Circle Appoints New
The Circle appointed a new coordinator at the last Pan
African Conference, which was held in Addis Ababa from 4th - 9th August
2002. Isabel Apawo Phiri, currently a Professor of African Theology
at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa was appointed
the General Coordinator of the Circle from 2002 to 2007.
She will serve one non- renewable term of five years and
then circulate to other members. The General Coordinator's role is to:
facilitate the visibility of the Circle;
network with outsiders, partners and friends of the
raise funds for the whole Circle;
maintain unity of the Circle as a whole.
At the same gathering, three Linguistic Research Coordinators were appointed.
Hélène Yinda of Cameroon, Dr. Dorcas Akintunde of Nigeria and Rev. Felicidade
Cherinda of Mozambique were appointed coordinators for the Francophone,
Anglophone and Lusophone regions respectively.
They will serve one non-renewable term of 5 years. Their role is to:
- maintain communication within the linguistic Circle;
- liaise with the chief coordinator;
- mentor writing within the linguistic Circle;
- promote the vision of the Circle and welcome new members;
- liaise with Circle chapters;
- help in updating database, website and dissemination of information
to members and their chapters.
|Contact details are as follows:
Professor Isabel Phiri of Malawi
was appointed General Coordinator.
Her address is as follows:
School of Theology,
University of Natal,
Private Bag X01 Scottsville,
Tel: (27-33) 260 6132,
Fax: (27-33) 260 5858,
Ms. Hélène Yinda,
16 Ancienne Route,
Ch-1218 Grand Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland,
Tel: (41-22) 929 6053 (Off)
Fax: (41-22) 929 6044 (Off),
||Research Coordinator- English
Dr. Dorcas Olubanke Akintunde
Department of Religious Studies,
University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria,
||Research Coordinator- Portuguese
Rev. Felicidade Cherinda, Caixa Postal 21, Igreja Presbiteriana
Mozambique, Tel: (258-1) 421790,
Fax: (258-1) 421790
for the Circle
Following consultations during the planning committee meeting and the
conference, the gathering of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians
in Addis Ababa developed a new Plan of Action which will guide the activities
of the Circle for the next five years.
Circle Plan of Action
Research and Writing
- Continue research and writing about HIV/AIDS, including stories of
those living with AIDS.
- Explore the possibility of other publication forms, e.g. videos, oral
Educational Programming and Curriculum
- Train counsellors for HIV/AIDS work
- Incorporate HIV/AIDS training in Ministerial Formation courses in
the Theological Institutions. Support and participate actively in the
WCC plan of action in:
- training theological faculty;
- training both current seminarians and alumni to use AIDS curriculum;
- re-reading and re-interpreting the scriptures from an African
- Incorporate HIV/AIDS training in gender courses in colleges and universities.
- Promote safe sex practices through educational programs and workshops
in the home, faith communities, and society.
- Promote good health and nutrition and regular medical check ups.
Religious and Cultural Traditions
- Advocacy to counter harmful cultural and religious practices and
retrieve positive ones.
- Honour women's bodies and increase women's self esteem.
- Regularly update the membership database.
- Encourage the use and maintenance of the website.
- Maintain and circulating the Bibliography of Circle Member publications.
- Encourage the development of Circle newsletters.
An ad hoc committee was nominated to look into issues of a publishing
policy. Other areas to be explored include electronic publishing.
Institutionalisation of the Circle
The Circle so far has been functioning as a movement. There is a need
to institutionalise the movement. Exploration on a constitution as well
as a permanent voice will be agreed on over the next five years.
More strategic budgeting and fundraising is necessary especially to support
the institutionalising of the Circle and more programmed research.
Roles and Responsibilities of Circle Members
At the Chapter level, Chapter leaders will:
- initiate and coordinate chapters of the Circle;
- communicate with the relevant linguistic coordinator;
- coordinate meetings to discuss papers for publication.
General Circle Membership and their mandate
- Commit to research and writing;
- Stimulate theological dialogue, reflection and critical analysis
from the perspective of women both within the Circle and beyond;
- Commit to do research with, rather than merely about, grassroots
women and ensure to acknowledge them in the outcome of research;
- Keep the Circle coordinators apprised of changes of addresses etc.,
so that a correct database can be maintained;
- Help in the distribution of Circle publications and their promotion;
- Be willing to volunteer their time, skills, and resources in order
to enhance the work of the Circle e.g. editing papers submitted to conferences,
editing Circle books, contributions to website, etc.
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Holds Pan African Conference
The Pan African Women Theologians conference was held in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia, from August 4th to August 8th 2002. The theme of the Conference
was Sex, Stigma and HIV/AIDS: African Women Challenging Religion, Culture
and Social Practices. 140 Circle members attended the conference from
25 countries. The deliberations of the conference defined the agenda of
the Circle for the next five years, 2002-2007. (A full report of the conference
is on the Circle website).
Musimbi Kanyoro, Former Circle Coordinator,
handing over the books of the Circle to Isabel Phiri, new Circle
Outgoing Circle Committee Members 1996-2002
The new circle committee would like to thank the outgoing committee for
a job well done. You are the people who kept the touch of the Circle burning
for the last seven years. The new committee will call upon you from time
to time to draw on your wisdom. The members of the outgoing international
coordinating committee that served since 1996 are as follows:
Coordinator: Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro
Research Coordinator: Dr. Mercy Amba Oduyoye
Theological Education and Ministerial Formation
Rev. Dr. Nyambura Njoroge
Southern Africa: Rev. Phina Olga Kgosana
Eastern Africa: Rev. Grace Ndyabahika
Western Africa: Dr. Rabiatu Ammah
Francophone Africa: Ms. Hélène Yinda
Lusophone Africa: Ms. Eva Gomez
Francophone communication secretary: Sr. Bernadette Mbuy Beya
Anglophone communication secretary: Dr. Teresia Mbari Hinga
News from the General Coordinator Coordinator's
Dr Beverley Haddad worked with Isabel to establish the Circle's office
in the School of Theology from October 2002 to April 2003. The School
of Theology offered space for the Circle office, financial support for
the Administrative Officer and general administration support while the
Circle office was finding its feet. The support is greatly appreciated.
Bev, the Circle wishes you well in your new full time job.
Prof Musa Dube The Circle is happy to congratulate Prof Musa Dube for
her recent promotion from senior lecturer to Associate Professor at the
University of Botswana. Musa is currently on leave of absent from her
teaching job and is doing consultancy work for the World Council of Churches
in Theological Institutions and HIV/AIDS curriculum. She is still based
in Gabarone, Botswana.
Have you recently graduated with a diploma, degree, honours, Masters
or PhD/ DMin? Please inform us at the Circle office in Pietermaritzburg
so that we can share in your success with the rest of the Circle members.
In your information, include the name of the institution, the qualification
obtained, and where applicable the title of your dissertation/thesis.
Please tell us about your other achievements as well, including promotion
from work, publication of an article or a book etc.
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Coming soon Hear Our Cry: African Women, HIV/AIDS and Faith Communities,
Edited by Isabel Apawo Phiri, Beverley Haddad and Madipoane Masenya, Pietermaritzburg:
Five other academic books are in the process of being prepared for publication
in 2003. The books are based on papers, which were presented at the Circle's
Pan African conference in Addis Ababa in August 2002. The above title
has been sent to the publishers already and it is expected that the other
books will be ready for publication soon. Watch this space for further
information in the next edition of the newsletter.
The Circle will continue to publish AMKA (Swahili word for Arise). Three
AMKAs will be published in 2003 from the Addis Ababa conference papers,
which were not included in the academic books. One of the AMKAs will be
in Portuguese edited by Felicidade Cherinde and Victoria Pereira.
The Circle will continue to produce a Newsletter, which will be circulated
in April and October each year. The newsletter will be translated into
French and Portuguese. It will be circulated to all registered members
of the Circle and partners of the Circle. Helene Yinda will be the editor
of the Circle Newsletter. Please send your contributions to Helene or
to Isabel as soon as possible.
An updated Circle directory will be circulated once each year in July.
The constant updating of the directory is important because it offers
the opportunity to add new members and to keep up with new addresses for
the members. The Circle data form is on the Circle Website. The first
updated directory will be circulated in July 2003. If you have changed
your address please let us know as soon as possible.
The Circle Editor's workshop in Legon, Accra, Ghana, 1-5 Dec
Standing: Philomena Mwaura, Madipoane Masenya, Hazel Ayanga,
Dorcas Akintunde & Helene Yinda
Sitting: Anne Kubai, Isabel Phiri, Felicidade Cherinda, Bernedette
Mbuy Beya & Mercy Oduyoye.
Circle Profile Publication
Tell us something about yourselves. The Circle would like to publish a
profile of Circle members, which will include a photo and a five line
CV about each Circle member. This publication is necessary for conference,
consultations, workshop, seminar organisers or possible employers. This
will help to expose more Circle members to the world of conferences and
it is hoped that the few prominent ones will not be overburdened with
invitations as speakers at conferences, consultations, workshops and seminars.
First publication will come out in 2004. Please send to the coordinator
your recent coloured photograph and a brief CV as soon as possible.
The Circle is planning to publish an annotated Bibliography of the publications
of Circle members. This publication will be very useful for theological
institutions that want to use Circle publications in their teaching. First
publication will come out in 2004. Please send to the coordinator a short
paragraph of each of all your publications, describing what it is about
and which discipline can use your article.
Essays in Honour of Mercy Oduyoye
The Circle has continued with the vision of publishing a book in honour
of Mercy Oduyoye as the founder of the Circle. Watch this space for a
call for papers for Mercy's book in the October 2003 Circle newsletter.
The theme of the book will be: 'Women and Health in Africa'. This book
will be published in 2004.
In March 2003 the hosting and updating of the Circle website was transferred
from Geneva, Switzerland to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The Circle
website address is http//www.thecirclecawt.org
The new host is The Blue Box Corporate Solutions based in Pietermaritzburg.
The process of changing the host and updating it has taken much longer
than anticipated. Please accept our apologies!
Please send Isabel the cover of
your book/s (either by e-mail or
by post) so that it can be placed on the on the Circle website.
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Circle financial account has been established within the University
The banking details are as follows:
First National Bank Account
University of Natal
5087 1932 932
Durban Corporate Swift
22 Gradiner Street
The Marine 9th Floor,
2003 Workshops, Conferences
The Theological Society of South Africa
Conference 18-20 June 2003
The Theological Society of South Africa is holding a conference
in Pretoria, South Africa from 18-20 June 2003. The theme
of the conference will be African Women's Theologies. Mercy
Amba Oduyoye will be the keynote speaker.
World Young Women's Christian Alliance
International Women's Summit 5-10 July 2003
Isabel will be representing the Circle at the World YWCA International
Women's Summit, which will be held in Brisbane, Australia
from 5-10 July 2003. The theme of the summit is 'Leading Change,
the Power to Act'.
The Francophone Seminar
The Francophone Seminar which will be held from 11th to 24th
of August, 2003 at the Institut Protestant de Théologie de
Porto-Novo, Bénin. The theme is, Femmes et Nouvelle Société
en Afrique: les Tâches des Théologiennes. (Women and a New
Society in Africa: Tasks of Women Theologians). This initiative
is with Nyambura Njoroge, WCC, ETE. For so far, we have support
from the United Churches in Netherlands and the WCC, ETE.
The institute of Women in Religion and
Culture: third Pan African biennial conference
The institute of Women in Religion and Culture housed at the
Trinity Theological College, Legon-Accra, Ghana is going to
host its third Pan African biennial conference from 1-5 October,
2003. The theme of the conference is 'Theological and Ethical
Resources to face the Challenges of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic:
Women Theologians speak'
Consultation of the Circle of Concerned
African Women Theologians and The World Council of Churches
10-15 October 2003
The Consultation of the Circle of Concerned African Women
Theologians and The World Council of Churches, the women's
desk will be held from 10-15 October 2003 at the Kempton Park
Conference Centre, in South Africa. The theme of the conference
is 'Being Church.'
The AACC 8th General Assembly
The AACC 8th General Assembly will be in Yaoundé, Cameroun
from 21 to 27 of November 2003 with the theme, Come, let's
rebuild. I was in Nairobi last week to attend the AACC General
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Farewell to Brigitte
The Circle is paying tribute to one of its strong members,
Brigitte Syamalevwe, who went to be with the Lord in February
2003 and was buried on her farm in Luanshya Ibenga, Zambia.
For those of us who were participants at the Addis Ababa
Circle conference of 2002, will remember the Brigitte who
shared her story of having been diagnosed to be HIV positive
in 1992. Since then Brigitte worked with her husband of 30
years, Kabanda, to fight against discrimination for people
living with HIV. Brigitte addressed many meetings, as an HIV
activist to remind people that a person living with HIV/AIDS
is not a statistic. She also shared her experience of giving
birth to a child who is HIV/AIDS negative through the use
of a short course of AZT. Brigitte highlighted the danger
faced by African married women who are not able to negotiate
for safe sex with their husbands, who have more than one sexual
partner. She explained how she leads by example by adopting
children whose parents have died of AIDS and opening an orphanage
for them in her village. She also encouraged everyone at the
conference that when one is a spiritual person, even when
HIV positive, one does not live in fear of death.
Brigitte will always be remembered as a brave African woman,
who risked stigmatization, to break the silence around HIV/AIDS
in the church and society and used her story to empower others.
The Circle members who would like to send a contribution
to support the Syamalevwe children, please send your donation
to Syamalevwe Children, Global Health Council, 20 Palmer Court,
White River Junction, VT, 05001, USA
Hamba Kahle, Brigitte. Go well, Brigitte
Circle Supports Sister Anne Nasimiyu- Wasike
The Circle was shocked to learn that Sister Anne Nasimiyu-Walinke
was censured by her religious community from public life because
of a paper that she had presented at a conference and gave
an interview on the BBC radio on the same topic. We call upon
Circle members to support sister Anne in prayer and through
correspondence for God's wisdom during this difficult time
of isolation and uncertainty as to what the future holds for
A letter from Pietermaritzburg for Sr. Anne
Dear Sister Anne
We, your sisters in South Africa, have learnt of the events
that followed your presentation of a paper in early March
2003 on the issue relating to women's moral agency including
unsafe abortions in Kenya.
The decisions, which have been made to restrict your liturgical
participation and professional activities, and the pressure
exerted to force you to resign from your position at Kenyatta
University, have filled us with dismay and consternation.
We are especially concerned that your religious congregation,
your religious family, has not supported you, but instead
has initiated the limitations to your ministry. In such a
situation, we would expect that your first friends and defenders
would be the leadership of your congregation and instead,
they have not supported and assisted you.
We are deeply grateful for your theological leadership, courage
and commitment to justice and offer you our prayerful support
in this time of great suffering. We will continue to make
your painful situation known to other colleagues here in South
Africa and encourage them to support you in letters and prayer.
If there are other ways that we can support you, please do
The Pietermaritzburg Circle of
Concerned African Women Theologians.
Circle Library Development at the University of
The Circle would like to start a library of all the Circle
members' publications (articles in Journals, chapters in books, books)
unpublished dissertations and thesis, conference papers etc. Please send
all your publications (even photocopies) to the Circle office addressed
to Isabel Apawo Phiri.
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Between the Circle and Yale Divinity School
The Circle entered into partnership with the Yale Divinity School (hereafter
YDS) in the USA to work in solidarity to examine the intersection of gender,
faith, poverty and AIDS. The YDS is also working in partnership with USAID
and CIRA on this project. This partnership involves:
- continued research for funding in the struggle against HIV/AIDS;
- invitations to African women theologians to become Yale Research
Fellows who will be funded for four month of training and research through
the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (CIRA).
Fulata Moyo from Malawi, Vaudi Vibila from the Democratic Republic
of Congo and Sylvia Amisi from Kenya were the first beneficiaries
of this partnership. They spent four months at Yale Divinity School
in the USA.
Letty M. Russell, Professor Emerita of Theology at Yale Divinity
School had this to say about our three sisters: 'We are delighted
that our three research fellows have completed their project proposals
and are returning home' The women were so successful that the Center
for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS [CIRA] has proposed that
we have two Research Affiliates at CIRA and the Divinity School
at Yale for 8 months, beginning next fall. This is a great opportunity
for two theologians who would like to do a year of post doctoral
work with their expenses paid.'
Graduate Programme in
GENDER AND THEOLOGY
In the School of Theology,
University of Natal,
Full-time and residential
This programme is designed for Ministers and Lay workers
who are interested in developing their knowledge of and skills
in the Church's engagement in gender issues.
- This is a two-year Masters programme
(incorporating Honours) for students with a relevant undergraduate
degree (BTh, BSocSci, or BA) or a Joint Board Diploma in
Theology (a bridging course is offered).
- For BTh Honours (Gender and Theology)
You will choose five of the following topics: African Women's
Theologies (core); Feminist/Womanist Hermeneutics (core);
Gender Studies: Theory; Sociology: Rural Studies, Gender
and Development; Issues of Masculinity and Gender; Mini
- For MTh (Gender and Theology) (one
You will choose three of the following topics: Gender, Tradition
and the Church in Africa (core), Theology of Medieval Women
Mystics; Gender Studies: Feminism & Foucault; Sociology:
Rural Studies, Gender and Development and Thesis (core).
- For PhD (Gender and Theology) (Four
MTh (in Gender and Theology or its equivalent) is the prerequisite.
COSTS and BURSARIES
Whilst the University has not yet finalized degree costs for
next year, the cost of the entire two-year Masters degree
in 2003/4 will be approximately R18,000. A number of bursaries
and scholarships are available.
For more information contact:
Prof Isabel Apawo Phiri, School of Theology, University of
Natal, Pvt. Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209; Tel (033) 260 6132;
Fax (033) 260 5858; firstname.lastname@example.org
Come and be part of a vibrant academic community that is
on the cutting age of Contextual Theology!
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from the Chapters
The Mozambique Chapter of the Circle
On the 26th of April, 15 women theologians met at the Christian
Council premises in Maputo, Mozambique. The meeting was honoured by the
visit of the General-Coordinator, Isabel Apawo Phiri and Maria Victoria
Pereira, who interpreted for her. Felicidade Charinde, the Lusophone coordinator,
organised the meeting. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the history,
aims and current projects of the Circle. At the end of a whole day meeting,
almost all the participants committed themselves to write and fifteen
topics were identified for research and writing for a Portuguese Circle
publication. Felicidade and Victoria will be the editors of the book that
will come out of the Maputo Chapter of the Circle.
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For the sake of those who are not familiar with the Circle,
the Circle for Concerned African Women Theologians (hereafter
the Circle) was inaugurated in 1989. In the year 2002, the
Circle registered over 500 members on the continent and abroad.
The criterion for membership is the commitment to research,
write and publish on issues affecting African women and women
of African descent.
The Circle is the space for women from Africa to do communal
theology based on their religious, cultural and social experiences.
It draws its membership from women of diverse backgrounds,
nationalities, cultures and religions rooted in African Indigenous
Religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It encompasses
indigenous African women and seeks to relate to African women
of American, Asiatic, and European origins. These concerned
women are engaged in theological dialogue with cultures, religions,
sacred writings and oral stories that shape the African context
and define the women of this continent.
The mission of the Circle is to undertake research, writing
and publishing on African issues from a woman's perspective.
The vision of the Circle is to empower African women to contribute
their critical thinking and analysis to advance current knowledge.
Theology, religion and culture are the three chosen foci,
which must be used as the framework for Circle research and
The Pan-African Conference of the Circle clearly showed that
this movement has grown and expanded and put its roots deep
in the hearts of many women in Africa. It was amazing to realise
that since 1989, members of the Circle have written and published
31 books. The authors attribute their publications to motivation
stemming from participation in the Circle. This implies that
the Circle is fulfilling its mission: To undertake research
and publish theological literature written by African women
with special focus on religion and culture.
Above: The Mozambique Chapter of the Circle
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with us News
from your chapter of the Circle!!