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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versión On-line ISSN 2412-4265
versión impresa ISSN 1017-0499


IHEANACHO, Valentine Ugochukwu. Jean-Marc Ela's Hut and Empty Granary: Rethinking the Social Significance of Theology in Africa. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2021, vol.47, n.1, pp.1-18. ISSN 2412-4265.

Jean-Marc Éla, in his book My Faith as an African (1988), articulates a pastoral vision for the church in Africa. According to Ela, the "friends of the gospel" must be conscious of God's presence "in the hut of a mother whose granary is empty." This awakening arises from the capacity of theologians "to catch the faintest murmurs of the Spirit," and to stay within earshot of what is happening in the ecclesial community. The vocation of an African theologian, as a witness of the faith and a travelling companion of God's people, obliges him/her "to get dirty in the precarious conditions of village life." Decades later, this thought of Ela echoes in Pope Francis' pastoral vision: "I would prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its security" (Evangelii Gaudium, 49). The purpose of this article is to espouse the pastoral vision of Éla in light of the liberating mission of African theologians. This mission goes beyond armchair theologising toward engaging the people of God "under the tree." With the granary understood as a metaphor for famine- and famine itself being the messenger of death-the article will also argue that the "friends of the gospel" are not at liberty to shut their eyes and drift off to sleep with a clear conscience, amidst a declining African social context.

Palabras clave : Jean-Marc Éla; Africa; Christianity; liberation; social justice; poverty; exploitation; oppression.

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