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http://ast.sagepub.com Doing Theology from the Perspective of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians
Esther Mombo Journal of Anglican Studies 2003; 1; 91 DOI: 10.1177/174035530300100106 The online version of this article can be found at: http://ast.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/1/1/91
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popularly known as ’the Circle’ begun in 1989. Oduyoye.sagepub.A. All rights reserved. Theological and Ministerial Formation for Women. These come under four general headings: Biblical and Cultural Hermeneutics.A. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. Downloaded from http://ast. The Circle and its methodology is set within the ecumenical and multi-faith context of its membership. Oduyoye and Musimbi R. Kanyoro (eds. In her article ’The Search for a Two Winged Theology: Women’s Participation in the Development of Theology in Africa’.1 (2003) 91-103] ISSN 1740-3553 Doing Theology from the Perspective of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians Esther Mombo academicdean@stpaulslimuru. Religion in Pluralistic Cultures. and Women in Religion.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. says that ’we live on the same continent and belong to the same church but the reality is that there are many Africas-the Africa of the rich and the Africa of the poor. pp.). Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. The range of studies undertaken by its members is reviewed here. in M. the Africa of men who command and that of women who obey. 27-48 (27).ac.UAS 1. . M. which focuses on the stories of women and religion in Africa. 1990). and the issues they raise for theological discussion. This paper looks at the 1. The Circle sets out to recreate and retrieve women’s stories so that they become an integral part of the story of the Church and of Africa as a whole. Mercy Amba Oduyoye. ’The Search for a Two Winged Theology: Women’s Participation in the Development of Theology in Africa: The Inaugural Address’.’1 It is against this context that the Circle was created to recreate and retrieve women’s stories so that they can become an integral part of the story of the church and of Africa as a whole.A. Talitha Qumi! Proceedings of the Convocation of African Women Theologians 1989 (Ibadan: Daystar Press.ke ABSTRACT The paper introduces the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. talking on behalf of African women theologians.
. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists as well as Charismatics. Christianity and the indigenous African religions living peacefully together in a common household. With such variations. the Ecumenical Association of African Theologians (EAAT).com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30.sagepub. which is very typical of inter-religious relationships in a typical African ’extended family’ at the grass root level.92 Journal of Anglican Studies Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (popularly known as the Circle) in relation to the issues they raise for theological discussion. are not always relevant to their day-to-day Downloaded from http://ast. The Circle is unique because it has adopted a pragmatic model. and indeed some other religious systems. In much the same way the members from different religious traditions have come together to form the Circle to struggle together for just and humane systems. the fact that the founding members belonged to EATWOT is very crucial to the general methodology of the Circle. Islam and indigenous African religions. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. The Circle was inaugurated at Trinity College of Theology. there should be a convergence between theory and practice and that such theology should also be from the perspective of the poor and the oppressed. Among the Christian members there are Catholics. Irrespective of religious differences they live and struggle for the basic human needs and for survival. Members of the Circle include women who belong to Christianity. there are bound to be variations in the theology of the Circle in terms of content and methodology. oppressed and poor and that some forms of Christianity presented by the West. Liberals. In many African societies it is very common and normal to find within the extended family. It is an ecumenical and interfaith body of African women theologians tracing their background to such organizations as the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT). However. members who belong to Islam. Ghana in 1989. Conservatives. There are women with university degrees in theology and religious studies and women with only basic education in religious knowledge. what are the underlying elements in the Circle? Given the complexity of experiences and identities of the members of the Circle. All rights reserved. the Circle is different from the other ecumenical bodies whose membership is predominantly Christian. Legon. the underlying assumptions that in any relevant theology. However. Protestants. The Circle shares with EATWOT as well as African theology. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. The Circle is heterogeneous and this makes it different from other theological movements such as EATWOT whose members are predominantly Christian. and the Conference of African Theological Institutions (CATI). near Accra. marginalized. particularly women from the south are the most exploited. The assumption here is that persons.
and again in August 2002 in Addis-Ababa under the theme ’Sex. economic. All rights reserved. But Circle members critique their northern sisters for not taking the issue of class and race into consideration. even though they are from different religious traditions they all agree that it is evil to rape women or let women go through rituals such as female circumcision (also known as clitoridectomy or female genital mutilation) which has devastating effects on women. members of the Circle begin the critique of their various contexts with critical reflections on their experiences as women. With such consciousness. political and social as well as the religious realities of their varying situations. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust.Mombo Concerned African Women Theologians 93 struggles. face daily and that the struggle for equal rights and opportunities must include African American men as well. which unites members of the Circle. From this perspective.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. however. In each country or region there is a chapter and the Kenyan Chapter to which some of us belong is most active.sagepub. one can argue that the Circle movement is not a novel or an imperialist ideology from the West. rather than feminist. then. The Circle writings that continue to grow in number bring to light the fact that male-dominated structures and systems place the majority of women in disadvantaged positions. Thus. the members of the Circle relentlessly question and challenge power structures or systems and searches for renewed societies and relationships in which both women and men treat each other with dignity and respect. one can arguably say that the Circle has a commonality with the feminist theologies from the north. Downloaded from http://ast. both men and women. The proceedings of each conference are always published for a wider readership. Starting from critical analysis of the cultural. More importantly. The Circle members aim at studying and writing theology from their various situations. Culture and Social Practices’. Stigma and HIV/AIDS: African Women Challenging Religion. . respect and full participation in the activities of the society and in religion. the need to rediscover the dignity and respect of humanity is the basic aim of the Circle of the Concerned African Women Theologians and this is a crucial factor. In a way. The continental conference in 19% was held in Nairobi. Unlike men in contextual and liberation theology. women are denied of their dignity. The Circle has met in conferences throughout the continent and the proceedings of these conferences have been published. Thus the Circle members would prefer to identify themselves with the womanist. The Circle members would insist that racism and class structures are realities which African Americans. For example. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. members are constantly searching for new models and visions for relevant theologies. struggles to reflect the inclusive nature of their struggles.
from problem-analysis to problem-solving. Phyllis Trible. their needs. Each of these commissions deals with a particular topic or theme and arrives at a publication. ’Feminist Hermeneutics and Biblical Studies’. The Circle also disseminates its information through a yearly journal called AMKA. 1990). Mosala has taken pains to give a critique of both the social-scientific and historical-critical methods before approaching the subject of biblical hermeneutics from a materialistic-subjective point of view.their problems.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. pp. Feminist Theology: A Reader (London: SPCK. First. I. male chauvinistic system of oppression. their anxieties.). 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust.). Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. See his ’From Privatized to Popular Biblical Hermeneutics in Africa’. which focuses on bibliographies and historiographies of women and religion in Africa. from the descriptive to the normative.3 Western feminists would even challenge the traditional understanding of the Bible as the revealed Word of God.focus than it was before. Another African scholar. Only the focus has now shifted . It is in this context that we look at hermeneutics from the perspective of gender from the Circle. and Women in Religion. This new approach has been readily embraced by liberation theologians in their quest for reading and understanding the Bible in a manner that can liberate women and men from oppression on the basis of gender. Mosala. Laurenti Magesa has put forward his defence of a socio-centric biblical hermeneutics against what he calls ’a privatized’ hermeneutics. the Bible today is under greater . the Bible has to be understood and interpreted in terms of the readers’ specific situations .2 Thus.and sharper . pp. Loades (ed. .94 Journal of Anglican Studies The Circle writings appear in the four commissions on Biblical and Cultural Hermeneutics. This is in marked contrast with certain Western feminists who have wondered whether the Bible could ever liberate women from a patriarchal. Theological and Ministerial Formation for Women. the Circle theologians favour a restored focus on the Bible. 23-29 (23).W. in A. Downloaded from http://ast. Some of the writings from the Circle are discussed below.M.from the objective to the subjective. All rights reserved. from ’pure’ to ’applied’. Waliggo (eds. The Bible in African Christianity: Essays in Biblical Theology (Nairobi: Acton. 1989). Rapids. the currently popular approach to biblical interpretation may be termed as ’reader-centred’. Religion in Pluralistic Cultures. Mosala who is duly sensitive to the methodological issues underlying the hermeneutic problem. Kinoti and J. ’How can the Bible be the Word of God if it legitimises and com2. A Restored Focus on the Bible If anything. 3. Now.J. in H. race and class.sagepub. Biblical Hermeneutics and Black Theology in South Africa (Grand MI: Eerdmans. 1997). 25-39. Here I should like to single out the name of Itumeleng J.
sagepub. Okure.6 For instance. For while the former embodies timeless truth for our salvation.8 make reference to publications like Searching the Scriptures (in two volumes). I. Bread Not Stone: The Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation (Boston: Beacon Press. This approach has distinctive characteristics of inclusiveness.~ Writing about feminist interpretations in Africa Teresa Okure notes that: African women’sdistinctive approach to Biblical interpretation is doing theology from women’sperspective. 177-88. a biblical scholar. 8.). London: SCM Press. in E. Trible. Searching the Scriptures (2 vols. it also includes both scholars and non-scholars. it takes note of both men and women in interpreting scripture.322 (1992). the creation and popular methods. On the contrary the phrase implies no rebuke but rather is part of Mary’s commissioning. pp.’4 Phyllis Trible in her Texts of Terror highlights the biblical 5 stories of the abuse. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. 5. the latter inculcates practices that are socio-culturally conditioned.5 Although women from the Circle are aware of what the women from the West are saying and writing about the Bible. 1985). 17a) implies pollution would result from Jesus being touched by a woman.11-18 she rejects the interpretation that the phrase’do not touch me’ (v.Mombo Concerned African Women Theologians 95 mands female suppression? Is it not shown to be merely the fallible words of men? If we proclaim that oppressive patriarchal texts are the Word of God.). . pp. International Review of Mission 81. 1993-94). Teresa Okure. in her study of Jn 20. tries to distinguish timely truth in the Bible from its cultural underpinnings: Rereading the Bible as a patriarchal book demands that sustained efforts be made to discern between the divine and the human elements in it..ssler Fiorenza (ed. a collection of essays from around the world. Okure.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. 6. ’Women in the Bible’. rape. 1984). Texts of Terror: Literary-feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives (Philadelphia : Fortress Press. 7. p. the rich and the poor. with significant discussions by feminist hermeneutists from the we In this context 4. P. in V. NY: Orbis Books. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. All rights reserved. T. E. Oduyoye (eds. it is also inclusive of the scientific. T. Schussler Fiorenza. Fabella and M. 56. Downloaded from http://ast. Schü. 76-85 (77). Okure. ’The Significance Today of Jesus’ Commission to Mary Magdalene’. ’Feminist Interpretations in Africa’.A. then we proclaim God as the God of oppression and dehumanisation. murder and dismemberment of women. With Passion and Compassion: Third World Women Doing Theology (Maryknoll. hence inapplicable universally. 1988). T. p. xiii. they examine the issue of biblical authority from their own reality.
Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. During the Bible sessions it became clear to us that for women to find justice and peace through the texts of the Bible. are saved or held up as beloved of God or at least are empowered to grow at the fundaments of the structures of injustice until these fundaments cave in on themselves. Musimbi Kanyoro noted that: The Bible is a message of liberation for African women.sagepub. NY: Orbis Books. women will need to read the Scriptures side by side with the study of cultures and learn to recognize the boundaries between the two. M.96 Journal of Anglican Studies a south. 52-53. seems to be that the Bible as such is not so much an instrument of oppression of women. Even before the inauguration of the Circle. vested with ulterior motives. Secondly. Rather that comes from a lopsided interpretation of the Bible. they have to try and recover the women participants as well as their possible participation in the life of the text. had argued: who feels the weight of sexism I cannot but go again and the stories of the exodus. much as it is also used to deny their freedom. 1986). The second volume of this work features the argument that patriarchy led to the suppression and exclusion of womenempowering texts from the canon.l0 The major thrust of Oduyoye and Kanyoro. These narratives have been for me the bearer of Good news. Women will need to sincerely claim Biblical liberation without being apologetic to the culture set-up in which the message of the Biblical passage has to find its audience today. the eminent African feminist. critiquing patriarchal methods. Such recognition will help women to interpret biblical passages within the proper hermeneutical understanding of ourselves and our contexts as Christian women. which rejects the Bible. Kanyoro. 9. exile and to other biblical motifs in which ’the least’ are recognised and affirmed. and suggesting appropriate ways forward. M. All rights reserved. p. 10. The volume highlights some of these texts. women do not Oduyoye. . 147.) Talitha Qumi!.A. pp. ’Bible Studies at the Convocation’. Downloaded from http://ast. Hearing and Knowing: Theological Reflections on Christianity in Africa (Maryknoll. The volume contains record of the development of feminist interpretation. Therefore. in the above-cited statements.9 During the inauguration of the Circle. In their writing the Circle members have parted ways with the Western neo-Marcionite radicalism.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. and also attempts to recover a tradition of Sophia submerged in the canon. Professor Mercy Amba Oduyoye. Therefore in spite of entrenched patriarchal and ethnocentric propositions of the Bible. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. in Oduyoye and Kanyoro (eds. it is a book I cannot dispense with and indeed may not since I remain in the Christian community and that community means more to me than my As a woman again to personal hurts.
M. really need 11. Hence one should not be surprised to find a 20-page Appendix to the Circle publication Transforming Power. 20. This method takes note of the various groups of women from the grassroots to the academics.sagepub. 12. All rights reserved. M.). It confronts the imperialism of historical and contemporary times. 14. which takes the context of the reader seriously. because they alone can afford to be impartial. p. and Margaret A. Circle members who are biblical scholars have added to the literature on the Bible through a number of publications. male and middle-class academics. Postcolonial Feminist Interpretaion of the Bible (Missouri: Chalice Press. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. 2001). ’Feminist Interpretations in Africa’. Dube (ed. pp. 50-60. Okure.12 In the volume Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible. is a postcolonial book laden with the postcolonial burdens and challenges. p. Nyambura Njoroge’s exposition of 1 Samuel 1 and 2 from a Kenyan woman’s perspective. containing a comprehensive list of biblical texts pertaining to women’s contexts. 2000). which literally means non-committal 14 The readercentred method of hermeneutics is not only used for the Bible but also in other aspects of society. . 3. Downloaded from http://ast. Other Ways of Reading the Bible: African Women and the Bible (Geneva: WCC. Umeagudosu’s exposition of the biblical theme of ’The Earth Belongs to God’ from a Nigerian woman’s perspective are further examples of African feminists’ ardent interest in the Bible.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. 13.11 In the book Postcolonial Feminist Reading of the Bible Dube argues that the Bible cannot be discussed in isolation from other disciplines. Circle members engage the patriarchy of African cultures. The Bible. 2001). she says. Musa Dube introduces a postcolonial method of reading the Bible.l3 For these writers a reader-centred approach to the Bible is the appropriate method rather than the historical-critical method. The way of doing this is through storytelling because of its significance in the African societies and the impact it has on women. which is said to suit white. in M. Dube.’ Fifty Years of Bleeding: A Storytelling Feminist Reading of Mark 5:24-43’.Mombo Concerned African Women Theologians 97 liberation from the Bible as such but from an oppressive interpretation of the Bible. Other Ways of Reading: African Women and the Bible (Atlanta. Dube. In more recent times. In line with a ’reader centred’ approach. p. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. M. 76. Dube. the Bible and colonial masters. GA: SBL. exposing its impact on women’s lives and its link with patriarchy.
Only . pp. nor a blind apology for it (as. 17. 1996). I call it ’an objective critique’ simply because the Circle writers have neither advocated a complete rejection of African culture. the Circle writers have also sought to recover the positive aspects of African culture. in her paper entitled ’The Grandmother in the African Traditional Household: 15. Hazel O. another Kenyan Circle writer. 18. Kanyoro. ’Violence against Women in African Oral Literature as Portrayed in Proverbs’ in Wamue and Getui. In an objective vein Kanyoro concedes that there are’ favourable aspects of our culture which enhance the wellbeing of women’. was the case with Negritude enthusiasts). Musimbi Kanyoro. ’Feminist Theology and African Culture’. Grace Wamue. All rights reserved. M. in a paper published in a Circle (Kenya chapter) volume. perhaps. Violence against Women (Nairobi: Acton.’15 Kanyoro then recounts two moving case studies featuring pathetically the women’s plight caused and legitimized by African culture.98 Journal of Anglican Studies An Objective Critique of African Culture A second feature of the Circle writers is seen in an objective critique of African culture. on the one hand the Circle writers have sought to expose the oppressive strands within their native culture. [And] Those aspects which diminish women continue to be practiced [sic] by various degrees by our societies.16 Mary Getui attempted a study of naming ceremonies in her native Abagusii community with special reference to women.). pp. Violence against Women. ’The Status of Women in African Naming Systems’. 13-20. Therefore.such aspects ’have been suppressed. Violence against Women .18 On the other hand. 27-39.unfortunately . in Wamue and Getui. and concluded that’as far as naming and naming process is concerned women are getting a raw deal’. . Getui. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. pp. for example. in Wamue and Getui. Ayanga’s study of tracing violence against women in African oral literature is another instance to illustrate how the Circle writers are concerned about the cultural condoning of women’soppression in Africa.sagepub.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. ’Gender Violence and Exploitation: The Widow’s Dilemma’. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. 4-12 (5). for example. has observed that’culture has silenced many women in Africa and made us unable to experience the liberating promises of God’. often making women objects of cultural preservation. 16.17 Similarly. The Circle writers prefer the same balanced and selective criterion for critiquing the African culture. 40-48. in Grace Wamue and Mary Getui (eds. Violence against Women. Downloaded from http://ast. has highlighted the plight of widows caused by cultural taboos with special reference to her own Agikuyu community. pp. which they adopted for biblical interpretation.
has was Theologians 99 attempted to show that not all African culture oppressive. All rights reserved. Such interfaith partners may be neighbours. Hence the volume Where God Reigns20 contains an article entitled ’Islamic Understanding of Creation: The Place of Woman’ by Rabiatu Ammah. which aimed at regulating the sexual behaviour of boys and girls. or an employee belonging to another faith than your own). and even relatives by marriage. and challenges the members to learn either to convert others to their own faith or to co-exist peacefully with people of other faiths. . Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. socio-economic colleagues (for example.). In line with the above positive appraisal of African culture. Oduyoye (ed. any reflection on the Scriptures. E. 1997). The Circle theologians seem conscious. a grocer.19 Similarly. of their interfaith context. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. Naturally. will require as a prerequisite that the theologian take serious cognizance of the surrounding interfaith context. The Will to Arise. there is at least one article by a Muslim woman.A. Another Circle writer. Downloaded from http://ast. 19. a butcher. the writers on hermeneutics from the Circle have analysed both the Bible and the African cultures in which it is used. In the first volume of the Circle. Elizabeth Amoah. and thus protecting girls against sexual assault. Amoah (ed.Mombo Concerned African Women Lessons for Today’. 96-101. Transforming Power: Women in the Household of God: Proceedings of the Pan African Conference of the Circle (Accra-North: Sam-Woode Limited for Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians. Hannah Kinoti has argued that certain traditional African practices were helpful to the society. has argued that in her native Akan community there was a religious relationship between humanity and nature. Where God Reigns: Reflections on Women in God’s World (Accra: Sam Wood. an employer.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30.sagepub. a milkman. Multi-faith Context The Circle theologians take cognizance of their multi-faith context. She has done this illustrating her case from the Gikuyu practice of Nguiko. pp. to some degree. workmates.). In other cases such a context presents its own difficulties. Women in Asia and Africa exist in a context of religious plurality. women analysed the different situations of women in Africa and how culture was used to determine their position. They do not opt for such a context by their free choice. They just find themselves co-existing with people of other faiths. In M.. 20. or any attempt at doing theology in such a situation. Such a consciousness is indicated from the fact that in almost all their publications. In some cases such an interfaith social context provides a rich opportunity to its members of mutually enriching one another’s faith. 1997).
Violence is a culture-specific phenomenon.). 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. are usually reported in African dailies. 21. She has considered the traditionalist. African traditional religions and atheism. An earlier Circle volume. Nyambura and K. Shaikh’s approach is characterized by an open mind. Anything from hurting someone’s feelings. fundamentalist and modern apto Qur’anic hermeneutics and appears sympathetic to the modem. Groaning in Faith. Cases of school children dying as a result of ’caning’ by a teacher. then it cannot be done in isolation from the sad reality of violence against women. has to make any tangible sense to African women. The contribution is entitled ’The Veil: A Feminist Theological Analysis’. to inflicting grave physical injury could be termed as ’violence’. for example.mildly apologetic. See n. . and read with the apathy of routine life. critical analysis and objective enquiry. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. 1996). unfortunately. Naturally. 19.22 contains a contribution by another Muslim woman writer.21 Ammah’s approach is descriptive and-under- standably .contributions from those belonging to many other faiths and ideologies as well. Gadamer-type of approach to interpret the Holy Qur’an in such a way that it can guide the modem men and women in their current social contexts. and wives sustaining serious injuries as a result of ’being disciplined’ (translated as ’being beaten mercilessly’) by their husbands. or doing theology. Musimbi (eds. 22. therefore. Groaning in Faith: African Women in the Household of God (Nairobi: Acton.sagepub.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. proaches Concern for Violence against Women A third feature of the Circle writers is their avowed concern towards violence against women. it would seem that the Circle might need to include more contributions from its interfaith context .100 Journal of Anglican Studies The same author has contributed an abstract entitled’Women in a MultiFaith Context: A Muslim Perspective’ in another Circle volume entitled Transforming Power. In the African context the term ’violence’ usually refers to inflicting grave physical injury. Downloaded from http://ast. Hinduism. It might connote different meanings in different cultures. N. if reading and interpreting the Bible. Such a modernist hermeneutical approach would facilitate the ’fusing the horizon’ (to use Gadamer’s terminology) of the seventh-century Islamic Arabia with the horizon of the twenty-first-century men and women. Thus. Sa’diyya Shaikh. violence against women is a sad reality of African social life. All rights reserved. While the interfaith orientation of the Circle is highly commendable. reader-response oriented.
Downloaded from http://ast. 23. 2002). 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. it would only be expected that the Kenyan chapter of the Circle devoted an entire volume to violence against women. Where God Reigns (edited by Elizabeth Amoah) and Transforming Power (edited by Mercy Amba Oduyoye). Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. and two similar articles on violence against women by Dinah B.sagepub. Violence against Women. Wamue and Getui (eds. 24. The following year (1997) witnessed the publication of two Circle volumes entitled. Getui. Transforming Power (1997). In 2002 the Circle Kenya chapter produced Conflicts in Africa : A Women’s Response. The above rather rapid bibliographical survey shows how serious the Circle theologians are about the issues of violence and conflicts. Mary N. Abbey-Mensah. Njoroge. The latter Circle volume. Getui and Hazel Ayanga (eds. . Umeh).). The remaining three articles also deal with this theme: ’Rape as a Tool of Violence against Women’ (Margaret Gichaga).). conflicts from the perspectives of women and conflicts as it affects women.A. Conflicts in Africa: A Women’s Response (Nairobi: Faith Institute of Counselling. respectively. All rights reserved.23 I have already mentioned the articles by Ayanga. Kinoti and Wamue appearing in this volume dealing with the theme of violence against women from different perspectives.24 which deals with the theme of conflict. and Eunice Ekundayo.Mombo Concerned African Women In line with the above Theologians 101 legitimate concern.’Women and Widowhood Rituals in Nigeria: The Traditional Igbo Society’ (Angeline U. In her article on secularism and conflicts Ayanga argues that in contemporary Africa there is a marked departure from the sacred/ religion leading to the current conflict sitution in Africa. Okeke).com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. First.’Violence against Women: The Issue of Domestic Violence’ (Veronicah I. The former has a whole section (the entire Part III) devoted to the issue of violence against women. Shisanya) and ’The Church in Africa and Violence against Women’ (Ruth Muthei James). has devoted the following two articles to the issue of violence against women: ’Infant Mortality and Related Religio-Cultural Violence against Women’ (Daisy Mwachuku) and ’The Status of Women in the Traditional African Rites of Passage: The Religion Cultural Roots of Violence against Women’ (Ncumisa Manona). The five articles in this part are entitled as follows: ’Widowhood Beliefs and Practices of the Avatime’ (Rebecca Ganusah). ’A Theological Reflection on Economic Violence against Women’ (Constance R. Kanyoro. In these articles the Circle members discuss conflicts in two dimensions.
Part 2 is devoted to women’s groups. Downloaded from http://ast. First. B. Part 3 of the book is devoted to women leaders of the church. the Circle recognizes that even if women have only a token presence in the committees and councils. women who have been rendered invisible are made visible. such as The Revd Victory Nomvete Mbanjwa who was ordained at the age of 73. the Circle has been concerned with the stories of women in Africa. The last part of the book is about women who are writing about their own journeys of faith in a patriarchal society both in the home and society. All these have been achieved in the midst of cultural constraints and societal and religious prejudices against women. along with other stories. such as the Quaker Women by Esther Mombo. the founder of the Circle. The latest publication Her Stories: Hidden Histories of Women of Faith in are Africa.G. told by Letty Russell.sagepub.102 Journal of Anglican Studies In Search of the Women’s Stories In the light of the invisibility of women in the written story of the church in Africa. Historically women in Africa have founded religious associations and initiated church communities. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. All rights reserved. they have created ministries to make churches effective. Other stories include those of Charlotte Maxeke.25 The faith journeys of these women as individuals and as groups brought to light in order to show that the women have been significant in shaping the story of the church. and the Good Women Associaton of Nigeria in the Christ Apostolic Church of Nigeria and the Mothers’ Union Organization in South Africa by Beverly Gail Haddad. Nyambura Njoroge deals with discovering our theological Circles. told by Constance Shisanya. and Hannah Kinoti. 2002). These include women such as Mercy Amba Oduyoye. as Conclusion to In this paper I have attempted to achieve two things. I.). Part 4 of the book deals with those women who have transformed the church in one way or another. . Her Stories: Hidden Histories of Women of Faith in Africa (Pietermaritzburg: Cluster. told by Philomena Mwaura. Saronjini (eds. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. as told by Betty Govinden. Devakarsham and N. Part 1 of the book deals with introductory issues. Other stories of individual women include that of Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of Jesus Alive Ministries in Nairobi. with Musimbi Kanyoro talking about the story of the Circle. Throughout. Phiri. I have sought analyse hermeneutics itself with a view to tracing its history from its 25. they have not been prevented from finding ways of shaping the ethos of their faith communities. Her story is told by Isabel Phiri.
The cognizance of the multi-faith context is important especially during this time when interfaith matters are affecting every aspect of life in society.Mombo Concerned African Women earliest Theologians 103 (text-centred) to its latest (reader-centred) phases in the African context. The Circle’s contribution to the issues of violence and conflict is also important in view of the fact that it challenges the contention that the issues of violence have already been brought to light. instead of blindly aping Western feminism. Its greatest significance lies in the fact that. The Circle.com by Ilie Chiscari on November 30. it takes the specific African needs and context into serious account. . therefore.sagepub. It breaks with the traditional way of doing or writing theological issues. It brings into the study of theology an added advantage of taking context seriously. has created space for women theologians to theologize in an atmosphere that is free. which would not be easily dealt with in other theological organizations. a cognizance of the multi-faith and the stories about women in and for the church. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution. 2007 © 2003 SAGE Publications and The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust. Four clearly recurring concerns were identified: a restored focus on the Bible. The Circle’s contribution to hermeneutics in relation to gender and culture is significant for African women. Telling the stories of women is significant because it brings to light the work of women in the development of the church. an objective critique of African culture. Downloaded from http://ast. I have sought to attempt a bibliographical analysis of certain Circle publications so as to identify some of the recurring concerns in the Circle theologians’ approach to hermeneutics in relation to gender and culture. a concern with violence against women. which would not be known. which can make primary sense to African women. Second. and attempts to context hammer out a system of doing theology. especially Africa. one that enables and empowers members to name issues. All rights reserved.
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