Women & Theologies from the Global South, week 4

AFRICAN FEMINIST THEOLOGIES III:
EMERGING ISSUES IN AFRICAN FEMINIST THEOLOGIES

The intent of this week’s post is to get familiarized with how we engaged online. Our meetings with Dr. Lee are in person, however, at most levels of education, online classes are a choice. Free quality education is available online on Coursera and Edx. You can check out Great Courses at your public library in a variety of formats (DVD, CD’s). and if you are a teacher or student in Colorado give and find in-person courses (recommended experience when possible) at Colorado Free University.

Assignment
Each week a new two people post their reflections on the weeks reading online to engage their colleagues. This week the posters who Alanna and David. My gratitude goes to them for giving me permission to share their work here.

READINGS: Annotations by Alanna
Rosemary N. Edet, “Christianity and African Women’s Rituals,” in The Will to Arise: Women, Tradition, and the Church in Africa, ed. Mercy Amba Oduyoye and Musimbi R. A. Kanyoro (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1992), 25-39. 
“Rosemary Edet focuses on rituals that are present in many African Women’s lives, how they have positive and negative effects (Edet, pg 32), and how Christianity might respond to these rituals (Edet, pg 35). Edet focuses on an African birthing ritual (pg 30) and a widowhood ritual (pg 31).”

Esther Mombo, “Kenya Reflections,” in Other Voices, Other Worlds: The Global Church Speaks Out on Homosexuality, ed. Terry Brown (New York: Church Publishing, 2006), 142-53. 
“Ester Mombo, in Kenya Reflections, discusses homosexuality in the African context. She argues that homosexuality is not a foreign concept to Africa, though some state that is a western construct that has been introduced, and that too often homosexuality is portrayed negatively (Mombo, pg 145). Mombo goes on to say that even though there may be theological differences between members of the church these issues need to be asked about (pg 152).”

Isabel Apawo Phiri, “HIV/AIDS: An African Theological Response in Mission,” in Hope Abundant, 219-28.
“The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, especially among women, is the main topic of Isabel Apawo Phiri’s article HIV/AIDS: An African Theological Response in Mission. Phiri makes us ask the questions, Why do people suffer? How should mission be done in the context of suffering? (Phiri, pg 220). She questions the theology that suffering comes only from sin, and wonders if accepting systems that perpetuate suffering is the real sin (Phiri, pg 224).”

Beverley Gail Haddad, “The Mothers’ Union in South Africa: Untold Stories of Faith, Survival and Resistance,” in Her-Stories: Hidden Histories of Women of Faith in Africa, ed. Isabel Apawo Phiri, Devakarsham Betty Govinden, and Sarojini Nadar (Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Publications, 2002), 101-16.
“…Beverly Gail Haddad describes the importance of “mayano,” or women’s prayer groups, in many African churches (Haddad, pg 101). She focuses specifically on the Mothers Unions of the Anglican Church, and provides the stories, the testimonies, of three women to the importance of the Mothers Union in their lives, as well as how committed these women were and are committed to women’s empowerment and solidarity (Haddad, pg 107+)”

Nyambura J. Njoroge, “A New Way of Facilitating Leadership: Lessons from African Women Theologians,” Missiology 33:1 (2005): 29-46.
“…further introduces us to the Circle of Concerned African Women as a space for African women theologians to collaborate, write, mentor, and publish (Njoroge, pg 29). She details the key issues in Africa as Biblical and Cultural Hermeneutics (pg 35), Imperialism and Globalisation (pg 36), Social Injustices and Gender-Based Violence (pg 37), Theology of Lamentation (pg 40), and Empowering Women in Theological Education (pg 41).”

IMG-2047
Quotes on article from my notebook

Reflection
[Below are excerpts from A & D’s reflection. Other students are then in charge of responding.]

Alanna: “Phiri’s discussion of suffering and how we do work amongst those who are suffering, along with Njoroge’s idea of Theology of Lamentation resonated with me the most, and I believe that they would be useful tools in my Western context of social justice work. Too often in this country we want to gloss over the hard stuff and focus on what’s new, shiny, and happy. Too often those who are suffering, who are lamenting, are left behind. I believe it is here, in the lament, that we can find rich theologies to discuss the injustices that we can perceive in our communities, and possibly in a global context. (Alanna)”

David: “I read “The Mothers Union in South Africa: United stories of Faith, Survival and Resistance.” Haddad in his text points out serious oppression and marginalization among Christian women in South Africa during colonization. Most South African women were proud to be part of an indigenous prayer group locally known as manyano which was formed through colonization and missionary work (p.102). Having being raised in a previous colony of this same country-England, I felt connected to this development since my mother used to take me to similar prayer meetings some time ago. However, it is unfortunate that, after the establishment of the Mothers’ Union by the Church of England in South Africa, the colonizers tried to oppress the freedom of indigenous women.

What touched me most was how the scriptures were interpreted to prevent unmarried mothers and divorced women from joining the Mothers’ Union. Upholding the sanctity of marriage was crucial to the works of the Mothers’ Union so only married women ‘in good standing’ with the Church were qualified to be members’ of the organization (p.103). The question that came in my mind is, how do they justify the good standing terms? The Bible which is being used by the Anglican Church to marginalize divorced mothers actually makes provision for divorce when certain conditions are met. I would strongly resist this justification in my future ministry because many women may be victims of abuse if they are made to be afraid of divorce.”

Classroom Discussion:
 I was absent from this meeting so I received notes on Dr. Lee’s powerpoint from a generous classmate, Lila. Here are some of my takeaways:
“The Super-masculine (strong) to super-feminine (weak) continuum. Trouble in post-colonial contexts is that groups that — emboldened by independence and free democratic elections — rise up to advocate for social justice, which triggers retaliation from neo-liberal regimes that rise up to protect the hegemonic masculine power structure. Hyper masculinity refuses to be exposed and de-centered.” -Lila

Lila also informed me that Dr. Lee left the discussion on the question,
“where do we find hope?” -Lila & Dr. Lee

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 11.42.11 AM.png
Lila’s note: Dube recommends this method for reading/interpreting scripture. Consider each of these contextual factors in turn when engaging a text. For example, “Contemporary History…” challenges traditional readings that simplify and then over-spiritualize biblical stories of invasions, oppression and genocide, even though those are urgent issues in our world today.

 

Thanks for reading,
Emily Nagle

Photography by Seth Nagle

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