Boston University hosts the second oldest African Studies Center in the United States, and is recognized by the federal government for its excellence in the study of African languages and cultures. The School of Theology is a vital component of African Studies at Boston University, beginning with the sending of graduates to Africa as missionaries over a century ago. Important African alumni include Bishop Josiah Kibira (1964 graduate), the first African head of the Lutheran World Federation; Dr. Kenaleone Ketshabile, Head of the Mission Desk, Methodist Church of Southern Africa; Yusufu Turaki, Professor and former General Secretary of the Evangelical Church of West Africa; and Professor Emmanuel Anyambod, Rector of the Protestant University of Central Africa.
Africa research in the CGCM grows from the work of retired Professor M.L. “Inus” Daneel. His over forty-year presence among African Initiated Churches in Zimbabwe culminated in the 1990s with the largest tree-planting movement in southern Africa, and a program in Theological Education by Extension. The son of missionary parents, Daneel served as a missionary of the Dutch Mission Councils, and then as professor of African theology and missiology at the University of South Africa. He and Professor Robert co-edit the African Initiatives in Christian Mission Series, published by the University of South Africa Press. The goal of the series is to reflect upon contemporary African Christianity, and to document its expansion. Other Africa projects include the digitization of Daneel’s photography and publications on the multimedia site Old & New In Shona Religion, and ongoing research into southern African traditions of earth-care.
See also the Dictionary of African Christian Biography (DACB) listed under Digital Projects.
Dr. Marthinus Daneel, Africa Research Director
A Korea Missiology Forum, which has been hosted by Korea Research Institute for Mission (KRIM) since 2004, was held on January 12, 2017 at Nam Seoul Presbyterian Church, Seoul, South Korea. Rev. Daewon Moon, who is Ph.D. candidate at Boston University, spoke about “Ancestor Cults in Africa and African Initiated Churches” and Rev. Chun Lee, who is managing director of KRIM, responded. The session was followed by a period of questions and answers, and and a fuller discussion. The presenter, Daewon Moon explained the nature of Africans’ ancestor cult and how African Initiated Churches have responded to the practice, while Rev. Lee noted connections with the Korean Confucian traditions of ancestor worship.
The Advisory Council of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography met at St. Mary Magdalene’s Retreat House in Nairobi, Kenya for their 3rd annual meeting, December 3-5. The meeting was very well attended by ten of the twelve advisors who came from nine African countries. The all-day meeting on Monday focused on reports of the past year’s activities and discussions of 1) ways to promote the DACB in continent-wide networks and church associations having to do with theology or history; 2) fundraising; 3) improvements and additions to the Website; and 4) recent new initiatives. The most important discussion on new initiatives focused on the Journal of African Christian Biography (JACB), started in June of 2016. It was decided that the Journal would move to a quarterly publication schedule and that various distribution schemes would be explored, using self-publishing entities in Africa. Overall, the atmosphere was irenic and there was a strong collaborative drive that united the attendees who represented a wide array of churches: Roman Catholic, Independent, Baptist, Anglican, Independent Assemblies of God, non-denominational, Pentecostal, Methodist, Mennonite, and Orthodox.
Old and New in Shona Religion is an interactive website that allows scholars to explore the Shona religion in the middle of the 20th century. Based on over 1,200 annotated photographs taken by M.L. Daneel between 1960 and the mid-1990s, this website provides a visual history of African Initiated Churches and African Traditional Religion. At the time of these photographs, M.L. Daneel was the only person documenting oral, rural, Christian movements among the Shona people in Southern Africa. He was also the first White person allowed to visit indigenous Shona shrines. These photos, along with films, digitized books, and other resources now open up that world to others.
The International Leadership University (ILU) in Burundi has established a graduate program in mission studies. Dr. Fohle Lygunda, the Academic Dean and Daewon Moon, a CGCM student associate, have collaborated for the past several years to open research and education in this field. Mission Studies is quite new to the central African region. The first group of master’s students have completed their program and produced solid theses on various themes of mission studies. ILU-Burundi, the only university in the country that offers English-based degree programs, has drawn theological students from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, and DR Congo. Dr. Lygunda recently organized the first International Consultation on Missiology for Central Africa in Kinshasa, DR Congo, in order to promote missiological research on the region.
Dr. Nimi Wariboko, Walter G. Muelder Professor of Social Ethics and CGCM faculty associate, will be giving a lecture on aesthetics of African traditional religion and Pentecostalism in Nigeria. The lecture will take place at 232 Bay State Road, Room 505 at 5:00 pm. The public is welcome.