Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Verbum et Ecclesia]]> vol. 37 num. 2 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Gender and sexualities in African contexts and Circle theologies</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>The legacy of Circle women's engagement with the Bible: Reflections from an African male biblical scholar</b>]]> The entry of women into religious and theological studies has revolutionised the modus operandi of these disciplines. Especially with the formation of the Circle of Concerned Women Theologians, the study of these disciplines has never been the same. In this article, an attempt is made to consider the legacy of women theologians in the area of biblical interpretation. Specifically, the article looks at how members of the Circle have interpreted the Bible in their quest for a theology that responds to African women's experiences. The article discusses Circle biblical scholars' methods of interpreting the Bible, what they have managed to achieve, as well as pointing out areas that still call for attention. It concludes that Circle biblical scholars, like all African Biblical Interpretation, are engaged scholars who serve both the need for intellectual growth as well as solving the pressing needs of their societies. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article primarily focuses on how members of the Circle of Concerned Women Theologians have interpreted the Bible in their quest for justice. It therefore engages several disciplines: biblical interpretation, theology, gender, politics, health, and so on. <![CDATA[<b>African same-sexualities and indigenous knowledge: Creating a space for dialogue within patriarchy</b>]]> Current debates on homosexuality claim to give voice to the voiceless but only target the youth whose concern for freedom and rights differ markedly from older, more traditional concerns. Recent debates on same-sexualities are framed in a modern discourse and leave no room for traditional epistemologies. This article argues that knowledge of same-sexualities in African communities requires a far more complex narrative that is inclusive of indigenous knowledge and culture and of the older generations that uphold them. South Africa has gone through many changes and there is a need for new knowledge to face new challenges that come with democracy. The assumption here is that some issues need attention in contemporary societies which have never been properly investigated. One such issue is African same-sexualities. Although there is a need to interrogate the issue of freedom of speech from Western theoretical impositions, same-sexuality research needs to be contextualised and analysed through the eyes of indigenous societies. This could be achieved by creating space for debates between traditional and modern communities. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article addresses African indigenous same-sexualities using indigenous ways of knowing to unpack the practice. The article suggests a different approach on African same-sex practice based on ancestral knowledge found in African traditional religion and in African culture. It will further demonstrate how this practice relates to issues of gender and religion in the South African context. It also disapproves Western discourse on African sexuality based on human rights approaches and transformation that ignore African cultural practice that affirm life. <![CDATA[<b>The African Women Theologians' contribution towards the discussion about alternative masculinities</b>]]> In a celebratory mood because of the unparalleled, heroine works of the Circle of Concerned African Female Theologians, from hereon the CIRCLE, I pose to assess their use of critical tools such as alternative masculinities. Largely, the CIRCLE writers engaged with the concept of alternative masculinity from the perspective of Christology, associating Jesus with 'mother-like' virtues of caring and loving, which also became the basis to critique African hegemonic masculinities and patriarchy. While success has been achieved from a cultural perspective, in this study I suggest that emphasis should be diverted towards exploring strategies that empower women economically. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: The study uses theories from cultural studies, critical theory, and contextual and gender studies to locate the voices of African women theologians in their discussion of Alternative masculinity. By using contextual Christologies based on the African woman's experience, the study adds to knowledge concerning the discussion of gender and alternative masculinities, in the process, highlighting the voices of African women theologians to the discussion. <![CDATA[<b>Dangling between death and hope: An HIV and AIDS gender-sensitive re-reading of Psalm 6</b>]]> The genre of laments (both individual and communal) can be traced historically, even up to today, to periods of crisis. The psalms of lament in the Hebrew Bible point to periods both of national crisis such as wars, exile, and individual crisis, namely attacks from enemies and illness among others. The crisis of the exile was typified by death (in the literal and metaphorical sense), pestilence, disease and war. It was also typified by hope as some of the prophets such as Jeremiah could prophesy both doom (read: death) and salvation (read: hope). If there is any crisis that people of African descent, particularly those located within the sub-Saharan continent, have ever come to experience it is the crisis brought by the pandemic of HIV and AIDS. The pandemic is better approached by scholars who hold the view that it is multisectoral. According to the latter view, the pandemic impacts the social, the economic, the religious or spiritual, and the psychological lives of both the affected and the infected. It is a justice issue. It can thus not be relegated to the individual because it is communal. Is it any wonder that in 2002 the members of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians set out to theologise and conduct God-talk that would be both gender- and HIV and AIDS-conscious? In this article, we engage the works of Circle theologians and biblical scholars to see what kind of reading could emerge if we re-read the lament psalm, such as Psalm 6, gender and HIV and AIDS consciously. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: In this article, the disciplines of biblical studies, gender studies, and HIV and AIDS studies, among others, converge as the authors draw from Circle theologies and biblical hermeneutics to re-read Psalm 6 through an HIV and AIDS lens. In the process, issues such as patriarchy, poverty and social justice are also dealt with. <![CDATA[<b>South African Female Presidential Leadership and the inevitability of a donga as final destination? Reading the Deuteronomistic Athaliah the <i>bosadi</i> way</b>]]> In the 104 years of the existence of the African National Congress (ANC), many a black person in South Africa has been exclusively led by men. Also, 24 years into a democracy, patriarchy continues to raise its ugly head in our parliament, among other institutions. Against the call for a female presidential leadership Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the National Union of Mineworkers, together with the ANC leadership in the Gauteng province, are lobbying for a male presidential candidate, namely, Cyril Ramaphosa. In order to engage the issue of patriarchy in the South African politics, the Sepedi or Northern Sotho proverb Tša etwa ke ye tshadi pele, di wela ka leope [once they are led by a female one, that is, a cow, they will fall into a donga] will be employed as a hermeneutical tool to re-read the Deuteronomistic Athaliah the bosadi way. The interest of the preceding way lies in seeking justice for the transformation of many an African woman's life in present day South Africa. In the end, this article will investigate whether the tenor of the Northern Sotho or Sepedi proverb that once they (cattle [read: South Africans]) are led by a female, they are sure to fall into a donga. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: Drawing from the insight in the fields of the Old Testament, gender and social sciences studies as well as Indigenous Knowledge Systems (with particular focus on an African proverb), this article addresses the topic of the South African Female Presidential Leadership and the Deuteronomistic Athaliah the bosadi way. <![CDATA[<b>'Moving in Circles' - a <i>Sankofa-Kairos</i> theology of inclusivity and accountability rooted in Trinitarian theology as a resource for restoring the liberating legacy of <i>The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians</i></b>]]> Mercy Amba Oduyoye's untitled poem about a circle sets the context for the renewal of the legacy of The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (The Circle) at a time when The Circle seems to be moving in circles of uncertainty lacking a clear unified focus. Oduyoye describes a circle as eternal, expansive, evolving and sustained by self-critique, accountability, inclusiveness and connectedness to the reality around it. This continuous movement is expressed in the concept of Sankofa-Kairos which is rooted in the past and radically responsive to the present. This 'backward-forward' theological method is critical for The Circle to remain true to its mission as a liberating theological and cultural voice for women and other oppressed groups. In contemporary contexts where oppression is pervasive and includes all groups, an inclusive gender paradigm as well as accountability to oppressed groups is critical for the renewal of The Circle. Trinitarian theology provides a model for liberating relationships characterised by equality, difference, mutuality, communion and oneness. Thus, it will be argued that Trinitarian theology provides theological resources for Sankofa-Kairos theologies for The Circle that will be inclusive and accountable to all oppressed groups. This will contribute to the restoration of The Circle as a critical contributor to liberation theologies in Africa. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article proposes Sankofa-Kairos methodology based on the dual legacies of The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians and The Kairos Document as the starting point for developing accountable and inclusive liberation theologies rooted in Social Models of the Trinity that could respond to the multiple challenges emerging from the African context. <![CDATA[<b>Revisiting the legacy of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians today: A lesson in strength and perseverance</b>]]> This article sets out to do a historical review of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians from its inception to date. An appraisal of the challenges of the founding mothers will be critically analysed, how they were able to overcome obstacles as African women theologians in a society that is predominantly patriarchal and how the Circle was able to inspire African women to become subjects of their own histories, lives and stories. This article will reflect on the experiences of the founding mothers and how they were able to identify and reinterpreted some of the oppressive African cultures and strategies for overcoming them. The research methodology for this article will be qualitative. One of the major key players in the founding of the Circle - Mercy Amba Oduyoye - will be interviewed. It is expected that the wealth of experience of the legacy of Circle women theologians will help to resolve the current impasse within the Circle. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: In this article, the author critically reviewed the legacy of African women circle theologians. This was done by examining the history of Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, their source of strength and how they were able to persevere over the years. <![CDATA[<b>Voice of the voiceless: The legacy of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians</b>]]> The Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (the Circle) formally came into existence in 1989 in Accra, Ghana. Under the charismatic leadership of Mercy Amba Oduyoye, the Circle sought to be the voice of African Christian women at the grass roots level. To this end research and publication was and still is one of the major pillars and activities of the Circle. The main objective of the Circle is 'to write and publish theological literature written by African women from their own experience of religion and culture on this continent'. In this regard the Circle has been and continues to be the voice for and on behalf of the African woman in religion, culture and theology. However, 25 years down the line there is need for an evaluation of the legacy of the Circle. How has the Circle been a voice for the voiceless, a mentoring instrument for women venturing into the academia? This article seeks to do this evaluation by examining the activities of the Circle including research publication. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article seeks to evaluate the achievements of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians in relation to the Circle's stated objectives. The article picks up the notion of the Circle theologians as the voice of the voiceless women of Africa. The general approach of the article brings together discussions on social issues like gender, poverty and marginalisation as well as language. Theological and religious perspectives on these issues are understood from a Circle point of view. <![CDATA[<b>What now of the Vashti character in the Hebrew Bible? Ruminating on the future of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians among emerging scholars in Democratic Republic of the Congo</b>]]> Concerned about the relative absence of activities (including the writings) by members of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians within the Democratic Republic of the Congo Circle, Francophone context in general and her Mongolese context in particular, the author uses the marginalised character of Vashti in the Hebrew Bible to see which light the character might shed within the preceding contexts. Can Vashti's identity in terms of boldness, courage and independence serve as a model for Congolese women in their efforts to make a positive impact on their contexts which remain glaringly patriarchal even today after many years of political independence? In this article, it is argued that the character of Vashti, especially her sense of independence and courage, can serve as a motivation for Congolese female theologians in their search for new identities. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: In this article, the disciplines of African studies, political science, gender studies and biblical studies are made to interact with each other in the author's quest to see how a biblical character such as Vashti can contribute positively to the theory and praxis of theology among emerging Francophone female scholars. <![CDATA[<b>The impact of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians: French zone on church and African theology issues</b>]]> We can understand that the Circle must work on two dimensions to provide a future for new woman theology in Africa. The first dimension is based on the intuitive fundamental and innovative sense of a woman from Ghana, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, that leads to the creation of the Circle: she impulsed the idea that women should make their own theology from their daily-life experiences and their subjectivity as women, in order to think on faith and Gospel in a different way. It is necessary to question that intuitive sense. The second dimension aims to revisit the great personalities of African woman theologians of the Circle. What are the essential points of their research? How has the research changed African theology? I particularly think of Musimbi Kanyoro, Nyambura Njoroge and Musa DubĂ© in the Africa English zone and Helene Yinda, Liz Vuadi, Kasa Dovi and Bernadette Mbuyi Beya in Africa French zone. The essence of their thinking is still actual and that is why they are good enough to project in to the future. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: This article presents the history of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians from creation to now. Issues related to traditional culture, gender and sexual-based violence, gender-based injustice, and HIV and AIDS are discussed under different approaches such as the biblical approach, hermeneutical approach, ethical approach, historical approach and practical approach. The impact of African Women Theologians speaking French will be particularly highlighted. <![CDATA[<b>The role of Circle women in curbing violence against women and girls in Africa</b>]]> The article looks at the role Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians (the Circle) have played in the struggle to end or reduce the rate at which violence against women and girls occurs in West Africa by highlighting the contributions of older Circle women, especially the initiator of the Circle, Mercy Amba Oduyoye. The initiator of the Circle and other older Circle women have left a remarkable legacy that needs to continue by the current and future generations of the Circle. The background information examines the leadership and mentorship of Mercy Amba Oduyoye and the impact she has made in the lives of African women. The essay then looks at the types of violence that women face in West Africa with the specific contributions of Circle women in the struggle to end violence against women and girls. It then argues that Circle women have played very significant roles both in setting the pace and giving the platform for women activities to minimise gender-based violence against women and girls. Circle women have written and presented papers that have addressed many challenges including HIV and/or AIDS, Girl Child trafficking, Marriage of Minors, and almost all kinds of violence against women and girls. Currently, religious violence threatens the fabric of African nations causing insecurity and panic, women and girls being the most vulnerable. The challenge to the present and future Circle members is to contribute in significant ways towards religious harmony in Africa and beyond. The Circle acknowledges the leadership role of women and encourages them to spearhead the liberation of women as well as empower them to be able to aspire to get to the top or become independent. No one understands what someone else feels better than the person experiencing the ordeal. Women can better understand what they go through and also have the passion to strive towards liberation. INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS: In this article, the discipline of practical theology combines with elements of social science and Gender Studies, bringing out the Circle's contribution towards the eradication of religious and cultural and gender violence against women and girls in Ghana and Africa.