By Dr. Joseph Wandera
The world we live in today is the result of more than 500 years of Western colonial expansion and imperial design. Broadly speaking, this gave birth to a world system characterized by unequal power relations between the North and South witnessed today in various spheres. These inequalities are realized through racial, class, gender, religious, pedagogical, linguistic, textual, aesthetic, ecological and epistemological power hierarchies.
The Post colonial church conference hosted by SPU from 28th to 30th May 2014 aimed to explore how we can conceptualize and practice Church and Society in general in these contexts. How can we read the Bible in a post colonial context? What should be our practice of mission in present day contexts? How should we face issues of ethnicity and conflict in a post colonial context? These are some of the questions addressed in the hugely successful meeting of academics from across the world that took place at the Post Graduate Centre Hall. The conference was officially opened by Dr. Sammy Githuku, Dean Faculty of Theology. The meeting brought together participants and institutions from different parts of the globe such as Kenya, USA, Germany, Botswana and India.
According to Joe Duggan, the founder of the Post colonial networks, “Post colonial studies endeavors to uncover contemporary colonialism through the eyes of the marginalized. We all received a glimpse of the next generation of post colonial scholarship that will be influenced by many more voices with praxis”.
As a testimony to SPU’s abiding global influence in theological education, several SPU alumni who have obtained doctoral degrees locally and abroad with some still based in the diaspora, presented papers. Dr. Andrew Wafula who recently graduated from Drew University, USA, and now an assistant Professor at Luther Seminary, Iowa, presented a paper entitled “ We shall be cooked in the same Pst: A Post colonial Kenyan Reading of the Book of Ruth”, Dr. Julius Githinji who just completed his PhD at Kenyatta University presented on “ Impunity and Exousia in Mark 1:21-28”, Andrew Lairenge, a PhD student at McGill University, Canada presented a paper entitled “ Paul’s Mimicry of the Empire: Galatians”, while Dr. Irene Ayallo, now a lecturer in the Department of Social Practice, Unitec Institute of Technology (Auckland, New Zealand) paper was entitled “ A Re-Imagination of the preferential Option for the Poor in the context of post-colonial Political Theology in Africa”. Without exception, all the alumni expressed pleasant surprise at how the physical landscape of SPU has changed! “This place is beautiful”, they exclaimed!
Among the SPU faculty who presented papers included, Dr. DC Chemorion “The Oracles of Haggai as Instruments for Defining the Mission of the Church in Post-Colonial Times”, Dr. Sammy Githuku “ Post-Colonial Reading of Genesis 2:24”, Dr. Joseph Wandera “ The Church Missionary Society’s Engagement with Muslims in East Africa:1500 – 1914), Prof. Ndung’u Ikenye “Homosexuality Reconsidered: A Perspective of African Psychological and Religious Anthropology” and Prof. Esther Mombo and Helen Joziasse “ Jesus, a man above all other names: Kenyan Women Questioning Traditional Masculinities” and Dr. Joseph Mutei “ Christian-Muslim Dialogue as A Catalyst for Peace in the Post Colonial Era Africa”.
True to the interdisciplinary nature of post colonial studies, several presenters came from disciplines other than Theology. The Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences at SPU, Dr. Vundi Nason , Saugata Bhaduri, and Prof. Simi Malhotra both Professors of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia Universities respectively presented papers.
According to Joe Duggan, “A significant purpose of Post colonial Networks’ meetings outside of North America and Europe is to decolonize not only knowledge production and distribution, but also to decolonize post colonial studies including theories and Theologies”. To this end, Duggan visited the SPU library and held discussions with Rosemary Ndegwa, the University Librarian on how there could be collaboration between SPU and Post Colonial Networks on sharing published works between the North and the South. Dr. Duggan also explored possibilities on how works of Scholars from SPU might get published through the Borderless Publishers series through a collaborative effort.
Stay tuned for future meetings including May 2016 at the University of Manchester where the theme will be: “Multiple faiths in post colonial cities: living together after Empire”. During the closing of the meeting plans were laid down towards preparation for the publication of a book that records the presentations of this important meeting.
Post colonial Networks expresses its gratitude to all those who made an effort to travel to this meeting from across the continent of Africa and around the world!