: Do traditional African thought, culture, and worldviews help this quest? Do these inheritances have seeds of agency and forward thinking in
them, or are they, like their counterparts in other traditional societies, fatalistic and change
averse? Quite a few African philosophers seem to have decided for the “modern project,”
engaging the ideas of Locke, Mill, or Marx—or even Rorty.195 Others, however, dispute the
idea that traditional African worldviews are deterministic and not conducive of dynamism.
Kwasi Wiredu, the esteemed Ghanaian philosopher, argues that traditional Akan thought
did lead to a belief in “the predetermination of destiny” that often lead to fatalism, but he
insisted that “Akans are not generally fatalistic.” More likely, he claimed, was an overriding
sense of destiny and responsibility. Most Akan people, he thought, “assume a bright destiny
and live and work with high motivation even in the face of adversity.”196
Even so, we did not find much intellectual activity that focused on issues of agency, aspiration, and initiative. There were some philosophers in Nigeria, for example, that seemed
to be asking questions in the neighborhood of this topic, such as “emerging issues in
African philosophy of mind” and a “Rortyan critique of traditional epistemology.”197 Issues
of agency, initiative, and forward thinking arise also in the field of “development studies,”
which focuses on the economic and more holistic flourishing of communities. Researchers,
for example, of “health-seeking behavior”—or the lack thereof—in regard to HIV/AIDS see
fatalism as a factor in such behavioral patterns. 198
195 See, e.g., Barry Hallen, A Short History of African Philosophy (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 2002), ch. 7, “Socialism and Marxism,” 72–89.
196 Kwasi Wiredu, Cultural Universals and Particulars: An African Perspective (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1996), 132. We can’t help but notice the parallel here to the arguments closer
to home about the effects of the doctrine of election among Calvinists, who are accused of
fatalism but whose prime historical reputation is as driven activists.
197 E.g., Amaechi Udefi, “Rorty’s Neopragmatism and the Imperative of the Discourse of African
Epistemology,” Human Affairs: A Post Disciplinary Journal for Humanities and Social Sciences 19:1
(March 2009): 78–86; Fasiku Gbenga and Richard Taye Oyelakin, “Phenomenal Characters of
Mental States and Emerging Issues in African Philosophy of Mind,” Thought and Practice n.s. 3:1
(June 2011): 131–143.
198 Rosanna F. Hess and Martin Mbavu, “HIV/AIDS Fatalism, Beliefs and Prevention Indicators in
Gabon: Comparisons between Gabonese and Malians,” African Journal of AIDS Research 9:2
(2010): 125–133; Anna Meyer-Weitz, “Understanding Fatalism in HIV/AIDS Protection: The
Individual in Dialogue with Contextual Factors,” African Journal of AIDS Research 4:2 (2005):
75–82; Olayiwola Erinosho, Uche Isiugo-Abanihe, Richard Joseph, and Nkem Dike, “Persistence
of Risky Sexual Behaviours and HIV/AIDS: Evidence from Qualitative Data in Three Nigerian
Communities,” African Journal of Reproductive Health 16:1 (2012): 113–123.
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Engaging Africa
These questions also arise in religious studies, intriguingly, where
they intersect with development studies. So are some religious persuasions more conducive to economic flourishing and “health-seeking
behavior” than others? We found two studies that argued just so: one
comparing Christian, Muslim, and traditionalist women in regard to
five commonly identified behaviors that enhance women’s well-being.199 This study claimed that Christianity had a positive effect.
Another study looked at the meaning of being “born again” among
Malawian young people and showed that they identified it with lifestyle changes and life aspirations that were conducive to prospering
and staying well.200
Even so, we did not find what might appear to be sustained interest
and conversation directly on matters of agency and their philosophical or religious impact in Africa. It is a topic with much promise,
but any grant making would need to be developmental in nature,
enabling some intellectual entrepreneurs to organize and stimulate
interest. As we explain later, however, we think that the general idea
of African agency has much promise as an organizing theme.
Are some
religious
persuasions
more conducive
to economic
flourishing and
“health-seeking
behavior”
than others?
Religious Freedom and the Rule of Law in Africa
Several African participants at the Accra consultation spoke about the crisis of governance and basic law and order in places across the continent, and the frequent disconnects
between personal Christian piety and public responsibility. Others spoke of the rise of radical Islam, whose misdeeds several laid at the feet of failed law enforcement. A possible
approach for JTF, the Accra participants suggested, would be to support highlighting and
propagating the positive contributions to religious freedom and the rule of law that can
come from existing Christian, Muslim, and traditional religions’ teachings.
If there are prospects arising for centers for research, education, and advocacy of religious
freedom in Africa, JTF officers suggested at the Accra meeting, JTF might be able to support
their early development. JTF is currently supporting some major initiatives to study and
advocate for religious freedom. A major case in point is the Religious Freedom Project at
the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, which
began with funding from JTF in 2011. Its purpose is to examine “different understandings
of religious liberty as it relates to other fundamental freedoms; its importance for democracy; and its role in social and economic development, international diplomacy, and the
199 Ambe J. Njoh and Fenda A. Akiwumi, “The Impact of Religion on Women Empowerment as a
Millennium Development Goal in Africa,” Social Indicators Research 107:1 (May 2012): 1–18.
200 Nicolette D. Manglos, “Born Again in Balaka: Pentecostal versus Catholic Narratives of Religious
Transformation in Rural Malawi,” Sociology of Religion 71:4 (2010): 409–431.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
69
struggle against violent religious extremism.”201 And currently the Templeton Religion Trust
is considering a fifteen-nation international research project to find out 1) what Christian
communities have done to respond to persecution, 2) why Christian communities respond
in the ways they do, and 3) what kinds of results Christian communities have seen from
their lines of response.
So how might work of this sort play out in Africa? We have found very little concerted
attention being given to issues of religious freedom (or the lack thereof) in sub-Saharan
Africa. We searched through the NGO directory and database of the UN Office of the
Special Advisor on Africa, and we found nearly 700 NGOs in African nations that stated
either peacemaking or human rights as their fields of activity. Yet none of them made a
specialty of looking after religious freedom.202 In our searches of scholarly literature on
human rights in Africa too, we found very little at all on religious freedom, even though the
fields of human rights and democratization in Africa are very
lively ones.203 Such inattention to religious freedom, evidently,
is fairly common in the realm of human rights research and
advocacy more broadly. A study conducted by Georgetown
University’s Religious Freedom Project reviewed 323 major
reports published by Human Rights Watch from 2008 to
2011 and found that religious persecution was a focus of
only 8 of them. Only half of those were on the persecution of
Christians, even though the International Society for Human
Rights estimated that Christians are the victims of 80 percent
of such acts.204
The most common
form of religious
repression or
persecution in
sub-Saharan Africa
comes not so much
from the state as
from other religious
or ethnoreligious
groups.
The most common form of religious repression or persecution in sub-Saharan Africa comes not so much from
the state as from other religious or ethnoreligious groups.
Militant groups such as Boko Haram in northern Nigeria
attack Christians, then Christians form militias and retaliate.
The role of the state is not as repressor or persecutor, but as
being too weak to maintain the rule of law and keep peace
and good order. The other main instance of inter-religious
violence recently has been in the Central African Republic,
where there has been a meltdown of government and law and
201 Accessed May 17, 2014, http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/rfp/about.
202 Accessed May 17, 2014, http://esango.un.org/civilsociety/displayOsaaSearch.
do?method=search.
203 See, e.g., a major overview of work in these fields: Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, “The Struggle for
Human Rights in Africa,” Canadian Journal of African Studies 41:3 (2007): 474–506. This article has
five pages of bibliographic entries.
204 Timothy Shah, “Why Study How Christian Communities Respond to Repression?” unpublished
ms (ca. April 2014), 2–3.
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Engaging Africa
order. Tensions mount too in East Africa, where Muslim minorities in Kenya and Tanzania
clash with Christian neighbors, and law enforcement is increasingly ineffective.
So the specter of diminished religious liberty does arise and has become a growing
concern in sub-Saharan Africa. Assertive Muslim minorities in a number of nations have
pressed for special treatment within legal systems, and they confidently argue that they
have, in Islamic law, the answer to African nations’ ongoing problems of keeping public
peace and order. In northern Nigeria, Islamic parties have won state elections and imposed
Shar’ia law within those regions. Christian groups have reacted against such advocacy but
have yet to put forward a positive agenda that incorporates religious freedom within the
rule of law as drawn from a Christian vision of justice and peace. In Kenya, for example, a
new constitution was approved in 2010 that concedes authority in certain cases to Muslim
courts. Evangelical Christian groups campaigned against such measures, but had no positive Christian vision of the just society to offer as an alternative.205
As we have seen, African Christian theology has engaged in vigorous political theologizing. The liberationist school of African theology informed much of the advocacy emanating
from the (Protestant) All Africa Council of Churches (AACC) in the 1970s, 1980s, and
1990s, and it was the dominant religious voice in the anti-apartheid campaign in South
Africa. Yet such prophetic radicalism has had a much tougher time in the post-Cold War,
post-apartheid decades. It has turned its critical attention to globalization and “neoliberal”
capitalist forces, but it has had much less to say about the corruption and ineffectiveness of
African regimes. As we have also seen, an attempt to develop a “theology of reconstruction,”
with an emphasis on human rights, democratization, and accountability, was pioneered by
Jesse Mugambi of Kenya with the endorsement of the AACC; and in South Africa, Charles
Villa-Vicencio offered as version as well. Yet this outlook has not gained much traction.
So what might be done about religious freedom and the rule of law? A promising effort
at raising awareness and seeking the collective wisdom of Christian leaders from across
the continent has been conducted by Lamin Sanneh, the Gambian historian and mission
theologian at Yale.206 Following consultations with Protestant and Catholic leaders in 2010
and 2011, this consultative group issued the “Accra Charter of Religious Freedom and
Citizenship,” which states in distinctly African terms a Christian vision of the role of religious conviction in shaping the good society in a religiously plural situation. Sanneh’s group
stated, in sum, that:
205 See, e.g., John Lonsdale, “Compromised Critics: Religion in Kenya’s Politics,” in Religion and
Politics in Kenya: Essays in Honor of a Meddlesome Priest, ed. Ben Knighton (New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2009), 57–94; Abdulkader Tayob, “Kadhis Courts in Kenya’s Constitutional Review
(1998–2010): A Changing Approach to Politics and State among Kenyan Muslim Leaders,”
Islamic Africa, 4:1 (Spring 2013): 103–124; and David A. Hoekema, “Religious Rights: Christians
and Muslims in Kenya,” Christian Century, June 15, 2010, pp. 10–11.
206 Lamin Sanneh, “Introduction to the Accra Charter of Religious Freedom and Citizenship,”
International Bulletin of Missionary Research 35:4 (October 2011): 197.
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71
As Christians we feel a particular burden to put forward a positive vision for
how we worship the living God and point the way to God’s reign, while giving
due regard and respect to the governments under which all people, of all faiths,
live together as fellow citizens. We are deeply convicted that faith gives its
noblest expression in settings where all are free to follow their religious convictions and freely serve the common good; and where government secures the
peace and good order taught by all the world’s great faiths, affords its citizens
the right to live freely, and recognizes their power to hold it accountable.207
Sanneh has met the group at various sites since then as part of an ongoing effort to persuade church leaders that the African churches very much need public theology, and it
needs to address the pressing public issues of the day on the continent—inter-religious tensions, dictatorial abuse of power, and the breakdown of the basic systems of law and order.
But how might advocates of such ideas elicit ongoing attention within Christian institutions? We do not see a great deal of capability on the ground at the moment specifically aimed
at advancing such work. There are a few church-related institutes, such as the Beyers Naude
Centre for Public Theology at the University of Stellenbosch, founded by the South African
Reformed theologian Nico Koopman, but we have not found significant networks for this
field or dedicated publications.208 So if JTF desires to foster work along these lines, it would
need to be pioneering work, with a developmental set of expectations behind any investments.
One possibility might be to provide project funding for pre-existing institutions with
similar commitments to develop fresh ideas and the means to encourage their uptake, such
as workshops for pastors and lay leaders and seminary and Christian university curricula.
We think that the Beyers Naude Centre could conduct such work. Or one might envisage
such projects within the major theological education agencies on the continent, including the conservative evangelicals’ Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa
(ACTEA); the other Protestant regional groups, such as the West African Association of
Theological Institutions (WAATI), the Association of Theological Institutions in East Africa
(ATIEA), and the Association of Theological Institutions in Southern and Central Africa
(ATISCA); the international federation of Catholic universities and superior institutes; the
Organization of African Instituted Churches’ Department of Theology, and the Association
for Pentecostal Theological Education in Africa (APTEA). The Circle of Concerned African
Women Theologians, which has published quite a bit of what might be termed public theology, should be considered also for such ventures.
207 “Accra Charter of Religious Freedom and Citizenship,” International Bulletin of Missionary
Research 35:4 (October 2011): 198–200.
208 Godfrey Ngumi, a theologian teaching at Kenyatta University, makes a case for public
theology in education for ministry but gives no examples of places where it is being done.
Nico Koopman, director of the Beyers Naude Institute and dean of the faculty of theology at
the University of Stellenbosch, makes the case also, but has no concrete examples of it other
than his own. See Ngumi, “Political Theology in Theological and Bible Colleges Curriculum,”
pp. 689–697; and Koopman, “Theological Education for Dignity in Africa: A Public Theological
Perspective,” pp. 698–706, in Handbook of Theological Education in Africa.
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Engaging Africa
Character Formation Curricula and Assessment
Several participants at the Accra consultation spoke about the need for concerted work
with the rising generation, which has grown up outside of the formative influence of traditional rites and institutions. Might JTF sponsor projects to
assess work in this field, highlight creative initiatives, and
develop solid programs and materials?
If there is a coherent and connected conversation or
movement for character formation initiatives and assessment on the continent, it must be fairly well hidden. Here
is what we found: First, some articles from within the
conversation about public health and sex education, once
again part of the great mobilization on the continent in
response to HIV/AIDS.209 Second, curricular reforms in
post-apartheid South Africa include values education, and
there is an ongoing discussion, evidently, about how to
frame and conduct these programs in an ethnically and
religiously plural society.210 And third, we encountered a
number of articles that called for character formation in
the schools, without mention of any concrete examples
of where it had been tried or of current initiatives being
planned.211
If there is a coherent
and connected
conversation or
movement for
character formation
initiatives and
assessment on the
continent, it must be
fairly well hidden.
The website of the UN Office of the Special Advisor on
Africa lists hundreds of NGOs across the continent that focus on the needs of children and
youth and on education in particular. No doubt there are many that have an interest in
character formation and in the creation and assessment of curricula for that purpose. Yet it
would take some focused research aimed at those networks to discover what is being done
209 E.g., Francis Dennis, “Sexuality Education in South Africa: Whose Values Are We Teaching?”
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality 22:2 (2013): 69–76; and Lebese R. Tsakani, Mashudu
Davhana-Maselesele, and Larry C. Obi, “Teenagers’ Experience of Sexual Health Dialogue in the
Rural Villages of the Vhembe District, Limpopo Province,” Health SA Gesondheid 16:1 (December
2011): 1–10.
210 Aslan Fataar and Inez Solomons, “A Conceptual Exploration of Values Education in the Context
of Schooling in South Africa,” South African Journal of Education 31:2 (2011): 224–232; Irene
Muzvidziwa and V. N. Muzvidziwa, “Hunhu (Ubuntu) and School Discipline in Africa,” Journal of
Dharma 37:1 (2012): 27–42; and J. L. van der Walt, “Religion in Education in South Africa: Was
Social Justice Served?” South African Journal of Education 31:3 (2011): 381–393.
211 P. Nyabul, “Moral Education and the Condition of Africa,” Thought and Practice n.s. 1:1 (2009):
31–42; S. D. Edinyang, V. N. Effiom, and I. E. Ubi, “Strategies for Implementing Human Rights
Education in Nigeria,” Global Journal of Educational Research 12:1 (2012): 27–30; E. U. Apebende,
A. B. E. Ifere, and O. Osam, “Integrating Peace Education into the Formal Primary School
Curricular,” Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy 12:2 (2010): 64–70.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
73
and what the needs are. There may well be opportunities therein to invest in some helpful
projects, but they lie beyond the scope of our research.
At the Accra meeting, two of the participants who were most engaged in this topic were
senior academic officers of Catholic universities. Both of them said that they are working
in a number of ways to cultivate virtue in their students and to make character formation a
distinctive feature of their campuses. And it is clear from recent accounts of the formation
of new Protestant universities that virtuous character formation—and the obstacles to it
on state university campuses—clearly have been strong motivators behind the founding of
these universities and remain one of their abiding concerns.212
So JTF might consider grants to networks of African Christian universities to clarify how
they are hoping to achieve the development of virtues in their students, how they might
assess the effectiveness of what they are doing, and how they might improve their work in
this field based on their assessments. There is an agency that links Christian universities
in Africa, the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education,
which regularly conducts faculty and staff development seminars on faith and learning in
the various regions of Africa. It might prove a likely site for such a project.213
Positive Psychology in African Contexts
One persistent theme across several of our fields of study has been African resilience,
initiative, and creativity, even in the face of daunting social, economic, and political problems on the continent. Several members of the Accra consultation responded positively to
JTF officers’ reports about recent research grants and plans to do more within the field of
“positive psychology,” a movement to research the conditions, factors, and personal attributes that contribute to human flourishing or “positive development.” Advocates of the
field stress the need to balance off the more traditional approach that focuses on pathologies and problems in human consciousness and behavior. Our lone African psychologist at
the Accra consultation, Dr. Araba Sefa-Dedeh of the University of Ghana, was particularly
interested in seeing research aimed at young people, asking what makes them feel capable,
what builds them up? What resources do those who do well rely upon?
So what did we find? We found not a huge body of work but some interesting studies
nonetheless. And this time they were not so much percolating up from scattered sources,
as with other topics, but from two regions in particular. There were three thematic kinds of
212 Stephen Noll, “Higher Education as Mission: The Case of Uganda Christian University,” in
Handbook of Theological Education in Africa, 912–918; Nguru, “Development of Christian Higher
Education in Kenya;” Gaiya, “Revolution in Higher Education in Nigeria.” See also Keith Fernando,
“Theological Education and Character,” African Journal of Evangelical Theology 27:1 (2008):
45–63.
213 Accessed May 19, 2014, http://www.Iapche.org.
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Engaging Africa
studies: on personal fulfillment and well-being,214 on resiliency and strength in the midst of
distressed circumstances,215 and on the personal ingredients for entrepreneurial success.216
And where did we find these works? At least a half-dozen scholars at the University of
Ibadan in southwest Nigeria are working on topics relevant to positive psychology. Ibadan
faculty members A. O. Adejumo and Sunday Samson
Babalola have been recent and frequent publishers in these
areas. Indeed, one of the strongest regional concentrations
of psychologists and psychological research and publishing
with relevance to this field appears to be in southwestern
Nigeria, especially at the University of Ibadan, at Covenant
University (a Pentecostal university located not far Lagos),
and at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife.
Also in Ile-Ife is a research center, the Ife Centre for
Psychological Studies/Service, which was founded in
1993 by a prominent faculty member of OAU, Professor
Akinsola Olowu, who has been dean of social sciences
there and also at Redeemer University, a Pentecostal university north of Lagos. The Ife Centre has published IFE
PsychologIA continuously for twenty-one years and it is
arguably the best psychology journal on the continent outside of South Africa.
At least a halfdozen scholars at
the University of
Ibadan in southwest
Nigeria are working
on topics relevant to
positive psychology.
Given the critical mass of psychological research and publication in this region, we think
that it shows some promise as the location for initial convening, and perhaps some collaborative research subsequent to that, in positive psychology.
214 E.g., Charles Young and M. Campbell, “Student Wellbeing at a University in Post-Apartheid
South Africa: A Comparison with a British University Sample,” British Journal of Guidance and
Counselling (2013); Samuel E. Oladipo, Fausat A. Adenaikea, Debayo O. Adejumob, Kehinde, and
O. Ojewumic, “Psychological Predictors of Life Satisfaction among Undergraduates,” ProcediaSocial and Behavioral Sciences 82 (2013): 292–297; Rachel B. Asagba, “Inner Meaning Fulfilment
along Difference in Age, Ethnicity and Educational Background of the University of Ibadan
Students,” IFE PsychologIA 13:1 (2005): 152–169.
215 Bukola Victoria Bada, Shyngle Kolawole Balogun, and G. A. Adejuwon, “Psychological Factors
predicting Psychological Well-Being among Spouses of Incarcerated Males in Ibadan, Nigeria,”
Health Care 1:3 (2013): 76–82; Journal of Religion and Health 47 (2008) 247–288; Abraham P.
Greeff and Karla Loubser, “Spirituality as a Resiliency Quality in Xhosa-speaking Families in
South Africa,” Journal of Religion and Health 47 (2008): 288–301.
216 Sunday Samson Bablola and Ayokunle Olumuyiwa Omobowale, “The Role of Trust, Innovation
and Knowledge Management in Entrepreneurial Survival Strategies: A Study of Selected
Cybercafé Micro-Entrepreneurs in Ibadan, Nigeria,” Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social
Sciences 4:2 (2013): 128–136; I. O. Abereijo, S. A. Adegbite, M. O. Ilori, I. A. Irefin, and H. A.
Aderemi, “Factors Determining the Innovative Ability of Manufacturing Small and Medium
Enterprises in Nigeria,” IFE PsychologIA 16:1 (2008): 56–71.
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75
Another regional concentration of interest appears to be in South Africa, where social
psychology and management/leadership psychology have come to the fore. We found
related articles published over the past decade by professors at Rhodes University and the
universities of Witwatersrand, Cape Town, South Africa (UNISA), and KwaZulu-Natal, and
we noted that the University of Pretoria listed positive psychology as a research area of
interest.
A closer examination revealed that there is also a very active and productive center
that focuses on positive psychology and kindred approaches to the study of people and
institutions. It is the Optentia Research Focus Area of the University of the North-West in
Potchefstroom, South Africa. It includes five ongoing research programs with robust publishing in the following areas:
• Flourishing in institutions
• Pathways to resilience and posttraumatic growth
• Psychosocial well-being and communal thriving
• Unlocking potential in educational processes
• Talent management
Optentia also hosts symposia, lectures, and conferences, has a large group of affiliated
social science professors, and delivers postgraduate degree programs.217 To date Optentia
has focused its work on South Africa and has built some networks out to European and
Australian universities. But perhaps there might be an interest at Optentia in helping to
build and strengthen this field in other regions of Africa as well. Between these two sites, in
Nigeria and South Africa, we are encouraged to think that some creative projects in positive
psychology could develop.
Science, Health, Technology, and Creation Care
At the Accra meeting we heard a need voiced early and repeatedly for opportunities to
teach pastors about science, technology, and the environment. On the fourth day of sessions
sponsored by the Issachar Fund, the participants settled quickly on a discussion of how
to understand the churches’ and religious leaders’ disconnection from these concerns and
ways to remedy it. We discussed research and communication as to why this disconnect
exists, training and curricular development for seminary professors and church leaders,
and integration of these themes into the initial and continuing education of pastors.
Our search thus focused on places where these fields of inquiry were being addressed in
relationship to religious communities and commitments.
Religion and science. In the realm of religion and science, generally speaking, we ran
into some very interesting artifacts: evidence of JTF-funded activity via the Metanexus
217http://www.optentia.co.za/index.php
76
Engaging Africa
Institute’s “local societies” awards, circa 2003–2005. The Metanexus Institute website shows
seven associations that began with grants from these sources:
• Dialogue in Religion and Science Group (DRS), Moi University, Kenya
• Association for the Study of the Interplay between Religion and Science,
University of Maiduguri, Nigeria
• Nigerian Association for the Study and Teaching of Religion and the Natural
Sciences, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
• Religion and Scientific Promoters Among the Youth in Uganda, Scripture Union
of Uganda
• African Areopagus Society, Uganda Christian University
• ILASH: Institute of Leadership, Applied Science and Human Security, Kampala,
Uganda
• Department of Dialogue in Religion and Science, United Religious Initiative,
Kampala, Uganda
These groups sponsored a variety of activities, such as religion and science youth clubs,
annual scholarly symposia, university courses in science and religion, and some publications too.218 While it is difficult to find ongoing activity for a number of these, the Kenyan
organization, Dialogue in Religion and Science (DSR), seems to have accomplished much.
It is hosted at Moi University in western Kenya by Prof. Adam Kiplangat arap Chepkwony
of the religious studies department. Under his leadership, DSR started religion and science
dialogues in every faculty of Moi University, in a number of neighboring high schools,
and in other universities in Kenya. A recent visitor reports that some of these activities are
ongoing. Without any follow-up project support, however, these organizations seem to have
faded. That is unfortunate, because there are several topics at the science-religion interface
that continue to stimulate scholarly attention across the continent and seem to speak to
some pervasive popular concerns. A very recent series of consultations in Kenya sponsored
by member universities of the International Association for the Promotion of Christian
Higher Education (IAPCHE) bears this out. Evidently, a representative from the Templeton
World Charity Foundation attended the latest one and found the work to be promising.
Perhaps some of this work can be restarted in East Africa on a trial basis.
Health and healing. The most persistent of African concerns at the intersection of faith
and science is health and healing. Western medicine has come to stay in sub-Saharan Africa,
but many Africans still call on traditional healers for help with illness. And now there is a
very dynamic third party to this discussion, the Christian healers of the African-instituted
218E.g., Dialogue in Religion and Science: An African Perspective (Eldoret, Kenya: Moi University Press,
2009); Nkurunziza R. K. Deusdedit and Mugumya Levis, eds., Understanding Religion and Science
in the African Context (Kisoro, Uganda: African Centre for Religion and Science, 2002); and Ade P.
Dopamu, Olu Obafemi, O. B. Oloyede, et al.(eds.), Science and Religion in the Service of Humanity
(Ilorin, Nigeria: The Nigerian Association for the Study and Teaching of Religion and the Natural
Sciences, 2006).
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
77
and Pentecostal churches. So how does one understand African belief and behavior on this
complex front? We found a large and widespread body of literature on the topic.
Some of these studies, as one might have predicted, come from the huge body of research
that has been stimulated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and massive funding for addressing
it.219 But many others come from the ongoing fascination of scholars—across the continent
and abroad—with the beliefs and practices of the traditional healers and of those who seek
out their services.220 One of the reasons why people persist in seeking out the traditional
healers is that Western medicine is relatively scarce, too expensive for many poor people,
and its remedies are often in low supply or are in unreliable condition (e.g., expired drugs).
There are a number of governments across the continent, therefore, that are seeking to
document the properties of the herbalist remedies and to ensure more uniform quality. At
least one researcher, however, cautions that such reductionistic research may result in distorted knowledge because it does not take seriously what the traditional healers do, which
includes discernment of spiritual forces and incantations to counteract them.221
Religious studies scholars and theologians weigh in on the topic as well; they delve into
the worldview interactions between healers, African and Western, Christian and traditionalist. They ask about the meaning of illness. And they explore the roles that religious agents
play within Western health systems.222
On this last point, we found that there is an institute focusing research on this very concern: the International Religious Health Assets Programme (IRHAP). It was founded in
219 See, e.g., E. E. Idehen, O. K. Ojewumi, and F. M. Ilevbare, “Religiosity and Preventive Health
Behavior of Young Adults,” IFE PsychologIA 18:1 (2010): 183–188; and Teresia M. Hinga, Ane N.
Kubai, Philomena Mwaura, and Hazel Ayanga, eds., Women, Religion and HIV/AIDS in Africa:
Responding to Ethical and Theological Challenges. (Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications, 2008).
220 Brian King, “‘We Pray at the Church in the Day and Visit the Sangomas at Night:’” Health
Discourses and Traditional Medicine in Rural South Africa,” Annals of the Association of American
Geographers, 102:5 (2012): 1173–1181; Kibet Ngetich, “Resilience in the Face of Urbanization:
Why People Consult Traditional Health Practitioners in Nairobi City, Kenya,” MARIFA: A Journal of
Humanities and Social Sciences 2:1 (2007): 238–256.; E. O. Babalola, “African Traditional Medicine
as an Important Factor of Social Integration in Yoruba Land,” Ilorin Journal of Religious Studies 18
(2005): 25–35.
221 K. P. Osemene, A. A. Elugoba, and M. O. Ilori, “A Comparative Assessment of Herbal and
Orthodox Medicines in Nigeria,” Research Journal of Medical Sciences 5:5 (2011): 280–285;
Charles Obafemi Jegede, “From Disease Etiology to Disease Treatment: An Inquiry into Religion
and the Yoruba Therapeutics,” Orita: Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies 38:1-2 (2006): 167–186;
Olajide Oloyede, “Epistemological Issues in the Making of an African Medicine: Sutherlandia
(Lessertia Frutescens),” African Sociological Review 14:2 (2010): 74–88.
222 E.g., J. Yen and L. Wilbraham, “Discourses of Culture and Illness in South African Mental Health
Care and Indigenous Healing, Part I. Western psychiatric power,” Transcultural Psychiatry 40:4
(2003): 542–561; and Yen and Wlibraham, “Discourses of Culture and Illness in South African
Mental Health Care and Indigenous Healing, Part II. African mentality,” Transcultural Psychiatry
40:4 (2003): 562–584; Peter Mutuki Mumo, “Holistic Healing: An Analytical Review of MedicineMen in African Societies,” Thought and Practice n.s. 4:1 (2012): 111–122; Oyeronke Olademo,
“Healing and Women Healers in Yoruba Religion and African Christianity,” Ilorin Journal of
Religious Studies 2:1 (2012): 53–64.
78
Engaging Africa
2002 as the African Religious Health Assets Program (ARHAP), following on a meeting
that a group of South African scholars had with the leaders of the Interfaith Health Program
of the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
The IRHAP leaders say that they want to remedy “the general paucity of studies on faith
based organizations working in health, both in respect of knowing what is there, and in …
assessing what faith based initiatives do best … in the face of growing public health crises
in many parts of the world.” For its first decade, ARHAP was
housed in the religious studies department of the University of
Cape Town, but then moved its base to the university’s School of
Public Health and Family Medicine. It has conducted projects in
Lesotho, Zambia , Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya, and has received
support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World
Health Organization, TEAR Fund, and UNAIDS. Much of the
first decade’s work was “mapping” and assessing the capabilities
of religious “assets” across nations and regions. In general terms,
this program is designed to integrate religious agents and agencies into the health care systems. 223
The fact that
religious leaders
might have beliefs
and practices that
are at variance
with those of
Western medicine
is seen to be a
problem, not a
potential gift.
James Cochrane, a distinguished UCT religious history professor and theologian, has done much to inform the thinking of
IRHAP about religious communities.224 Yet this program seems
most intently focused on drawing on the influence of religious
activists and “aligning them” with the health systems rather than
on understanding what they bring, spiritually and therapeutically, to the enterprise. The fact that religious leaders might have
beliefs and practices that are at variance with those of Western
medicine is seen to be a problem, not a potential gift. But perhaps
some of the scholars and health care professionals who have been
involved in this program might also be interested in “big questions” regarding faith and
health as well the more instrumental ones that drive IRHAP? Might there be some interest
in developing partnerships with continuing education networks for pastors? These questions are at least worth asking in order to see whether there is a fit with JTF mandates.
As we mentioned earlier, there are networks of theological institutions that have incorporated courses on HIV/AIDS into their curricula. One of the Accra consultation participants,
Dr. Peter Okaalet, the former Africa director of MAP International, a Christian public
223 Accessed May 21, 2014, http://www.irhap.uct.ac.za/about_history.php.
224 See, e.g., James Cochrane, Barbara Schmid, and Teresa Cutts, eds., When Religion and Health
Align: Mobilizing Religious Health Assets for Transformation (Pietermaritzburg, SA: Cluster
Publications, 2011); and James Cochrane, “A Model of Integral Development: Assessing and
Working with Religious Health Assets,” in Religion and Development: Ways of Transforming the
World, ed. Gerrie ter Haar (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 231–252.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
79
health NGO, was a leader in developing and promoting this effort.225 Another leader is the
indefatigable Prof. Ezra Chitando of the religious studies department of the University of
Zimbabwe, who is theology consultant for the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical
HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA). 226 Given that these HIV/AIDS courses are
already in place in seminaries, perhaps a long-term plan for such courses would be for them
to broaden thematically to teach pastors about the theology and practices of health care and
healing more generally, in African contexts. Again, this prospect seems worth exploring.
Creation care. Environmental issues are of concern to Africans, but these concerns cannot
get much traction if they are posed in the stark terms of saving nature from humanity.
Human well-being on the continent calls for a fierce struggle in many places, so the development of resources for the sake of human flourishing must be a given. In Africa, there can
be no sweeping opposition of development in the name of Green causes. Prof. Ernst M.
Conradie, who teaches theology at the University of the Western Cape, states the obstacles
that environmental stewardship faces in South Africa:
Many urban blacks view issues of nature conservation as a concern of the white
middle class, the hobby of an affluent, leisured minority who would like to
preserve the environment for purely aesthetic reasons and who seem more
concerned about wildlife than about the welfare of other human beings. The
primary concern for the majority of South Africans is the day-to-day struggle of surviving in overcrowded, squalid, unhealthy conditions. Some fear that
attention to environmental concerns may divert scarce human and financial
resources from the more pressing issues of poverty, hunger and employment
and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.227
In other African nations too, environmental concerns have similar uphill battles to gain
some popular and governmental priority.
So how does one make the case for environmental protection? The late Steve de Gruchy,
a Christian theological ethicist from the University of KwaZulu Natal, said that the key is to
make it a “bread and butter” issue. If the land is deforested, what happens to the soil? Will
the rains come? If the water is polluted, how do we keep our children healthy?228
225 Peter Okaalet, “The Role of Faith Based Organizations in the Fight against HIV and AIDS in
Africa,” Transformation 19 (October 2002): 274–278.
226 Ezra Chitando, ed., Mainstreaming HIV and AIDS in Theological Education: Experiences and
Explorations (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2008), and Chitando, “Expanding and Expounding
Resilience: Theological Institutions Responding to HIV,” Ecumenical Review 63:4 (December
2011): 397–407.
227 Ernst M. Conradie, “Justice, Peace and Care for Creation: What is at Stake? Some South African
Perspectives,” International Review of Mission 99:2 (November 2010): 204.
228 Andrew E. Warmback, “‘Bread and Butter Issues’: Some Resources from the Work of Steve de
Gruchy for the Church’s Response to Climate Change,” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa
142 (March 2012): 21–36.
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Engaging Africa
The operative term for “creation care” in African scholarly circles, then, is “sustainable
development,” and it is the subject of a widespread and lively conversation among social
scientists. Among those who study religion and theology too, the topic is being addressed,
with special vigor it seems in the universities of South Africa, with a modicum of attention in
Nigeria and in East Africa. Several theologians of Obafemi Awolowo University, for example,
have made it a special interest, looking specifically at environmental issues in the Bible.229
Researchers from across the continent are showing interest in the role that “indigenous practices” might play on behalf of sustainable development.230 Some of these studies
blame Christianity for the “demystification” of the forests and streams, and some of them
call for the renewal of the old taboos that kept people from disturbing sacred forests.231
Yet we recall the conversation at the Accra consultation, in
which a number of the participants wondered if there was a
way to convert or translate the old reverence for nature into
more Christian terms. So recovering and understanding the
environmental effects of traditional beliefs and practices
seems potentially very valuable to Christian environmentalists as well.
What does Christian environmental thought look like
in Africa? We wish we could show more of it. Searching,
for example, through the recent publications of the leading scholars in the Circle of Concerned African Women
Theologians—some of the most societally attuned and
reform-minded theologians on the continent—turned up no
What does Christian
environmental
thought look
like in Africa? We
wish we could
show more of it.
229 Chris Ukachukwu Manus, ed., Biblical Studies and Environmental Issues in Africa (Ibadan, Nigeria:
Nigerian Association for Biblical Studies, 2010); A. A. Olaniyi and S. O. Olanisebe, “The Garden of
God and the Responsibility of Man (Genesis 2:7-17): Towards an Environmental Sustainability in
Nigeria,” Bulletin for Old Testament Studies in Africa 115:18 (2011), accessed May 21, 2014, http://
www.mhs.no/aotp?115; A. J. Adelakun, “’Thy Will be Done on Earth’: a Re-Reading of Mt. 6:10b
and Its Implication for Nigeria on Environmental Issues,” in Biblical Studies and Environmental
Issues in Africa, 220–228; and S. O. Olanisebe, “Revisiting Creation Accounts in Gen. 1-2 and
the Dominion Theology in Relation to the Environment in Nigeria,” in Biblical Studies and
Environmental Issues in Africa, 86–102.
230 Susan M. Kilonzo, Sussy Gumo Kurgat and Simon O. Gisege, “The Role of Taboos in the
Management of Natural Resources and Peace-building: A Case Study of the Kakamega Forest
in Western Kenya,” African Peace and Conflict 2:1 (June 2009): 39–54; J. M. Maweu, “Indigenous
Ecological Knowledge and Modern Western Ecological Knowledge: Complimentary not
Contradictory,” in Thought and Practice n.s. 3:2 (December 2011): 35–47; Jimmy Spire Ssentongo,
Inquiry Into A Withering Heritage: Relevance of Traditional Baganda Approaches to Sustainable
Environmental Conservation (Kampala: Uganda Martyrs University Book Series, 2012).
231 C. V. Eneji, G. U. Ntamu, C. C. Unwanade, A. B. Godwin, J. E. Bassey, J. J. Williams, and Ignatius
Joseph, “Traditional African Religion in Natural Resources Conservation and Management in
Cross River State, Nigeria,” Environment and Natural Resources Research 2:4 (2012): 45–53; Benson
Ohihon Igboin, “African Religion And Environmental Challenges In Post-Colonial Africa,” Ilorin
Journal of Religious Studies 2:1 (2012): 17–38; and Tony Dodd and Michelle Cocks, Voices from the
Forest: Celebrating Nature and Culture in Xhosaland (Johannesburg: Jacana Media, 2010).
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
81
relevant texts. 232 Consulting the NGO directory of the UN Office of the Special Advisor
for Africa, we see scores of NGOs pursuing varied goals of sustainable development. Some
of these agencies state a Christian support base and mission. Indeed, two of the most
dramatic successes in African grassroots environmental action—tree plantings by the millions—were organized by Christian grassroots leaders. Shona people in rural Zimbabwe,
mostly in AICs, developed one of them.233 The other is the famous Green Belts Movement
in Kenya, led by the courageous Christian activist Wangari Maathai, which contributed to
her winning a Nobel Peace Prize.234 The All Africa Council of
Churches (AACC) and some of its member regional councils
have hosted several environmentally themed conferences in
recent years and have posted declarations,235 and the AACC
maintains a thematic unit on “Climate Change and Care for
Creation” under its larger program on “Empowerment and
Capacity Building.”236 Yet it is difficult to find places where
addressing these issues is sustained and is gaining traction.
Only in South Africa
do we find clusters
of theologians
and ethicists who
continue to address
these issues in a
concerted way.
Only in South Africa do we find clusters of theologians
and ethicists who continue to address these issues in a concerted way: at the department of religion and theology at the
University of the Western Cape (UWC), and at the School of
Religion and Theology at the University of KwaZulu Natal.
One of the four stated areas for collaborative research by the
theologians at UWC is on Christian ecological theology, led
by the very industrious Dr. Ernst M. Conradie. With his convening, writing, and collaborative work with colleagues and graduate students, Conradie has
been laying down a Christian theological basis for environmental justice and nurture based
on biblical exegesis and theological frames developed from a mostly European theological
232 Musa Dube, Philomena Mwaura, Nyambura Njorge, Mercy Oduyore, and Isabel Phiri were all
author-searched on EBSCO Host.
233 Sophie Chirongoma, “Karanga-Shona Rural Women’s Agency in Dressing Mother Earth: A
Contribution Towards an Indigenous Eco-feminist Theology,” Journal of Theology for Southern
Africa 142 (March 2012): 120–144; Martinus L. Daneel, African Earthkeepers (Pretoria: UNISA
Press, 1998).
234 Susan Rakoczy, “Wangari Maathai: Discerning a Call to Environmental Justice,” Journal of
Theology for Southern Africa 145 (March 2013): 75–91.
235 See, e.g., “Responsible Church Leadership to Reverse Global Warming and to Ensure Equitable
Development: the African Church Leaders’ Statement on Climate Change and Water,” a report
on an Ecumenical Consultation on Climate Change (Africa), held in Nairobi, June 3–5, 2008;
and a declaration of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA) on
ecological debt and climate change, July 27–29, 2009. Cited in Ernst M. Conradie,” Climate
Change and the Church: Some Reflections from the South African Context,” Ecumenical Review
62:2 (July 2010): 161.
236 See this program unit’s statement on the AACC’s website, accessed May 22, 2014, http://www.
aacc-ceta.org/en/departments-a-programmes/9-programmes/22-empowerment-and-capacitybuilding.html.
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Engaging Africa
syllabus.237 At KwaZulu Natal’s School of Religion and Theology, the late Steve de Gruchy
was the leading advocate for Christian thinking and action in creation care. His protégés,
notably Andrew Warmback (cited above), carry on in his wake. The School’s senior theological ethicist, Klaus Nürnberger, also has weighed in with a major treatise.238 De Gruchy’s
approach was much more concrete, people centered, and case driven than Conradie’s high
theology. And it has been fortified by the School of Religion and Theology’s longtime postgraduate program in theology and development.239 Yet both De Gruchy and Conradie seem
to have couched their views in vital Christian piety.
So it appears that if the IF staff members are interested in developing initiatives in creation
care, it would be worth investigating as to whether some institutional partnerships involving these South African centers might help make good things happen elsewhere on the
continent. KwaZulu Natal maintains an exchange partnership with the Akrofi-Christaller
Institute in Ghana, a center for contextual theology and cultural studies. Conradie of UWC
also appears to have a collaborative partnership with the Beyers Naude Centre for Public
Theology in the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University. And the Stellenbosch faculty, as well as KwaZulu Natal’s, draws advanced students from around the continent.
Outside of this South African tandem, Christian work in creation care is so scattered and
thin at present that a patient and broadly collaborative developmental approach might be
just what is needed. It would start with careful synthetic thinking, then adapting and messaging for the consumption of pastors and lay leaders, then workshops via partnerships with
a variety of Christian ministry and service training agencies on the continent. And then,
one might devise an initiative to put creation care on the curriculum of Christian schools
of ministry and universities across the continent. That looks more like a fifteen-year plan to
develop a field rather than a three- to five-year round of grants. But if the IF staff wants to
help Africans concerned about creation care “build to last,” that is what it would take.
Human flourishing in a technological world. At the Accra consultation participants
shared freely their misgivings regarding the impact of mass media, computing, the Internet,
mobile phones, and the popular culture and values that these new devices and services
bring. Yet there does not appear to be a great deal of discussion about these matters among
African scholars more generally, whether social scientists, humanists, or theologians. We
did find a bit of interesting literature, however, about the social impact of mobile phones.240
237 Ernst M. Conradie, “Justice, Peace and Care for Creation: What is at Stake? Some South African
Perspectives,” International Review of Mission 99:2 (November 2010): 203–218; Conradie, “The
Journey of Doing Christian Ecotheology: A Collective Mapping of the Terrain,” Theology 116:1
(January 2013): 4–17.
238 Klaus Nürnberger, Regaining Sanity for the Earth (Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications, 2011).
239http://theologyanddevelopment.ukzn.ac.za/about.html
240 E.g., Francis B. Nyamnjoh, Mobile Phones: The New Talking Drums of Everyday Africa (Leiden:
African Studies Centre, 2009); and Wesley Shrum, Paul Mbati, Antony Palackal, Dan-Bright
Dzorgbo, Rick Duque, and Marcus Ynalvez, “Mobile Phones and Network Change in Kenya,” in
Social Science Research 40:2 (2011): 614–625.
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83
So our advice is to keep on the lookout for opportunities to foster such research and conversation in African Christian contexts, but the field is not ripe for investment yet.
Christian Theology: Engaging African Realities
In their initial review of the report from the Accra consultation, JTF officers reflected
that most of the topics for possible grant making engaged theological themes and reflection,
implicitly if not explicitly. Yet nowhere on the list of possible topics was an initiative in and
for African theology per se. A pressing concern, addressed several times by the theologians
around the table, was that “engaging Africa,” this project’s theme, was timely and urgent for
Christian theology, especially the need to engage Africa as it is today. They resonated positively also with JTF’s emphasis on research for the sake of “progress in theology.” Systematic
theology, Prof. Tienou remarked, had its place, but he said that he had moved more into
a “mission theology” model of analysis because he felt so driven to address the gospel to
culture. Theology simply must take African realities seriously, he insisted. Our research
has shown that African theology’s main driver over the past fifty years has been the call to
address African realities. Leading theologians have sought to address the word of God and
the wisdom drawn from it by the church to a concretely African world, not merely repeating the answers that had come by way of Europe or America. African realities needed to
drive the questions.
One of the unmet
challenges for
formal African
theology is its
relative inattention
to some huge areas
of Christian belief
and practice on
the continent.
In our survey of African theology’s main currents of
thought and the state of its institutional support and mediation, we saw that theology is a highly articulated, intellectually
busy, and institutionally developed field. It is true that
many of the institutions where Christian theology is taught
and written are small, scattered, and thinly resourced, but
Christian theology is present and active in most of the continent’s state-sponsored universities as well. And the sheer
scope of the enterprise on the continent is quite remarkable.
Even so, its two main schools of interpretation, inculturation
and liberation, feel a bit played out.
So what are the prospects for African theology?
One of the unmet challenges for formal African theology
is its relative inattention to some huge areas of Christian
belief and practice on the continent. African Christian theology does not begin and end with the Catholics and the
Protestants. There is much to think about regarding the theology of the older African Instituted Churches (AICs)241 and
241 See, e.g., Isaiah Shembe, The Scriptures of the amaNazaretha of EKuphaKameni: Selected Writings
of the Zulu Prophets Isaiah and Londa Shembe (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1994).
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Engaging Africa
the newer charismatic/Pentecostal churches.242 Even though their theology is more created
and driven by the bishops, apostles, pastors, and lay leaders of these movements than by
academic theologians, it is worth more serious attention. The teaching, rituals, spirituality,
and social ethics of the older generation of AICs—such as the Church of the Lord (Aladura)
in Nigeria, the Kimbanguist Church in the Congo, or amaNazarites and the Zion Christian
Church in South Africa—have sustained the keen interest of historians, anthropologists, missiologists, and even political scientists.243 The newer Pentecostals are also receiving plenty of
scholarly attention—again, mostly from outside of theology.244 Given the fact that the older
AICs are absolutely huge—constituting the largest Christian groups in South Africa, for
example—and that the newer Pentecostal churches are probably outgrowing the AICs now
all over the continent and most prominently as urban megachurches—it would be wise for
African theologians to show more interest.245 In both cases, Christian leaders and thinkers
are developing thoroughly enculturated forms of African popular Christianity. And while
liberationist theologians decry injustice and inequity, these communities are practicing
effective local forms of mutual assistance and economic development.246 Furthermore, they
242 See, e.g., some of the books by the bishop of the Perez Chapel, a Pentecostal megachurch in
Accra where JTF officers and African consultants visited: Charles Agyin-Asare: Power in Prayer
(Hoornaar, Netherlands: His Printing, 2001); Pastoral Protocol, (Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 2004);
How Anybody Can Become Somebody (Citta Sant’Angelo, Italy: Destiny Image Europe, 2007);
Breaking the Power of Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco (Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 2004); and Dealing
with Rejection (Accra, Ghana: DPI Print, 2007).
243 Harold W. Turner, History of an African Independent Church (Oxford: Clarendon, 1967); J. D. Y.
Peel, Aladura: A Religious Movement among the Yoruba (London: Oxford University Press, 1968);
Marie-Louise Martin, Kimbangu : an African Prophet and His Church (Oxford: Blackwell, 1975);
Retief Müller, African Pilgrimage: Ritual Travel in South Africa’s Christianity of Zion (Burlington,
VT: Ashgate, 2011); M. L. Daneel, All Things Hold Together: Holistic Theologies at the African
Grassroots: Selected Essays (Pretoria: UNISA Press, 2007); Edley J. Moodley, Shembe, Ancestors,
and Christ: A Christological Inquiry with Missiological Implications (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2008);
and Barbara Bompani and Maria Frahm-Arp, Development and Politics from Below: Exploring
Religious Spaces in the African State (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
244 Ogbu Kalu, African Pentecostalism: An Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007)
is an outstanding overview, with a bibliography that richly illustrates the growing scholarly
interest. See also Allan Anderson, Bazalwane: African Pentecostals in South Africa (Pretoria,
UNISA Press, 1992); E. Kingsley Larbi, Pentecostalism: the Eddies of Ghanaian Christianity (Accra:
Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies, 2001); David Maxwell, African Gifts of the Spirit:
Pentecostalism and the Rise of a Zimbabwean Transnational Religious Movement (Oxford: James
Currey, 2006); Matthews Ojo, The End-Time Army: Charismatic Movements in Modern Nigeria
(Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2006); and Anthony Ukah, A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power:
A Study of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2008).
245 But see J. Kwabena Asamoa-Gyadu, Contemporary Pentecostal Christianity: Interpretations
from an African Context (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2013); and Damaris Seleina Parsitau and
Philomena Njeri Mwaura,” God in the City: Pentecostalism as an Urban Phenomenon in Kenya,”
Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 36:2 (2010): 95–112. These theologians give careful attention to
the theological inculturation that these movements have developed and the kinds of liberation
(“deliverance”) that they promise.
246 Bompani and Frahm-Arp, Development and Politics from Below. But see also Paul Gifford, Ghana’s
New Christianity: Pentecostalism in a Globalizing African Economy (Bloomington and Indianapolis:
Indiana University Press, 2004), which argues that these churches teach people to exploit
neoliberal economic and political dynamics rather than to seek justice for all.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
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show forms of piety and practice that may well hold some answers for the renewal of older
Christian communions.247
The South African theologian Tinyiko Maluleke, writing a dozen years ago, saw even
broader prospects coming from such sources. He surveyed the African social, political,
and theological scene and sensed that “our inherited
frameworks, theological methods, and metaphors are
increasingly being seen as inadequate if not expired. Africa
finds herself in a ‘new place’ and its thinkers and leaders
are desperately looking for new language and new frameworks.” In the face of multiplied frustrations in South
Africa and crises across the continent, he saw Africans
“fashioning out their own ways of being.” They were showing a “creative, innovative and agentic spirit.” He denied
any attempt to conjure up “positive thinking” in a sort of
conservative behaviorism. Rather, he wanted to pay better
attention to African perseverance and agency, in spite of
horrific legacies and current conditions. He saw this new
approach taking “fraudulent post-colonial nationalism”
to task as well, turning the prophetic edge now to unjust
African overlords. He called for a new respect to be paid
to the African poor, honoring their perseverance and creativity, in religion as well as in society and the economy.248
“Our inherited
frameworks,
theological methods,
and metaphors are
increasingly being
seen as inadequate
if not expired. Africa
finds herself in a ‘new
place’ and its thinkers
and leaders are
desperately looking
for new language
and new frameworks.”
Of paramount importance, Maluleke thought, were
the women—and the women theologians who articulated
their creative piety and practical efficacy. African women’s theology, he said, “has been by far the most prolific
and challenging” across Anglophone Protestant Africa, at
least in recent decades.249 He also cited the work of Sanneh
and Bediako that emphasized African agency as the major
means of the continent’s Christianization and the growing
recognition of several radical South African theologians
of the sociopolitical importance of the AICs, notably their ability to imagine and live out
a prophetic vision for the reign of God. Maluleke worried about the tendency to romanticize these popular and populist initiatives, and he did not want to minimize the history of
247 Corneille Nkurunziza, “Pentecostal Spirituality: A Disregarded Cornerstone for the
Contextualisation of African Theologies?” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 145 (March
2013): 59–74, suggests as much; while Omenyo, Pentecost outside Pentecostalism, demonstrates
how the older mission-founded Protestant churches are in fact “pentecostalizing” in Ghana.
248 Tinyiko Maluleke, “The Rediscovery of the Agency of Africans,” in African Theology Today, ed.
Emmanuel Katangole (Scranton, PA: University of Scranton Press, 2002), 154, 155.
249 Maluleke, “Rediscovery,” 160.
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Engaging Africa
oppression across Africa or the sins of the oppressors. Even so, he hoped that a theology of
agency might prove not only illuminating for the theologians and others called to interpret
current reality, but empowering for ordinary people as well.
African Christian agency is an apt rubric for understanding the other emerging trends in
African theological circles. Certainly it signifies the remarkable mobilization of theological
schools to teach pastoral skills for combatting HIV/AIDS,250 including the Ecumenical HIV
and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA). Its theological unit at the University of Zimbabwe,
led by Ezra Chitando, is developing a pastoral theology to undergird it.251 Agency would
embrace the efforts of pastoral theologians in many places to provide spiritual insight
and counseling for efforts to defuse conflicts, reconcile alienated parties, and promote a
peaceful way forward.252 And it would incorporate the work of many more to organize and
inspire communities to alleviate extreme poverty253 and care for the creation.254 “Traditional
African values” are sometimes thought to reflect a fairly fatalistic view of life, but a theology
of agency might seek to cultivate other more enabling traits, which are as deeply Christian
as they seem to be African, and are abundantly evident in African life today.
Professor Charles Nyamiti, a leader among Catholic theologians in Africa and now
emeritus from the Catholic University of East Africa, wrote that African theology is now
entering a “third phase.” After a “prolegomenal” phase from 1950 to 1975, in which the
250 Ezra Chitando, “Expanding and Expounding Resilience: Theological Institutions Responding
to HIV,” Ecumenical Review 63:4 (December 2011): 397–407; Christine Gorman, “Bridge Builder,”
[Peter Okaalet] Time, November 7, 2005, pp. 91–93; Peter Okaalet, “The Role of Faith Based
Organizations in the Fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa”; Musa W. Dube, “On Being Firefighters:
insights on Curriculum Transformation in HIV and AIDS Contexts,” Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae
35 (December 2009): 82–98.
251 Accessed May 8, 2014, http://www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/hivaids-initiative-in-africa;
Ezra Chitando, “‘Even When There is No Rooster, The Morning Will Start’: Men, HIV, and African
Theologies,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 28:2 (Fall 2012): 141–145; and Ezra Chitando,
Troubled, but Not Destroyed (Geneva: WCC Publications, 2009).
252 Adrien Lentiampa Shenge, “A Culture de la Vie et la Promotion du Pardon en Afrique,” Nouvelle
Revue Théologique, 133:3 (July–Sept. 2011): 402–420; Charles Kasereka Pataya, “La Dynamique
du Pardon et de la Réconciliation dans le Contexte des Conflits en Afrique,” Lumen Vitae 68:2
(June 2013): 167–176; J. M. Vorster, “Forgiveness and Impunity in a Situation of Transition: A
Socio-Political Perspective,” Missionalia, 37:1 (April 2009): 66–84; Ambrose John Bwangatto,
“Reconciliation and the Church in Africa: A Reflection on the Second Synod for Africa,” AFER 52:1
(March 2010): 403–423.
253 Ambe J. Njoh and Fenda A. Akiwumi, “The Impact of Religion on Women Empowerment as a
Millennium Development Goal in Africa,” Social Indicators Research, 107:1 (May 2012): 1–18;
Kate Meagher, “Trading On Faith: Religious Movements and Informal Economic Governance In
Nigeria,” Journal of Modern African Studies 47:3 (2009): 397–423; Barbara Bompani, “Religion and
Development from Below: Independent Christianity in South Africa,” Journal of Religion in Africa
40 (2010): 307–330.
254 Izunna Okonkwo, “Liturgical Theology in a Graced World: Linking the Eucharist with
Environmental Concerns for the Possibility of Redeeming Nature from Human Exploitation,”
African Journal of Theology 32:2 (2009): 64–78; Kalemba Mwambazambi, “Environmental
Problems in Africa: A Theological Response,” Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and
Management 3:2 (2010): 54–64; Warmback, “‘Bread and Butter Issues.’”
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
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agendas for both the “inculturation” and “liberation” schools were set, a second phase
sought, until quite recently, to apply these reflections to African issues more directly.
Nyamiti appreciated African theology’s practical intent, seeking to answer questions arising from mission and ministry. But now, he said, he hoped to see theological thinking
become more rigorous, systematic, and balanced. He worried that contemporary African
theology was shallow, reductionistic, and lacking in metaphysical depth. He thought that
the liberationists’ work especially could be downright secularizing at times, lacking in the
more mystical and eschatological understandings of the Kingdom of God.255 Inculturation
theology, he said in another study, has focused largely on Christology and secondarily on
ecclesiology, but there is so much more to do. Other African traditional ideas, such as life,
initiation, healing, naming, word, and communality all urgently need theological work, he
said. “Nothing less than well-organized team-work involving African scholars in theology
and other scientific disciplines can duly and efficaciously realize such an urgent and gigantic project.”256
In 1998, Tite Tiénou, an astute observer and spokesperson for the more conservative
evangelical Protestants in Africa, lamented that many in these circles still wrestled with
grassroots distrust and disparagement of theological reflection and analysis. Even so,
evangelicals had made great strides in developing theological institutions over the past
twenty-five years, he thought. But he worried that what was currently on offer was quite
fragile. He hoped for a major push to develop the infrastructure that would sustain serious and deep theological inquiry. What was needed? Tiénou presented a list of all the
things that Europeans or Americans might take for granted as necessary for sustaining
scholarly enterprise:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
a monograph series
issues and topics colloquia
textbooks
research centers
professional newsletters
theological journals
university departments of religion (with evangelicals serving therein)
pastors’ theological workshops
professional societies
research grants
better equipped and staffed theological schools
theological students’ fellowships
255 Charles Nyamiti, Some Contemporary Models of African Ecclesiology: A Critical Assessment in the
Light of Biblical and Church Teaching (Nairobi: Catholic University of Eastern Africa Publications,
2007), 221–222.
256 Charles Nyamiti, Jesus Christ: The Ancestor of Humankind: An Essay on African Christology
(Nairobi: Catholic University of Eastern Africa Publications, 2006): 210.
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Engaging Africa
• theological institutes and seminars
• specialized grassroots and lay theological training programs257
Tiénou spent much of the 1990s working on such things as the founder of a new, postgraduate-level theological school in Abidjan for Francophone West Africa and as the
director of the African Theological Initiative, a major research and project awards program funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. That program did not last, but the evangelical
Protestant institutions across Africa have improved significantly since the 1990s.258 Even so,
as we have seen, any effort to strengthen African theology
cannot take matters of infrastructure, media, networks,
and institutional capacity for granted. That seems even
more urgently true when one considers the rapid growth
of Pentecostal churches and the emerging interest in theological education among the older AICs.
At the Accra consultation, Tiénou repeatedly weighed
in with two concerns: 1) the need for theologians to attend
to present-day “African realities” in an era of political volatility alongside rapid demographic, technological, and
economic change on the continent, and 2) the need for
theologians’ best ideas for ministry and witness in and
through the churches to reach out to pastors and lay leaders “on the ground.” And we think that he would accept a
friendly addition, which is that 3) one of theologians’ best
sources for reading Africa realities is by “consulting the
faithful”: seeking out the intelligence and “agency” of local
Christian leaders as to what they are encountering.
So what sorts of projects might we look for in theology?
Looking back over the eight other possible grant-making
topics, every one suggests a rich field of theological inquiry
and theological address.
So what sorts of
projects might we
look for in theology?
Looking back over
the eight other
possible grantmaking topics, every
one suggests a rich
field of theological
inquiry and
theological address.
African values. As we have seen, this is a very broad field of inquiry, but with a common
set of questions about how African traditional values interact with relatively novel settings: in urban neighborhoods, on sustainable development or public health projects, in
education, in politics, in conflicts and their resolution, in personal well-being and family
integrity, and in businesses and bureaucracies. Theologians have had some involvement in
257 Tite Tiénou, “The Theological Task of the Church in Africa,” in Issues in African Christian Theology,
eds. Sam Ngewa, Mark Shaw, and Tite Tiénou (Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers,
1998), 3–11.
258 Bill Houston and Victor Nakah, “Theological Education in Evangelical Churches,” in Handbook of
Theological Education in Africa, 386–392.
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89
these conversations, but they tend to work with some fairly dated understandings of this
field. Perhaps some theologians who have some rather fresh and intensive engagement at
this intersection, such as Ezra Chitando of Zimbabwe and Musa Dube of Botswana who
have worked long and productively on HIV/AIDS programs, could help devise some ways
to engage theologians with social scientists and humanists who have done original work
with these categories.
Theologians too
often accept or
react to the old
adage of African
Christianity being
“a mile wide and an
inch deep” without
seeking a deeper
understanding of
African Christian
spiritual experience
and reflection.
African spirituality. Africa is rich with spiritual sensibility,
and it is as much a present reality as a traditional inheritance. What might theologians make of this contemporary
African reality? As we have suggested, the richest bodies
of scholarship on spirituality in Africa today comes from
outside of theology: from anthropology and from the phenomenological side of religious studies. Theologians too
often accept or react to the old adage of African Christianity
being “a mile wide and an inch deep” without seeking a
deeper understanding of African Christian spiritual experience and reflection, and how they combine with communal
dynamics to make up the religious lives of people in congregations. Theologians need to get up to speed with the
religious studies and anthropology of religion people and
engage with them in some closely focused studies of African
Christian congregations. The influence of the AICs and the
Pentecostals are of particular importance to the Christian
spirituality of all traditions in Africa now.
Forgiveness and reconciliation. Christian theologians
are allegedly experts on forgiveness, a crucial theme in
Christian thought, belief and living. Social and political scientists who study conflict and postconflict “transitions,” on
the other hand, make a fairly instrumental demand of forgiveness: Does it help bring satisfaction of grievances and
reconciliation of estranged parties in postconflict situations, or not? What role might it
play? In our estimation, each group of thinkers could benefit from the other. Christian leaders need to think carefully about where forgiveness fits in regard to the complex interactions
of justice and mercy, restitution of wrongs and reconciliation, forgiveness and accountability, based on real-life cases. And social scientists and activists need to understand the
deeper nuances of Christian and other African religious traditions of forgiveness.
Human nature and human agency. We discovered that there is not a heavy trade, intellectually, in this field of inquiry among African philosophers, theologians, or social scientists.
But Tinyiko Malueleke’s naming of “agency” as an overarching theme for a theology of the
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Engaging Africa
modern African experience shows that it is a way of understanding African persistence,
creativity, and productivity, in the face of overwhelming challenges on every front. It would
seem to be a good fit with the themes of positive psychology as well. So we should be willing
to welcome some convening and project entrepreneurship on this front, putting theologians and social scientists and philosophers together on the questions of African agency.
Religious freedom and the rule of law. As we noted above, there are a few centers that
support research and advocacy from Christian perspectives in public affairs, but they are
not thick on the ground, and they do not seem to have focused intently on the basic matters
of a Christian vision of citizenship and civic duty within a context of religious freedom and
the rule of law. Christian agencies with a public affairs brief have focused more on combatting external, “neocolonial” exploitation and pursuing economic redistribution in order
to combat extreme poverty. But Prof. Sanneh of Yale has organized a conversation around
some basic Christian civic principles, cast in a particularly African frame, and his conversation partners have issued a potentially useful statement of these principles. Giving these
ideas a very wide reading and potential uptake would seem to be the next programmatic
step for that initiative. We can envisage a project that will encourage an emphasis on civic
education in Christian universities, theological schools, and practical training workshops.
Again, theologians need to be in conversation with philosophers and political scientists
who can help develop relevant and useful models.
Character formation. We understand that Christian character formation is a major concern of the Catholic and Protestant universities that are springing up across Africa. Now
that many of these institutions have made it through the initial struggle to establish themselves, it is high time to do some more careful reflection about how they pursue character
development on campus. As the educational leaders at the Accra consultation suggested,
they need to learn more about how their efforts at character formation are proceeding.
They suggested assessing the effectiveness of what they are doing, and how they might
improve their work in this field based on their assessments. We think that any such assessment should not merely be about programmatic vehicles and behavioral change, but about
the visions of moral and communal integrity that animate the programs. Here the help of
theologians and Christian philosophers, especially ethicists, would be invaluable as well.
An agency that links Christian universities in Africa, the International Association for the
Promotion of Christian Higher Education, might be a likely convener for such a project.
Positive psychology. We were encouraged to find an active interest in this field—whether
it as recognized by name, as in the Optentia program at the University of the North-West in
South Africa—or in terms of psychologists’ interest in positive outlooks and behavior such
as resilience, agency, growth, well-being, achieving, and communal thriving, such as we
found in abundance among the psychologists of southeastern Nigeria. The Nigerians gave
some evidence of looking at these traits in reference to Christian or other religious dynamics, but if the Optentia people did, it was not obvious. We saw some reference to religious
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or spiritual matters only in two of the eighty-two articles this group has produced in the
past four years. We are convinced that theologians could garner “new spiritual information”
from these studies in positive psychology and other social sciences (e.g., studies of coping
and initiative by anthropologists or “strengths inventories” of persons and institutions by
other social scientists and community practitioners). And theologians and philosophers
could help others understand the large deposits of wisdom about virtue that they know and
study. For pastoral practice in encouraging formative “Christian discipleship,” this could be
invaluable work.
Science, health, technology and creation care.
Religion and science: We noted that at the Accra consultation, several participants
voiced the need for pastors and lay leaders to have a better understanding of science and
gain a better appreciation of Christianity’s deep regard for investigating the creation. Given
the narrowly specialized educational tracks from the bachelor’s degree-level forward for
African theologians, such educational work seems critical. Several items from JTF’s “playbook” of projects in Europe and North America spring to mind as potentially fruitful
for African theologians and church leaders. One is an opening up of conversations and
strengthening mutual understanding between the churches’ thought leaders and leading
scientists. Another is “science for pastors” continuing education seminars, led by teams
of master teachers with both scientific and theological competencies. And another is curricular innovation and reform in both the theological schools and in the new Christian
universities.
No other “big
questions” on
the faith and
science front are
so compelling to
African Christians
as the issues
surrounding
health and
healing.
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Engaging Africa
Health and healing: No other “big questions” on the faith and
science front are so compelling to African Christians as the issues
surrounding health and healing. One’s health, in African traditional
terms, emanates from a fundamental life force at the core of one’s
being, and any signs of ill health evoke concerns of why one’s life
force seems diminished and what other forces may be besieging it. So
health and illness are inseparable from spiritual questions. Missionfounded Protestant churches historically dismissed these ideas and
pointed parishioners to the wonders of Western medicine. Catholics
were keener to encourage belief in miracles, including healing. But
many African Christians maintained older ideas about health and
sought out traditional healers. The AICs and Pentecostals grant
much weight to the spiritual dimension in questions of health and
healing, but tend to demonize traditional healers and shun their
remedies. But the questions remain about how to understand health
and healing in African Christian terms. We found a fair amount of
social scientific research on Africans’ beliefs and behavior regarding healing, but not so much among theologians. The one exception
is the cluster of theologians and theological educators working on
HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and community care. It would be wonderful to see this
group take what they have learned into these broader realms of faith and health and engage
Christian theologians and health care leaders. Following on or perhaps coterminous to
projects of that sort would be projects to develop formal curricula on faith, health, and
healing and nonformal, continuing education work as well. Once again, the experience of
Ezra Chitando, Musa Dube, and others with projects of this kind in regard to HIV/AIDS in
particular would be invaluable for parlaying it out into this broader realm.
Creation care: This field, unlike health and healing, has less of a
natural popular appeal, partially because of its history as a white settlers’ preoccupation in Africa and partially because other matters,
such as advancing public health and combatting extreme poverty,
seem more pressing in Africa. Yet creation care has found a natural fit within the rubric of “sustainable development,” and it has
much currency in the secular mainstream of that field. Leading
Christian agencies have proclaimed the need to emphasize creation
care issues, but the uptake has been slow. So any work in the field on
a theological and churchly front will by necessity be developmental; there is not so much to build on. Two strongholds, however,
of Christian thinking and education on environmental stewardship
are in South African theological programs—at the University of the
Western Cape, which has a significant and longstanding “eco-theology” initiative going within its religion and theology department,
and the University of KwaZulu Natal, whose School of Religion and
Theology has a longstanding degree program in theology and development. If these complementary programs could form a joint effort
to grow this field of inquiry among Christian theologians elsewhere
on the continent and possibly help advise the startup of similar programs in various regions of Africa, it would seem to be a project with great potential for the
IF to promote.
Leading Christian
agencies have
proclaimed
the need to
emphasize
creation care
issues, but the
uptake has
been slow.
Technology and human flourishing: Although participants at the Accra consultation
readily saw potential for work in this area, we found very little current interest in it—some
among social scientists but none to speak of among theologians or philosophers. If there
are some who want to make a start, IF or JTF might consider making some singular project
grants to encourage them to pioneer in this field.
In sum, there are “African Realities” aplenty for theologians and church leaders to address,
all worthy arenas for fresh currents of thought and commitment in African theology and in
the churches more broadly. When it comes to thinking about what grant making in African
theology ought to engage, the answer is “all of the above!”
So how might such engagement happen? That is one of the most important questions we
will take up in the final section.
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93
IV. Project Recommendations
A
s this study should make clear, intellectually oriented grant making in Africa
has its challenges. African intellectuals and the institutions with which they
work have persevered through critical times and still face serious obstacles.
Higher education and other inquiry-promoting institutions are fairly thinly
seeded across a vast continent. Lines of communication for research, dissemination, and
critical debate are also thin on the continent and frequently disrupted. Scholars resort to
limited local and “offshore” publishing, which adds to the difficulties of building communities of discourse. The communities that do exist are still relatively fragile and susceptible to
disruptions and discontinuations. Talented people
have come and gone, as have journals and institutes. This sort of “churn” happens on any such
front over time, but things have been more volatile
in African academe and intellectual networks than
elsewhere. And relationships with the more powerful and well-resourced intellectual networks in
the global North often have been strained.
JTF’s funding interests,
which aim at the “big
questions” of the natural
world and of human
existence rather than
the more instrumental
“big problems” approach
of other foundations,
offer African intellectuals
opportunities to
explore questions that
other major funders
do not address.
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Engaging Africa
But at this moment conditions are improving.
Universities across the continent are getting stronger and more stable. And the “South Africa factor”
in relation to the rest of the continent may be critical to the whole enterprise. African intellectuals in
diaspora are more in contact with their colleagues
on the continent than ever and are narrowing the
continental divides in a variety of fields. External
funding for research and research-related action
seems to be peaking as well. The funding is also
more targeted than ever before, and this causes
some distortion, no doubt, in shaping research
decisions, but it is making for increased scholarly
productivity nevertheless. JTF’s funding interests,
which aim at the “big questions” of the natural
world and of human existence rather than the more
instrumental “big problems” approach of other
foundations, offer African intellectuals opportunities to explore questions that other major funders
do not address. So there are good prospects, we believe, for JTF to invest in some very interesting and beneficial projects.
Grant-making Recommendations
Given the challenges and opportunities that this report has brought to light, we have a
variety of recommendations to make, both about the kinds of grants or grant-making initiatives to pursue and how to pursue them.
First, we see relationships between the nine topical areas that suggest to us that JTF could
sponsor two substantial initiatives that would afford opportunities for fresh work at their
intersections: one with Christian theological inquiry and missional concerns at its center,
and the other encouraging a common outlook and set of approaches in the social sciences.
1. Develop a grant-making program in Christian theology, focusing on “African
Realities and African Hope.” Encourage African theologians to make “progress in theology” by means of closer interaction with scholars in the social sciences and the humanities
who are doing research on contemporary African realities within the other topical areas we
prioritized at the Accra meeting. The main approach would be a “mission theology” orientation that asks gospel-and-culture, gospel-and-society questions, particularly relating to:
• African values: tradition, modernity, and the cultivation of virtue in today’s
Africa
• African spirituality, both traditional and contemporary, with an interest
toward understanding how Christian and traditional sensibilities intertwine in
contemporary African Christian spirituality
• Forgiveness, peacemaking, and reconciliation following seasons of profound
conflict and injustice
• Moral education and character formation, particularly within African Christian
educational institutions
• African understandings of humanity, destiny, and human agency
• Religious freedom, good governance, and the rule of law in Africa
• Positive psychology and an emphasis on agency and initiative more generally
• Faith and science, with a particular emphasis on health and healing
In all of these areas, we recommend encouraging theologians to work with social scientists and humanities scholars in interdisciplinary teams to develop normative Christian
thought that can be infused throughout theology and ministry education, the degree programs of Christian universities, and the ranks of working pastors and lay leaders. These
projects would try to gain deeper understanding of contemporary African realities on a
variety of fronts, but emphasize African agency and African wellsprings of hope rather than
focusing only on African problems. What can theologians learn from front-line research
about African resilience, resourcefulness, perseverance, and hope? What theological themes
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might emerge that will bring encouragement and empowerment to the churches and help
social scientists see the spiritual implications of their research? We think that an initiative
like this one could launch a good dozen interdisciplinary initiatives ranging across the continent and across these topical fields. We might hope to bring a freshness and new urgency
to African theology at a time when its longstanding themes seem a bit played out.
2. Develop an interdisciplinary grant-making program in the social sciences and
humanities focusing on “African Agency.” Across the continent and the variety of the
topical fields we investigated, we found researchers discovering, acknowledging, and seeking to understand more deeply the resilience, resourcefulness, perseverance, and hope of
African people. We recommend encouraging sociologists, anthropologists, public health
and development studies researchers, psychologists, philosophers, and religious studies
scholars to look for the factors that contribute to people’s resiliency, agency, well-being,
initiative, creativity, prospering, reconciling, and healthy living in various contexts (e.g.,
urban or rural, different nations, regions, religions, and ethnicities). We found quite a few
studies that attended to these kinds of research, scattered across the various disciplines and
topical areas. We think that it could be greatly encouraging to the scholars pursuing them
to be in collaboration, to share ideas and learn from each other, and to continue to refine
and promote a “capabilities” approach to studying African contemporary life rather than
solely a “problems” approach. Each of these fields has professional practitioners as well as
research scholars, so we might anticipate that these research projects might develop plans
for dissemination and training as well.
3. There are live prospects for particular projects in several of the nine potential
topical areas. JTF and IF should feel free to invite and review proposals wherever
this study highlights prospects. Equipped now with a bit more knowledge of the general conditions for work on the continent and the location of some of the more promising
enterprises in the nine topical areas, foundation officers should be able to negotiate some
project grants with a bit more confidence. Through their initial acquaintances they now
have people to contact for reviewing proposals, or for referrals of other knowledgeable
people to conduct reviews. By using this study’s bibliographies and lists of important agents
and agencies, JTF and IF officers can build their knowledge of the fields and issues at hand.
Help with monitoring and evaluation is more within their reach as well.
4. Prospective funders should favor project designs that are more collaborative
and developmental than the typical one-off research project or a simple RFP competition. What we have found out about research and scholarship in Africa is that it has
been hindered by the structural problems of academic and intellectual networks on the
continent. While the foundation officers may encounter senior researchers or small teams
that are totally grant-ready, we have learned from veteran grant makers and research institutes on the continent that more collaborative and developmental approaches are ways to
build stronger fields of inquiry.
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CODESRIA, one of the oldest and most accomplished social science research agencies on the continent, provides some strong models for addressing themes and issues.259
CODESRIA’s approach is to foster multinational and international studies that choose a
theme and participants from different disciplines and countries or regions. The selected
research teams work on the topic collaboratively and then contribute chapters that become
an edited volume. The steps and processes CODESRIA engages for these kinds of projects
have proven to be quite beneficial. They run like this:
• Post call for proposals, then select about twelve to fifteen participants from
different countries and disciplines
• Bring the selected participants together in a central location for a seminar to
work through methodologies and theoretical frames and allow them to meet
peers and create networks
• Send participants back, with some modest project funding, to finish their
research and conduct their writing
• Collect and edit their entries into a volume and publish it
• Bring the group back for a conference that shares the findings and invites others
to listen and contribute
One need not think of this as an exact template, but it assures that people working
within different disciplines and with varying approaches can engage and learn from each
other. It makes sure that at least one high-quality publication, disseminated from a wellknown source, is produced. And it provides an opportunity for equipping and mentoring of
younger scholars in a context where high-end methodological work and specialist reviews
and critiques are not easily available to them. The CODESRIA model has produced consistently strong work.
5. South African universities and think tanks are solid and capable. In several of
the nine topical areas they present some of the strongest prospects for basing
initial projects. Yet we recommend that if foundation officers decide to work with
South African institutions, they should put a premium on their partnering with
agencies in other African nations. South African universities and their scholars have a
number of unique issues to work through, and one very critical one has to do with international relationships. For many years they experienced academic boycotts and isolation from
European and North American institutions and from African ones as well, but now they
have been keen to re-establish links. They also feel strong pressure to intensify their community-serving work right at home. They have welcomed scholars from other African nations,
especially for advanced degrees, and they have recruited quite a few of them, especially in
259 See especially a summative evaluation of CODESRIA’s recent work, which describes in detail
its processes of unpacking and executing a research theme: Mohamed Salih and Rasheed
Draman, “Evaluation of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
(CODESRIA),” June 2012. Chs. 4 and 5, accessed May 24, 2014, http://www.codesria.org/spip.
php?article278&lang=en.
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the early post-apartheid years, to become faculty members. Yet while many South African
institutions work energetically at re-establishing ties in Europe and North America, there
is huge and relatively untapped potential for South African scholars to build partnerships
elsewhere in Africa.
We recommend that grant makers hold out a premium to South African agencies for
their engaging in intra-African scholarly partnerships. South African projects should incorporate a variety of partnering measures with other African scholars and agencies, such as:
• codirectorship of the project
• the local agency’s coordination of field research
• coanalysis of data and coauthorship of publications
One of the goals of such projects should be to build the capacity of African agencies outside of South Africa for organizing and executing such projects in the future.
6. Grant makers who wish to pursue the aims of African agency and the strengthening of African scholarship should be very careful, if not reluctant, to make
project grants to European- and North American-based African studies scholars.
African-based scholars have seen two generations of such scholarship in their lands over
the past half-century, and it has often tended to act as yet another extractive “mining” industry, benefitting its expatriate practitioners immensely but doing little to enhance African
scholarship on site. Assuming that the sponsors of “Engaging Africa” want to see scholarly
capacity and high-quality production advancing in Africa, they need to make those particular goals drive any research they fund on the continent. If, say, a US-based researcher or
institute wants a JTF grant to conduct a project in Africa, it should incorporate the partnering measures and outcomes outlined above in recommendation five.
7. Encourage the involvement of diaspora African scholars in projects in ways
that will build up continental African scholarly capacities and achievement. As we
have seen, not all analysts of the African “brain drain” think that it continues to be purely
a problem. More than ever before, relocated African scholars have the capability of staying in touch with scholars and ideas on the continent and using their talents and cultural
advantages to leverage more scholarly opportunities for their African colleagues. We highly
recommend that grants officers “factor in” and encourage the participation of diaspora
scholars in the project plans they develop. The idea is for the expatriate Africans to serve
projects and partners on the continent, however, not to take over as principal investigators.
Indeed, we think that with the right programmatic pieces in place, diaspora Africans in
theology and related fields could be encouraged to develop immensely rewarding ongoing
relationships with African theological schools, particularly those that have been developing
doctoral degree programs and research institutes. The Carnegie Foundation is sponsoring
the African Diaspora Fellowship program to place African expatriated scholars from across
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Engaging Africa
the arts and sciences, but they do not include scholars in theology and religious studies.260
We recommend that JTF consider starting a diaspora fellowship program for those fields.
8. JTF and other interested grant makers should favor working with African
agencies that already exist and are doing credible work rather than favoring the
development of new agencies. African agency would thus be as much an operational
value as a research topic. There is almost no end to the number of externally funded project and program startups in Africa that have failed to flourish. We are not sure what the
secrets are for “building to last” institutionally in Africa, but among them seems to be local
initiative. JTF should reward such agency and resilience and find ways to strengthen its
institutional grip.
9. JTF should have an “Africa desk” that can look after overall goals and priorities, secure capable project monitoring, develop grant-making intermediaries if
needed and provide cross-program communications and networking for the foundation. JTF does not have a large staff, but it has an exceedingly busy one, on which the
officers and directors have scant understanding of what each other is doing. But as we have
seen, the potential projects in Africa frequently transgress the various grant making themes
and disciplinary silos of JTF. International grant-making will go better if there is someone
whose responsibility it is to know of all the initiatives on the continent, the people and institutions involved, and how and where the work is intersecting. Every grant making unit of
JTF would benefit thereby.
Next Steps
No doubt JTF and IF staffs and other interested grant makers are fielding requests from
African scholars already. As we suggest above in recommendation three, that is all well and
good, and grant makers should feel free to use this report and recommendations to guide
them in making decisions about such requests.
Even so, we think that the most promising work to be done in order to make a solid start
is more collaborative and interactive. Earlier on, we asked JTF to anticipate that we would
be proposing two or three “Request for Proposals” kinds of grants initiatives for JTF and/or
IF to consider funding.
Now we are refining that idea based on what we have discovered about intellectual
work and capabilities on the continent. We are quite taken with the CODESRIA model
of approaching a topical area with interdisciplinary and international teams, engaging in
methodological and theoretical seminars to sharpen and focus the intellectual tools of
260 Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, “Engagements between African Diaspora Academics in the U.S. and
Canada and African Institutions of Higher Education: Perspectives from North America and
Africa,” Report for the Carnegie Corporation of New York, (n.d., circa 2013), accessed May 28,
2014, http://www.iie.org/Programs/Carnegie-African-Diaspora-Fellows-Program.
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
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participants, requiring all participant researchers to produce article- or chapter-length
essays for collaborative publication, and following up with larger public conferences to
spread interest and knowledge.
So that is what we anticipate will be the outcome of the proposed “design” phase of this
“Engaging Africa” project: two three-year team initiatives:261 “African Realities, African
Hope,” engaging theologians with the discoveries of contemporary social scientists and
humanists. These projects would try to gain deeper understanding of contemporary African
realities on a variety of fronts, and especially to emphasize African agency and African
wellsprings of hope rather focusing only on African problems. “African Agency,” which
will engage African social scientists and some humanities scholars in understanding more
deeply the resilience, resourcefulness, perseverance, and hope of African people, and developing a “capabilities” approach to studying African contemporary life rather than solely a
“problems” approach.
We have secured the contingent agreement of Dr. Mwenda Ntarangwi, an anthropology professor at Calvin College and the executive director of the International Association
for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education, to direct the “African Agency” planning effort, and should it eventually be funded as a project, as its project director. Prof.
Ntarangwi is a well published and highly regarded scholar, including in Africa, where he
was once president of the Pan African Association of Anthropologists. Prof. Ntarangwi
recently completed directing a CODESRIA-funded and sponsored research program on
“Children and Youth in Africa.”
We have yet to identify a director for the “African Realities, African Hope” project for
theologians, but we expect to have on the planning team several veteran project organizers
in Africa, notably Prof. Lamin Sanneh of Yale University, convener of several projects in
Africa on African Christian thought, and Dr. Tite Tienou, currently dean of the Trinity
Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, who is also the former and founding dean of the
Evangelical Theological Faculty in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and the former program director
of the African Theological Initiative, a pan-African grant-making program funded by the
Pew Charitable Trusts. These two scholars have exceedingly deep and wide networks among
theologians and other Christian scholars in Africa to assist with finding the ideal director.
So if we are awarded the grant for the design phase, we expect to have two fully formed
initiatives to propose by the spring of 2015, each with a nominated project director and an
advisory/selection committee, and with African agencies secured to host their activities.
The Nagel Institute of Calvin College would provide administrative and fiscal services for
the two initiatives.
261 This design phase proposal, submitted in March to JTF, also included a third initiative, to
be funded by IF. In the meantime, however, IF has changed its status from a grant-making
foundation to an operating foundation. This change in status has necessitated a change in
plans.
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Engaging Africa
And beyond that? To be true to our theme of African agency, the natural next steps for
grant making would be for initiatives to be organized and conducted out of African study
centers. Through the course of this study, we have seen several African centers that seem
promising, whether theologically focused or emerging in and through the other disciplines.
These are places that have successfully mounted collaborative research, publishing, and dissemination/education initiatives. They have book or journal publishing operations at hand
and serviceable libraries and hosting capacity. We will be able to try them out as hosting
sites for the first two initiatives proposed above.
And beyond that? Even in the teeth of our advice above in recommendation number
eight, we come out of this study with …
An Institutional Dream
All across the continent, we saw no other agency with such a powerful effect on the quality of African research and scholarship than CODESRIA, in Dakar, Senegal. It is difficult
to calculate the immense beneficial effect that this one agency, which is the home to multiple research projects in any given year, is organizing not-to-be-missed topical conferences
across the continent every year, is publishing eleven scholarly journals, and hosts a lively
book publishing concern as well. We could not help but covet such an interdisciplinary
center for African Christian thought, not only theology but also the “new spiritual information,” as Sir John put it, that circulates within and out from the other disciplines as well.
Perhaps it would be better for there to be a dozen smaller entities, each with a sustainable
program of research, publication, and convening and networking, but given what we have
seen of the extreme difficulty of sustaining such centers on the continent long-term, the
idea of a much less vulnerable, “industrial strength” institution with continental reach is
quite compelling. But if it is to be built to last, we recognize, it would need to grow from
some program or center that has survived the initial stages of development and is on its
second or third leader. So for the longer term, we hold up a CODESRIA sort of model
and will ask JTF and other funders to consider what such an institution could mean for
Christian thought in Africa.
But let us begin more modestly, and in vital partnership with this generation’s remarkable
array of African Christian scholars. There is much good work to do.
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Appendix
Contact Information for Selected Leaders and Agencies
The report identifies a variety of people and institutions that appear to us to be natural first
contacts for engaging the fields of endeavor being discussed. We list them here for handy
reference.
Introduction
African Journals Online (AJOL)
Grahamstown, South Africa
http://www.ajol.info/
Accra Consultation Participants
Adeleye, Femi B.
Director of Church Partnerships for Christian
Commitments, World Vision International
Accra, Ghana
adeleyefemi@gmail.com
Allotey, Francis Kofi Ampenyin
Professor of Physics, African Institute of Mathematical
Sciences-Ghana, University of Ghana
Legon, Ghana
fkallotey@gmail.com
Asamoah-Gyadu, Kwabena
Director of Center for the Study of Christianity in Africa
Trinity Theological Seminary
Legon, Ghana
asagyadu@hotmail.com
Asiedu, Ben Kofi
Registrar, Akrofi-Christaller Institute (ACI)
Akropong-Akuapem, Ghana
kofiasiedu@hotmail.com
Berends, Kurt
President, Issachar Fund
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
KBerends@issacharfund.org
Bonk, Jonathan
Founding Director of the Dictionary of African
Christian Biography, Boston University
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
bonk@omsc.org
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Engaging Africa
Briggs, Andrew
International Board of Advisors, John Templeton
Foundation
Professor of Physics, Oxford University
andrew.briggs@materials.ox.ac.uk
Bungishabaku, Katho Robert
President, Shalom University of Bunia
Democratic Republic of Congo
kathob@gmail.com
Carpenter, Joel
Professor and Director, Nagel Institute, Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
jcarpent@calvin.edu
Churchill, John
Director of Philosophy and Theology, John Templeton
Foundation
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA
jchurchill@templeton.org
Gibson, Nicholas
Program Officer for Human Sciences, John Templeton
Foundation
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA
ngibson@templeton.org
Gitari, Justus Mbae
Deputy Vice Chancellor and Professor of Education,
The Catholic University of Eastern Africa
Nairobi, Kenya
justusmbae@yahoo.com
Glerup, Michael
Executive Director, The Center for Early African
Christianity, Eastern University
St. David’s, Pennsylvania, USA
mglerup@eastern.edu
Green, Daniel Austin
Senior Program Officer for Freedom and Free
Enterprise, John Templeton Foundation
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA
dgreen@templeton.org
Murray, Michael
Executive Vice President of Programs, John Templeton
Foundation
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA
mmurray@templeton.org
Guta, Mihretu Petros
PhD Candidate in Philosophy, University of Durham,
UK
mihretup@aol.com
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity,
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
http://www.calvin.edu/nagel/
Hohnstein, Sara
Program Manager, Issachar Fund
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
SHohnstein@issacharfund.org
Ndikumana, Emmanuel
Founder and Executive Director, Partners Trust
International (PTI)
Bujumbura, Burundi
endikumana@gmail.com
Issachar Fund (IF)
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
http://www.issacharfund.org/home
Nkwi, Paul Nchoji
Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Catholic
University of Cameroon
Yaounde, Cameroon
nkwi70@yahoo.com
John Templeton Foundation (JTF)
West Conshocken, Pennsylvania, USA
http://templeton.org/
Okaalet, Peter
Executive Director, Okaalet and Associates Limited
Nairobi, Kenya
pokaalet@okaalet.org
Joseph, Craig
Director of the Character / Virtue Development program, John Templeton Foundation
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA
cjoseph@templeton.org
Onaiyekan, Cardinal John
Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria
Abuja, Nigeria
onaiyekan7@yahoo.com
Kooistra, Nellie
Program Coordinator, Nagel Institute, Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
nmk5@calvin.edu
Quarshie, Benhardt Y.
Rector, Akrofi-Christaller Institute for Theology, Mission
and Culture
Akropong-Akuapem, Ghana
byquarshie@yahoo.com
Lutz, David
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Holy Cross College
Notre Dame, Indiana, USA
dlutz@hcc-nd.edu
Rick-Miller, Drew
Program Manager of Religious Engagement, John
Templeton Foundation
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA
drickmiller@templeton.org
Mlay, Wilfred
Ambassador and faculty, Great Lakes Initiative (GLI)
Daar es Salaam, Tanzania
wilfredmlay@gmail.com
Mombo, Esther
Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs, Academic of
St. Paul’s University
Limuru, Kenya
emombo@spu.ac.ke
Mukonyora, Isabel
Associate Professor, Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA
bella.mukonyora@wku.edu
Romanowski, Donna
Program Coordinator, Nagel Institute, Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
drom@calvin.edu
Sanneh, Lamin
D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World
Christianity, Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
lamin.sanneh@yale.edu
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Sefa-Dedeh, Araba
Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry/PhD Clinical
Psychologist, University of Ghana Medical School
Legon, Ghana
arabasfd26@gmail.com
Toole, David
Associate Dean for Global Health Initiatives, Duke
Divinity
Durham, North Carolina, USA
david.toole@duke.edu
Stewart, W. Christopher
Senior Program Officer for the Templeton Religion
Trust
Nassau, the Bahamas
chris@ftbbahamas.com
Wandibba, Simiyu
Professor of Anthropology, Institute of Anthropology,
Gender and African Studies, University of Nairobi
Nairobi, Kenya
swandibba@yahoo.com
Tiénou, Tite
Dean, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Deerfield, Illinois, USA
tedsdean@tiu.edu
Wason, Paul
Vice President, Life Sciences and Genetics, John
Templeton Foundation
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA
pwason@templeton.org
I. African Higher Education
Altbach, Philip G.
Director for Center for International Higher Education
(CIHE), Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA
philip.altbach.1@bc.edu
Omenyo, Cephas N.
Provost of the College of Education and Dean of the
Faculty of Arts, University of Ghana
Legon, Ghana
comenyo@ug.edu.gh
Cunningham, Scott
Vice President of International Partnerships, Overseas
Council
Greenwood, Indiana, USA
http://overseas.org/our-work/
Rockefeller Foundation, Africa Regional Office
Nairobi, Kenya
http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/about-us/
our-offices/africa
Oduro, Thomas
Principal, Good News Theological College and
Seminary
Accra, Ghana
Goodnewsem@yahoo.com
Teferra, Damtew
Professor and Leader of the Higher Education Training
and Development
University of Kwazulu-Natal
Durban, South Africa
teferra@bc.edu
II. Capabilities in Relevant Disciplines
Anthropology
Psychology
Ntarangwi, Mwenda
Executive Director, International Association for the
Promotion of Christian Higher Education (IAPCHE)
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
mgn2@calvin.edu
Alao, Amos Adeboye
Professor, Psychology Department, Covenant
University
Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria
Amos.alao@covenantuniversity.edu.ng
Pan African Anthropological Association (PAAA)
http://www.indiana.edu/~wanthro/theory_pages/
PAAA.htm
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Engaging Africa
Cooper, Saths
Vice President of the International Social Science
Council, South Africa
President of the International Union of Psychological
Science, South Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa
http://www.worldsocialscience.org/
Nsamenang, A. Bame
Professor of Psychology, University of Yaounde
Yaounde, Cameroon
Director of Human Development Resource Centre
http://thehdrc.org/index.html
bame@thehdrc.org
Philosophy
Janz, Bruce
Professor of Humanities, University of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida, USA
http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~janzb/
bruce.janz@ucf.edu
Wiredu, Kwasi
Emeritus Distinguished University Professor of
Philosophy, University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida, USA
kwiredu@usf.edu
Social Science (Primarily Sociology)
Centre for Basic Research
Kampala, Uganda
http://www/cbr-ug.net/
Council for the Development of Social Science
Research in Africa (CODESRIA)
Dakar, Senegal
http://www.codesria.org/
Ford Foundation, Lagos Nigeria
ford-lagos@fordfoundation.org
Ford Foundation, Nairobi Kenya
ford-nairobi@fordfoundation.org
Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Pretoria, South Africa
http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/
Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern
Africa (OSSREA)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
http://www.ossrea.net/
Southern African Political Economy Series (SAPES)
Trust
Harare, Zimbabwe
http://www.sapes.org.zw/
Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe
Vice President of Academic Affairs, Quinnipiac
University
Connecticut, USA
Paul.Zeleza@quinnipiac.edu
African Studies
African Studies Association (ASA)
Rutgers University, Livingston Campus
Piscataway, New Jersey, USA
http://www.africanstudies.org/
Michigan State University African Studies Center
East Lansing, Michigan, USA
http://africa.isp.msu.edu/
Religious Studies
Adogame, Afe
Senior Lecturer in World Christianity and Religious
Studies, University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
A.Adogame@ed.ac.uk
Chitando, Ezra
Professor of Religious Studies, University of Zimbabwe
Theology Consultant, Ecumenical HIV and AIDS
Initiative in Africa (EHAIA)
Harare, Zimbabwe
http://www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/
hivaids-initiative-in-africa/
chitsa21@yahoo.com
Olupona, Jacob
Professor of African Religious Traditions, Harvard
Divinity School
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
jkolupona@hds.harvard.edu
Walls, Andrew
Honorary Professor of Social and Political Science,
University of Edinburgh
Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
andrew.walls@ptsem.edu
Theology
Catholic Institute of West Africa
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
http://www.ucao-uut.tg/acceuil2.html
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
105
Dube, Musa
Professor, Theology and Religious Studies, University of
Botswana
Gabarone, Botswana
dubemww@mopipi.ub.bw
Gatwa, Tharcisse
Professor Faculté de Théologie Protestante de Butare
Butare, Rwanda
Tharcissegatwa@yahoo.co.uk
Maluleke, Tinyiko
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, International Relations,
University of Johannesburg
Johannesburg, South Africa
xihosana@yahoo.co.uk
Mwaura, Philomena
Professor of Religious Studies, Director of the Center
for Gender Equity and Empowerment
Kenyatta University
Nairobi, Kenya
philomwaura@yahoo.com
Pan African Christian Women Alliance (PACWA)
Association of Evangelicals in Africa
Nairobi, Kenya
http://www.aeafrica.org/commissions/pan.htm
Phiri, Isabel
Associate General Secretary for Public Witness and
Diakonia
World Council of Churches (WCC)
Geneva, Switzerland
phirii@ukzn.ac.za
Stinton, Diane
Associate Professor, Mission Studies; Dean of Students,
Regent College
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
dstinton@regent-college.edu
Université Catholique du Congo
Prof. Abbé Jean-Bosco Matand Bulembat
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
http://ucc.ac.cd/
Oduyoye, Dr. Mercy Amba
Founder and Director of Institute of African Women in
Religion and Culture
Trinity Theological Seminar
Legon, Ghana
mercy@tidac.org
III. Project Ideas: State of Play
African Values
Catholic University of East Africa, Kenya
http://www.cuea.edu/
African Spirituality: Traditional and Contemporary
Bediako, Gillian Mary
Deputy Rector, Akrofi-Christaller Institute
Akropong, Akuapem, Ghana
gmbediako@acighana.org
Howell, Alison
Dean of Research and Senior Research Fellow, AkrofiChristaller Institute
Akropong-Akuapem, Ghana
amhowell@acighana.org
106
Engaging Africa
Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies,
in African Context
African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of
Disputes
Mount Edgecombe, South Africa
http://www.accord.org.za/
Bungishabaku, Katho Robert
President, Shalom University of Bunia
Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo
kathob@gmail.com
Centre for Conflict Resolution
University of Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa
http://www.ccr.org.za/
Character Formation Curricula and Assessment
Centre for the Study of Reconciliation and Violence
Johannesburg, South Africa
http://www.csvr.org.za/
Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
Cape Town, South Africa
http://ijr.org.za/justice-and-reconciliation-in-africa.php
Kasali, Musiande David
Rector (President), Christian Bilingual University of
Congo (UCBC)
Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo
contact@congoinitiative.org
Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies
University of the Free State
Bloemfontein, South Africa
http://traumareconcil.ufs.ac.za/
UN Office of the Special Advisor for Africa
New York, New York, USA
http://www.un.org/africa/osaa/ngodirectory
Humanity, Nature and Agency, in African Context
Wiredu, Kwasi
Emeritus Distinguished University Professor of
Philosophy, University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida, USA
kwiredu@usf.edu
Religious Freedom and the Rule of Law in Africa
Accra Charter of Religious Freedom and Citizenship
c/o Overseas Ministry Study Center
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
http://www.oxfordstudies.org/charter-intro.html
Koopman, Nico
Professor and Dean, Faculty of Theology, University of
Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch, South Africa
nkoopman@sun.ac.za
Religious Freedom Project
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs,
Georgetown University
Washington, DC, USA
http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/rfp
Sanneh, Lamin
D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World
Christianity
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
lamin.sanneh@yale.edu
International Association for the Promotion of
Christian Higher Education (IAPCHE)
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
http://iapche.org/wordpress/
Positive Psychology in African Contexts
Aina, O. I.
Professor, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Obafemi
Awolowo University
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
http://www.oauife.edu.ng/
Alao, Amos Adeboye
Head of Psychology Department, Covenant University
Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria
amos.alao@covenantuniversity.edu.ng
Ogunkola, E. Olawale
Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ibadan
Ibadan, Nigeria
waleogunkola@yahoo.com
Optentia
University of the North-West
Potchefstroom, South Africa
http://www.optentia.co.za/index.php
Science, Health, Technology, and Creation Care
All-Africa Council of Churches (AACC)
Nairobi, Kenya
http://www.aacc-ceta.org/
Chepkwony, Adam Kiplangat
Professor of Religion, Moi University
Eldoret, Kenya
http://www.mu.ac.ke/arts/
Cochrane, James
Professor of Religious Studies, University of Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa
cochrane@socsci.uct.ac.za
Conradie, Ernst M.
Professor, Religion and Theology Department
University of the Western Cape
Belleville, South Africa
econradie@uwc.ac.za
Green Belts Movement Kenya
Aisha Karanja, Executive Director
Nairobi, Kenya
http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/who-we-are
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107
International Religious Health Assets Programme
(IRHAP)
University of Cape Town
School of Public Health and Family Medicine
Cape Town, South Africa
http://www.arhap.uct.ac.za/index.php
Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA)
World Council of Churches
Geneva, Switzerland
http://www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/
hivaids-initiative-in-africa
Karamaga, André
General Secretary, All-Africa Council of Churches
(AACC)
Nairobi, Kenya
k.andre@aacc-ceta.org
Maluleke, Tinyiko
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Johannesburg
Johannesburg, South Africa
xihosana@yahoo.co.uk
School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, University
of KwaZulu Natal
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
http://srpc.ukzn.ac.za/Homepage.aspx
Tiénou, Tite
Co-Provost, Professor of Theology of Mission, Trinity
Evangelical Divinity School
Deerfield, Illinois, USA
ttienou@tiu.edu
Warmback, Andrew
Archdeacon of Pinetown and Rector of St. John the
Baptist
University of KwaZulu Natal
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
brendan@dionatal.org.za
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Christian Theology: Engaging African Realities
Engaging Africa
Selected Bibliography
I. African Higher Education
African Universities
Bawa, Ahmed. “South African Higher Education: At the
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Index
Abubakre, `Deremi, 44
“Accra Charter on Religious Freedom and Citizenship,”
71
Accrediting Council for Theological Education in
Africa (ACTEA), 72
Adejumo, A. O., 75
Adogame, Afe, 45
Adoyo, Priscilla, 64
AFER (African Ecclesiastical Review), 53
Africa, 6
“African-instituted” churches, 42
“brain drain” from, 10, 39, 46, 98
diversity of Christian religions in, 13
number of African professionals living abroad, 31
number of Christians in (1900, 1970, and 2014),
13
political instability in, 8
research and scholarship concerning, 7
See also Africa, universities of; East Africa; North
Africa; sub-Saharan Africa; West Africa
Africa, universities of, 7, 8–13, 30, 74, 91
financial cuts to in the 1970s and 1980s, 8
founding of new Christian universities, 16
importance of partnerships to, 11
laboratories of, 12
libraries of, 12
number of colleges and universities in Africa, 8
“privatizing” measures in, 11
shortage of published materials at, 10
tertiary enrollments at, 9
total student enrollment in Africa, 8
See also theological education, in Africa
Africa Development, 33
Africa Peace Mission, 64
Africa Theological Journal, 53
African Anthropologies: History, Critique and Practice
(Ntarangwi, Babiker, and Mills), 17n39, 20
African Anthropologist, 19, 20, 33
African Areopagus Society, 77
African Association for the Study of Religions (AASR),
46
122
Engaging Africa
African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of
Disputes (ACCORD), 66
African Christian theology, 20
African Instituted Churches (AICs), 84, 85, 89, 92
African Journal on Conflict Resolution, 66–67
African Journal of International Affairs, 33
African Journals Online (AJOL), 7, 17, 21, 28
African Protestantism, 49
African Religious Health Assets Program (ARHAP), 79
African Sociological Review, 33, 36
African studies, 37–41
intellectual challenges of, 40
African Studies Association (ASA), 38
African Studies Review, 38
African Theological Initiative, 89, 100
“African Values,” 20, 57–60, 89–90
“African traditional values,” 58–59, 87
“Africanists,” 40
Afrika Zamani, 33
“Afro-pessimism,” 39
AJET (African Journal of Evangelical Theology), 53
All Africa Council of Churches (AACC), 54–55, 71
environmental conferences held by, 82
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 11n20
anthropology, African, 17–20, 25
“Africanist” approach to, 18–19
centrality of Africa in the development of
anthropology, 17–18
persistence of through critical attacks and
theoretical debates, 19
practicality of African anthropologists’ approach
to anthropology, 18
research opportunities in, 20
status of in Africa today, 19–20
Appiah, Kwame, 40
Ashforth, Adam, 40n109
Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA), 52, 53
Association for Pentecostal Theological Education in
Africa (APTEA), 72
Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher
Education, 74
Association of Theological Institutions in East Africa
(ATIEA), 72
Association of Theological Institutions in Southern
and Central Africa (ATISCA), 72
ATLA (American Theological Library Association)
research database, 6, 15, 53
Azikiwe University, 45
Babalola, Sunday Samson, 75
Banana, Canaan, 45
Banda, Joyce, 30
Bediako, Kwame, 48
Beyers Naude Centre for Public Theology, 72, 83
Biafran War, 42
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 79
Bishop Tucker Theological College, 16
Boko Haram, 70
Cameroon, 21
Canada, 30
“Carnegie Commission on the Poor White Problem,”
35
Carnegie Corporation, 11n20, 35
African Diaspora Fellowship program of, 98–99
Carpenter, Joel, 5
Catholic Faculties of Kinshasa, 55
Catholic Institute of West Africa, 55
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, 64
Catholic University of Central Africa, 55
Catholic University of East Africa, 11, 53, 55
Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), 66
Centre for the Study of Reconciliation and Violence,
65
character formation curricula and assessment, 73–74,
91
Chepkwony, Adam Kiplangat arap, 77
Chitando, Ezra, 41–42, 45, 46, 80, 87, 90
Christian Bilingual University, 65
“Christian discipleship,” 92
Christianity, 6, 42, 43, 48, 60, 61
African Christianity as “a mile wide and an inch
deep,” 90
dynamic nature of in Africa, 13
growth of in Africa, 42
positive effect of, 69
Church of the Lord (Aladura), 85
Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, 72,
81
Cochrane, James, 79
CODESRIA Bulletin, 33
communalism, African, 57
Congo/Belgian Congo, 26
Conjé, Geoffrey, 35
Conradie, Ernst, 80, 82–82
“consultancy hustlers,” 32
Council for the Development of Social Science in
Africa (CODESRIA), 19, 32, 39, 40, 54, 99, 101
current projects of, 34
mandates of, 34
origins of, 33
publications of, 33, 36
research monographs of, 34–35
research program of on “Children and Youth in
Africa,” 100
research working groups of, 34
specific steps used by in the promotion of
collaborative research, 97
Covenant University, 11, 22, 75
Cox, James, 45
creation care, 80–83, 93
Christian ecological theology in South Africa,
82–83
obstacles facing environmental stewardship
initiatives, 80
role of indigenous practices in sustainable
development, 81
as “sustainable development,” 81
de Gruchy, Steve, 80, 83
Department of Dialogue in Religion and Science
(United Religious Initiative), 77
Dialogue in Religion and Science (DSR), 77
Dube, Musa, 51, 90
DuBois, W. E. B., 47
East Africa, 49
East Africa Social Science Research Review, 33
EBSCO research database, 6
Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA),
80, 87
Egypt, 13
election, doctrine of, 68n196
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
123
“Engaging Africa” project, future steps for, 99–101
“African Agency” initiative, 100, 101
“African Realities, African Hope” initiative, 100
Ethiopia, 13
Evangelical Church of West Africa, 49
exchange students, 12
Ford Foundation, 11n20, 31, 33
forgiveness and reconciliation studies, African, 63–67,
90
in South Africa, 65–66
Francophone Africa, 89
educational policies of, 42
and the “Negritude” movement, 47
Ghana, 10, 21, 22
Gifford, Paul, 45
globalization, 71
Gobodo-Madikizela, Pumla, 66
grant-making, recommendations for JTF, IF, and other
grant-making institutions, 5, 95
grant-making should encourage the
involvement of diaspora African scholars,
98–99
grant-making should favor already existing and
proven African agencies, 99
grant-making should favor collaborative and
developmental projects, 96–97
grant-making should focus on “African Agency,”
96
grant-making should focus on “African Realities
and African Hope,” 95–96
grant-making should not favor European- or
North American-based African scholars, 98
grant-making specifics for South African
institutions, 97–98
JTF should establish an “African desk” for overall
goals and priorities, 99
Green Belts Movement, 82
Gyekye, Kwame, 27
Hackett, Rosalind, 46
Hallencreutz, Carl, 45
Handbook of Theological Education in Africa (Phiri and
Werner), 15n34
“Harmony Restoration Therapy,” 24
Hastings, Adrian, 45
124
Engaging Africa
health/healing issues, 77–80, 92–93
types of healers in Africa, 77–78
use of traditional healers instead of Western
medical practices, 78, 92
HIV/AIDS, 11, 32, 36, 37, 52, 68, 73, 78, 90
courses concerning HIV/AIDS in the curricula of
theological institutions, 79–80
theologians working for the prevention and
treatment of, 92–93
See also Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in
Africa (EHAIA)
Hountondji, Paulin, 26, 27
Howell, Alison, 62
Human Development Resource Center, 24
human nature and agency, African context of, 67–69,
90–91
Human Sciences Research Council, 35, 37
Idowu, Bolaji, 26, 42, 48
Ife Centre for Psychological Studies/Service, 75
IFE PsychologIA, 75
Ilorin Journal of Religious Studies, 45
Ilorin University, 22
inculturation, 20
India, 8n6
individualism, 23
Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, 65
Institute of Leadership, Applied Science and Human
Security (ILASH), 77
International Association for the History of Religions,
46
International Association for the Promotion of
Christian Higher Education (IAPCHE), 77, 91
International Development Research Centre (IDRC),
33
International Missionary Council, 13
International Monetary Fund (IMF), 8, 9
International Religious Health Assets Programme
(IRHAP), 78–79
Invention of Africa, The (Mudimbe), 40
Islam, 6, 43–44, 45
radicalization of, 42, 69
Issachar Fund (IF), 4–5, 4n3, 76, 93
See also grant-making, recommendations for JTF,
IF, and other grant-making institutions
Janz, Bruce, 25
Jesus of Africa (Stinton), 49
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,
11n20
John Templeton Foundation (JTF), 4–5, 63, 67, 69, 72,
79, 92, 93
emphasis of on research for the sake of “progress
in theology,” 84
funding interests of, 94–95
geographical distribution of grants made by, 4
grants to African Christian universities, 74
grants made through the Metanexus Institute,
76–77
See also grant-making, recommendations for JTF,
IF, and other grant-making institutions
Journal of African Christian Thought, 53, 62
Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 33
Journal of Islamic Studies, 45
Journal of Philosophy and Culture, 28
Journal of Religion in Africa, 42, 46
Journal of Religion and Human Relations, 45
Journal for the Study of Religion, 45
Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 45, 53
JStor research database, 6, 15
Kagame, Alexis, 26, 48
Karamaga, Andre, 54–55
Kasali, Musiande David, 65
Katho, Robert Bungishabaku, 65
Kato, Byang, 49
Kenya, 77
Kenyatta, Jomo, 18
Kilonzo, Susan, 64
Kimbanguist Church (Congo), 85
Kresge Foundation, 11n20
La Philosophie Bantoue (Bantu Philosophy [Tempels]),
26, 48
Liberian National Students Union, 64
Louw, Johann, 24
Lutz, David, 59
Maathai, Wangari, 28
Madu, Raphael, 28
Mafico, Temba, 45
Makerere University, 8, 42
financial crisis at, 9
Makinde, Moses Akin, 28
Malawi, 30
Maluleke, Tinyiko, 50, 51, 86
on agency as a theme for theology, 90–91
on women theologians, 86–87
Mano River Women’s Peace Network, 65
MAP International, 79–80
Mapadimeng, Mokong Simon, 35
Mbabazi, Isaac, 64
Mbiti, John, 26, 42, 48, 50
Mbugua, Judy, 52, 53
Metanexus Institute, 76–77
Meyer, Birgit, 62
Missionalia, 53
Mkandawire, Thankdika, 39
“modern project,” the, 68
Moi University, 77
Mpyangu, Christine Mbabazi, 64
Mudimbe, V. Y., 40
Mugambi, Jesse, 50, 71
Murray, Michael, 5
Mwaura, Philomena, 51
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, 4,
100
research efforts on fields of inquiry, 5–6
research methodology of, 6–7, 7n4
Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology, 65
neo-liberalism, 71
Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 33
“new spiritual information,” 60, 92, 100
Ngumi, Godfrey, 72n208
Nigeria, 9, 22, 28, 43, 61, 70
“brain drain” from Nigeria to the United States,
10
growth of chartered private institutions in, 10–11
Islamic parties in, 71
Nigerian Anthropological and Sociological
Association, 31
Nigerian Association for the Study and Teaching of
Religion and the Natural Sciences, 77
Nigerian Philosophical Association, 28
Nkrumah, Kwame, 18
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
125
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 11, 31, 32,
35, 70
NGOs pursuing sustainable development goals,
82
peacemaking NGOs, 64–65, 66–67
pro-democracy NGOs, 36
NORAD program (Norway), 10, 33
North Africa, 8n9
Nsamenang, A. Bame, 21
on cognitive development in children, 24
on psychology as an ethnocentric science, 23–24
Ntarangwi, Mwenda, 100
Nürnberger, Klaus, 83
Nyamiti, Charles, 48
on the three phases of African theology, 87–88
Nyerere, Julius, 25
familial socialism (Ujamaa) of, 25
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), 22, 28, 75
Oduyoye, Mercy, 51
Ogbomoso Journal of Theology, 53
Okaalet, Peter, 79
Okere, Theophilus, 28
Oladipo, Olesugun, 27
Olowu, Akinsola, 75
Olupona, Jacob, 42, 43, 46
Oluwole, Sophie, 27
Optentia Research Focus Area (University of the
North-West), 76, 91–92
Organization of African Instituted Churches’
Department of Theology, 72
Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern
Africa (OSSREA), 32, 54
mission statement of, 32
publications of, 33
research programs supported by, 33
Orientalism (Said), 40
Orita, Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies, 46
Oruka, Odera, 26–27
Pan African Anthropological Association (PAAA), 19,
20
Pan African Christian Womens Alliance (PACWA), 52
aims of, 52
Pan-Africanist intellectuals, 47
Parrinder, Geoffrey, 42
126
Engaging Africa
Partnership for Higher Education, 11
p’Bitek, Okot, 42
Pentecostalism, African, 61
Perez Chapel, 14
Perry Center for Peace, Security and Development, 65
Pew Charitable Trusts, 89, 100
Philosophical Association of Kenya, 28
philosophy, African, 25–29
ambiguity in the meaning of philosophy itself, 25
debate concerning the “ethnophilosophical”
approach to, 26–27
hermeneutical approach to, 27–28
institutional conditions of, 28
linguistic-analytical approach to, 27
meaning and mission of “African philosophy,”
25–26
in South Africa, 29
Phiri, Isabel, 51
Platvoet, Jan, 45
“Primal Religion as the Spiritual Undercarriage of
Christianity,” 62
Prozesky, Martin, 45
psychology, African, 21–25
as an ethnocentric science, 23–24
and the issue of how to “Africanize” psychology,
23, 24–25
number of academic journals concerning, 21–22
positive psychology in an African context, 74–76,
91–92
slow development of psychology as a discipline
in Africa, 21
in South Africa, 22–23
types of academic journals concerning, 28–29
Quest, 28
rationalism, 23
Redeemer University, 75
religion, 25
and science, 76–77, 92
Religion and Scientific Promoters Among the Youth
in Uganda, 77
religious freedom, and the rule of law in Africa,
69–74, 91
Religious Freedom Project, 69
religious studies, African, 41–47, 61
difference of from programs in Europe and North
America, 44
interest of in the study of Islam, 43–44
as a product of Anglophone Africa, 42
in South Africa, 44–45
Rockefeller Foundation, 11n20
grants of to Africa, 8–9
Roman Catholicism, 13, 55
and traditional healers, 92
Said, Edward, 40
Sanneh, Lamin, 5, 45, 71, 91, 100
Sawyerr, Harry, 48
science. See religion, and science
secularism, 23
Sefa-Dedeh, Araba, 74
Senegal, 30
Senghor, Leopold, 25
embrace of “Negritude” by, 25
Setiloane, Gabriel, 50
sex education, 73
Sindima, Harvey, 47
social sciences/sociology, African, 29–37, 39, 92
affinity of with non-aligned socialist ideologies,
30
during the “lost years” of the 1980s and 1990s,
30–31
funding for, 31–32
origins of, 29–30
salaries of social science professors, 31
in South Africa, 35–37
Society in Transition, 36
Socio-Economic Data Centre, Ltd., 32
Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy, 28
South Africa, higher education system of, 12–13
and Christian ecological theology, 82–83
educational reputation of, 13
emergence of from the apartheid era, 12
journal publications of, 53–54
number of universities providing psychology
majors, 22
religious studies in, 44–45
social sciences in, 35–37
South African Journal of Philosophy, 29
South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
(TRC), 65, 66
Southern African Political Economy Series (SAPES), 35
Southern African Sociological Review, 36
spirituality, African (traditional and contemporary),
60–62, 90
St. Paul’s Theological College, 16
St. Paul’s University, 16
Stellenbosch University, 12, 15, 35, 83
STEM (science, technology, engineering,
mathematics), 37
Stinton, Diane, 49, 62
Student Christian Movement of Liberia, 65
sub-Saharan Africa, 6, 17, 23, 77
diminished religious freedom in, 71
NGOs in, 11
Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA),
33
TEAR Fund, 79
technology, impact of on humans, 83–84, 93
Tempels, Placide, 26, 48
Templeton, Jack, 4
Templeton, John, 4, 101
theological education, in Africa, 13–16
Catholic institutions and networks for, 55
contrast between Catholic and Protestant
financial support for, 14–15
founding of new Christian universities in Africa,
16
number of theological schools in Africa, 13–14
post-apartheid South African university faculties
of theology, 15–16
public theology in Africa, 72n208
student-faculty ratios in pastoral studies
institutions, 14
theological faculties in universities, 14
theological library conditions, 14
See also individually listed academic disciplines
Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity
127
theological studies, African, 47–56
approaches to Christology, 49, 88
criticism of the indigenizing theologians from
the left, 49–50
inspiration for the rise of, 48
publication network of, 53–54
and the rise of African women theologians,
51–53, 86–87
service centers of, 54–55
and the “Theology of Reconstruction,” 50–51
theology, Christian, 84–89
Christology, 49, 88
ecclesiology, 88
inculturation theology, 88
liberationist theologians, 85, 85nn245–246
Pentecostal movements, 85
theology of African Christian agency, 87, 90–91
three phases of African theology, 87–88
women theologians, 86–87
Thought and Practice, 28
Tienou, Tite, 84, 89, 100
on the items necessary to sustain a scholarly
enterprise, 88–89
Tinkasiimire, Therese, 64
Turner, Henry W., 47
Tutu, Desmond, 49
Ubuntu, 59
South African concept of, 57
Uganda Christian University, 16
UNAIDS, 79
United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on
Africa, 64, 70, 73, 82
United States, 30
African studies programs in, 37–38
University of Calabar, 28
University of Cape Coast, 28
University of Cape Town, 12, 35, 76, 79
University of Daar es Salaam, 8
University of East Africa Project, 8
University of the Free State, 66
University of Ghana, 11–12, 21, 42, 44
number of psychology majors at, 22
128
Engaging Africa
University of Ibadan, 22, 30, 42, 75
University of Jos, 43
University of KwaZulu Natal, 15
School of Religion and Theology of, 82, 83, 93
University of Leiden, 28
University of Nairobi, 8, 42
University of Nigeria at Enugu, 24
University of Nigeria at Nsukka, 30, 42
University of the North-West, 76, 91
University of Pretoria, 35
University of South Africa (UNISA), 15, 76
UNISA Press, 29
University of the Western Cape (UWC), 82
University of Witwatersrand, 76
University of Yaounde, 21
University of Zambia, 28
University of Zimbabwe, 41
USAID, 10
van der Merwe, Hendrik, 66
Villa-Vicencio, Charles, 50, 71
Walls, Andrew, 42
Warmback, Andrew, 83
Washington, Booker T., 47
West Africa, 43, 49
West African Association of Theological Institutions
(WAATI), 72
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 11n20
Wiredu, Kwasi, 27, 68
Word Miracle Ministerial College, 14
World Alliance of Reformed Churches’ Accra
Confession (2004), 51
World Bank, 8, 9, 31
World Council of Churches (WCC), 80
World Health Organization (WHO), 79
WorldCat research database, 6
Zambia, 21, 52
Zeleza, Paul Tiyambe, 30, 32, 38, 39, 40, 41n111
Zimbabwe, tree plantings in, 82
Zion Christian Church (South Africa), 85
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