Last week’s Amohoro conference got me pondering about a bunch of things so here goes …
I live on the continent of Africa and therefore need to contextualize theology in terms of the continent I’m on. Africa is a big place. So, maybe I should say that we have to contextualize theology in South Africa as Africans.
Yet, I’m a white African with all the baggage of being in a long line of oppressors. But, on top of the before-mentioned identities I am a follower of Jesus. This doesn’t somehow magically erase the fact that I’m in Africa or a white South African but it does change the hue in which my white South African story should be reinterpreted.
In 2003 Lollie and I came back to SA after saying no to receiving green cards in the US.
We call our coming back our repentance to South Africa. For us repentance meant:
- Learning the South African story firsthand from poor black South Africans.
- Grappling with what it means to be a beneficiary of oppression – becoming informed about the history of South Africa.
- Building friendships with black South Africans on what Christ-following means in South Africa.
- Moving an Afrikaans speaking community into sacrificing language in order to create spaces where we can have interracial relationships.
- Grappling with our regret for apartheid (we started this website but sadly it didn’t come of the ground – maybe it needs a resurrection of sorts?)
We haven’t gone far on the journey, but we’re on it.
At Amohoro I saw one of the most apparent challenges in South Africa. It is the challenge of education. After one of the sessions a black pastor stood up and in his feedback to a black professor’s presentation responded by saying that he really couldn’t follow the presentation’s content. The challenge in South Africa is for those who have an education to speak plainly and for those who are reluctant to learn to be open to be challenged into a new narrative. Last year I posted on how Steve Biko can help us with this in South Africa.
After Amohoro I’m more convinced than ever that I have a place in South Africa. That we need a proudly South African theology. That our identity as followers of Jesus should flavor what it means to be a South African Afrikaner, Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, and Sotho etc.
I have a lot to learn.
One last thought … why does it take an Amahoro for people to mix with others? Can we sustain these relationships even when there isn’t a high-profile conference coming to town? I hope so because I have a sense that the contextual theology we’re yearning for is already created in small, insignificant places far away from the limelight. Conversations that is accessible through the unspectacular dayliness of relationships and eating and the hard work of becoming friends with someone who loves Jesus and is almost the exact opposite of who you are.
"I take this to be the unique challenge of Christian theology in general and African Christian theology in particular; namely, to be able to write a theology not from the top, but from below, from the ordinary experience of the believer. Critically, the task of theology is to challenge the various metanarratives that claim validity simply because they come from the top, but which fail to take people's life histories seriously. These are the stories that, because they are so committed to a theory, a program or a system, fail and/or refuse to see the real, the concrete, that which resists reduction to, or is intentionally excluded by the system (in biblical terms, the widow and orphan). " Emmanuel Katongole
Other bloggers on Amahoro
- Andries Louw (Christian) of nextchurch on Amahoro Africa Family reunion of change agents
- Andries Louw (Christian) of nextchurch on Amahoro Africa conference The African Reformation
- Cobus van Wyngaard (Christian) of my contemplations on cant speak about Amahoro
- Cobus van Wyngaard (Christian) of my contemplations on I am an Afrikaner, I owe my being to this continent
- Cobus van Wyngaard (Christian) of my contemplations on Adriaan Vlok got his feet washed @ Amahoro
- Cobus van Wyngaard (Christian) of Anderkant on ons Afrikaner private godsdiens (aka oom Adriaan part 2)
- Cori (Undefined) of Cori’s Blog on A diverse God
- nic paton (TBD) of soundandsilence on The European Post Colonial
- Roger Saner (Grew up Baptist, went Anglican, now post-church.) of FutureChurch on The drive home from Amahoro
- Stephen Hayes (Orthodox Christian) of Khanya on Amahoro Gathering 8 June 2009
- Stephen Hayes (Orthodox Christian) of Khanya on Truth, reconciliation and smelly feet
- Stephen Hayes (Orthodox Christian) of Khanya on More on Amahoro
- Stephen Hayes (Orthodox Christian) of Khanya on Amahoro: modernity fights back