African Initiatives

Dr. Kenaleone Ketshabile
Dr. Kenaleone Ketshabile

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.

Passing Out Trees
Prof. Daneel (Bishop Moses) and tree-planting eucharist

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


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Remembering Lamin Sanneh

By driJanuary 10th, 2019in Africa, People, World Christianity

Professor Lamin Sanneh, a dear friend and member of the original DACB Advisory Council passed away suddenly on January 6, 2019. Professor Sanneh’s involvement with the DACB began in August 1995, when the DACB was little more than an idea. Since that time, his interest in the enterprise remained constant. His association with the project in its early days lent it the academic credibility essential to its success. He will be sorely missed. We will be publishing his obituary and a full tribute in the near future.

–Jonathan Bonk

Both Jonathan Bonk and Dana Robert spoke about the loss of Lamin Sanneh in Christianity Today. In addition, Dana Robert spoke to the Washington Times as it created an obituary for Professor Sanneh.

Pedagogical Dilemmas in the Global Church

After publishing an article about power and privilege in relation to colonial subsidies and the education of missionary children in the Belgian Congo, Anicka Fast received feedback from people around the world. Their comments spurred her to explain her larger project, and the aims of her research. She also reflects on the complexity of writing history and getting it ‘right.’ Published in Anabaptist Witness, her reflections on the task and challenge of writing mission history are rich food for thought.

Anabaptists in Nigeria

In 1958 a group of congregations in southeastern Nigeria solicited affiliation with the North American Mennonite Board of Missions (MBM), declared themselves Mennonite, and sought missionaries and assistance. MBM responded by sending missionaries and by providing assistance to Mennonite Church Nigeria (MCN) and others in the region. The collaboration between MCN and MBM developed during a period when partnership was becoming a primary paradigm in the Protestant missionary movement as well as in the Anabaptist tradition.

In his recent article, R. Bruce Yoder (’16) highlights five themes in the missiological discourse about partnership during the last half of the twentieth century and uses those themes to explicate aspects of the engagement between MCN and MBM during the same period. The themes are (1) collaboration, (2) context, (3) reconfiguration of mission structures, (4) bilateral and multilateral approaches, and (5) ambiguity. The first section examines partnership in the Protestant mission movement. The second shows that these themes also arise in Anabaptist mission discourse. The third section presents the case of Mennonite Church Nigeria and Mennonite Board of Missions, showing the partnership paradigm to be a compelling missionary vision while clarifying challenges that may require consideration of additional mission models.

African Initiative and Inspiration in the East African Revival, 1930-1950

Daewon Moon and his dissertation committee (L-R): Nimi Wariboko, Inus Daneel, Dana Robert, Jack Davis, Daryl Ireland, Bryan Stone

In the 1930s and 1940s, African revivalists in colonial Ugandan and Ruanda-Urundi appropriated Christian beliefs and practices to forge a distinctively African Christian spirituality that precipitated the moral and spiritual transformation of many people in East Africa. Daewon Moon, in his successfully defended dissertation, demonstrated that African revivalists had the support and sympathy of evangelical-minded missionaries, but it was African evangelists, teachers, and hospital workers who fueled the rapid expansion of the movement.